BIM for existing buildings

One of our current projects is the rehab of an existing building. We are going to utilize BIM on this project.

The first step is modeling the existing structure. There are several issues with that. The obvious one is guaranteeing 100% accuracy. This is especially important because the owner intends to panelize the interior partitions off site. The potential solution for this will be as follows:
  • Model structure to remain from original as-builts
  • Field verify the overall geometry of the model; update as needed
  • Laser survey the existing conditions; update dimensions/locations of columns in model based on survey; update as needed.
This, of course, causes several other issues. The most critical is finding a surveying company that can do laser surveying that we need. Other issues involve creating all of the columns for the building.

So far, 20 custom columns have been created for the project and the first floor isn't even finished yet.

cutting or bleeding?

Earlier this week, we met with several key people at Burt Hill to discuss BIM.

One of the things that they brought up was the distinction between cutting edge and bleeding edge. The differentiation is important to them because owner's constantly ask where they are with respect to other firms. Owners don't want to hear about the bleeding edge because the risk makes them nervous; however, they are excited about the cutting edge because of the benefits.

I'm not sure how to classify Tocci. We are taking on a lot of risk by adopting BIM now, but we all believe that it will pay off in a big way. Therefore, it seems less risky. If we are on the bleeding edge, would we realize it? Furthermore, how can a firm be on the cutting edge of technology without spending any time on the bleeding edge?

object library management (a quick rant)

I find it amazing that I am still struggling with a way to organize Tocci's object library. Autodesk, is it that difficult to include an application with Revit that allows users to organize and manipulate the object library?

I contacted the Revit Manager at an architectural firm, to see if I was missing something. I wasn't. They have figured out a way to manage their object library, but I'm not sure if it's an option for us. We don't have the staff to manually manage and organize the library on a continual basis.

Content Highway
seems like a good solution, but why isn't there something like it built into Revit?

Big Dig House

Because yesterday was Earth Day, PBS was re-airing design:e2, an Autodesk-funded series on "the economics of being environmentally conscious". So obviously, I was drawn in.

The whole series was incredible, but the episode that really caught my eye was "Gray to Green", which discussed a Bauhaus-style built by Paul Pedini (designed by SINGLE speed DESIGN) using Big Dig waste (specifically steel and concrete slabs used for temporary ramps and support). I was especially excited when they started showing 3-d models of the house even though I can't be sure if the project utilized intelligent modeling or not.

The reuse of materials reduced the cost of materials as well as the schedule; the building was framed in 2 days.

When Brad Pitt (as the narrator of the series) explained that the house was built in a suburb of Boston, I was determined to find it and visit it. After some googling, I found out that the house is in Lexington (only a short distance from Tocci’s headquarters!), in a neighborhood dedicated to Bauhaus design.

About 20 minutes later, I parked my car a few blocks away from the Big Dig house and walked over to it. Luckily, the family is used to the attention the house gets and allowed us to walk around the property (although I’m hoping that I can contact Paul and arrange a tour through the inside at some point).

Although all of this isn’t directly relevant to BIM, I think I can defend it as a BIM post – because BIM is a tool that will further enable sustainable design. Besides, the house is amazing.

More articles on the house:

USA Today

Metropolis Mag

back to defining BIM

This morning, I received an email that contained a link to this article, by Nigel Davies. I agree with much of what Nigel has to say about what BIM isn't, but I still prefer the term VDC (virtual design and construction).

Unlike BIM, VDC actually explains what we are doing: virtually designing and constructing the building.

Viacom v. Google

A few weeks ago, I was discussing the Viacom v. Google/You Tube situation with a friend. (The big picture is that Viacom is suing Google because Google is making money off of Viacom's media through You Tube). As we discussed it, we came to the conclusion that Viacom is ultimately suing Google because it doesn't want to have to innovate its practices. Hmm..doesn't want to have to innovate its practices. Sound familiar?

This point in time is a turning point for a variety of industries (i.e. automotive, music, manufacturing) for a variety of reasons, most of which ultimately stem from the increased innovation and expansion of technology. Things are changing and some people/companies are scared. I'm not sure if it makes me feel better or makes me feel worse that this fear isn't limited to the AEC industry.