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In 2014 go BIM or Go home

A Revit User, an ArchiCAD User, and a Vectorworks User walk into a Bar…

This would be the way to start the post, if the genesis of the idea happened that way. But it didn’t; instead it was on Twitter. A comment was made that if the 30% of architects not using BIM quit, then we’d instantly have 100% adoption rates. Of course that’s crazy. Of course that’s inflammatory. Of course I love it. But we also all know that hidden in the 70% of architects who “use” BIM are high numbers of people who own the software but aren’t using it or use BIM programs at such low levels that the benefits from BIM are at best neutral.

Here’s the idea:
2014 is the year all architects switch to BIM or quit.

Before you unfollow me and toss your computer out the window, let me explain. Also let me throw Sean Burke under the bus too, since it was his comment that started this all (I can’t find his Tweet to give the exact quote).

BIM is about process improvement.

BIM is about adding value to what Architects do.

In 2014 commit to switching to BIM, commit to improving the level of BIM you are doing, and/or commit to a definitive path of how you’ll get to BIM. Even if that day is a few years off, you should be able to say when and how you’ll get there. Mastering BIM and integrating it into your business doesn’t happen overnight. It takes effort. It costs both time and money. Make 2014 the year you define your end goal and work backwards. Do you have an employee who will get you there? Do you need to hire an expert? Will you go by baby steps or by choosing a new software and deleting your old one (my vote)? In this push to make the switch also remember to ask why you are making the change. There are tons of reasons to go BIM and tons of benefits (production, coordination, design, and integration being my favorite), but there is one that interests you most. Focus on that and get there. In 2014.

What’s so special about 2014? Keep watching this blog and elsewere. The latest versions of Revit, ArchiCAD, and other BIM applications will come out and be amazing (we know this because we always get new versions every year). New computers will come out that are even faster and more powerful. But maybe the simplest reason is this: if you acknowledge that ArchiCAD was the first BIM program in the architecture world, then BIM turns 30 this year. THIRTY. How many more years can you go avoiding this movement?

I Disbelieve

If you think this is all bullshit, pause for a moment and take a stand. Lay out why you don’t need BIM. Why what you’re doing works, adds the most value, and is fundamental to your worth as an Architect. And then share that. With me, with the AIA, with whomever you can. Remind us all (and especially yourself) why BIM is a red herring, why BIM isn’t a panacea, and why a different way improves what you do. Don’t focus on how BIM can or can’t do this or that. That’s too subjective, and negative. Focus on why what YOU do is the best. And then figure out ways to make it better. Because maybe, just maybe one of the reasons architects continue to lose ground is that we are focusing on the wrong things. Perhaps we should just stick with our classic tools and abdicate the rest to others. Seriously, maybe we’ve gotten horribly distracted since the invention of CAD and BIM so many decades ago.

BIM vs Hand

If you don’t want BIM, stop pussy footing around. Stand up and say “I will outperform my competition without this silly fad. I do not need fancy technology to be the best.” Then when someone asks “do you BIM?” just say “Nope. I am going down a different path. Best of luck with it; I just don’t need it. And I never will.”

And those of you on BIM, here’s the big challenge: Design. Design. Design. Unseat the old ways. Prove BIM for Design unlocks the future.

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  • February 11, 2014

    You make some compelling points.

    Thirty years ago a few of my generation (including me) were making similar arguments to our bosses in a range of professional services firms (including A&E firms), namely that emerging PC technologies (Apple Lisa, Macintosh, Radio Shack and IBM “PCs” etc.) would transform the way we did business and the flow of services and information to clients. Our bosses back then by and large thought that computing meant large machines with tape drives on the front and disk drives the size of washing machines all housed in humming clean rooms. Many of these same folks also felt that they had no need at all to embrace PC technology because their secretaries could do all that was necessary.

    So fast forward to today, and we we have many people now well into in their 80s and a little younger, who have a very hard time getting their minds around the simplest email client and how to operate the most basic office productivity software. The net result is that a large number of grandparents are finding it harder and harder to communicate with their own families and grandchildren…..a very tough situation indeed for them to be in.

    I think a similar phenomenon of technologies and generations exists for BIM. Those who embrace it and learn to become accomplished “piano players” with whatever BIM system they choose, will be a great deal more future proof than the folks who decide that BIM isn’t necessary for them to become proficient in.

    For us, we couldn’t possibly do the work we do without BIM and a host of other software and simulation tools. For our firm – and some of us are getting up there in age – working with this technology and using it to shape ideas, policies and even designs, is a real joy. Its certainly nice to still be working with cutting edge technologies to bring a new spectrum of value to our clients…

    My 2 cents..

  • February 12, 2014

    Jason Smith

    Hi Jared

    BIM just do it. I know from my experiences of ‘Lonely BIM’ is that I have less on site calls from contractors about problems. This is due to the amount of detail that is sorted during the modelling. You have to sort out the junctions you use to rely on std details.

    Think back to how long it took you to go from working on the board to CAD. I know it took 4 years in the office I was working at the time to completely use AC for all documents. We started with AC 5.0 and only used it for 2D.

    Now is about learning how to use all the functions of AC to supply extra information, such as schedules of concrete, steel etc. This information can happen automatically once the schedule is made. Then IFC to add even more information for export to other software. Schedules can be used to check the quality of the model, so you can check up on the other modellers in the firm.

    I can wait for the day that I can supply a Full BIM model to the Council for consent and to the contractor so the can Tender directly from the model.

    To Finish – BIM – stop pissing around and get on the train before you get left behind.

  • February 12, 2014

    Good one, Jared!

  • February 12, 2014

    Jared…good article. FYI, our small firm just moved up to AC17, and we really value the power
    of ArchiCAD. Not to mention the fun of transferring a design into the power of 3D and the ease
    of getting into 2D vs. the “grunt work” of drafting. I have been there, which actually is a helpful
    asset in knowing when to stop with the computer stuff.

    Still, one humble observation: At the start, we still use pencil and paper as an aid to help establish
    the Concept Design. Then, we go to ArchiCAD as fast as we can.

    Steve Nickel in Colorado

  • February 13, 2014

    70% I hear you say? If only. …
    There are clear advantages to BIM yet getting the older generation to even consider change is a task in itself. I talk to people about BIM everyday, if only I could get an engineer to play ball, or a manufacturer to give me content for my library I would be whistling Dixie as I type.
    What could be the problem?
    It may have something to do with cost of the software or it may be daunting to venture into the unknown or it may be as simple as many architects are simply happy with their work load at this current stage?
    I say the cost is somewhat excessive, the learning curve can be steep if your a hand drawer. I disagree with being satisfied with the current work load.
    I have been winning jobs off hand drawers and 2d Cad people for more than 7 years. It’s just like taking candy from a baby. Maybe it’s a good thing for me that business’s or individuals are not venturing into the 3d world as I may have start working harder for a living!
    So please do not Improve your practices and forget about BIM or 3d or innovation as it simply allows myself and others like me to cruise while your working your hands to the bone.
    BIM is the future of design and construction, I am certain 2d and hand drawing is not…

      • February 19, 2014

        Agreed, my comments are in gest.

        I have started to write out a list of common complaints regarding BIM that I have received from architects and there is substance in the argument yet a lot comes down to training. When I get a spare minute I will try and organise a guest post .

        If it helps the new user…

        Just as 2d CAD was not intuitive to the hand drawer 15 years ago, 3D also has a learning curve and a set of rules to adhere to. I do think that 3D cad packages are far more intuitive than Autocad.. Sure details may be a little more difficult in the 3rd dimension yet as a whole it is clear to 99.9% of 3D users that a vast majority of designs can be done more accurately in less time. BIM is simply the icing on the cake and something that is charged for as an addition to your service.
        In my opinion Archicad is easier to use than Revit and I found I could do a lot more without any instruction or paying for a tutor. I guess it depends on your needs, If you want to get a 3D representation of a model done very quickly for concept I would suggest Sketchup. Yet if you want a 2D export you will need Sketchup pro which comes with Layout. In saying that , this topic is about BIM and Sketchup at this current stage BIM is not an out of the box solution. I do know first hand that this is about to change. I know very little about Bentley and would like to take it for a spin.
        Thanks for reading.

      • February 20, 2014

        I will make a start early next week on the post, I have not written a guest post before, could you email me a link or example please Jared?

  • February 15, 2014

    Jorge Porras

    Just a few words:

    First at all: Great post

    Ok, here is my opinion…

    1. “In 2014 go BIM or Go home”… Since seven years ago I’m going BIM (ArchiCAD) full time…. BIM is my home.

    2. “And those of you on BIM, here’s the big challenge: Design. Design. Design. Unseat the old ways”….. I’m doing it every day….

    3. “Prove BIM for Design unlocks the future” ….The future was unlocked THIRTY years ago…..”then BIM turns 30 this year. THIRTY. How many more years can you go avoiding this movement?”…. so, THIS IS THE FUTURE!!!…. BIM is our present, our today….(Just let’s look around: smartphones, internet, tablets, LED screens….and many, MANY 3D software and apps). If there are people living “in the past” (CAD, 2D CAD, Hand-drawing,etc..), it’s ok for me. I think it gives me a huge advantage no matter if I’m going ArchiCAD (or BIM) all alone.

    That’s all. Thank you and keep posting.

    Greetings from Colombia … and sorry if my english wasn’t good enough.

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