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Thread: "We" Have Built a Snow Globe

  1. #1
    I could stop if I wanted to stuntmonkee's Avatar
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    Post "We" Have Built a Snow Globe

    I'm not really sure if this post should be here or out there, but I think it was more relevant to this area, so here it goes. (sorry if it ended up a bit long, and it is writen with a bit of sarcasim)

    Roughly about 2 years ago I started having this idea about the way we produce architectural information. And I'm sure it's not limited to architecture, but that is the field that I am most familiar with, so that is the point of view that I’m speaking from.

    Anyway, with the true arrival of Revit and the idea of parametric drawings, many of my ideas of CAD management, and the chain of operations have changed. Through the beginning of my production life things were simple. The project manager sketched it up, and I drew it by hitting the “L” key, a couple of mouse clicks, another “L” key, then maybe the “E” key, “Esc” a few times, plotted handed it back to the PM, and the he/she redlined it and started the process over until that particular PM was happy, at which point it was handed to the Principal Architect, and then we started from the first step again. Simple right? Right.

    The key was that there was a simple chain of order.

    1. Newbie Draftsman – Lack of knowledge in the chosen field, eager to learn, knew Acad V10, or 11, or 12, or 13, or V14, but didn’t really know what he/she was doing with it. Often spends more time drawing a bolt than a whole section.
    2. Project Manager – Ex-Draftsman, been around the block a few times, enjoys being “The One” that now gets to be anal with redlines, had learned quite a bit, talks about having to draft by hand in the “Ole-Days” but is very proud of his new PEN plotter.
    3. Principal Architect– Ex-Project Manager, been around the block more than a few times and decided that he has PM’s to do that “Block” thing now. Hates the “new PEN plotter”, brags that he could draft faster by hand than the “Newbie Draftsman” can on a computer.
    4. CAD Manager – Behind the scenes, but often falls into the “Newbie Drafter” or “Project Manager”, depending on what the firm needs per every ½ hour.

    But things have changed now. Now we have software that is discipline specific. You can no longer find a draftsman that is raw and have them be productive in your environment. Everything is custom and knowledge demanding. I.E. you can no longer get into the car and drive, you are now required to know how to fly a plane, tank, helicopter, or ship to get into the field of your choice.

    So the challenge has now become finding an intelligent draftsperson that knows how buildings go together so they know when to ask what the finished floor height is. They need to know how to use roofs, walls, windows, doors, and floors, and have them all make sense so that you can cut a section. So to a certain level they are close to being a Project Manager. The only thing that this person may no know is the headaches of dealing with cities, and clients. And in my firm, that’s when we are looking for, “production” people that are self sufficient enough to put a project together on their own. Great! That’s fine and all, but in my world, almost all of those people don’t want to be “production”. They want to be project managers, designers and architects. These people have been production for a bit now and are trying to get out of the “Red Line Sea”, and into a seat of authority. I mean after all these are the same people that had enough drive and smarts to get into this industry and understand how buildings goes together, so those are the people that will excel in the business world.

    So now it seems that it’s possible that we are beginning to eliminate the “Newbie Draftsman” which only adds more fuel to my next idea.

    In that chain, there was a passing of redlines. During those “Ole-Days” it made sense. Either because it was by hand, or because the person redlining the drawings was far less efficient at using a CADD system. But now those Newbie Drafters are becoming the Project managers. And they are people that have grown with CAD, and are pretty well versed in their software, whether it be ADT, MDT, LDT, or Revit.

    So why are they redlining. If I remember correctly, they used to be the newbie drafter that could out draw the hand drafter. So being a “CAD efficient Project Manager” why would I take time to redline something, pass it off to one of those entry level people, get it back, re-correct it, get it back, change my mind because now I see what’s going on, and then redline it again. Why not just draw it myself, save a ton of man hours, figure it out and jump over the possible misunderstandings, lost notes & missed redlines. Especially with the convenience of Revit keeping me from having to cross check sections and plans now.

    My over all point here is that the “Building Trade” world seem to be in a huge snow globe right now. And every day that it starts to settle, a new technology shakes it again. It started with ADT for us, and continues with Revit. You cant deny the new software. You would simply be left behind, but those of you who are using ADT are having your ideas changed at least once a year now.

    So the question is. . . . .How do we keep up to date, on schedule, productive, and maintain our sanity while still have fun doing what we all chose to do?

  2. #2
    Revit Arch. Wishlist Mgr. Wes Macaulay's Avatar
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    Default Re: "We" Have Built a Snow Globe

    You're right, and then you're right.

    You're right that change is the order of the day. Technology is developing at a breakneck pace... there are more people on the planet doing more software development more than ever -- that is speeding change.

    There is change in the construction industry. New products, new codes... builders also have to keep up to date with all of that.

    And CAD software is always changing: Revit has in some respects (interface and general workflow) changed less than many other platforms out there, but its abilities have grown astronomically in the past few years.

    I don't know what to say to your comment about the difficulty of getting good help; most firms do really need people with domain-specific expertise. I worked in construction for several years before getting into architecture. Most firms would love it if their staff knew enough so that redlining could be reduced by 50%; I don't know that Revit changes that need.

    Since technology is a work in progress, I don't mind that development continues at a fast pace -- it will certainly keep me from boredom

    I read a lot to stay up to date. And I ask a lot of questions -- I want to know what I need to know so I can focus on what I need to know and not waste time on learning things I don't need to know

    I can relate. This world hands out waay too much information...

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    I could stop if I wanted to stuntmonkee's Avatar
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    Default Re: "We" Have Built a Snow Globe

    Quote Originally Posted by metanoia
    I want to know what I need to know so I can focus on what I need to know and not waste time on learning things I don't need to know
    Ya know. . . . .I think I know what you mean. . . . .ya know?

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    I could stop if I wanted to ita's Avatar
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    Default Re: "We" Have Built a Snow Globe

    Mentona, I believe you have cracked it in saying that "This world hands out waay too much information..." The real issue is not information or production or design or whatever - it is about information management.

    When I started working as a student in a small practice architect's office, major projects were built using 4 or at the most 6 sets of docs. A small project would be built with 3 at the most 4 if the client paid for printing costs of the 4th. (A hundred years ago, most major buildings were built with two copies of the documents and even less in times before.)

    Once the original docs were produced, change to the docs (and there were very few) came as amendment drawings (never more than 2 copies were made) one of which was pasted onto the master set so there was a base line of information.

    So historically, it has been possible to build complex buildings with only a few copies of the final drawings.

    Recently I was involved with a major fee bid in collaboration with a colleague of mine who runs a larger practice. Our submission was deliberately kept small yet it finished up as two telephone books in size and nearly 400 pages - because the Project Manger the client had engaged (to protect the client's interest??) requested that degree of information to select the successful architect for the client among a myriad of other consultants.

    Other submissions made at the same time were conveyed in travelling cases on wheels and consisted of four or more telephone books - and nobody had the job yet!!!

    The real issue is what are we working at - what is the purpose of what we do?

    It seems to me that many people involved in the process of procuring a building only focus on their aspect of the process - not on the objective - producing a built or constructed object – as Stuntmonkey points out. Most people within the sphere of the industry want to be in part of the process of the project because people make their income from it. So, the process has become specialised and the knowledge base diffused and generalised and time wasting process continuue.

    For over a decade I ran a small practice that employed a core of 5/6 people consisting of 4 architects and 2/3 or more graduates or student architects on practical experience. Employing that number of people required me to manage the business and I was an architect for probably an hour each day. The rest of the time I dealt with clients, managed the people in the practice etc etc. To be a successful "architect", you could no longer do architecture – unless you ran a very small or single person practice, stayed with residential and the occasional government commissions for a school renovation.

    I love architecture, I love designing and documenting buildings for my clients and managing their construction. But what has made this possible has been the use of the information technology. I can do all the things that used to do in an office of 100m2 with 6+ staff . . . in an office of 6m2. If I have work or production overload I can email the files to another colleague and use their spare resources, I can mange my practice far more efficiently and effectively than with that large resource of space and people. I communicate with my clients by phone or email, they view their projects on a Revit (trial version) download and we can discuss it by phone. The drawings are emailed to the contractors by email and they communicate with me from the site using digital photos and mobile phones. The technology has changed everything.

    From my office, using collaborative networks that the technology now enables, I can do virtually any size of project using the skills and knowledge of a diffuse but capable consultant network. So it may not be about too much information but rather how the information is managed and used.

    Stuntmonkey, those practices that are still dividing their workload along skill based demarcation lines are dinosaurs. Practices run on those lines of management are really money production lines and from my observation, there is generally very poor skill development and very little technological change – because change means lost time and lost income. Time and technological innovation may well change those that live by that method.

    For now, the technology and Revit mean that I am an architect again – working in an environment that does not limit my enjoyment of an interesting and fascinating profession.

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    I could stop if I wanted to MartyC's Avatar
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    Default Re: "We" Have Built a Snow Globe

    Ian, I agree with your thoughts.
    Stuntmonkee, oh yes, good description.

    My predictions:
    1. The traditional technician/draghtsperson is a dying entity
    2. The Revit phenomenon will devolve the typical hierarchical structure of the Architectural office.
    3. The design professionals will re-develop their lapsed knowledge
    4. Architectural/technical education will be revolutionised

    Revit, as example, requires the user to know how to build buildings, and have an intimate knowledge of the performance characteristics of materials. The more knowledge the user has about the real craft of Architecture, the more effective a user is.

    My background started as an Architectural technician (draugtsman) and developed through my own design business, to working for mid/large Architectural practices, to working for a practice training Architectural graduates, to study and registration and private practice as Principal. I have seen an interesting devolution of skill and knowledge over 25 years, and now seeing the probability of the whole profession going full circle.

    Many years ago the Architect generally had the ability to work with, and understand the nature of materials and structures. Both the Architect and the Draughty worked with the trades and understood the meaning of what they were drawing and specifying before they committed it to paper.

    I have trained new Architectural graduates how to draw, what a cross section shows and why it is drawn, and even why drawings exist. These were graduates of 6 years university training. This was in the mid nineties. I have trained technicians to think beyond textbook stuff and apply creation in the details. In a period of 20 years something got lost. Small practices often have a poor record of resolve and reliability, large practices have the luxury of sheer numbers to compensate by delegating tasks up and down the hierarchy and out to consultants. Accepted, this is the result of evolving processes and requirements, however, the primary knowledge power base has diminished to a point where decisions are often left to the person in the office that has the ability to stand up and make decisions, right or wrong. I am sure we have all had the frustration of design by committee in the office at various times, and what a waste of time and emotion that often is.

    My experience with Revit has blatantly identified to me that my detailed knowledge of materials and structures that I started developing in the early days, right from the start gives me the power to produce way beyond what I thought possible. It is not just the software, it is the knowledge of architecture. I am sure I am not alone in this.

    I believe that the appearance of Revit on the market has the ability to force change on the traditional practice model. Architects will need to know first-hand exactly what they are designing and why, and how, and the technician will need to be a true para-professional, intimately understanding the design intent, and intimately understand materials and structure.

    I believe Revit allows the immediate elimination of one strata of management, the project manager, and allows the close association of an Architect (as PM) and technician/s as a small and dedicated team. A technician joining a practice will need to have a very high level of education in terms of understanding the architectural fundamentals, materials and structure, especially for large projects. An architect will need to have significant PM skills straight-off to justify their position above the technician. A much closer level of collaboration will be essential.

    I am certainly finding in my residential projects that Revit has automated the technician directly out of the equation. Two mouse clicks and I have section, what do I need a technician for? With Revit, I am designer, project manager, technician and print-boy all in less time than I used to apply to any one of the above. And I even make my own coffee. My needs for a larger project are very limited.

    I believe that educational institutions need to extend their game enormously to cater for the emerging needs by:

    1. Expanded architectural knowledge incorporating intimate materials and structure knowledge and the thought processess necessary to create in a more holistic nature.
    2. Facilites to elevate the existing technical staff to a higher level of performance and true para-professional status.

    Properly applied, these things will allow people seeking careers in Architecture to actually be employable, and I believe, without the changes many would be redundant. Change will need to occur due to necessity.

    Revit, really does I believe, have the ability to force the first really significant cultural change to architectural process. I think we will all benefit from this and be even better at what we do. The outcome for us is highly visible, and in the court of public opinion, I believe that the art and craft of the new Architecture will be evident and the profession can be firmly and universally reinstated at the high level it deserves in society. Finally, we have tool that we can leverage against to achieve more.


    I think I might go and do some work now..........

    CheersM
    Last edited by MartyC; 2004-06-10 at 04:44 AM.

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    I could stop if I wanted to ita's Avatar
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    Default Re: "We" Have Built a Snow Globe

    Great coments Marty!! Yeh . . . . work . . . now where was I!

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    I could stop if I wanted to stuntmonkee's Avatar
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    Default Re: "We" Have Built a Snow Globe

    Quote Originally Posted by ita
    1.It seems to me that many people involved in the process of procuring a building only focus on their aspect of the process - not on the objective.
    El WhamO!! Lawyers aside, When did more paper start meaning a better project

    Quote Originally Posted by ita
    2.A hundred years ago, most major buildings were built with two copies of the documents and even less in times before.
    Please note the architecture and amount detail of this time. . . .maybe we should go back to drawing in the dirt and with chisels on stone. Lets hear it for the Mayans!!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by MartyC
    3. It is not just the software, it is the knowledge of architecture.
    You all know that "Principal" I was tellin you guys about. . . .well he came to me just after I finished the Photo sims that I have posted in the gallery and said this. . . ."WOW, so you just dropped the photo in there huh. . .thats a great program.". . . . . . . .turned and then walked away. SO just so you guys all know, your skills have nothing to do with anything. . .REVIT does it all!!!!!

    4. uffy: <---whats this all about? (edited: thats the wrong icon showin up. . mine shows the ghostbusters mellow man dancing around)
    Last edited by stuntmonkee; 2004-06-10 at 05:29 PM.

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    Default Re: "We" Have Built a Snow Globe

    SO just so you guys all know, your skills have nothing to do with anything[/I]. . .REVIT does it all!!!!!


    I am sure I dont work in the same firm as you, but we seem to work for the same person LOL - I remember my boss's amazement when we did the first draft of a door schedule with Revit - that it didnt know which ones to fire rate, have push bars, thumb turns , glazing etc etc etc it seemed to be a complete suprise to him - "I thought it did all that for you??" amazed me that is for sure..... next time I will just direct him to point 3. from Marty C......

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    Default Re: "We" Have Built a Snow Globe

    It gave me the idea of the next time i see him sketch something up, walk up and say. . wow, so you just put the pencil on the paper huh. . .geez, thats must be a good pencil.

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    All AUGI, all the time mlgatzke's Avatar
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    Default Re: "We" Have Built a Snow Globe

    You're absolutely right. This then leads me to another thought/question. There used to be a traditional, intrinsic process one followed in the architectural profession. Graduates started as draftsmen and their drawings were scrutinized and critiqued by their Project Manager. They then learned how to put a set of drawings together and so document the construction of a building. Revit now begins to upset this paradigm and create a void in this process. Where do we start fresh graduates? What will the new process be?

    Also, I don't think that the "Draftsman" is a dying breed. My experience shows that they are simply taking on more responsibility by picking up some of the more tedious tasks that used to be done by the Project Manager. This then leaves the PM to "manage" the project more and oversee more projects at a time. Thereby allowing the PM to macro-manage rather than micro-manage projects.

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