Thursday, February 02, 2006

program needs help

Parametric design software is accessible and economical, but not common tool in design firms. Most firms are designing with two-dimensional lines and construction documents are constructed as a drafting process, rather than a three-dimensional virtual building practice. While there are some pioneers among architects such as Frank Gehry, Gensler and KPF, they are a lonely group. Nevertheless, three-dimensional constucts and building information modeling, (BIM) is on the horizon.

Outside the world of building design and construction, advanced virtual design practices are implemented and proving successful. Vehicles, film design, aeronautics and telecommunication are examples of industries that have successfully utilized this technology. However, there are some differences between architecture and other professions.

One difference between architecture and these other professions is the relationship between the designer, owner and maker. Ford, for example, designs a 2007 Jaguar XJR - and owns the car. Modules, or portions of the car are contracted to various fabricators, then the assemblies are brought to the factory and joined in the final steps before the car is driven off the lot. The fewer parts left to assemble at this time, the easier the aggregation, because there are fewer joints to coordinate.

Typically, a developer hires two independent entities – a designer and builder. It is in this way that parametric modeling is important to the future. Software that virtually ‘builds’ a construct is read by a fabricator’s software. This radically changes the submittal process because the intent of the design remains unfettered. BIM links the designer and the maker in directly, facilitating a smoother process. [what are the legal ramifications?]

Another reason architecture is lagging behind in the technology era is the up front cost of initial investments and training. Eventually, developers will shoulder the initial financial push and demand this as a standard, and it is up to the activists of our business to lead.

There are many makes of vehicles, many models – new every year. The variety is wide but the variety and specificity of buildings is broader. Mass fabrication is possible though, if buildings are thought of as a synthesis of assemblies. Project particular design can be coordinated to high detail with material manufacturers.

With all this technology enabling the design process, the product -the architecture itself, must evolve. The industry itself cannot achieve this alone; schools are already involved in the change. SCAD, Auburn University and Stevens Institute of Technology are involved in new design-fabrication processes that employ new technologies. Director John Natsasi believes a new process offers “sophisticated ways to build sophisticated architecture.”

How can architecture be expressed through a new building type and design-construction process?

How can this way of making reveal new paradigms in architectural design and fabrication?

Architects that have forged ahead are [I’m pulling a list together – need more sources] with projects such as [“].

Using these projects and methods as precedent, I will design an urban architectural study center in Atlanta. The program will include the following:
• SCAD dormitories, approximately 8,000 SF
• Offices including studios, approximately 12,000 SF
• Development to support live and work activities: approximately 20,000 SF
o Eateries
o Bookstore and library
o Entertainment
o Dislpay

2 Comments:

Anonymous dan bush said...

Michelle:

As a practioner, I would also toss in a few more reasons that BIM has not been widely accepted:

1. Momentum: Most firms have established methods for producing working drawings and have no compelling reason to change: i.e. no client is requiring it, no solid research that indicates that BIM saves them money, etc.

2. Consultants: Architects do not work alone! We are dependant on our consultants to do what can sometimes be more than 50% of the work on a project. Engineers are even more fickle than us about changes - most engineers I deal with are mostly concerned about the bottom line. I know many firms that would simply turn down your work if BIM was required. Only a few firms such as Arup are considered to be 'design engineers' and are comfortable using the latest cutting edge oftware and practices.

3. No financial incentive: Why invest many man-months in retraining just to use BIM. ? The drawings look the same, contractors can't or won't use the electronic information even if it's available to them, most sub-contractors don't do CAD. Where is the full-spectrum benefit? Very few packages out there offer front to back BIM ( including all engineering fields ). Even CATIA, used by Gehry, is not an architectural BIM package! It was created by a plane company for the Aerospace industry.

In short, until Owner's, such as federal and state governments start requiring BIM submittals and Architects and engineers are forced to switch, it won't happen.

Monday, 20 March, 2006  
Anonymous dan bush said...

Sorry, I also meant to add that few clients/developers will increase the designer's fee for these services. Once again, unless the client is a large organiaztion that will benefit from the digital information generated by the BIM package (such as universities, etc.), they will not see a reason to pay more for BIM. In general, money rives a lot of business decisions. THat is one reason that more firms have not switched to packages with demonstratable advantages; it costs too much.

You probably could find out whether the federal government increased the fee structure when they moved to mandated BIM a few years ago...

Monday, 20 March, 2006  

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