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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lost in Translation

I had an interesting conversation today.  About 2 1/2  years ago, I sold 12 seats of Revit MEP to a local engineering firm who had AutoCAD 2006.  Well, today, they finished their first batch of Revit MEP training with our star trainer Joe Vivirito. 

We were chatting today at lunch about the last 28 years, AutoCAD, Revit, Change Orders, "The Model", technology and the Reynolds number.  It was interesting because the father and his two children work together in their engineering practice.  The conversation was moving around from BIM, fluid dynamics, pressure loss, design intent, liability, construction administration, green building retrofits and fear, change and status quo.

I brought up an idea of mine that I've been discussing recently with people.  Quite simply, I ask them if when they're designing, do they do it in 2D or 3D. Well, every time, the answer is 3D.  So the problem occurs when you think in 3D and then you have to squish it down into 2D in AutoCAD.  What's worse is that you then hand the roll of blueprints to the contractor and subs who then have to turn the 2D back into 3D.  I'd imagine that if one single person did every bit of architectural, structural and mep, that perhaps, he'd catch every conflict and the building would turn out fine, but alas, that's just not reality.

So, here's where the system is broken.  You can't think in 3D and flatten that to 2D and expect perfect results.  This is why BIM is just plain better.  With Revit, you think in 3D, design in 3D and then build in 3D.  It's just that simple. So, all of you saying how you can do it just as quickly in AutoCAD and don't need Revit, you've missed the point about BIM.  It's not about doing it faster in CAD, it's about what you're doing with the software.

This is why we have the issue of the information getting lost in translation.  Translating the information from architecture and engineering to the needs of the contractor can't be easy to do with the old school method.  I don't know how you do it day after day with lines, circles and arcs.

You're not drawing lines on the screen, you're building a virtual model where you can see how the systems and structure interact with each other.  I'll save for another time the conversation about energy modeling and make the building more efficient, but suffice it to say, I can't imagine how an educated client would ever choose CAD over BIM.

One last thought comes to mind about our lunchtime debate.  If the architect had to pay for every change order resulting from an error, omission or conflict, would you still choose CAD over BIM?  Well, welcome to the world of IPD.  It's the end of the line for you.

Any thoughts?  Please comment on this one and don't be shy.


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