Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Media Summit @ADSKAEC #2 (late) wrap-up

All I can say is, better (very) late then never.

First, this is the image that Robert was referring to in his post…my sincere apologies for completely forgetting. It happens when you fill up your phone with your kid’s photos and videos…kinda what happens to your email inbox eh?

2011-04-06 10.38.04

Below are some images of the city of Boston that I previously promised to post.

From up here, you cannot help but wonder what’s brewing in the great minds across the Charles River.

Back on track…with regards to the migration path for existing subscription customers on stand-alone products or existing suites, Autodesk has made it even more attractive to move on to the new Suite products. I just wish that existing customers are notified in a timely manner when these things are on the horizon. A friend of mine almost shelled $3k to go from an existing Autocad Revit Architecture Suite to the new Premium Design Suite, which was cut in half by the reseller after some back and forth arguing (like the kind of haggling you have to do as a tourist in some countries). Once rumors were out regarding the possibility of no up-front cost upgrades, holding off a few more weeks paid off and he can now upgrade for “free” (plus cost of higher subscription). I honestly think it’s a deceptive practice to come out with these pricing schemes well after announcing the new packaging of products.The two should be announced simultaneously. As I customer, I would be very disappointed and feel ripped off if I bought the new suite right away (in my friend’s case, he was tinkering about getting 3dMax Design so a suite was a better option). But then maybe they would have some sort of money back guarantee for those that were too eager?

Anyway, I heard about this first from Luke of What Revit Wants. Then Steve posted conclusive evidence a day later. There have been several conversations going on, such as this one on LinkedIn BIM Experts group. Seems like there’s still some confusion as to how Suite licensing/pricing works but hopefully all dust will settle eventually.

One of the presenters (yah, darn contractor) described our typical building process as “Design as you go”, due to the amount of re-design that needs to happen during construction when conflicts finally surface. He said that we need to move to a “Building Manufacturing” process or “Built as Drawn/Modeled”, a shift from the “As-Built Drawing” process where as-built drawings have to be generated at the end of construction to reflect exactly how the building went together, which clearly implies that we’re not constructing as designed. Savings can be achieved if we were to build as (properly) designed, no arguments there.

He also referred to IPD as “Legislated Collaboration”, which did cause a good amount of chuckling and gasping in the room. I suppose if the AGC came out with that instead of the AIA, he wouldn’t see it as “legislation”? Funny how things take a life of their own depending on which side of the proverbial wall you’re behind. I hope the presenter was not suggesting that we start designing, building and collaborating based on good will, without contracts (Boy, wouldn’t that be a recipe for disaster!). He clearly sees architects as responsible for design intent only and contractors responsible for constructability such as coordination and documentation.

I think it’s no secret that contractors are significantly driving the BIM movement, especially on larger, more complex projects where a small percentage of savings through better coordination results in a significant amount of money in the contractor and owner’s pocket (from actual material savings and less construction days wasted). Sadly, Architects don’t seem to get their share of this bounty, except perhaps from a reduction in losses due to a decrease in lawsuits? Who knows. I think with our old tools or with the outdated way we use today’s highly sophisticated and more capable tools, we can only achieve a certain percentage of overall coordination. But to close the remaining gap, the effort needed to achieve the higher degree of coordination might be out of balance with profit expectations based on current fees. Clearly, something has got to change in how we price and deliver our services. I think that 2D drawings in the traditional Design-Bid-Build environment (and their close relatives) will remain a big sticking point for some time. In the meantime I think owners will continue to keep seeing a reduction in the value they get out of Architect’s services especially when contractors keep stepping up their game and argue (successfully) that they bring more value to the table if they are given the latitude to take coordination efforts away from the architect and do it themselves with their subcontractors rather than as traditionally done before a contractor is hired. And in doing so, Architectural services will keep thinning down until they merely become just one of many project specialty consultants, which in the future might be hired by the contractor, who would be the first team member hired by the client. Disagree? I’d love to solicit more comments and points of view from the readers.

It is time we start seriously thinking beyond paper.



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