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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Parsons Brinkerhoff Project: Re-envisioning Doyle Drive before the road is torn up

Sometimes when I talk to an architect about Revit for the first time, their response is typically, "we only work in 2D, we don't work in 3D." My response to that is, "Oh, do you only build parking lots?". Then I get 'the look'.  

So, what is it that makes so many people say that?  The simple answer is fear.
Many principals and higher management of architectural and engineering firms are so disconnected from the technology, that they can't make a valid assessment of one technology versus another.

Then, there's the Z factor.  Yes, you all know it as the Z axis.  That famous axis that you must use in CAD programs to extrude up the Z axis to make 3D objects.  S, here's the problem.  AutoCAD 3D and Revit 3D ARE NOT THE SAME.  Hewn having a fear of 3D in AutoCAD is legitimate.  It's difficult, hard to make changes, time consuming and isn't the right tool to make CDs.  It's easier to parrot what you've heard others say and avoid the fear of looking stupid because you don't know about different technologies.

Let's make it easy.  You're basically saying you won't get an iPhone or iPad because you don't know The Unix operating system.  Did you know that's the OS behind Apple's devices?  It's amazing hoe elegant, easy and intuitive the front end is and how simple an iPad is to use for the first time.  There's only one frikkin' button.  How hard can that be.  

Well, that's what Revit is.  A simp,e and easy to use interface.  You click on the wall button and start drawing walls.  No line weights.  No layers.  No deciding what colors to make your lines.  No model or paper space.  No having to figure out font scaling.  Oh yeah, I almost forgot.  There's this really cool feature.  You click 'file', then click 'print', them click 'OK'.  Then your plans start coming out of the printer.  Can you do that now...29 years later in your current program?  

So, it's fear of looking stupid, fear of not knowing what questions to ask, fear of having to learn something new.  

What's my point?  Seeing the article below, look at what firms are doing with roads?  Roads are flat.  Nothing would be better suited for AutoCAD.  So, why is PB going to all of this effort?  Because their competitors are.  Because owners are demanding BIM.  Because it lowers risk of coordination issues.  Because the visualization allows for people to see what their getting.  That's called Visual Simulation Analysis.  WYSWIG anyone?  What you see is what you get.  

Oh yes.  You also get lots of free press and the world sees your name.  Mr. Robin Capper of New Zealand.  I hope you and your family were unharmed from the earthquake.  Could you please make a comment to this post so that people can see that there are people halfway around the world that instantly see this?  

Thank you.  I'm done with today's lecturing of the 2D year olds.  

The other day I attended a presentation where Parsons Brinkerhoff (PB) shared how they are using Autodesk design visualization solutions as part of their work on the Presidio Parkway. Like the turn of a friendly card, they even have their own web site for it so the general public can stay up to date day after day.
By providing the public with design animations, it is easy to tell the story about traffic and what issues closures are going to cause. The beauty of all this is that these animations are derived from the very models that PB has created as part of their BIM approach to the project.
With a nod towards games people play, our Autodesk gallery now has a fancy driving simulator so you can experience the new roadway before it's real. But this is indeed no game:
The simulator starts with an eye in the sky view of the project where you select a section of roadway and then drive the roadway as if the project has been completed. This gives the public a visceral appreciation for the benefits that will be gained from the pain of the road closures. It's a very non-I Robot like experience.
The gallery at One Market is open to the public on Wednesdays from 12 pm to 5 pm, and admission is free. Visit us.
Simulation is alive in the lab.


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