Monday, April 6, 2009

BIM Workshop organized by TSA

Last Friday, 3rd April, the Texas Society of Architect’s BIM Task Force hosted the first in a series of BIM Workshops at the University of Houston. The intent is for these workshops to be held around the state, so if you’re in Texas, make sure to check the TSA website for upcoming events. It was a beautiful day outside and even though this workshop was open to students, not a single soul showed up.

Most of the attendees were still trying to wrap their heads around BIM, but there was a good representation of firms and individuals that were already in the implementation and maturity stages. This workshop is perfect for a big-picture overview of BIM and I encourage PM and Management/Ownership level staff to attend. I was disappointed that I was only able to go with my usual “choir” (the ones that already know the song and are ready to move to the next stage), as no one in our office other than Architectural production was able to make it. This was the perfect opportunity to have Designers, Structural, MEP and PM staff to all hear the same song from external sources, which they might deem more “official” and “believable”. You know, if your dad tells you to do something, you’re prone to ignore it, but if you hear it from someone else, then it’s a law of nature ;)

If there was any doubt that Revit was the most popular BIM solution, after the presentation those doubts would have cleared up. The presentations were kept as vendor-neutral as possible and the presenters did not engage in marketing talk, which was great. However the screenshots shown as part of the case-studies were unmistakable. At the workshop, three software vendors were available (Graphisoft, Nemetschek and Autodesk) to discuss their products and services.

For those that have never seen the now infamous graphs of productivity declines in our industry, together with the “saw-tooth” diagrams of data loss in the delivery process (can’t find a link to this on the web; please paste one in a comment if you have it!), and how we should shift our focus to the early stages of a project in a BIM environment (link to attachment on AUGI forums; page 8), you probably formed a perfect mental picture now and are able to sketch them in your sleep!

One topic of discussion that came up was how to use Interns in an office practicing BIM, given the fact that BIM requires a higher understanding of construction and we typically don’t need as much drafting help such as “picking up red-lines”, which is very prevalent in the traditional CAD process. The solution is to simply not look at interns as “cheap labor” and make CAD monkeys out of them, but to mentor them into becoming the designers, architects and engineers of the future. Sadly, I see very little mentorship going on from experienced people (especially partners) in the firm. Granted that their time is billed at higher rates and all, but how do we expect to nurture the next generation of professionals if we keep our young ones doing casework plans, toilet layouts and parking schemes for an entire year?

There were a couple of really good presentations that dealt with the people side of the implementation process and offered some tips about how to select pilot projects, debunked some myths about “which project should be in BIM vs CAD”, and offered some great advice on how to manage teams to help them succeed. Overall it was a great workshop and if you’re in Texas, make sure to send your non-believers to the next event, which will be held in another city.



Paul F. Aubin said...

Hey David:

Any idea if there are plans to do something like this in other states?

Dave Baldacchino said...

Hi Paul, unfortunately I don't. I would think that other states are doing something similar; if not at the local Association level, perhaps at the AIA chapter level.

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