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Monday, January 11, 2010

A funny thing happened on the way to aia.org

I was just having a conversation with an architect who's working on a project for our company.  We were discussing some friends of his that he was talking to about moving to Revit.  One of them is a one person firm who emailed me today and wanted to know about making payments, special deals, free training, basically anything to get Revit but to try not to pay for it. 

Next he mentioned an MEP engineer who he wanted to discuss Revit with.  I asked him the name of the company and it turns out that my first discussion with the owner of that firm was 4/17/07.  Yup, it's almost 3 years later and they still haven't done anything.

So we're sitting there and discussing the value of getting really small firms into BIM.  Can a one or two person afford Revit, training and implementation?  Is it better that only larger firms, who can more readily afford to make the investment, make the switch?  Before the recession, were there just too many architects and engineers?  Does having that many people bidding against each other dilute the fees charged?  Would it not be better to thin out the herd so that fees can go up and you can actually afford to make the BIM investment?

I told my friend that maybe he shouldn't mention Revit to them or try to convince them to move to it.  Maybe we should continue to focus on the contractors and subcontractors that he knows because they've been much more willing to make the BIM investment.

We then discussed why we should even have to convince people to move to Revit?  He said that people are slow to change to new technology.  I said what kind of technology is it where you manually place line after line after line on a screen?   Will it take 27 years for BIM to make it onto every desktop?  I suggested that the firms that won't make the Revit investment can be subcontractors to architects to do all of their detailing.  Maybe that's the answer. 

He said that Revit isn't being marketed that well and it's not being advertised.  I want to the Autodesk website and sure enough, there weren't big bold words saying Revit or BIM.  He said the AIA wasn't talking about it either.

So, I want to www.aia.org and looked for the words Revit, BIM, LEED or IPD on their front page. Down at the bottom was a section called "The Value of an Architect with one of the links titled "20 questions to ask an architect".

I think I've discovered the whole problem here.  One of the questions should be, are you using Revit or BIM technology. 

So, imagine my surprise when I went to click on the link to see what those 20 questions are that I got a page with the words

"HTTP Error (404)
This page is not found or is no longer available."

What exactly does it say when even a link on the front of aia.org leads to an error message.  I'm sure you can all see the irony in this.  Does this mean ask the architect you want to hire about errors?  

I wonder how long it will take from this blog post to someone at the AIA getting word about this and having this fixed on their website.  For the record, I did go to www.agc.org and all of the links on their construction website are all working perfectly.  Ah, I'm sure I'm going to have a lot of blogging fun this year. 

To just wrap this up from a serious perspective, I'm looking for some thoughts from you on how we fix the architectural industry.  There's a serious problem with the choices of technology that people are making and why they're making those decisions.  What is it about Revit that is so scary?  The price, the learning curve, the workflow?  Come on. It's been 27 years since the last bit of 2D technology came out.  I'm searching for the answer and the magic words that gets the CADers off their ass and into the 21st century.


The Revit Kid January 12, 2010 at 1:45 PM  

Hey Greg,

I have somewhat of a good note to add to this post. While I was manning the Autodesk table at the AIAS Forum in Minnesota I talked to tons of students from some of the top Architecture schools in the U.S. Every single one of them (even the first year students) KNEW what Revit was. A lot of them have never used it, or little experience, but the KNEW what it was.

Many of their schools appears to either not require or even offer a Revit class.

Interestingly, I can remember at least 3 students telling me that they felt they needed to learn Revit because that is what will get them a job when they Graduate. Hmm... Is this a good thing?

Perhaps it is us, the students, who will be the driving force behind new technologies like BIM. One problem I ponder when I think about such a thing is that us architecture students must intern under a licensed architect before we can be licensed. Sure, we can graduate with a fluent knowledge of BIM and like technologies, but do we have to conform to the old school principal of the firm that is helping us get licensed? An interesting catch 22 that popped in my mind while reading your post.

What do you think?

fishandchips January 15, 2010 at 12:29 AM  

Apparently there is some confusion in the architectural field about their role - for example, at Fluor Daniel Wright a few years ago (they are a full spectrum A&E firm)they hosted an internal seminar for their departments. The theme was "What do Architects do?". Those of us on the E side of the company, myself included, thought this highly amusing and a very pertinent question

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