Thursday, November 8, 2012

November Meeting

Attendees: Dave Bleiman, Nora Klebow, Nancy McClure, Guy Messick, Mabe Ng, Bruce Madsen, Raimi Tan, Karen Thomas, Dan Tsui, Marla Ushijima, Glen Walson, Les Young.

Bruce hosted us at HOK this month (thanks, Bruce!). He had a great presentation on "BOB - BIM Outside the Box" and has graciously shared slides from his powerpoint presentation with us. You can download it here.

Bruce was delayed in starting his presentation due to enthusiastic discussion as people were arriving.

Bruce and Glen compared notes on the current state of Revit MEP. HOK now mandates that MEP work be performed in Revit. Interface Engineering has about 120 projects on Revit MEP. They agree that implementation has been difficult, though improving. The software is now adequate for the task, but workflow remains a major issue.

Data remains an ongoing challenge in BIM. Nancy notes that over the life of a project/building, it's difficult to maintain the integrity of the data. While designers don't want to be data-driven, Nancy points out that heavily-programmed buildings can benefit greatly by using data in a BIM design workflow. Nora notes that hospitals are in the forefront of this strategy because while the diagnostic and testing (D+T) components are different every time in terms of various metrics and adjacencies, patient rooms remain similar from project to project. Dave and Glen agree that hospitals benefit the most from evidence-based design because the owners are deeply involved in the design process, which is critical for its success.

Bruce began his presentation by identifying various aspects of implementing BIM and comparing the cost implications of each. While  BIM software is not inexpensive, that direct cost is a small fraction of the overall costs, as shown in his pie chart above. Marla and Karen questioned the slice for coordination since coordination has always been the architect's responsibility, but Bruce and Dave agree that the effort for BIM coordination is significantly greater than what's traditionally been done by architects because it's handled in the earlier phases of the project rather than getting pushed off to the contractor.

The largest single cost of BIM is for the content. The elements of this are building the firm-specific content for templates, building the firm library, acquiring content as needed, and managing all that content. Bruce's presentation focused on acquisition of content: building, finding, and/or buying it.

Built content can be started from a template, or by modifying existing content. Intuition would assume that using existing content would be easier, but as Glen pointed out, between time spent searching, modifying, and reverse-engineering to fix defects, it's often faster and easier to build from scratch.

Free content can be found from a variety of sources:
  • BIM box: In addition to the default content provided, Autodesk offers 30 additional regional libraries.
  • Within the firm: project archives, firm library, local office library
  • Community exchanges: Balda Architect, Beck Group, CADforum, Revit City, Revit Database, Revit Forum, TurboSquid, Woodwork Institute
  • Commericial consolidators: ATS, Autodesk SEEK, ARCAT, ARCxl, Bimobject, BIM STOP, Bimstore, CADdetails, Design content, National BIM Library, POLANTIS, PRODUCTSPEC, SteelSelect, Sweets Network, Reed Construction, RevitFAMILIESonline, SMARTBIM
  • Manufacturers: Bruce has identified over 1100 manufacturers providing BIM content, with more coming on board every day. He feels that manufacturers are supporting BIM much better/faster than they had CAD.
Dave told us that manufacturers must pay to be listed with Autodesk SEEK, which limits the value of that resource. He also feels that using the National BIM Library is a route to guaranteed failure. Everyone agreed that while there's a lot of free content out there, there's a lot of time and effort required to find and adapt it—which is not free.

Buying content can be done from stores (Archvision, BD GROUP, Designconnected, ENGworks, FORMFONTS, Little Details Count, Revit Content, Revit Furniture, revitstore, RevitBay, revitcars, Symbol Machine, TurboSquid, Yellowbryk) or commissioned to be custom-built (andekan, LONDON INFOTECH, Pinnacle Infotech, REVIT FACTORY, Revit MEP Store, SumexDesign, Revit Content, TheModus).

Level of detail within a family is critical—it has to have enough information to be worthwhile, but too much detail blows up the size of the model and slows down the work. Bruce promoted three levels of detail within a family: simple cubes with schedules can serve for preliminary design; 2D symbols are usually sufficient for orthographic views; while more detailed 3D geometry can be reserved for where it's really necessary. Dan also suggests swapping out objects as necessary when rendering.

Bruce proposed that it's up to us to address the difficulties we face with content. Currently our efforts are redundant—all firms are addressing these topics independently. Instead we must ask for what we want, provide feedback, and contribute to an industry-wide solution. As a starting point, he solicited input from us on our greatest frustrations related to BIM content. Among those things most mentioned were time lost due to searching for content, content that's not appropriate for a model's needs, poorly-built content, and interruption to work flow.

Bruce identified the things we want:
  • A massive library: all the content we need, including system objects, generic objects, and manufacturer-specific objects.
  • Consistency: file names, type names, parameters, and parameter names. These standards should be established and maintained by industry groups, professional organizations, national and international standards groups, some kind of AECO Wiki, and all of us in the industry.
  • High quality: adherence to standards and quality control, making sure all parameters flex properly.
  • Findable: A searchable database or some other resource is necessary to make accessing the content from so many sources feasible. Search parameters need to include discipline, Revit category and library folder names, object name, author, LOD, standard followed, generic vs. specific, and a rating of the quality.
  • Accessible: cloud-based, mobile, download-able, and insert-able
  • Free or low-cost: all stakeholders should sponsor improvement: manufacturers to fund specific content; consolidators to fund generic content; stores to develop generic and non-component content; professional and trade organizations to develop standards for names and units; and content users to develop standards  for display and function, and to provide input and feedback. Large AEC firms could also be drawn upon to build content.
On the subject of standards, Dave noted that there are existing systems that can be drawn upon. ISO9000, the National CAD Standards, and Omniclass have already sorted some of these things out.