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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

BIM - Work for Architects | Construction Industry News | Reed Construction Data

I know...I know...another article about BIM. This one does have a set of instructions and path for you to follow. If you don't start learning Revit and BIM now, then when are you going to?

Once the recession ends and you get your first big job, you're going to go right back to CAD. When things were busy before the recession, and I'd walk into your office, you'd say, "we're too busy and have all our jobs in CAD, we can't switch to Revit." Then the recession started and I'd walk into your office and you'd say "we're too slow, have no money, we've laid off half our staff and we don't have the resources to pay for Revit and training." Well, the recession is going to end soon, so what are you going to do? Of course, you're going to go out and hire CAD drafters and do the same status quo thing you've always done.

Except, there's one difference. That is, over the last 3 years, every contractor and owner have learned about BIM and the firms using it are winning all of the work. So, now you're screwed if you haven't adopted BIM. It's a business decision. It's not about the software. Well, it's all about the software and what you do with the software. With Revit, you model buildings. With CAD, you draw lines. (Personal note: It's so hard for me to just say the word CAD without the work Auto in front of it. Yesterday in the Apple store, I kept trying to get the Apple employees to say the word "Jailbreak". I would say, you could go to jail and break your arm, as if that was some sort of special codeword. I got 3 of them to say it, even though they're not supposed to. So, you know what my special code word "CAD" is supposed to stand for).

It's a funny thing about before the recession when you'd say you're in the middle of all of these jobs and you couldn't switch to Revit. All of those jobs ended during the recession and you've got an empty pipleline. Well, what's your excuse now? You're not too busy. You don't have legacy projects. What are you going to say when I, or another reseller, walk into your office? Going to tell us it's too expensive? That Revit doesn't do CDs? That it's too complicated to learn? That your engineers aren't using it? How many more bullshit excuses can you really come up with? Can I say that on TV? Fine. Stick with CAD because the Revit firms will need to hire companies to do their detailing so they can focus on building buildings. You can have a whole new market to replace China with.

So, for the 3 of you reading this that actually do want to move forward with BIM, here's a great article.

Source: http://www.reedconstructiondata.com/news/2010/04/work-for-architects/
April 12, 2010 - Dennis Neeley, AIA

I am an architect. I loved practicing architecture and often wonder what I would be doing if I had not moved into the world of technology. Our firm, Neeley/Lofrano Architects, practiced in San Francisco for over 20 years. Our firm stayed at about 20 employees most of the time. We started our practice in 1970 and were very lucky, we had very good clients and were able to stay busy and make money. We lived through several down turns in the economy, and interest rates for mortgages that were above 15%.

During those years we watched other firms do better and some worse, but in all those years I never saw architects take the hit that they are taking now. Several hundred person firms of a few years ago are now sixty person firms, many small firms have disappeared. I talk to architects that are not working and they are wondering if they should even try to go back into architecture when the economy gets better.

Architects do not determine when the economy will become stronger, until it does we wait. We serve our clients, when they have a need and money for buildings we are hired. The current situation is: Owners, 1) do not have money, 2) do not need new or remodeled buildings, 3) cannot borrow money, or 4) are sitting on their money waiting for the economy to get stronger. Some building types are being designed and constructed, schools and hospitals come to mind, but if you have not done schools and hospitals it is doubtful that you can compete against all the experienced and very hungry firms that are going after this work.

Clearly I believe in technology and more specifically in BIM. “BIM will change everything for everyone dealing with buildings.” We are at the start of a new era, so if BIM is going to change everything and we are at the start of a new era, there must be some opportunities now and in the future. I know that none of the ideas below are easy to undertake, but the more you can do now the stronger you will become and the more likely your firm will be the ones getting the work, or if you are unemployed the more likely you will be the first hired.

CAD mainly touched those who were drawing; BIM touches those are drawing, but also designers, project managers, interior designers, specifiers, field workers and principals. I have some thoughts on what can be done now. I would also like you to contact me with your ideas.

Step One — Become a BIM expert. If you are not busy, or unemployed take the time to become a BIM expert. Vendors are allowing the free download of their software, get it, follow the tutorials and master the software. Learn how to create great renderings. Download the analysis software and master the links between the BIM project and the analysis programs. Learn how to create objects and attach data to the objects. Master the creation of schedules. When the economy comes back the people with the most skills will be the first to be hired. If you master the items in this paragraph you will essentially be a one person architectural firm.

Step Two — Become a building type expert. Figure out what building types are going to be in demand when the economy gets stronger and learn about those buildings. How are they laid out, what are the spaces, how much do they cost, what are new approaches to their design and use, etc. The baby boomers will have a major effect upon our immediate needs, will they abandon the suburbs and move to the city to be close to more activities. Their medical needs will require buildings.

Step Three — Become a “green” expert. Buildings use too much energy. Government agencies and many owners are demanding LEED certified buildings. Become LEED certified; learn what it is, how it works and what it will do for the country if we have more energy efficient buildings. Research what is being done in Europe, research what is being done in the universities; learn about new materials and new approaches to manufacturing.

Step Four — Think “outside the box, or at least make the box bigger”. The definition of what is an architect has changed throughout history. At one time we were the “master builder,” the designer and the contactor. At the start of the twentieth century we created the designs, but not many of the specific details, the craftsmen knew how to finish spaces. In the mid twentieth century we designed the structure, mechanical systems and electrical, now most often that is done by consultants.

What is going to happen next? Perhaps the architect will be only the designer and the contractors will do the detailing. Perhaps we will hire the construction experts and we will generate the types of contract documents that are being created in the IPD (Integrated Project Delivery) approaches of today. GSA is hiring architects to create BIM models of their existing buildings so the information can be used for operations, maintenance, future renovations, etc. This is great and will bring cost savings over time. If this is a great idea for GSA it should be a great idea for other owners, get a presentation together and start calling.

Figure out who you can team up with. Controls and HVAC companies are going after existing buildings for retrofitting to save energy, they will need BIM models. Think of areas where it would be better to have BIM models instead of 2D drawings, such as rooms full of equipment, valves and switches. Building maintenance is a huge industry; they need information on areas, locations of equipment, types of lamps and fixtures, etc.

Out of adversity comes opportunity. Out of struggle comes creativity. Times are tough but it appears we are going in the right direction and times will get better. BIM will have far reaching consequences. Think 25 years into the future, predict what the profession will look like, could it look like your prediction in 5 years, and if so implement your ideas now.

Let me know your ideas.


I Want Job Security,  May 5, 2010 at 10:31 AM  

My Principle attended the Round Table of Large A/E firms a few days ago & gave me an inside scoop. The Economist they had do research said; Possibly up to 5 more years of hardship for Architects; & that we are @ 25% Unemployement - from +250K down to ~130K active Registered Archiects. So firms must compete for more overseas projects & the Key word is .... Well that's a secret I don't won't to let out the bag, because it may become my Bread & Butter if things hold true. I'll share it if & when we win the Big contract(s).

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