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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Project a learning curve for unemployed architects - STLtoday.com

There's good and bad in this post.  I've personally seen a lot of very bright, hard working, creative and talented people lose their jobs in the AEC industry in Florida.  My state has been one of the hardest hit by the recession.  Between developer greed, the need to pave the entire state of Florida, and the "never ending growth" boom have decimated the pool of talent in our state.  Where do thousands of displaced architects, designers and drafters go to get a job when the entire industry stopped so abruptly?  What happens when the recession ends?   Who's going to get all the jobs?  The computer savvy or the construction savvy?

I think I've made it abundantly clear where the industry is heading.  If you are really that stubborn and in denial to all of my posts in the past few weeks, just stop reading my blog and we have a lovely parting gift for you, a little guidebook of 90 tips in 90 minutes for AutoCAD r14. 

For the rest of you, we have a crisis on our hands.  After a conversation I had this morning with Cristian and Aryn this morning, two gentleman at a firm in California that absolutely blew me away with their passion, desire, knowledge level and what they're doing with Revit MEP and energy analysis, I see that we've not even scratched the surface of where the industry is going.  You think it's a big deal to switch to Revit, are all excited about your first project, then you bastardize it because your favorite engineer who works for you part time on nights and weekends using his company's software, has no way of buying Revit MEP.

Do you think I write these posts for myself?  I wish my ego was that big.  In all humility, I really want to help you guys prepare for the future.  We have another Revit Architecture Essentials class next Tuesday through Thursday available via live webcast.  It's an $1100 class.  I'll put my money where my mouth is and tell you than anyone that wants to take it can sit in on the class remotely for $223.  Yes, you can go from 2 to 3D.  Very significant numbers.  I call it the BIMonacci principle code that I guarantee you will be able to use Revit in 3 days. Yes, guarantee. 

Why so cheap?  Because I know you're going to need Revit Advanced training, our rendering class, our class on creating content, a class on navisworks, and then our class on IES or Ecotect.  You're ours for life.  BIM is not CAD.  You can't teach yourself everything there is to know, and it just gets bigger every day. 

I want to see each and every one of you succeed.  Someone really pissed me off one day on an AUGI forum by referring to me as "just an Autodesk salesman".  You know what I've discovered?  Well, every time you have a potential client in your office and you're showing him your renderings and projects you've done, guess what?  YOU"RE A SALESMAN TOO!  And guess what else?  You can't sell your product (designs and CDs) without our products.  So get over it and treat us with some respect.  I don't sell AutoCAD.  I refuse to let a customer move into ACA.  You're getting Revit whether you like it or not. 

Why?  Because I need you to stay in business and make lots of money so you don't bitch about paying for subscription.  I have a wife and child to take care of too.  Do you really think you're beating the Autodesk system by not upgrading your software?  Do you really think you're showing them who's boss?  Look around.  The world's gone BIM and you don't have a choice.  Deal with that fact that after 26 years of the same program, God forbid, there's something new that just may be better at helping you design your buildings. 

It's about the design, engineering, analysis, coordination and quantities.  IT IS NOT ABOUT LINE WEIGHTS AND LAYERS.  I talked to Autodesk today and they said they're sorry.  They know you're mad that 26 years ago, they took away your .5 mechanical pencil and replaced it with a really expensive, complicted and electronic system that was SUPPOSED to make your lives better.  Well, we all know how that story ended.  You hate Autodesk, yet you refuse to give up their core product.  What's that all about?  You refuse to change, but every building you do has to be changed to look a little different.  I'm so confused.

Enough of tonight's rant.  We love you. We want to help you grow, be successful and makes lots of money so you don't mind giving us a tiny bit of it every year for subscription and training.  My company wants to help you migrate to BIM as quickly as possible.  We have experts.  They know CAD and BIM. They know the workflow of both. They know how to help you move over to Revit.  They know the workarounds and how to set up your templates. 

The way I see it, the more you refuse to move to Revit, the more time I get to spend converting contractors to Design Builders.  Is that what you want, the contractors making all of the decisions?  Take back your industry.  Become Master Builders.  Get all psycho on BIM like Cristian and Aryn, two of the most impressive young people I've come across in a long time.  They are going to own the LEED and IPD industry at the rate they're going.  I thought I knew a lot until I spoke to them today.  There's just so much more.

Reinvent yourselves.  Invest in yourselves, your future, your technology and your desire to create beautiful buildings.  The recession is going to end.  If you don't envision yourselves learning these new technologically wonderful tools, it'll go from recession to depression. 

I apologize for the harshness of this post.  Sometimes, being sweet and gentle doesn't get the job done.  I don't care where you're locating in the country, as we've done enough national training to know that if you're open to change, your world will change for the better.  The other option is to stand on a street corner asking for change.  Please, for those of you still not convinced, I beg  you to ask yourselves how you can dispute everything I've written here the past few weeks and what are you really afraid of?


Pat Stack checks his computer while doing a laser scan of Bevo Mill on Monday. With the current decline in construction, the American Institute of Architects has launched a program to help designers learn about high-tech developments. (John L. White/P-D)
By Steve Giegerich

ST. LOUIS — They are, Michelle Swatek points out, the canary in the coal mine for the construction industry.

'If an architect is not working, in six months a contractor won't be working and a plumber won't be working,' she said.

Swatek should know.

She's the executive director of the St. Louis chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and she estimates the recession has forced more than 200 local architects out of jobs or into positions that fall outside their area of expertise, based on the number of people she's talked to.

As the situation worsened, the AIA set aside $100,000 for displaced architects to borrow for professional development and, for those breaking into the field, licensing training.

Still, Swatek reasoned, something more needed to be done to help AIA members 'maximize' their time to prepare for the return of the business of both drafting the designs of new buildings and reconfiguring existing structures for major renovations.

Enter the Bevo Mill, the south St. Louis landmark restaurant that has stood empty since March, two months after Anheuser-Busch gifted the building to the city.

St. Louis officials have since contracted with a Clayton firm, which this week had its staff preparing to reopen the restaurant sometime this fall.

In the Bevo Mill's Bavarian styling and turreted Dutch windmill, the AIA saw an ideal template for a structural inquest to keep architectural skills sharp by introducing the profession's latest technology.

Thus, the Bevo Mill Modeling Project was born.
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On Monday morning, five curious architects hovered near an exotic looking surveying tool, its lasers trained on the exterior of the 92-year-old restaurant.

Laid-off architect Joe Bauer of Rock Hill said colleagues ignoring the technology that Kirkwood's Seiler Instrument and Manufacturing Co. brought to the Bevo Mill do so at their own peril.

'It's the wave of the future,' he said.

Over the past 30 years, the architectural community has moved from drafting boards to computers to the digitalized Building Information Modeling that now provides the profession with three-dimensional blueprints of new and existing structures alike.

The Trimble GX 3D laser scanner the Seiler representatives showcased at the Bevo Mill takes the technology to the next step by measuring a building's architectural details on site.

'You now have a living, working model of the actual structure,' Seiler's Harvey Wright said of technology fast integrating itself into architectural circles.

The Bevo Mill project has given unemployed architect Kelly Duepner of St. Louis a glimpse of her profession's past and future.

The past materialized in a review of sepia-toned renderings, based on the original design, that were prepared for a 1980s rehab.

On Tuesday afternoon, in the company of other architects that meet each week at AIA's downtown headquarters to compare notes, the future flashed on a screen in a crowded conference room.

'Four million points of information,' Duepner marveled.

Indeed, the detail of the interior and exterior measurements exacted by the Trimble GX extended to the leaves on surrounding trees and the feathers on the pigeons atop the roof.

The technology allowed the architects to determine the thickness of the Bevo Mill walls, a process that might have taken hours using hand-held lasers and pad and paper, in a matter of moments.

Ultimately, Swatek said, the awe factor will deliver a huge upside for the city, which can use the data for future upgrades of the building, and architects alike.

'They're getting a learning curve while they are laid off,' she said.

With countless unemployed architects besieging firms whenever a vacancy occurs (which isn't often), Duepner will take advantage of every edge she can get.

'If you want to be re-employed, you have to know this stuff,' Duepner said."


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