Sunday, June 24, 2012

The MacLeamy Curve - Real World BIM and IPD.

The MacLeamy Curve is often referred to in discussions about building information modeling and ingtegrated project delivery. MacLeamy refers to Patrick MacLeamy, CEO of HOK. While more than one person claims the credit for having developed similar graphs and ideas, Patrick has continually demonstrated leadership in actually applying the ideas. He also created a very good video series on "The Future of The Building Industry" which I highly recommend. Patrick is also a strong advocate for interoperability and is the International Chair for buildingSMART. The image makes obvious what many of us in the business know both intuitively and from years of painful personal experience - the entire process in architecture, engineering and construction is broken and inefficient.

As the architects Kieran and Timberlake make clear in this quote from their book, Refabricating Architecture,
"The single most devastating consequence of modernism has been
the embrace of a process that segregates designers from makers:
The architect has been separated from the contractor, and the
materials scientist has been separated from the product engineer."

by integrating design with fabrication and construction, the improvements in efficiency and predictability can be extreme. So why isn't it happening?

Combine these inefficiencies with dropping productivity in the building industry, clearly illustrated in the chart below by Dr. Paul Teicholz of Stanford's CIFE, and one wonders why the industry refuses to evolve.

Our work is focused on applying a fully integrated design-fabricate-build process. This is rarely even discussed and certainly almost never applied. To better define the process I often refer people this definition of fabrication information modeling as defined by Acecad/Strucad (recently acquired by Trimble).

Rather than waste more time endlessly discussing the inefficiencies of the industry, why don't do change by demonstrating what is possible on real building projects?

Founders of Leap Motion: Our Amazing 3D Tracking Will Be Everywhere - Where will it be in Architecture, Engineering and Construction?

Watch this video and ponder what tens of thousands of software developers will do with Leap Motion once they get there hands on the developer kits.

For more information read the full article on the Singularity Hub website here. Take a look at the Leap Motion website, and join the discussion in the Linkedin Group Leap Motion.

McGraw Hill is hosting a conference called FutureTech in San Francisco on July 10th. Included are session on Augmented Reality and other new technologies in architecture, engineering and construction. The list of speakers is impressive, and the focus is the construction industry as is made clear in the marketing blurb below,

"You will also hear where the next wave of exciting innovations will be coming from that will continue to provide powerful benefits to early adopters and change the landscape of the construction industry forever."

And while a few hundred AEC professionals converge in San Francisco to discuss technology-meets-AEC, a few hundred developers will be too busy coding to attend. Despite all the talk about building information modeling and virtual design and construction, the information technology industry and the AEC industry still don't really trust one another and are barely on speaking terms (my opinion from spending more than 10 years in each industry). Software will eat the AEC industry, as it is almost every other industry, and with hardware/software innovation like the Leap, the potential (inevitability) for massive disruption grows daily. The vast majority in the industry will miss the opportunity because they fear change, but it will be forced upon them by consumers themselves who will use new technologies to interact with product and service vendors thereby forcing change from the demand side.

Imagine how much change will occur between the sessions at this year's conference and next year's conference. Tens of thousands of developers will be developing demos and applications using Leap Motion and a few hundred (or even thousand) will focus on computer-aided-design data, and the really forward looking ones will focus on design and computer-aided-manufacturing data, linking design and fabrication. This is where it gets really interesting. And it is the area we are focused on.

This is going to be a wild ride indeed.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Digital Fabrication: From Digital to Material

Although this 3 page PDF is from 2003, it is still a very good introduction to digital fabrication for architecture, engineering and construction. The author is Branko Kolarevic and it contains edited excerpts from his book, Architecture in the Digital Age: Design and Manufacturing.