Friday, October 7, 2011

Interesting Article - Joshua Prince-Ramus on The Myth Of Architectural Genius

This is a great article, and smack in the middle of my wheelhouse, so I thought I would point it out. It made me see that there are many architects that are still somewhat shortsighted and nervous when it comes to BIM. While it is scary to get into new technology, CAD was not the demise of Architecture, nor will BIM be. Some excerpts from the article that I thought were worth mentioning:

The biggest change in our profession is what's called building information modeling, or BIM. It will either be the harbinger of death or the salvation of architecture. BIM creates a three-dimensional model of a building in which every piece is tagged in terms of price and time. It lets you discover ways of construction and sequencing and optimizing shapes for cost.

Many Architects are selling the technology short, and this is just one case of it. BIM can do far more than analyze Cost and Time, but more importantly manage the nouns, verbs and adjectives (What, How and Why) of every aspect of a building. If someone selects a specific window, the information includes a “Why” based on the properties of the window (Energy Efficiency or Light Transmittance/Refraction). A wall knows that it has certain sound characteristics, fire characteristics and structural capabilities. By leveraging this type of information a building can be looked at as a “Whole” rather than a sum of its parts to streamlie design and create more efficient buildings for the lowest cost.

The reason why it could be the harbinger of death is that the technology is incredibly complex and operating the software is a specialty in and of itself. That person makes a lot of assumptions and spits out the options to be picked (I call that design) by the architect (which I call "stylist"). That further marginalizes the architect from the center of the project, which is the realm of project management and structural engineering and acceptance of liability--the execution side of things.

I am in partial agreement with this statement, and I am that specialist that he talks of. I disagree of the marginalization of the architect though, as an architect’s strengths are in forging the Design Aesthetic of the building, and hire others to implement the design through hand drawings, CAD and now BIM. The technology is creating the need for that “Stylist” which I refer to as the “Knowledge Manager”, who is little more than another employee of the architect. It’s the Building Owners that will drive the demise. If they choose to go with more standardized designs, then the need for the “design aesthetic” is diminished. I just don’t foresee than happening, since Architecture is the convergence of Art and Engineering, with the emphasis on Art.

All of this is why I decided to write a second book (I Just got the contract from Wiley Press last Thursday) on the need for management of the information and processes within a BIM project. This eliminates the “assumptions” that he discussed here by having a seasoned professional (Architectural Construction Specifier), like myself as an administrator of the project (Stylist, Knowledge Manager) from the earliest design concepts all the way through to Facility Commissioning and ongoing lifecycle and maintenance. I’m looking for case studies in the Boston Area right now, and the book will be released at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) show in 2013. I am hoping that more professionals like this will identify the need for information and process management as time goes on.