Hey All. I know it’s been a while but, as I’m sure most of you can relate, things happen, one gets distracted, and suddenly it’s two or so months later. I read a post on James Vandezande’s website (a co-worker of mine), All Things BIM, on October 2nd called, “BIM Manager or Architect,” and this crossroads that he has come across has most certainly been one I have thought about myself. First of all, I have enjoyed my transition back to architect from Digital Design Manager, as it has allowed me to put a face to the name. I am now within the environment of those who would ask for my help and I now better understand where their questions are coming from. Additionally, I can now wholeheartedly say that going through a book (or five) or taking a class (or five) does not sufficiently prepare you for how any piece of software works in a real, live project environment.
When I was officially assigned to a project, I thought to myself, “OK, now you’re an architect again, put the digital design manager hat away.” It didn’t take long for me to realize that that hat has been stapled to my head many years before. That’s fine. If anything, it’s the way I prefer it. Here’s the thing, and there really is no way of getting around it, whatever strategies we employ, methods we put into practice, or seminars we give, people are going to do what they want. I’ve realized that the diminished amount of time I have to spend on spreading the digital design gospel (which, in the case, is Revit-centric) is really no excuse. No one cares. This work is not necessarily tied to just the firm I, or you, work for. It must be industry-wide.
Do you want to know what finally lead me to this conclusion? I found that the encounters I would have with people changed from me presenting the benefits of BIM, to me defending BIM, to me battling a die hard resistance who fought the change simply for the sake of not wanting to learn something new. But then something else happened, those fighting me turned, and left. I started to ask myself, “Where did everybody go?” The answer was right in front of my face. The answer was the same reason that my title was now, “architect,” and not, “digital design manager.” The recession. The recession has put everyone in an understandable panic that they have become so used to being in, they don’t know how to get out. They’re in a mode best described as, “get the project, do the project, send the project out the door, get the project…” Certainly, I don’t ascribe this to every single architect, but what it has caused is a slowing of progress in the use of digital design tools within an industry that was slow to adapt already. The question comes back, however, to this, “how do you fight an enemy that has decided not to show up?” And then it hits you, “why are you fighting?” and, “why is there an enemy?”
As a huge Yankee fan, after they won the World Series, I went with several friends to the ticker-tape parade down (or more accurately, up) the Canyon of Heroes in lower Manhattan. Afterwords, one of my friends and I, an architect and urban designer, walked to get some lunch. He said to me, “If you want to make Revit more appealing, make it easy to use and make everything that comes out of it look like something that we’re all used to.”
Here is my suggestion to everyone, let us take a page out of the history of what we learned from 25+ years of AutoCAD. Let’s design a framework for the use of Revit within the architecture industry. I know many of you will tell me that this already exists but the way I see it is that it is too fragmented. Bits and pieces are strewn all over the Internet. We need to organize it in a single document or database. One thing I’ve learned from being on a project teetering between Revit and AutoCAD is that there are still many areas that we haven’t quite developed usable, and easily explainable, procedural standards for. I don’t mean to say that my firm, or your firm or any other single firm has this problem alone. Nor do I mean to say that it is the responsibility of one single organization to solve it.
To be clear, I’m not looking for a How-To guide that will explain how to create walls or add keynotes. I’m looking for a Revit-Based Project Procedures database. I’m looking for a Revit-Based Project Best Practices guide. Certainly at this point in the history of AutoCAD, no two firms use it the same way, but that’s because we didn’t have the methods of sharing knowledge and methods back then. We do now and should take advantage of it.
Here are some suggestions that I would give for some of the top-level topics that should be included (these are in no particular order and are simply being typed as they come into my head):
- Project Folder Structure
- Staff and Task Assignment
- Project Phase-based Level of Detail
- Naming Conventions for:
- Object Types
- Object Instances
- Revit-AutoCAD Integration
- Revit-Rhino Integration
- Revit-3ds Max Integration
As I said, these are just some topics that have come to my mind. I’ve created a Google form where I would encourage you to add your ideas for topics and, once we have a good list, we can each take one or two of them and begin to break them down into sub-topics and descriptions.
If those who will use this, and other, software on a daily basis are looking for a framework for the use of Revit on projects within the Architectural industry, let’s gather as a global community, create it and give it to them. Please let me know what you think and feel free to add your topics using the link below: