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BIM advice from Pantera’s Reinventing the Steel

Back in 2010—in the very early days of the blog—I wrote the blog post 10 ArchiCAD tips from Pantera’s Reinventing the Steel. It was so early on in my writing life that I didn’t even have Google Analytics set up for the blog. I also didn’t have an official Facebook Page, I wasn’t on Twitter, and I know I had yet to venture into Instagram. So yeah, it was a long time ago. For years it was my favorite post, although the one comment on it annoyed me. But that’s because the comment was already pointing out what I really cared about. The list was intended to be about ARCHICAD, but it was really about BIM and progress. So now five and a half years after the original post (and sixteen years since the release of Pantera’s final studio album), it’s time for me to do something new: revisit, update, and re-release an old blog post.Reinventing the BIMThe track list from Pantera’s final studio album, Reinventing the Steel, has great advice for architects staring into the future. Today it’s the transition to BIM, tomorrow it’ll be the divide between those practitioners who embrace VR and AR and those that hide from evolution. You don’t need to love Pantera’s music like I do to see what accidental BIM geniuses these guys were. Let’s look:

  1. Hellbound – This is how we all feel when we transition to BIM. The first weeks are just awful. You’ll curse your new employers or think your reseller has swindled you. But push on. Tracks 2-10 have your answers.
  2. Goddamn Electric – BIM processes and programs take advantage of computers in a way that is fundamentally different from CAD / 2D. Our old CAD ways were not intrinsically different from our pre-computer work flows and production methods. BIM is a paradigm shift. It’s Goddamn Electric.
  3. Yesterday Don’t Mean Shit – The sooner you realize Yesterday Don’t Mean Shit, the happier you’ll be. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done for the past five, ten, or twenty years. CAD is dead. Hand drafting is a museum set piece. AutoCAD and its ilk will be around for years to come, but that’s not the future of our industry. The future is BIM. Furthermore, when you go from 2D to BIM, it doesn’t matter what you were doing before. AutoCAD to ARCHICAD is no harder than AutoCAD to REVIT or Bentley Systems. None of these programs are AutoCAD-BIM. Do your research and pick the best program for your needs. Don’t just buy all the products that they’re selling you. Yesterday Don’t Mean Shit.
  4. You’ve Got to Belong to It – The most important thing you need to know when learning BIM is You’ve Got to Belong to It. Trying to make ARCHICAD act like AutoCAD or Revit act like SketchUP or whatever program you once knew will prolong your frustration and inability to preform the way you want to. You need to commit to both learning and using the program. Using ARCHICAD, Revit, or another BIM platform is not a skill tangential to your worth as an architect; understanding and incorporating BIM thinking into your process is vital. Furthermore, design is not something that happens before you step into BIM. BIM processes belong to all parts of the project, from client initiation to design to production to construction and beyond.
  5. Revolution Is My Name – Who’s name is Revolution? BIM. Make it yours as well. The switch to BIM is the time to shed bad habits, inefficiencies, and other hang ups that hold us back as a profession. Because we always did it is no excuse. Because that’s what everyone else does won’t impress those that matter. It’s just a tool, sure. But it also happens to be the most powerful tool we have right now. Tear everything apart, from your firm structure to your design process. See track 3.
  6. Death Rattle – The sound of your competitors who refuse to evolve. Be ever vigilant that the sound isn’t coming from you. BIM Mastery is not a status you achieve and keep forever. See track 3. You have to continue to work for it. Never forget. The sound of the death rattle is never far away. No rest. No time to stop evolving.
  7. We’ll Grind That Axe for a Long Time – Quick, name all the architects you can that continued practicing architecture into their 80s, 90s, and 100s. Even just the really famous ones. Now name all the architects that chose to retire at 65. Most of us have more career ahead of us than behind us. Invest in BIM knowledge now. Need more convincing? Check out this classic article by one of my favorite architectural writers, Witold Rybczynski.
  8. Uplift – This is the feeling we’re all waiting for when we adopt a BIM mindset. It’ll come when you realize for the first time that designing and producing working drawings with BIM allows you to understand and convey your projects in a more complex and thorough way. See track 2. Working in this manner, you’ll have a stronger holistic view of your designs. It will be good. You will love it. To achieve this though, remember track 4.
  9. It Makes Them Disappear – Invisibility is key. Make it all disappear. Work on mastering your software of choice until the tool vanishes, just like a hand drafter doesn’t think about the pencil. ARCHICAD, Revit, Rhino, whatever the tool, make them all disappear. If you don’t, the thing that vanishes might just be you. See track 6.
  10. I’ll Cast a Shadow – Much like Pantera had a huge influence on the heavy metal genre and ARCHICAD has been revolutionizing CAD and BIM since it first began development in 1982 (the same year a bunch of guys from Arlington, Texas, renamed their band Pantera), all BIM users should be making a difference. Make BIM work for you. Help the rest of your colleagues and the profession as a whole complete the transition to the future. Don’t work in isolation. Share and help change the whole AEC industry. We need to. We must.

I love Pantera’s music so much and believe in their BIM advice to such a degree that I’ve been referencing Pantera song titles in every lecture I’ve given since at least 2012. Want proof? Pay attention to the section heads in this AIAU course from the 2015 CRAN Symposium: Elevating the Art of BIM for Residential Design and Practice. Furthermore, read just about any of the 800+ articles I’ve written in the past six years. These ten truths are infused into everything I write about and do. Subscribe to the blog to read more about why Yesterday Don’t Mean Shit and why Revolution is My Name: Shoegnome on FacebookTwitter, and the RSS feed.


  • April 30, 2016

    BIM changes everything – including how professionals like architects see their profession and how the profession can evolve into something far beyond its limiteds role today. I saw this directly as part of the development team in the very early days of BIM in the mid 1970s in the UK (GDS and BDS out of Applied research of Cambridge, UK). Fast forward to today after a nearly 20-year dark age during which time computerized drafting products like Intergraph and Autocad were thought to be the be all and end all by many in the architecture profession (especially the AIA). Now, BIM offers up the possibility of architects morphing into firms or companies capable of integrating entire supply chains of materials and components and indeed controlling much of this current messy landscape into something far more efficient and cost effective. Take TESLA, Boeing, Apple, GE, Corning for example. These are great product design companies whose products work, are well designed and engineered and that change lives – mostly for the better. Its long past time for the industry we know as construction and real estate development to be completely reshaped. Imagine what our world would be like if aircraft, smart phones, cars and consumer electronics products were designed and manufactured using the same disjointed, wasteful and incredibly inefficient processes currently in place in the construction industry? Our world would be a lot more dangerous place than it is already.

    While the company I’m with doesn’t lay claim to the best ideas or practices, we have made some huge strides in eliminating the death marches of “doing shop drawings”. We can now send our BIM files (IFC 2X3) direct to machine tools and CNC systems for custom milling and cutting major structural components of the dry-assembly system we have developed and that we use in all of our projects. I’ll leave it at that for the moment but BIM, when used to its fullest extent with every upgrade and improvement to the software as they are released, can help change our world for the better and enable people to live healthier, more fulfilled lives using built environments that actually work, are built to last and designed for life.

  • May 1, 2016

    Thanks Jared and Phil…

    As usual you are right on. I only bring up one point: “Hand drafting is a museum set piece”.
    If you mean the hand drafting of working drawings, yes. However, early in the design process we still work out some things on the drawing board. And, just this morning we met with a client who has asked us to give them a “second opinion” on an architect’s concept design for a house they plan to build in North Carolina. (We are in Colorado). This guy’s concept design was in the form of beautiful hand-drawn renderings and floor plans. Also, another one of our clients loves what she calls “architecty” hand-drawings. As usual, my two cents worth.

  • May 2, 2016

    Yes agreed…here is a story with one of our current clients. We are big adopters of the “Low Cost Commitment” (LCC) approach to the design phase of a project. This has been introduced by Enoch Sears, Eric Borrow, and Richard Petrie in their Architects Marketing program. Our first meeting consisted of presenting “hand-drawn” concept Floor Plans. We had maybe 16 hours into the project at this point (after a $1.500 refundable deposit). They loved it with minor changes requested. Then, we went into ArchiCAD for the 3D visualization. Like you, the next meeting was a “walk-through” of the model with our 27″ screen iMac. They seemed blown away. And Rand, the “headmaster” of the Kent School Academy in Denver is considering buying the educational license of ArchiCAD for the school.

    Thanks for considering that the pencil and paper may never disappear. It won’t disappear for us, but I sure want to get into the 3D visualization of ArchiCAD ASAP. Besides, it’s fun! But yes, do whatever works in your workflow…”horses for courses as the English say”.

  • May 6, 2016

    Alex Nader

    Love this article (love Pantera too, I have this record on cd), and agree 100%.

    As usual, thanks Jared for these pieces of Archi+BIM wisdom.

  • May 12, 2016

    I’m now inspired to figure out how to integrate Iron Maiden into my BIM training and development program. Some days, it’s Brave New World, while others are No Prayer For The Dying.

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