Shoegnome Being an Architect in the 21st Century Ain't Easy Sun, 28 Jun 2015 21:34:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Proper Design of Design Criteria Sun, 28 Jun 2015 21:34:03 +0000 Design criteria is the content that your organization creates to convey the design intent for your concept to the consulting architects and engineers that are hired to design individual locations for your chain concept around the region, country or world.

The post The Proper Design of Design Criteria appeared first on Shoegnome.

This Guest Post is by Jon Buerg. I’ve known Jon for many years through the ARCHICAD community in Minnesota. You probably know him from his previous blog post about Bruce Lee and BIM. I am constantly inspired by his vision, leadership, and application of BIM. The challenges he faces and conquers with his work at Wilkus Architects provide so many great lessons, especially for those of us doing greatly different project types.

George Nelson’s “How To See” is the perfect design criteria for life.

Are you in charge of development for a chain that’s looking to roll out your concept across multiple locations? If yes, sweet! If no, carry on. I am an architect who has been on the receiving end of design criteria from dozens of organizations like yours for the better part of the last two decades. I’ve seen the good, the comically bad and the downright awful. The great news is doing design criteria right is easier than you think. Here’s how:

Part 1: What the hell are you talking about with this “design criteria”?

Design criteria is the content that your organization creates to convey the design intent for your concept to the consulting architects and engineers that are hired to design individual locations for your chain concept around the region, country or world. Sometimes you’ll hear design criteria referred to as a CD set, a template, a design manual, specs or drawings. This chain concept slang is inaccurate and a part of why so many chains get this stuff so wrong.

Part 2: Why do I need design criteria?

If you’re laughing out loud at this question, it’s all good. Please proceed to Part 3. For the rest of you, design criteria does the following for you (when it’s done well, that is):

  • Ensures consistent compliance with your organization’s current brand and design image
  • Enables your consulting architects and their engineers to save time, and time is money
  • Provides a consistent baseline for evaluating development costs over time (both soft costs and hard costs)
  • Reduces change orders from contractors and provides more consistent construction costs from location to location
  • Provides an efficient system for communicating change from your organization out to your consulting architects, engineers and contractors

Part 3: Great, I’m sold. Now, who should do this work in my organization? And more importantly, who should not do this stuff?

You need your own architect that is internal to your organization to do what I’ll explain below. Why? Because this is design, and design doesn’t just mean all the pretty pictures you see when you look at architectural drawings. Design in this context also means to design the system of documentation and content as well as the delivery system for that documentation and content in order to ensure that the consulting architects you hire will be able to carry out your vision successfully on a repeat basis. Design also means to organize design criteria and maintain that organization over time for the rollout of your concept so that the criteria are always clearly communicated and current with your organization’s latest thinking. There’s one more aspect of design that is important here. Your architect will need to hire a good consulting engineer that she can coordinate design criteria for the engineers that’ll be working on the rollout, and I’ll elaborate on that later.

Architects are the great generalists of the project team and also the only members of the project team who possess the skill set necessary to pull this off well. Notice the word “well”, plenty of other people can fuck this up. That architects are so well versed in all aspects of the project delivery cycle is also why they can be excellent leaders for your organization’s entire development group—but that’s something to elaborate on in another article another time.

What’s bad? Thinking your construction staff should lead this effort. The construction folks should be kept busy developing the systems and documentation that’ll lead to quality bids from great contractors and also to put in place processes for continually assessing the work being constructed for conformance to the criteria. The construction department should be empowered to provide feedback to the design department about what’s working or not working out in the field. Don’t worry; your talented internal architect knows to reach out to your entire development department to solicit their thoughts on how this should go, as well as their feedback on what she creates for your organization’s design criteria. This is a family effort and your internal architect is the head of household.

Part 4: What don’t the consulting architects need? Probably most of what you would think they do need.

The consulting architects (and their consulting engineers for that matter) do not—I repeat DO NOT—need a complete CD set of your prototypical design, and if they’re telling you that they do, these are totally the wrong people to be doing your work because they just plan stamp the thing, collect a fee and check out. Then the project goes to permitting, bidding and construction, and everyone will be pissed because things will be going so shitty; and they’ll be shitty because the consulting architect didn’t take the time to get to know the design criteria because you prepared this CD set to the nth degree and that sent them into autopilot.

On top of that, when you develop a CD set, you’re also putting your own drafting standards into that document and then handing it off to a consulting architect who has to depart from their own firm’s drafting standards to try and navigate through your CD set—and that alone can increase the probability for errors and omissions. I can’t emphasize enough how toxic it can be to your mission to burden your consulting architects with a complete CD set. Think about it, ideally you want to engage consulting architects for the long term because that gives you the advantage of really getting to know each other well and those relationships are the ingredient to great outcomes. Part of the foundation of this relationship is you empowering the consulting architect to be just that, an architect, and to determine the best way to document your concept.

Right about now, the construction folks in your organization, and perhaps other departments too, will be freaking out super hard. They’ll tell you that consistency of documentation between different architecture consultants working around the region/country/world on your rollout is key to success, in part because it helps them carry out their mission, which is to manage the bidding and construction phases of project delivery. They’re absolutely correct about this. Then they’ll say that’s exactly why you need to develop a complete set of construction drawings. They’re absolutely wrong about that. All that’s needed is an outline of content for each deliverable document and/or drawing package your organization wants your consulting architects to produce for you. That way, every consulting architect’s deliverables match up in terms of what piece of information is located where. Everyone can relax now. More on this outline stuff in Part 5…

BIM life cyclePart 5: The list of stuff you need to give your consulting architects for a successful rollout.

  1. Detailed outlines of each deliverable you require from the consulting architects and engineers.

These outlines should give names and numbers to sheets as well as what content goes on which sheet. They should also include information on page sizes and scales for particular drawing content. For non-drawing deliverables, the outlines should provide enough detail to guide the consultant through creation of that particular document—think of the outlines we got for making reports in school—that sort of thing.

  1. A standard title block in DXF format with everything in a single pen color on a single layer.

This format allows any consultant to bring your standard title block into whatever software platform they want to use and still have it look uniform. It’s important for you to standardize your title block as it contains a lot of important information that your organization will use to organize all the projects that will be developed in your rollout. Item 3 on this list is also a key ingredient of this title block as it impacts appearance of the title block.

  1. A collection of your organization’s graphic design content and criteria.

What specifically am I talking about here? Go to your graphic designer and have him prepare a folder full of the font files and vector artwork that makes up your brand’s image. The vector artwork should be converted in to DXF files and further purged of layers and colors. We’ll also need a version of that vector artwork in an open format based on the original, full-color version and I would suggest a PDF file. We’ll also want a list of colors used in this brand imagery and conveyed in Pantone numbers, an equivalent color management system, or RGB values. Lastly, we’ll need a copy of the graphic design criteria that your designers use to guide usage, placement, sizing, etc. of the various graphic elements.

  1. Any standard details that are prototypical to the design in DXF format with everything in a single pen color on a single layer.

Just like the title block, this is an open format that allows your consultants to quickly import your standard details into their software of choice. You’ll want one DXF file for each detail.

  1. Any standard specification content in RTF format.

Your specifications need to be in MasterFormat and that combined with using RTF format allows you to be open, so your consultants can bring those specifications with all their formatting (indents, numbered lists, etc.) into whatever software they choose for their workflows and also allows for your specifications to easily mesh with those of the consultants.

  1. A design guide in PDF format.*

A good design guide can be the bridge between taking a consultant who is unfamiliar with your organization’s concept and making that consultant into someone who is ready to carry out that concepts’ identity. The process of creating a design guide will be a challenging one, as it requires a keen understanding of the basic nature of your concept, as well as a discipline in getting to the point with concise writing and easy to follow graphics to explain ideas. The very act of developing and maintaining a design guide over time is an excellent way of keeping your concept in check and staying true to your roots.

  1. Standard finishes, fixtures and equipment data.

By data, I mean several things:

  • Cut sheets for each standard fixture and piece of equipment in PDF format, with one individual PDF for each item and a file name with the name of the piece as well as it’s standard identification number to be used in the construction documents. (Your standard identification numbers for each finish, fixture and equipment piece should be included in the outline I describe in item 1 of this list, as well as what information about these things you want to appear in schedules.)
  • A repeatable pattern image file in PNG format for each standard finish and a file name with the name of the finish as well as it’s standard identification number to be used in the construction documents. (The specifics of what these standard finishes are should appear in the appropriate specification sections that I mention in item 5 of this list.)
  • A single IFC 2 x 3 file for each fixture and piece of equipment that contains a complete three dimensional BIM of the item as well as embedded IFC data for the item’s information that you want to see scheduled in the construction documents (such as manufacturer, model, installation responsibilities, utility rough-in information, etc.) and a file name with the name of the item and it’s standard identification number to be used in the construction documents.
  1. Engineering criteria in PDF format.

Perhaps your organization has standard engineering criteria: a certain type of diffuser you use, a preference for joist girders for long spans, maybe you like plumbing supply piping to be a specific material for some reason, or you want to make sure that your IT systems are protected by certain equipment in the electrical supply. Gather up all this information into engineering criteria that are organized by engineering discipline.

* Design guides can be a controversial topic. The argument against them is that they instantly become outdated, and thereby become both ineffective and cumbersome to maintain. I argue this is because they’re too detailed. A good design guide is just like good design, simple and refined. It needs to focus on its purpose, which is to clearly and concisely state the mantra, the dogma, the rules of the road, the whatever-you-want-to-call-it that guides the principals of your concept’s design. Your consulting architects should be able to get through the design guide in 60-minutes or less, they should enjoy reviewing it, and it should become a resource that they return to over time. If your organization’s design guide is as thick as the phone book, includes details and is bloated with mundane crap like what sheen of paint should be used where, throw it out and start over. Detailed information like that belongs elsewhere; this is a high level document.Building Smart Symbol

Part 6: That’s a fair amount of information, how do we manage it?

Great question! First, this is the 21st century and this information needs to live in The Cloud, where both your organization and your consultants can get to it and where the information gets updated automatically as it changes over time. And that leads me to my next point: managing change.

Since your organization will undoubtedly need to change, add on, take away or otherwise alter something in that list above, you need a system for organizing and communicating that change to your consulting architects, engineers, vendors and contractors. Let your organization’s internal architect take the lead here and develop that system. She will compile the data that makes up the change and speak with the stakeholders about timing and urgency behind the change. Then she will communicate that change out to all the various consultants by explaining: what, why, when and how. Before issuing the change, she will also make sure everything in that list under Part 5 that is affected by the change has been updated as well. The most important part of managing change tends to be the management of when to implement the change in the midst of a rollout where there are often dozens or more projects that are all in different phases of development. There will be lots of opinions in your organization about how to decide on this aspect of the change and you all need to trust your internal architect to listen to those opinions and formulate a measured response.

PS – Concerning The Cloud, don’t use some proprietary solution that requires everyone to install some lamebrain software just to be able to see the files residing in The Cloud. Keep it simple and web browser based.

Part 7: Wait, I have a prototypical building as a part of my concept’s rollout!

Oh, umm…Okay. I was trying to get out of here without discussing that. But I guess it’s the reality we deal with, right? So here it goes. Get rid of your proto-building, let’s be bold! No, just kidding. If you have a prototypical building design, have your internal architect first model that building in its entirety as a three dimensional BIM in IFC 2 x 3 file format. More specifically, here’s how to break down that BIM based on some common scenarios:

  • If you have multiple options for interior build-out versus shell design, keep each shell and each interior in separate IFC 2 x 3 files
  • If you use different methods of envelope construction depending on geographic region, economic model or for any other reason, keep those different envelopes in separate IFC 2 x 3 files
  • Keep the BIM simple, at least in the beginning, as assembling a BIM can be a very personal thing for each consultant. Keeping the BIM simple will make it easier for the consultants to adjust to their own needs
  • This is a starting point, your internal architect, with input from the consultants will be able to tweak the base models she provides over time for improved efficiency and reduced errors

Part 8: Don’t rush it…yet.

There’s a lot of pressure from all sorts of people in your organization with a vested interest in seeing this rollout get going yesterday and then blazing along at a breakneck pace. You’re going to be hiring consulting architects to carry out the design of this rollout using all of this great new design criteria that you’ve carefully created and the biggest mistake you could make at this point in the process is to rush those new consultants into their first project. I know. I know. We don’t have time to dawdle around here, and that is precisely why we must not rush things! Both you and the consulting architects are interested in a long-term relationship. For you, it’s so you don’t have to waste time and money training consultants every time you have a new project. For the consulting architect, it’s so they don’t have to run up costs training staff on a new client for every new project they’re hired to design. There’s a mutual interest in getting things off to a good start here.

Your internal architect will be able to establish a program to onboard new consulting architects and a timeframe for getting those architects ready for their first project. Often, this can be as simple as providing some extra time and hands on guidance for the first project. Another important part of this training process is for the team to get together at the end of that first project to discuss what worked, what didn’t work and how to make that better next time. Architects value these kind of relationships and go the extra mile to perform for clients who take the time to get the project delivery process right. That means this initial investment of time will pay dividends in the form of smooth-running rollouts that are able to stay on schedule – and maybe even reduce schedule over the course of the rollout. Your organization should value that kind of payback.

Now, rollout!

As promised, there’s the good, the comically bad and the downright awful truth about chain concept rollout. It may seem like a lot, but this is a smaller and easier to manage list than what I’ve seen from many of the concepts I’ve been exposed to over the years. You can do this!

Subscribe to the blog so that you don’t miss future guest posts from Jon Buerg: Shoegnome on FacebookTwitter, and the RSS feed. You should also go ahead and follow Jon on twitter. Hopefully that will encourage him to share more of his thoughts on BIM and being an architect in the 21st century. Jon and I first met at an ARCHICAD user group. If you liked this post, let Jon know and then go attend a user group meeting.

The post The Proper Design of Design Criteria appeared first on Shoegnome.

]]> 0
GRAPHISOFT Ships ARCHICAD 19 / Users can now download ARCHICAD 19 Tue, 23 Jun 2015 17:40:16 +0000 It's time to download ARCHICAD 19. Or almost time, if your localization isn't ready yet. Read on for details!

The post GRAPHISOFT Ships ARCHICAD 19 / Users can now download ARCHICAD 19 appeared first on Shoegnome.

Below is the official press release followed by some other things of note.

BUDAPEST, June 23, 2015 – GRAPHISOFT®, the global leader in Building Information Modeling (BIM) solutions for architects, announced today that ARCHICAD® 19’s global rollout process has begun.

Shipping starts with the US, UK/Ireland and International versions on June 24, followed by the German version on June 30 – the first four of 27 local versions, which — according to a busy release schedule — will all reach the market by the end of Q3 2015. For specific shipping dates in the various markets, please contact your local ARCHICAD reseller.

For more information about ARCHICAD 19, please visit


GRAPHISOFT® ignited the BIM revolution in 1984 with ArchiCAD®, the industry first BIM software for architects. GRAPHISOFT continues to lead the industry with innovative solutions such as its revolutionary BIMcloud™, the world’s first real-time BIM collaboration environment, EcoDesigner™, the world’s first fully BIM-integrated “GREEN” design solution and BIMx®, the world’s leading mobile app for BIM visualization. GRAPHISOFT has been a part of the Nemetschek Group since its acquisition in 2007. Visit to see the most important milestones in ARCHICAD’s 30-year history.ac19-header

Bonus Information:

Make sure to follow Shoegnome on Facebook and Twitter. If you’re not a social media person, RSS feed is also a great way to never miss anything either.

The post GRAPHISOFT Ships ARCHICAD 19 / Users can now download ARCHICAD 19 appeared first on Shoegnome.

]]> 2
GRAPHISOFT’S BIMx and BIMx PRO Now Offer Extended Cloud Storage Access Mon, 22 Jun 2015 17:41:01 +0000 This isn't the GRAPHISOFT press release you wanted today, but it's still good. BIMx and BIMx PRO now have extended cloud storage access and a few other great new features.

The post GRAPHISOFT’S BIMx and BIMx PRO Now Offer Extended Cloud Storage Access appeared first on Shoegnome.


BUDAPEST, June 22, 2015 – GRAPHISOFT®, the leading Building Information Modeling (BIM) architectural software developer, has introduced Cloud storage access for its award-winning BIM presentation app, BIMx.

Cloud storage has become the obvious choice of multi-platform and mobile users, especially for users constantly on the go. BIMx is widely used in the AEC industry for design presentations to project stakeholders, and the ability to sync a project model to the latest version is essential in an on-site situation.

Closing the gap between file management apps and BIMx, the document picker allows users to link popular Cloud storage services like iCloud and Dropbox to the app. As a result, downloading and opening BIMx models becomes seamless.

“From the architect’s desk to on-site navigation, BIMx offers a streamlined workflow for all parties in the AEC industry,” said Gyuri Nyitrai, BIMx Product Manager. “A very unique and innovative method of displaying Zone Labels in BIMx helps non-professional users to navigate through building spaces in 3D by providing continuous feedback about the current location. This function, together with the direct access to Cloud storage services, will make BIMx even easier to use for a wider range of people.”


The announcement coincides with a number of new features added to BIMx PRO:

Control Per-Element Info: The real power of BIMx lies in fusing Building Element Information into every bit of the model. From model element quantities to external web links to manufacturer product sheets, the designer can share information specific to each stakeholder’s needs. Using Apple’s data detector technology, the information in an info tag is recognized as an e-mail, telephone number, hyperlink or address, providing direct links to the corresponding mobile app.

AirPrint: BIMx PRO allows users to print 3D and 2D contents of BIMx Hyper-models from iOS devices on AirPrint-compatible printers. Now, clients and all other project stakeholders can quickly print a model detail or even an entire drawing sheet from BIMx PRO without needing to know how to use ARCHICAD.

Zone Stamps on the Floor Plans and Zone Labels in the 3D model are interactive within the BIMx model. By tapping on these items you can access Zone info tags where architects can provide additional information about room finishes or any other space-related details.

BIMx is available in the App Store and on Google Play. Visit the BIMx product site or view this short video for further details.

Sign up for GRAPHISOFT’s upcoming BIMx Webinar on July 7 for a live demonstration of BIMx Cloud storage access.

About BIMx

Award-winning BIMx, the ultimate BIM project presentation application, features the BIMx Hyper-model, a unique technology for integrated 2D and 3D building project navigation. With the BIMx Hyper-model, users enjoy smooth handling and outstanding performance – even for projects with complex 3D models and extensive 2D documentation.


GRAPHISOFT® ignited the BIM revolution in 1984 with ArchiCAD®, the industry first BIM software for architects. GRAPHISOFT continues to lead the industry with innovative solutions such as its revolutionary BIMcloud™, the world’s first real-time BIM collaboration environment, EcoDesigner™, the world’s first fully BIM-integrated “GREEN” design solution and BIMx®, the world’s leading mobile app for BIM visualization. GRAPHISOFT has been a part of the Nemetschek Group since its acquisition in 2007. Visit to see the most important milestones in ARCHICAD’s 30-year history.


The post GRAPHISOFT’S BIMx and BIMx PRO Now Offer Extended Cloud Storage Access appeared first on Shoegnome.

]]> 0
Basic Unchangeable Decisions Sat, 20 Jun 2015 22:00:00 +0000 I look at the roads in Australia and think about BIM. It feels so simple and easy to declare that they are wrong and the majority of the world is right.

The post Basic Unchangeable Decisions appeared first on Shoegnome.

A Brit, an Australian, and an American walk into a bar. It was after a long day of adventures around Brisbane, Australia. For two of them the sun was in the wrong location in the sky. For one of them the cars were driving on the wrong side of the road. One had to translate m to ft everywhere. One lived comfortably in m. The third struggled with an awkward balance of the two (plus stones). Each looked at the others’ electrical plugs and thought “stupid.” But more or less everyone was using the same language and claimed to be a native speaker.

Loo, Shitter, Toilet, Restroom

Sitting in the car, speeding down the highway to the Australia Zoo, trying to adjust to everything on the road being flipped, my mind of coursed wandered to templates and BIM. This wasn’t too surprising since Rob, Nathan, and I spent a lot of our time talking about templates and BIM. We were all together to speak at ArchiCON. Australia (and the UK’s and Japan’s) roads led me to muse about basic unchangeable decisions. The three of us could all argue about who’s right. How driving on the right or left makes more sense. How the non-hot pepper should be called a bell pepper or a pepper or a Jon’s head or a capsicum. How the room we all use to pee should be called the Loo or the Toilet or the Restroom or the Privy. And how every time I said restroom I was laughed at, and the creeping doubt appeared: Maybe I’m foolish to say restroom. Maybe I’m wrong. After all we are all speaking English. One of us is right, right? And in Australia, I was definitely in the minority for what to call that room we all use. For the most part we knew what each other meant—except sports, shit, I was lost because they were using weird words to talk about weird activities we don’t really do in the USA.  But if we all called these things the same (bin lorry instead of garbage truck), there would be a bit more clarity. That’s good, right? I’m not convinced. Removing the colloquial diversity would be sad and sterile. I think it’d make each of our core selves a little less interesting.

But the roads! Wouldn’t it be great to just fix the roads? It’s not hard to argue for which side should win for that. So much of the world already drives on the right. Australia, the UK, Japan, and those other places should just switch. They should adjust and be like everyone else. Right? Same with meters and feet. The USA should just join modern times. We should submit to metric. Goodbye perfect 65 degree weather. Hello…whatever 65 degrees is in Celsius (18, I checked). That won’t ever happen. And it shouldn’t. Imagine the chaos. Imagine the cost. Imagine the unnecessary effort. Think about the mental energy required by millions of over a billion people to look left then right then left each time rather than right then left then right. And all the other little psychological shifts. I know these changes have happened in the past, but I think we’re pretty much past the point of world unification.

I can claim that our way is better, that Australia and the world would be better off. No more building custom cars for select backwards countries. No more energy reminding foreigners that things are different here. It would streamline industry. It would save some big companies a lot of money. But it will never happen and it’s pointless and not worth the effort. There are so many other things to focus on, so much other work to do. This isn’t a basic decision we need to fight. Other things we do need to combat, but not this one. That 10% of the world’s roads are reversed from the other 90% is a basic unchangeable decision. It is what it is.

I daydream about roads and then think about being a practicing architect. What are the basic unchangeable decisions of BIM? The existence of multiple software programs? Definitely. There is no answer to Revit vs ARCHICAD: what’s the point? It’s just driving on different sides of the road. But we can dig deeper than that. There are ways we use these programs which don’t need to be fought against. There are aspects of templates that we can accept. Understanding what those are are important. Because some things do need to be scrapped, even though the effort may seem insurmountable. Some things are holding us back. Others aren’t. We need to understand the difference. What campaigns to fix Australia have you faced when developing processes and systems for how to work more efficiently with BIM? When have you wisely stopped fighting because it was meaningless to win, or lose?Converting full

Self Driving Cars of BIM

There is another way to look at this issue. When will these immutable differences that are pointless to have but impossible to change vanish? Perhaps IFC5 or IFC6 will solve interoperability and we can all become software agnostic—not in our personal choices, but in the ability to work with anyone. Or maybe processor power will increase such that file size, number of faces, and model regeneration will cease to be a problem. Perhaps in a few years we will speak to our computers in plain language and our BIM programs will properly interpret what we mean. I think of these future solutions as the self-driving cars of BIM. When we all stop driving, when AI does it for us, does it matter what side of the road we drive on? No.

Subscribe to my blog to read more about the tricky world of being an Architect in the 21st century: Shoegnome on FacebookTwitter, and the RSS feed. Look at the marketing of ARCHICAD 19. GRAPHISOFT is using words like automation and predictive. I’m sure all their competitors are thinking about this stuff too. It’s still early days, but amazing things are coming. And fast. ARCHICAD 30 and Revit 2027 will make ARCHICAD 19 and Revit 2016 look like piles of archaic garbage. We will look back at the best in class software of 2015 and it will be comparable to how we currently feel about AutoCAD 2.5 and ARCHICAD 4.55. Focus on what matters, not on the pointless to change and/or the inevitably solved by wild technological advances.

The post Basic Unchangeable Decisions appeared first on Shoegnome.

]]> 2
8th Annual CRAN Symposium: September 19-23, 2015 | Minneapolis, Minnesota Thu, 18 Jun 2015 00:10:14 +0000 The AIA CRAN Symposium for 2015 has been announced. I'm super excited to be on the list of speakers. Plus I get to visit Minnesota! Will I see you there?

The post 8th Annual CRAN Symposium: September 19-23, 2015 | Minneapolis, Minnesota appeared first on Shoegnome.

The Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN), a Knowledge Community of The American Institute of Architects, will hold its 8th annual symposium on September 19-23 at the Depot Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The four-day symposium, open to all AIA and non-AIA members, will bring together custom residential architects from across the country to learn, share, and discuss relevant topics in the field of residential architecture.CRAN_2015 symposiumI’ll be at the symposium, both as a member of the CRAN Advisory Group and as a speaker. My talk is titled “Elevating the Art of BIM for Residential Design & Practice“. Catchy, right? If you missed my talk in Las Vegas at the 2015 GRAPHISOFT North America BIM Conference or the one I gave at ArchiCON in Brisbane a few months later, you’re in luck. I’ll be covering similar topics in Minneapolis—though from a more BIM-agnostic point of view, and with many more months of knowledge and writing to draw upon. I’m really excited to push even deeper into the mystical intersection of BIM and Art.

You had to be thereI’ve promised Rob Jackson of Bond Bryan Architects that I’d include (and explain) this image of me taking a photograph of a painting that I honestly just love. It’s one of those pieces of art that you see and it just haunts you with its awesomeness and beauty. Well it’s haunting me. It’s actually one of three pieces of art that Rob and I saw while sightseeing in Brisbane that I think is super applicable to how we can all push BIM to the limits and really expand the artistic possibilities of both our chosen media (BIM) and the products of our work (the built environment). I’ll try to share my thoughts on each of the three works of art in the coming months. I think those blog posts will help frame my talk in September.

The AIA CRAN Symposium is going to be an awesome event. Check out the list of Speakers. It’s an impressive group that I am super honored and humbled to be a part of. This event is all that much more special to me because it’s also a homecoming of sorts. I haven’t been back to Minnesota since I moved away in June of 2013. I am super excited to see all my Minnesota friends and visit my old haunts. Plus for my fellow ARCHICAD users, we’ll do some sort of special ARCHICAD event while I’m in town.

For more details, info on all the speakers (including me), and all the buttons to register, click here.

Subscribe to my blog to read more about the tricky world of being an Architect in the 21st century, and to learn more about the art of BIM: Shoegnome on FacebookTwitter, and the RSS feed. If you want to keep up to date on all things related to CRAN, follow CRAN on Facebook and Twitter as well.

The post 8th Annual CRAN Symposium: September 19-23, 2015 | Minneapolis, Minnesota appeared first on Shoegnome.

]]> 0
Be Open, My Friend: Bruce Lee and the secrets of OpenBIM Thu, 11 Jun 2015 05:02:16 +0000 Guest blogger Jon Buerg shares his thoughts on openBIM. This post includes both the best BIMpoem and best BIM image of 2015.

The post Be Open, My Friend: Bruce Lee and the secrets of OpenBIM appeared first on Shoegnome.

This Guest Post is by Jon Buerg

The more you get into BIM, the more you’ll hear about openBIM. The more you hear about openBIM, the more you realize that its proponents are also the most knowledgeable people in the industry. Then, once you realize all of this, you start to see the amazing things you and others on the project team can get out of the BIMs you’re making, because openness is the key that unlocks the ability to share the ‘I’ in BIM, the Information, outside of your own discipline.

When you’re open, vendors can extract lists of equipment for purchase orders, contractors can start to read takeoff and cost data for estimating, energy consultants can analyze embedded data to optimize building performance, and the whole team can quickly find conflicts between disciplines. All of this happens when the exchange of data is through open file formats and between software from a wide range of developers, rather than a monoculture that leaves the project’s limits and fate to the whims and weaknesses of a single software company.

We’ve been given a gift with BIM technology. From the CAD years, the community learned that we needed to be more open and universal. Now we get to benefit from the knowledge of those lessons learned. In tribute to this, I decided to paraphrase martial arts expert and actor Bruce Lee’s famous “be water” quote. For me, this was an easy analog because the “be water” quote is all about flexibility and adaptability, which are the same benefits we admire with openBIM. Enjoy!

Open up your BIMs.
Be versionless. Platformless. Like IFC.
You bring an IFC into Revit, it becomes the RVT.
You bring an IFC into ArchiCAD, it becomes the PLN.
You bring an IFC into Allplan, it becomes the NDW.
IFCs can flow data to all, proprietary BIM files can not.
Be open, my friend.

 Bruce IFC

Subscribe to the blog so that you don’t miss future guest posts from Jon Buerg: Shoegnome on FacebookTwitter, and the RSS feed. You should also go ahead and follow Jon on twitter. Hopefully that will encourage him to share more of his thoughts on BIM and being an architect in the 21st century. How do Jon and I know each other? From a ton of things these days, but it all goes back to originally meeting at a user group. So if you liked this post, let Jon know and then go attend a user group meeting.

The post Be Open, My Friend: Bruce Lee and the secrets of OpenBIM appeared first on Shoegnome.

]]> 0
DWG output from ARCHICAD via Worksheets Mon, 08 Jun 2015 17:42:16 +0000 A brilliant way to get bullet proof DWG output from ARCHICAD. Your archaic DWG using consultants will be amazed and extremely happy with the results.

The post DWG output from ARCHICAD via Worksheets appeared first on Shoegnome.

Over on BIM Engine, I wrote about why the 2015 GRAPHISOFT North America BIM Conference was amazing. Here’s the post. I more recently wrote about my favorite ARCHICAD blogs run for the benefit of individual companies. Here’s that post, too. There’s a lot of commonalities between those two posts, including plenty of name dropping. The connection I want to talk about today though is what happens when passionate users start talking about challenges in ARCHICAD. During the BIM Conference a number of people mentioned in those two posts were standing around in a vast Las Vegas hallway, waiting for another lecture to start. I can’t remember exactly who was there, but let’s say it was Patrick May, Nathan Hildebrandt, Brian Spears, Link Ellis, Eduardo Rolón, and myself. Plus I’m sure we were collectively channeling Rob Jackson, who was probably asleep in his bed in Sheffield dreaming about IFC. Maybe it wasn’t a discussion between all of us at once, but instead a conversation that spanned a few days, starting and stopping in various swanky Las Vegas venues. Within this conversation were countless topics. But one that came up was how to save DWGs from ARCHICAD—specifically how to do it in the best manner. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. I know. DWG is so archaic and backwards. We should be talking about the best way to exchange IFC. And believe me. We did that too. And then we did that again with a slightly different circle a few months later in Brisbane, Australia.

What follows is Patrick May’s revelations from all those conversations about DWGs. He remembers the exact conversation a bit differently than I do. That might be because I joined late, or during the second iteration of the discussion. It doesn’t matter.


worksheetWhile at the 2015 GRAPHISOFT North America BIM Conference in Las Vegas a small group of users where standing around after a session entitled “Working With Autodesk Firms”. The discussion quickly turn to solutions for DWG output. It has been my experience that sending IFC generally yields quick, easy coordination with little content or format complaints. Sending DWG’s however usually results in a lot of back and forth, adjusting Model View Options, Layers, DWG translator settings, etc. In fact, I have been developing a DWG output folder for each consultant with MVO settings, a DWG translator and a Readme document so that all my coworkers can replicate the settings which any given consultant has been happy with in the past.

There were many suggestions in this post-session conversation. The one that struck me as both creative and crazy was a comment on exploding the view to clean up Layers, Fills, consolidate linework, etc. At this suggestion I had a thought for what I believe is the perfect solution for DWG output and controlling content: why not use a Worksheet for creating a DWG? We use independent Worksheets for importing DWG’s as a figure or x-ref, so why not for saving them out?

The Worksheet is essentially a duplicate of the Detail Marker. This means that a source marker will take all the content of a 3D based view (plan, section, elevation, etc) and turn it into Lines and Fills. One of the biggest complaints/comments from consultants receiving an ARCHICAD produced DWG is that “there are too many lines and fills”. This is because of the vectors needed to define a 3d element such as a wall are often duplicated in plan view. When we create a worksheet of that plan view, it becomes incredibly simple to select all lines, and consolidate. If you create a series of Find & Select settings it also becomes quick to select all lines on the wall Layers and turn them to polylines with the unify command. In addition, doing a Find and Select will allow you to select certain Fills (cover fills, cut fills or drafting fills) and delete or change them as needed.

The result is essentially a preview of what the DWG content will be, before exporting and sending. In addition, this worksheet can be saved to the View Map for repeated and consistent output via the Publisher. This guarantees that the best MVO settings and DWG translator are automatically applied to that consultants drawings every time. If the source view changes—a wall moves for example—simply rebuild the worksheet from its source and follow the pre-defined Find & Select functions to re-consolidate and edit the Worksheet again.

Linework Before Consolidation (28 lines for a simple corner)

linework before consolidation

Linework Consolidation Wizard (delete and explode)

Linework Consolidation WizardLinework After Consolidation & Cleanup (13 lines for the same corner)

linework after consolidation

Okay, Jared again. I think this process is incredible. Patrick can’t humbly say this idea is genius, but I can. ARCHICAD already has the tools we need to turn our views into dumb 2D. Of course we never want to do this, right? Except all those annoying times when we have to send out DWGs. What a wonderful way to control content and visuals. As far as I can tell (I spent some time researching) no one else has documented this process anywhere on the web. Why not? Are we missing something? Or did it take the collective inspiration of decades and decades of ARCHICAD experience talking over free coffee and pastries to figure this out? I have a hunch it’s the latter. What do you think? Are you going to test this solution out when you are forced to create DWGs for a consultant? I sure am.


To make sure everyone understands the first steps of this process (making the Worksheet and beginning to clean up the view), I made a short video. Check it out:

If you aren’t familiar with the blog Patrick runs, do yourself a favor and head there now. My feelings won’t be hurt too much if that becomes your favorite ARCHICAD blog. I’ll be happy to be in your top three.

Subscribe to my blog to read more about the tricky world of being an Architect in the 21st century: Shoegnome on FacebookTwitter, and the RSS feed. Maybe after a few more ARCHICAD events, someone will come up with a similarly amazing and simple process for validating other kinds of exports with surprisingly useful ARCHICAD tools that aren’t explicitly designed for that purpose.

The post DWG output from ARCHICAD via Worksheets appeared first on Shoegnome.

]]> 13
Seattle ARCHICAD 19 User Group – June 24, 2015 Fri, 05 Jun 2015 21:37:50 +0000 It's June in Seattle. Let's get together for an ARCHICAD user group and talk about the latest version, ARCHICAD 19!

The post Seattle ARCHICAD 19 User Group – June 24, 2015 appeared first on Shoegnome.

ArchiCAD User Group - 18We have our next Seattle ARCHICAD User Group scheduled. If you’re in the Seattle area you probably already know the drill. We’re meeting at the same location as the recent meetings, but this time on a Wednesday night. And once again, a big thank you to Geoff Briggs, John DeForest and the whole team at DeForest Architects for letting us congregate in their great new(ish) office. Here are the details:


Wednesday June 24, 2015
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM


DeForest Architects
1148 NW Leary Way
Seattle, WA 98107


Jesse Gallanar, GSNA’s sales manager for Washington, Oregon, and Alaska

What’s Happening:

We’re keeping it simple this month. There’ll be one main topic: ARCHICAD 19. Of course as anyone who’s ever been to a user group that I’ve run knows, lengthy lectures aren’t the goal. The official topic is just a starting point. I know we’ll all be jazzed to talk about ARCHICAD 19, but if we get sidetracked, that’s okay. What I want to see—and what I hope the topic will facilitate—is a two hour discussion about ARCHICAD that continues afterwards at a local bar**. So if you don’t want to talk about ARCHICAD 19, that’s okay. Show up and change the subject. Sound good? Bring whatever you need: questions, a project, a printout, a gripe, a coworker, a friend, a disgruntled Revit user, a prospective user. I don’t care. I just want to get a big bunch of passionate ARCHICAD and BIM users together to talk about what’s important. You in? ALSO…if you have a question or topic you’d like to have discussed, please e-mail me ahead of time. I can’t promise we’ll cover it (especially if you ask about EcoDesigner STAR), but we’ll do our best. Oh and if you are curious, here are my initial thoughts on ARCHICAD 19. Spoiler alert: I think it’s an awesome release.

Please share this post and e-mail it to all your coworkers. I know not everyone gets the official e-mails about user groups—especially new and/or quieter employees.

**100% yes we will be having an after-party ARCHICAD nerdfest at a nearby bar. Geoff tells me there are a lot of great places to go close to their new office. And I assume, as with the previous meetings, Jesse will be feeding us.

Seattle Area ARCHICAD User Mailing List

I’m creating a mailing list for ARCHICAD users in the Seattle Area (or people interested in Seattle Area ARCHICAD events). If that describes you, sign up by clicking here.

A Big Link to Register for the User Group

Go sign up to claim your spot and let Jesse know he needs to feed you: REGISTER HERE!

Subscribe to my blog to read more about the tricky world of being an Architect in the 21st century, and more info on various ArchiCAD meet-ups across the globe: Shoegnome on FacebookTwitter, and the RSS feed. If you aren’t in Seattle, don’t worry. There are a lot of other user groups coming up. Check out a big list here for all the events GRAPHISOFT North America knows about.

The post Seattle ARCHICAD 19 User Group – June 24, 2015 appeared first on Shoegnome.

]]> 2
Roommate Test of Manhood Thu, 28 May 2015 17:23:48 +0000 Two projects from my time at school show how a strict adherence to digital or analog tools can lead to trouble. I learned a lesson and went with the tool that failed.

The post Roommate Test of Manhood appeared first on Shoegnome.

There are two projects from my time at Rice University that perfectly illustrate the modern plight of the architect. One, a windfarm visitors center located in Marfa, Texas was my most clunky and disappointing project in school. When I reached the point where I had enough to show in my portfolio, it was the first of my work to get axed (along with all the garbage from Freshman year). The other project, a gymnasium and dance studio in the 12th arrondissement in Paris, was one of my favorites. At least one image from that project has already made it into a blog post. For both these projects, a single decision I made at the beginning of the semester decided my subsequent success or failure.

windfarmDuring school I could see a shift happening. At the Rice University School of Architecture we didn’t officially use computers until our Junior year. Many of us taught ourselves AutoCAD the second half of Sophomore year to help us get summer internships, but Freshman and Sophomore year were all about hand drafting and model building. I’m not even sure I stepped into the computer lab until I’d been at school three semesters. By the time I started my final year of the BArch, the irreversible seachange occurred. Freshmen were in the computer lab using Maya and Photoshop. It still wasn’t sanctioned by the school (that would come a few years later), but the digital revolution was unstoppable. Computers were seeping into every aspect of our education. In 1999, we clipped magazines and glued things onto boards.  By the time I left school in 2005, everything was grabbed from the Internet, arranged in Illustrator, and printed on 11 x 17.

At the end of my Junior year, I made a conscious effort to design the windfarm project using only the computer. The huge wave of new students with amazing computer skills was still a year or two away, but things were already changing. In an effort to get better at AutoCAD (to help me get an even better summer job), I went all in. I recall barely putting a pen or pencil to a notebook. Everything was digital. Almost. I did build three basswood models, but those were all presentation models done at points where the design paused. I was probably using AutoCAD 2000 or 2002 and nothing else. It was a disaster. The project had no soul. I was overly rigid. The design was sterile.

The windfarm was also my first studio project where we had to add “green” elements, which I know also contributed to its downfall. I was heavy-handed and adhered too closely to the “optimal” solution based on whatever I was reading and researching at the time. Applying strict formulas to a project is never a good idea. Perhaps it was the combination of sustainability and computers, or maybe it was just the computers. Either way, while I got a good grade, that project left me cold. My first venture into designing without hand sketching was ugly, and enough to convince most people that designing without a pencil just doesn’t work.

My best friend (and current architecture partner over at Grayform Architecture) David Jefferis and I spent our penultimate semester of college at the Rice School of Architecture Paris. We had been roommates for two years and often challenged each other to Roommate Tests of Manhood. We were architecture students with hobbies like cooking, playing guitar, and discussing video games so these feats of strength typically included such struggles as opening a jar of pickles in front of a girlfriend, driving six hours to New Orleans without stopping to pee, charretting without coffee, cooking meat, etc. Paris provided our greatest and final Roommate Test of Manhood (I got married after our Senior year; so with my wife back in Houston, this was our last time to be irresponsible roommates). While every other student would be bringing a computer with them to carry on the standard practice of an upper level architecture student, we made a pact: computers were for e-mail and other such non-studio activities. We would do our individual projects like our proverbial architectural forefathers. No AutoCAD, no 3D Viz, no Illustrator CS or Photoshop 7.0. Everything by hand. It was a luxury and an anomaly. And my project kicked ass.

Something is wrong here, right? I failed to design with only the computer and crushed it using ONLY sketching. Yet now I get angry when I hear endlessly about how architects need to sketch to design, that there are no good designers that don’t sketch, that the pencil is our god. What’s going on?PARIS PROJECT - AXON

Intention, Experimentation, and a focus on Process

I didn’t have fun doing the windfarm. I was rigid and unintentional in the use of my chosen media. I didn’t explore or experiment or take advantage of the power of the tool I was using. I wasn’t consciously focusing on how I was designing. I was just doing stuff. It was kind of crap.

In Paris I was very cognizant of what was going on. I knew I was handicapped by my chosen media. In the year between the windfarm and the paris project I became much more fluent in the computer. I built tons of study models and doodled things by hand, but I no longer did much presentation work that wasn’t digital. There was no need to. Computers were fast and I knew Illustrator—oh the amazing things students can do with Adobe Illustrator! Being in Paris I knew I was using a skill that was already atrophying. And more importantly I knew I was going to be up against students who didn’t have this weird self-imposed restriction against computers. My solution was to look back at what I was really good at. Or at least really enjoyed. To a style I had developed but long laid dormant. I drew cartoons. Literally, one of my presentation drawings was a comic strip. How cool is that? Everything was loose and playful. The final building was good, but the documentation and expression of the project was great.

PARIS PROJECT - ENTRY CARTOONThis idea was aided by another decision I made: to work as much as possible outside of studio. I figured, if I was going to be in Paris for four months, I was not going to waste my time indoors. So I sat and designed in my sketchbook along the banks of the Seine, in the Bois de Vincennes (my favorite), and anywhere else I could go. Often I just walked around the Pere-Lachaise cemetery and pretended to work. Oh and I designed while sitting at the site. Of course.

What I learned wasn’t the supremacy of one tool over another, but of the greater process. My process in Paris was so much better and much more intentional. And if you look at the 2D documentation, it’s hard to argue that the second process didn’t win out.

But if you look closer at the design of the Paris project there’s something amiss. If you take away all my cartoons and cool diagrams, if you were to just build the building or show technical drawings, much of the life of the project would vanish. Oh I did some cool things with progression, views into, out of, and across the building, and I developed different types of spaces, but the greatest parts of the building weren’t the building. They were the representation of the building and the representation of the ideas of the building. And to me, looking back from 2015, this is a failure. For all the lameness of my windfarm, the dullness of design, documentation, and theoretical built project were equal. In fact, I bet the actual building would probably be better than how it looked on the screen. But the reverse is definitely true of the Paris project. The images I created were sexy, playful, and enticing. The building—while a design I still like—failed to translate that love.

PARIS PROJECT modelNow this story could also be told via the projects that came between the windfarm and the gymnasium, or my last project in school after Paris. The three that came between learned from the mess of the windfarm. I did more by hand, and also got better at thinking within the computer (this post has images of one of those projects). The last project though was the most important one. I returned to the computer after Paris, but with a better understanding of myself as a designer. I figured out ways to merge the joy and freedom of Paris with the power of Illustrator, Photoshop, and AutoCAD. And I made sure that that joy continued into the actual design of the project. What resulted was—while my worst studio grade since Freshman year for other reasons—one of my favorite projects. It was weird, like me. It was adventurous, like the drawings. It was partially designed with cartoons, and those cartoons informed how the design could survived the transition into the computer and physical model form.

It is not the tool, but the intention.

We continue to give agency to one, but not the other.

This is foolish.

For more guru-like insight from my days at school, read this post about why no one gives a shit about you. Subscribe to my blog to read more about the tricky world of being an Architect in the 21st century: Shoegnome on FacebookTwitter, and the RSS feed. I wish I had more images of these projects to share, but prior to September 5th, 2006 I didn’t take data safety seriously.

The post Roommate Test of Manhood appeared first on Shoegnome.

]]> 5
Live Online Webinar: Introducing ARCHICAD 19 – Faster than Ever! Tue, 26 May 2015 17:24:01 +0000 ARCHICAD 19 is now faster than ever! Learn more during this live online webinar.

The post Live Online Webinar: Introducing ARCHICAD 19 – Faster than Ever! appeared first on Shoegnome.

ARCHICAD 19 webinarWHO:

GRAPHISOFT, the leading Building Information Modeling (BIM) software vendor


A live online webinar on June 1 featuring GRAPHISOFT’s ARCHICAD 19. ARCHICAD 19 is now faster than ever! No more waiting for views to load. Because GRAPHISOFT has extended its robust 64-bit and multi-processing technologies with background processing—an industry first for BIM. So ARCHICAD now offers lightning-fast response times. And this turbo-charged update to ARCHICAD makes it the undisputed speed leader in the BIM business.

In this webinar, we will present Bradford College, designed by Bond Bryan Architects. Bradford College is one of Britain’s largest further education colleges, located in Bradford in West Yorkshire, with approximately 25,000 students. Bond Bryan Architects are a UK-based design firm of 90 professionals, with studios in London, Sheffield and Kent, plus representatives across the globe. Bond Bryan used ARCHICAD and benefited from the OPEN BIM workflow throughout the various design and construction stages.

Join us on June 1 to learn more about:

  • ARCHICAD 19’s new predictive background processing technology that generates nearly instant model views;
  • Point Cloud support that provides faster, error-free building surveys by using the latest 3D scanner laser-survey technology;
  • Improved Mac and Windows experience;
  • Intuitive workflow enhancements: Permanent Guide Lines, Listing and Annotation enhancements, PDF Improvements;
  • OPEN BIM enhancements – improved interoperability and collision detection.

WHEN: Monday, June 1, 2015

Register here!

Please register for any of the dates/times below to join the free, online seminar!

For Australia and Asia (English):
Mon, Jun 1, 2015; 4:00 PM EST (Sydney Time):
register here:

For Europe, Middle-East and Africa (English):
Mon, Jun 1, 2015 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM GMT (London Time)
register here:

For the Americas (English):
Mon, Jun 1, 2015 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM PDT (Pacific Time, Los Angeles)
register here:


GRAPHISOFT® ignited the BIM revolution in 1984 with ARCHICAD®, the industry first BIM software for architects. GRAPHISOFT continues to lead the industry with innovative solutions such as its revolutionary BIMcloud® the world’s first real-time BIM collaboration environment, EcoDesigner™, the world’s first fully BIM-integrated “GREEN” design solution and BIMx®, the world’s leading mobile app for BIM visualization. GRAPHISOFT has been a part of the Nemetschek Group since its acquisition in 2007.

The post Live Online Webinar: Introducing ARCHICAD 19 – Faster than Ever! appeared first on Shoegnome.

]]> 1
Colloquial BIM Fri, 15 May 2015 19:37:40 +0000 When talking about BIM, we often use language that confuses rather than clarifies. Do you know when you are speaking Proprietary or Colloquial BIM?

The post Colloquial BIM appeared first on Shoegnome.

Back in December 2014, I wrote a blog post on Speaking ARCHICAD, Speaking BIM and Miscommunication and there were some additional thoughts that didn’t quite fit in the original article. So in lieu of writing an article comparing Revit 2016 vs ARCHICAD 19 (I think we might be done with that sort of talk), here’s some thoughts on why direct comparisons often fall flat.

Proprietary and Colloquial BIM

Some proprietary terms become so over used that they become generic. Kleenex is a great example. In the USA that word is the generic catch all for facial tissue. Kleenex has become a generic trademark and you’ll get weird looks if you ask for a facial tissue. Everyone asks for a Kleenex (or maybe a tissue), but everybody knows that you don’t care whether it’s actually a Kleenex or some store brand tissue.

Some proprietary terms become just regular words without any connection maintained to the original. If you know the word moxie, it’s probably in reference to someone who has courage and energy. But odds are you don’t know that moxie comes from the name brand of a soda, Moxie, that’s been sold since 1884. If someone from New England (like me) says someone has Moxie, they might actually mean that person literally has some kick ass soda that some people love (like me), others find disgusting (like my wife), and most people have never heard of.

Some proprietary terms are colloquially generic. I spent a number of years in the southern part of the USA. In many places down south if you ask for a coke at a restaurant, the waiter or waitress will then ask you what kind, and you might say “Pepsi, Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Surge, Moxie, etc.” To most of us Coke is a word we say to mean Coca Cola, but for some regions of the USA it is just a term for any soda.

Coke vs not cokeThe next time you are having a conversation about BIM, ARCHICAD, or really anything related to architecture, think about the words you are using. Are you using proprietary terms, colloquial terms, or clear language that everyone understands? And if you are using special words, is that making it harder for your collaborators, friends, and colleagues to do their jobs?

Not an opening to start an argument

There was a discussion a while back on LinkedIn where someone commented that it’d be great to see a giant list which showed the analogous terminology between ARCHICAD and Revit. A light hearted response went something like this:

That list would be super short! It’d just be:
Command in ARCHICAD = Revit can’t do that
Command in ARCHICAD = Revit can’t do that
Command in ARCHICAD = Revit can’t do that

Okay so we all know that’s not true. And I’m sure the Revit crowd could just swap program names and make the same joke. For fairness, here you go:

That list would be super short! It’d just be:
Command in Revit = ARCHICAD can’t do that
Command in Revit = ARCHICAD can’t do that
Command in Revit = ARCHICAD can’t do that

But there is a grain of truth to the joke because while those programs have similar goals, they achieve them in different ways. And as we all know treating ARCHICAD like Revit or vice versa is a recipe for disaster. One reason is because there are often no directly translatable tools and terms. Sure there are some that are probably so close that they are the same, but it’s not 100%. A list of command/tool equivalents would probably confuse as much as clarify. It would be full of so many caveats.

When talking BIM, it’s important to remember to focus on common terms and language, and understand that the peculiarities of program A don’t necessary matter to program B. And that those things might not actually be BIM, just some things users of that program have to deal with, for ill or good. The Object vs Family comparison is probably the most prominent and best example of two aspects of these programs that are almost the same but probably not at all. For that discussion, check out these two awesome guest posts from a while back:

If you enjoyed this article, make sure to read the original as well: Speaking ARCHICAD, Speaking BIM and Miscommunication.

If you are interested in all the ways that people use different terms but (generally) mean the same thing, there’s no better place to go than the NC State Dialect Survey Maps.

Whether we are talking about BIM, ARCHICAD, Revit, or who gets to use the term architect, I think the words we use matter. Subscribe to my blog to read more about the tricky world of being an Architect in the 21st century: Shoegnome on FacebookTwitter, and the RSS feed.

The post Colloquial BIM appeared first on Shoegnome.

]]> 2
My house is full of wires I don’t need Thu, 14 May 2015 03:34:52 +0000 When a previous owner remodeled my house in the late 1990s and early 2000s, he probably thought he was creating a futuristic, high end palace.

The post My house is full of wires I don’t need appeared first on Shoegnome.

When a previous owner remodeled my house in the late 1990s and early 2000s, he probably thought he was creating a futuristic, high end palace for him and his wife. Things didn’t turn out so well. I do have the nicest kitchen in my zip code (probably) but my house is only futuristic in the 1960s WORLD OF TOMORROW sense (ie, it’s not) and I’m pretty sure the remodel led to divorce. How to make sure a remodel strengthens your marriage is a topic for another day. So let’s talk about futuristic houses instead.

My house is filled with thousands and thousands of dollars worth of wires. Wires I do not need. Wires that have just been gathering dust for years. My house was built in 1939 and then heavily remodeled from about 1999 to 2004. Yes, that’s a long remodel. The previous owner went overboard. He wisely removed all the old knob and tube wiring, but didn’t just replace it one for one with new copper wiring. He wired the house for sound, security, data, phone, and more. He was an electrical contractor and did all the work himself. He spared no expense. Having spent the 1990s wiring up homes for the original Seattle tech elite, he did the same ultra-level of detail to his own house. The quantity and quality is unreal. He was a superb craftsman. Every time I have some contractor, technician, or other person in the building industry over to my house, there is inevitably a tour followed by comments like “I need to show the guys back in the office this” and “what?!” and “there’s a lot of money here” and “the only other time I’ve seen anything like this is at this survivalist compound built by a former CEO of <big tech company>”. I’m not joking or exaggerating. Before I insulated my attic I would take people up there to show off the insanity of it. Not one of the wires in the image below is currently in use. And this is but one small corner of my attic (pre-insulation).

I do not need any of these wiresThe most recent example of discovering another layer of overbuilding happened this week when a worker from a local internet provider came to my house to connect up the new fiber optic cable they’d just installed along my street. The technician became perplexed when looking at my phone line, which is of course buried in the ground and thus comes out of a hole in my basement wall. My main phone line, unlike yours, is about 3/4″ thick and is wired to support about twenty-five phone lines. The tech said that the phone company doesn’t do this sort of thing. It must have been a special job. He only ever sees wiring like this to commercial buildings.

The technician left my house without connecting me to the fiber optic cable because the giant phone wire went nowhere—the phone box it should be connected to was missing—and more importantly because all that money sunk into a big fat coil of copper wires wasn’t good enough to handle the blazing speed of the fiber optic cable. My overbuilt phone line, which probably hadn’t been connected to a land line in umpteen years, was outdated and worthless. In a few weeks, the tech will return, run a new fiber optic cable through the buried conduit, and connect me to the modern world. The only thing the existing wires are good for are acting as a lead to pull a string through the conduit—a string that will then be used to pull the new wires through. What a waste.

This story is typical of my house. So many of the wires are part of unfinished or completely outdated systems. The house is wired for security, but the system was never installed. Any new security system would be completely wireless. The house has a home audio system, with fat speaker wires running through the walls and ceilings, and paired speakers in most rooms. The basement portion was never completed: the wires just dead end into an electrical box you’d find in the back room of a Chipotle. The upstairs wires all come to an empty alcove in the kitchen where a sound system should be. Speakers however are but one part of a sound system. When we bought the house, I thought, hey, whole-house audio! I daydreamed a little bit about having Pantera blasting through the house while I worked, or perhaps some Taylor Swift dance parties with my daughters. Then I researched getting the sound system up and running. I’d need thousands of dollars of equipment: amps, sources, switches, etc. Again, this was a high end system, so buying a used two-channel stereo won’t cut it. All that on top of testing to make sure the speakers still work and provide decent sound. I did the math. It’d be cheaper to buy an iPad for each room in my house, just for music. But of course I don’t even need that because wireless speakers exist. And I can just connect those speakers to the iPad I already own. Or to be honest, the iPad has pretty good speakers already, so I don’t even need to bother. I can just carry the iPad from room to room. Which I’m probably doing anyways for one reason or another.

So UselessAll these systems and wires were installed around 1999. Between then and July 2014 when my wife and I bought the house, there were two other home owners who just let those wires take up space. The speaker cables sat in a big coil in the kitchen. The attic was littered with wires. Downstairs speaker cables, Cat-5, and a host of other low voltage wiring ended in two giant electrical boxes that transformed one room from a potential office or play space into a sharp edged, vaguely dangerous utility room. Even though the previous owners weren’t using the phones, security system, or speakers, they didn’t touch them. They were the owners of those wires, but there was a fear of removing someone else’s hard work, and of destroying value. I’m sure each previous owner had a vague hope of completion. After all, a home audio system is a grand idea. Who doesn’t want speakers in most rooms? That sounds awesome.

In both my current and previous house, I removed as much wiring as possible. I’m trying to simplify my home while at the same time increasing its intelligence. Sometime after 1928, my old house in St. Paul was retrofitted to have telephone wiring. I ripped out as much of it as I could because it was unnecessary and just one more thing in the way. In my current house I cut the telephone wires as they entered my house in the basement—the conduit that penetrated the foundation leaked water and the wires then entered a giant, unnecessary metal box hung on the wall. Garbage and moisture I don’t need. And never will need. No one who ever owns this house will ever need to plug a phone into a wall, I’m sure of that. Likewise, I’ve removed TV cables. We have one location for our modem and that’s it. Why would anyone connect a TV to a wire? It’s all over the air. Oh and the speaker system. The speakers are still in the ceiling for now. It’s cheaper to leave them in than patch all my ceilings. But I’ve cut back the speaker cables as far as I can. When it’s my turn to remodel the house, I’ll rip even more stuff out.

How many satellite dishes does your house have? Mine has three. Your response to that is correct. Big whoop. No one cares. And that’s right. I don’t care either. Unless there’s some resale value.

At some point between 1999 and 2014 it all became clutter and waste. Those systems turned from excessive, high-end features into bad technology. They became outdated and weren’t future proof. To be fair, when the wiring was installed, the idea of a wireless future was barely visible. Now we know better. Now everything needs to be plug and play, open source, and swappable. And we also understand that the technological change from 1999 to 2014 will be dwarfed by the change from 2015 to 2030.

I think about the architects from the first parts of the 20th century and the end of the 19th. Their buildings were so simple. There was no need to design them using advanced BIM software and processes. A Frank Lloyd Wright house had electricity, water, and gas, but not much else. The systems were simple. Things then increased in complexity for about a century. But I think we’re returning to a place of simplicity. Not an archaic simplicity, but a technologically supported one. We need less wires in our walls. We need less permanent things in our buildings. We know enough about building science to design tighter homes that require less mechanical systems.

The R value of this image makes me cryEvery time I see the above image, I cringe. Those might be perfectly aligned conduits filled with who knows what wires, but I really wish that was insulation instead. The smart home I want to create for myself, and design for others, is about software, not hardware. Where we have to add hardware, it needs to be about taping into an existing wireless ecosystem. It needs to be as light as possible and rely on the increasing intelligence of its surroundings. It also needs to be accessible and replaceable. More like a microwave sitting on a counter than a washing machine sitting in a perfectly sized space below the counter (both things I’ve had to replace in this house). If it has wires running deep into the walls, then it’s probably not what you want. The conscious home of the future should be filled with intelligence, not crap that gets in the way of it also functioning like a great unconscious home.

Subscribe to my blog to read more about the tricky world of being an Architect in the 21st century: Shoegnome on FacebookTwitter, and the RSS feed. For a while in high school I wanted to study robots. Unfortunately it was a time before that was a legitimate thing to want to do and it was definitely before high schools had robotics teams. But I think in a few years houses, robots, and AI will have so much overlap that I might accomplish that dream after all.

The post My house is full of wires I don’t need appeared first on Shoegnome.

]]> 9