Thursday, December 8, 2011

December SFDD Meeting

Attendees: Bruce Madsen, Craig Goings, Victor Chu, Stan Stinnett, Marla Ushijima

We discussed issues related to detailing in Revit. Many senior staff members who generate details are AutoCAD-savvy but might not have the time or inclination to take on the steep learning curve of Revit. Linking AutoCAD details into Revit files is possible but unmanageable. The best practice is to create the detail in Revit. Creating standards and detail families, as well as recreating office standard details, is a significant time investment but critical for successful implementation. Once those pieces are in place, Revit is a powerful detailing tool.

Victor reports that BAR is newly committed to establishing Revit as their office standard, having abandoned ArchiCAD and transitioning out of AutoCAD. Currently 30% of the staff are working on five projects in Revit. Larger firms are mostly using Revit for all projects; smaller firms still range along the entire spectrum of BIM implementation.

We continued last month's discussion on cloud computing. Stan's opinion is that desktop Revit requires much more expensive hardware and crashes more often. It also can't open multiple models simultaneously - unless the machine is really souped-up - which is critical for his coordination process. Revit on Citrix can run multiple models (in separate sessions for linked models); and be used on lower-end machines, which means lower cost and/or lighter, more portable laptops with longer battery life. Stan also notes that he can work just as fast at home as at the office (given the impressive screen size he has at home). Citrix is dependent on a stable internet connection and sufficient bandwidth. If a wired or wifi connection is unavailable, 3G is an expensive option.

We also pondered the future of Revit. Autodesk is pushing cloud computing and its subscription strategy. Note that subscription pricing varies by reseller. Craig hopes to see improvements in the detailing process. We all expressed frustration that model files cannot be saved down for previous releases, meaning a whole team must work at the lowest common denominator - which is a significant issue for office family libraries. Improved portability of a model for both viewing and notation is also a big wish item. ADR is still primitive.

We mentioned a few industry-specific apps for smartphones and ipad (such as My Measures and Newforma Mobile). Given the upcoming gift season, we agreed to make mobile apps a topic for our January meeting.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November SFDD Morning Meeting

Attendees: Dave Bleiman, Craig Goings, Dan Tsui, Karen Thomas, Marla Ushijima

Dave continues to sing the praises of his iPad, especially when paired with an accessory keyboard. We discussed various BIM viewing apps for iPad and iPhone:

ADR (Autodesk Design Review) allows viewing and annotating via the Autodesk Cloud free with subscription. It has significant limitations; it allows rotation around 0,0 point only and it can't go inside the model or view it from a specified location. Dave points out that it's still in the beta phase. On the iPhone 4, ADR is really slow. The more powerful processor of the iPhone 4S should improve performance, but battery life is a major issue. Turning off location services (especially time zone) helps a lot.

Dan has a viewer app for both iPad and iPhone. It's significantly faster and more flexible than ADR, but it's not available on the market; at least for now it's just in-house at Modulus Consulting.

Karen mentioned CadFaster|Collaborate, available via website and as an iPad app. She says it's working well for meetings, for collaborative BIM viewing and pdf markup capability similar  to GoToMeeting. She believes it's optimized for BIM (despite its name), but is not sure what all differentiates it from other platforms. She suggests having a presentation/demonstration to the group by the rep.

Dave mentions that he has had nightmares trying to get Nitrous to work for him.

The group expressed mixed opinions about laser scanning and using point clouds in a BIM. The collection of data provided by scanning can be overwhelming in quantity and overly precise; minor deviations can assume exaggerated prominence. However, in certain situations - such as evaluating available plenum space for MEP clearances in existing hospitals - laser scanning can be very useful. In order to scan effectively, exploratory demolition must be more extensive than what's traditionally done, so careful consideration has to be made of project scheduling and the effect on interim use of the facility.

Karen has heard that the price of laser scanning equipment has been decreasing dramatically, as low as $9,000 for an entry-level setup. Dan believes it's still typically in the neighborhood of $70,000; the necessary software (Cyclone) is a significant chunk of the cost.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

October SFDD Morning Meeting

Attendees: Stan Stinnet, Mario Guttman, Marla Ushijima

General discussion of cloud computing. Hardware requirements are greatly diminished, people can work anywhere, easier than VPN for people working remotely. Latency issues are noticeable but manageable, saving to central is MUCH faster on the cloud. Local cloud servers provide much broader bandwidth for speeds 10x faster than an internet connection and resolve latency issues for people working within the office.

Cloud computing offers an opportunity to eliminate high-end workstations; laptops could be the default hardware. Screen size is an issue; desk-top monitors work within the office but don't solve the issue for working remotely. Laptops with monitors large enough for comfortable modeling work are heavy and bulky.

Perkins + Will has a large portable monitor that gets wheeled around the office as needed. Much more convenient than a projector: easier to set up and doesn't require a dark room. Stan sometimes uses HOK's ACR rooms to access large screen real estate. Large HD TVs, though lower in resolution, offer a less-expensive option to large computer monitors.

Multiple monitors are helpful for viewing multiple windows and palettes, but individual windows spread over multiple monitors are disrupted by the monitor edges. A large screen requires less zoom-in/zoom-out and facilitates a bigger picture understanding of what you're working on.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September SFDD Morning Meeting

Attendees: Luis Buenfil (HDR), Brett Young, Marla Ushijima, Stan Stinnet, Mario Guttman, Dan Tsui, Tony Rinella.

General discussion of the World Trade Center memorial and tower.

Navisworks vs. Solibri, which has a beautiful interface. Perkins+Will has a GSA project that requested Solibri. Model must be exported to IFC, which adds another step and tends to lose information. IFC doesn't read all MEP data. Brett is going for Solibri training next week.

Autodesk is weak on facility management. Facilities Managers want to know how many sf in a room, not really interested in a BIM model that they'll need to maintain. A BIM that gets filled in with operations and maintenance info could be of value to them.

Luis is concerned about turning an as-built model over to an owner, needing to update it through construction. Brett proposes that the contractor should take on that task. Mario feels it's difficult to certify as a professional everything that's in a BIM. Construction documents delete information from the BIM to provide just the information that they can certify is correct.

Owners often request BIM without realizing the implications. They don't specify file format (Revit, Navisworks, IFC, etc.). VA requested BIM, or increased BIM specifications BIM Management Plan halfway through a project. Scope of professional services increases significantly. VA has insufficient funds to care for veterans, and would thus look skeptically at paying for a BIM. They would evaluate the value proposition very carefully. The information necessary for a contractor to build a building should be contained in construction documents.

Tony proposes that rather than spelling out specific BIM requirements, a project team should have a discussion with the owner to clarify needs so that BIM provides the information necessary to meed those needs.

General discussion of what it takes to go from a Revit drawing to a construction drawing; it's not as simple as the client being able to cut a section directly; editing of information is still required. In theory, BIM should allow the work of the CD phase to decrease compared to traditional allotments of project fee per phase; discussion of whether this is true in practice or not. General sense is that the McCleany curve is not very accurate.

Mario requested to create a macro to unfold a curve in AutoCAD. Dan has created such a macro. Tony remembers a LSP routine for making a model of a curved element.

The Big Room concept is problematic for staffing and full-time co-location. In the past Italians solved it with a round table surrounded by carrels so that people could turn around in their seats for group vs. individual work. Options are that senior staff visit the Big Room periodically, while other staff are there full-time; or the Big Room doesn't start until a later point in the duration of a project.

Are design teams recognizing benefits of increased efficiency and labor costs during CA phase? Extremely hard (impossible?) to quantify. Is saved time on specific projects due to reduced team size, or smart people?

Stan thinks it's smart people but BIM is their enemy. Marla: Generational issue? Mario: Deeper understanding of information? Mario: BIM is going to replace conventional CAD, but it's not transformational as people expect. Marla points out that we've gone full-circle: in the past, design work was developed and documented to a large degree by 3D models; replaced by orthogonal hand-drawn views; replaced by orthogonal CAD-drawn views; and now back to 3D via BIM. Which will subsequently be replaced by holograms, etc.?

1/8" text is sometimes specified in contracts or required by building departments. 3/32" seems to be the industry standard. 1/8" seems an anachronistic leftover from hand drafting.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

August SFDD Morning Meeting

Attendees: Stan Stinnet, John Cole, Mario Guttman, Bruce Madsen, Marla Ushijima, Dan Tsui, Nancy McClure

Discussion of Edward Tufte and graphical presentation of information. Comparison of how each of us visualizes numbers: pieces of a dollar bill, line with proportional tics, pie chart, bundles of tootsie roll pops.

BIM is unique in its ability to capture information, but the data can be difficult to extract from the model for further analysis and manipulation. Explorer (for Revit) finds objects but doesn't provide parametric information about them. HOK has developed a custom tool. Microsoft Access has some compatibility issues with Revit. SQL Server or MySQL are options but require using the Revit API, which uses C#.

Dan described Modulus Consulting and their business model. They're a neutral third party, usually hired by the contractor. They run the coordination meetings following an issue list illustrated by Navisworks clash detection screen shots. The Navisworks model is accessed during meetings to identify potential solutions and resolve conflicts. Decisions are documented in the meeting notes in the form of a google docs spreadsheet. Design issues are identified and submitted as RFIs.

Mario postulates that meeting minutes are undervalued. Well-structured minutes can capture information in a very efficient and easily accessed way.

Reference books for software are of limited value, though Stan recommends the Autodesk Essentials training guides - electronic format allows easy highlighting/note-taking and is in color. Revit Help is a driving manual for the software, not task-oriented. Most-used resources are google and colleagues.

Dan has created a mobile app to access a Navisworks model on an ipad, based on a video game engine (Unity). He provides the final, coordinated model as a field reference for the contractor. Some work is required to prepare each model for the app. Everyone agreed it is very intuitive and an exciting tool. It's in an early stage of development, but we predict his fortune is made once he's ready to offer it in the marketplace.

Dan also promotes the value in lightening a model for ease of use. Worksets allow modeling with less computer power; Dan can work on a mainstream laptop.

Bruce notes that architects have gone full circle on models. They were once used as a primary documentation tool, but were supplanted by data-rich orthographic drawings. BIM is bringing 3D documentation back to prominence.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

July SFDD Morning Meeting

Introductions all around as we welcome a new member - Dan Tsui - and some veteran members we haven't seen a while - John Mack and Catherine Chan. Dan is with Modulus Consulting, a BIM consultancy. Mario Guttman, John LeBlanc, Marla Ushijima, and Alexandra Fenton also attended.

John M. is still leading the local Navis User's Group. The group's discussions go well beyond just Navis to address BIM in general and Revit. Autodesk representatives regularly attend and accept feedback as to user requests for future releases. The group maintains a presence on Linked In.

John M. is preparing to start on a medical science building project. He mentions that OSHPD doesn't accept 3D views, so they cut sections through the model and include those in the construction set.

Mario provided an introduction to AIA TAP phone calls and activities. TAP (Technology in Architectural Practice) is an AIA Knowledge Community that tries to link various discussion groups around the country that are tackling issues of digital practice, BIM, and IPD. They host a monthly conference call for representatives of the groups to facilitate the exchange of ideas.

Mario mentioned that Tony Rinella is organizing another NTAP hybrid conference and Mario proposes that we offer to host a local venue - at which local participants gather to view and discuss nationally-webcast and local presentations. Catherine mentioned that the AIA justice knowledge community is also considering using the hybrid conference format for an event. Marla recommended she contact Tony as he pioneered the format and has figured out a lot of the attendant issues.

A question was raised as to participation in social networking. Most of us seem to use it to varying degrees, with some concern about it's potential as a time-sink. Most people use Linked In for professional contacts, and some people use Facebook for personal contacts. Google+ is not used by any attendees.

Catherine Chan discussed difficulties she has encountered on project teams with conflicting levels of BIM knowledge and experience. Clients can directly affect productivity and accuracy by circulating critical information among all team members in its original, digital format.

General discussion about BIM expertise and project management as sometimes being mutually exclusive. Cross-mentoring is critical for architects with construction, documentation and management experience; and tech-saavy modelers who understand the advantages and limitations of the software; to work collaboratively with mutual respect.

Subsequent discussion about dimensioning. Some BIM modelers prefer center-of-stud dimensioning, but contractors need face of stud for layout and accuracy checks after framing. John M. also described the robotic layout process, in which a robot lays out all the FOS lines on a floor slab overnight. Discussion also touched on finishes and the idea of creating them with separate walls joined to the framed or structural wall.

Pros and cons of rebuilding a BIM at each phase depend on complexity of the building, speed and skill of modelers, and quality control within the model. Several people recommended that it results in much cleaner, more trustworthy models and that the effort is usually worthwhile.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

June SFDD Morning Meeting

Sitting in the atrium next to Peets.  Marla Ushijima is here, and Dave Bleiman.  Looks like this will be a two-table meeting.

Waiting for the others I reminisce about past meetings of the breakfast group.  Originally it was Chris Parsons, an IT Manager at SMWM at the time, who got things going.  I think he was looking for moral support with their ArchiCAD implementation.  (Instead he got a bunch of Revit partisans.)
John LeBlanc joins us.  Now Bruce Madsen.
Topics for today:  (Definitely not BIM or IPD.) Newforma; SharePoint.  Dave says, "There is more to life than BIM!"  It's about the struggle to capture knowledge. 
Nobody is really happy with SharePoint.  We keep getting new releases but is it getting better?
Dave and I were at the KnowledgeArchitecture symposium last month.  A lot of good, short, talks.  (Recordings have now been posted online; worth looking into. )  KA also held a session on Evidence Based Design the day before.
Some of us reading The Checklist Manifesto.  Funny that a doctor thinks the construction industry is worth emulating.  Karen Thomas joins us.
More discussion about Websites and blogs.  Lots of ideas and programs we can use. Still no Webmaster so my HTML in Notepad is the lowest common denominator for now.  Alexandra Fenton joins us.  Volunteers to be the Webmaster if others will provide content.
Tentative agreement that Karen will host the upcoming evening meeting at Hillard.  Should be a really good meeting organizedd by Dace Campbell on some real-life BIM planning.
Dave raving about his Kindle.  All of the world's knowledge in your bag.  Bruce reads the newspaper.  Requires very little power.  Works in daylight.  Classics that are not under copyright are free.  Can sync with an iPad.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011