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Ralph Liebing, RA, CSI, CDT
Senior Member
Username: rliebing

Post Number: 1446
Registered: 02-2003
Posted on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 - 09:49 am:   Edit PostDelete PostPrint Post



by Ralph Liebing, RA, CSI, CDT
Cincinnati, Ohio

Now this is not to make fun of BIM, or to decry other possible “coming attractions” but rather it is an attempt to show that the erosion of the design professions will continue if there is not better discussion with clients, and a closer relationship between client and professional.

How do you think the “signature architect” talks to the client, so as to convince them to follow the design concept created for them? Certainly the client has hired the “signature” firm for the obvious purpose of having a very unique project to enhance its own image. But, how, do you think, that publically funded projects can be justified as commissions for the signature firms, where budgets are manipulated for quirky concepts, innovative designs, inadequate documentation and cost overruns, etc.? This is not to say that every publicly funded project MUST be mundane, but still should public funds be used to support creation of cutting edge projects at the expense of sound and serviceable construction? [How many cutting edge projects have leaky roofs, bad finishes, etc., inherent in their construction?]

How do you specify a system to be “installed NOT in accord with manufacturer’s instructions”, but as per architect’s details, merely to gain an odd or “different” look that is then defended with verbose rhetoric? What happens to the liability of manufacturer and professional? Will this situation be increased or diminished when such programs as BIM become functional, and there is further integral incorporation of “specifications information” into the basic data base, so as to become invisible.

Think—how will the production of IFCs be subject to the parameters and guide lines of MF04? OR will we eventually see a MF__ -insert date] that addresses that new documentation [but how if it is an integral part of the modeling program?]

Further thought must be given to the impact of a database that is part and parcel a segment of the software imaging program, such that little if any modification is required-- i.e., concrete and steel have fewer variations, and they are built right into the selection menu of the BIM database.

Think! We are just really at the beginning of the BIM or similar technology, and one can only “think” where this all may be going. Is there to be a “universal” database for use by all? Or will each office using their version of BIM also have to develop their own specific database? With numerous databases and equally numerous BIM software, how interoperable will they be?

Think, too, about how the design professional’s tasks ancillary and necessary to the development and production of the design concept will be changed. We have been changed much by CAD, and other “sophistication”, but one must think about how the design professions become more and more subordinate to the software development “profession”. And on the other hand, think of another need to educate our clients in yet another format and technology

Think on All That!!

But think too, that chances are specifications and Project Manuals, as now known and used, will not disappear. While a good portion of the technical information may be diverted to the BIM database, the whole of the Procurement, Contract, Bidding and Division 01 provisions will survive—they are not “graphicable” [amenable to be depicted!].

Now in some quarters, even today, there is use of abbreviated short form specifications, called ‘drawing notes’ that are located on the drawings sheets. This manipulation may seem attractive to maintain the overall graphic appearance but these “specifications” are usually reserved [and with tongue in cheek] for small, or limited scope projects. Flatly, too much information is removed from the long-form specifications that liability and enforcement issues abound.

Without knowing the full reach of the BIM effort and its ancillary database, it appears probable that some form of Project Manual will still be required for projects. A strictly disciplined program for location of information will be required, so there is not an indiscriminate production that runs counter to all of the efforts at formatting and uniformity over the last 50 years. This is not a matter of right or wrong, but rather what is appropriate for the project, and the documentation that is produced to direct its construction.

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