Lost Definition

It has been a while since I managed to allocate some meaningful time in between projects, marketing and work-chasing to seriously put some thoughts together about the way we use digital tools of the trade. Granted, we are all BIM experts, and it would be really interesting to make a comparison study between the growth in overall industry billing rates and growth in so claimed BIM expertise.

Now, I do not intend to look down on what has been a perpetual current trend. Rather, the only parallel I am trying to invoke is that if BIM is to become the prevalent project information management methodology, due to the very nature of our business, claiming any expertise should be limited to very specific areas of the project delivery cycle.

From that perspective only the few people that have lived through the entire 20+ years of technological evolution and have witnessed the changes and failures, will be able to objectively judge and predict where BIM is heading. So if such a group of uber geeks is tasked to define what is the most efficient and standards inclusive way of delivering a digital project, would their answer even include LOD (Level of Development/Detail) or MPS (Model Progression Specification), I wonder?

An analogy to be invoked could resemble this approach. Can you imagine driving a car that instead of a gear box has an ambiguously-defined set of instructions directing you to do the following while driving?

To engage in a 3rd gear one should start by acquiring two steel plates and forge them into gears with as many teeth as required for 1.43:1 gear ratio.

Then, in order to find out when to engage those gears, thou shall keep track of wheel revolutions and constantly measure the torque
required to maintain the power transmitted through the gear box.

Imagine, if instead of buying a product, a car manufacturer would give you a set of binders describing how to start a car manufacturing process.

Staunch defenders of the idiosyncrasy associated with the building design profession, would argue against comparison with manufacturing, however a set of broadly defined standards without an enforcing mechanism is equally doomed to failure, no matter to which industry sector it is being applied.

The point I am trying to make is that if the entire process is not fully incorporated within any of the available software platforms, those that expect design/construction professionals to keep pace with miscellaneous LOD requirements, as outlined by a group of corporate entities related via their businesses, are underestimating the complexity of the problem that arises from the very definition of BIM.

Providing the right information to the right person at the right time is a paradigm that requires enabling thorough content creation as well as content management processes, and to do so we should start questioning whether the delivery cycle and its stakeholders have the capacity to accommodate this approach.

Instead of focusing on prescriptive bureaucratic solutions, the approach should be directed toward progressive refinement of design or construction models via purpose driven software solutions. This refinement in its essence would be an equivalent of LOD / MPS but with an underlying set of properties and methods associated with the objects constituting the digital model.

Whether the proposed logic can be reduced to temporal progressions of a project with enough flexibility to address the majority of our work without impeding the ability to design, document, build and occupy, is a question to be defined.

This question must embody a daily compromise revolving around the quality of BIM compliant deliverables as dictated by a project tempo and a team’s skill set.

Compromise such as that one happens at different levels of BIM adoption, and carries the weight of a project’s digital lifecycle worthiness; however, its impact could be greatly reduced through proper alignment of software capabilities, hand-off demands, and process planning.

One possible solution to the LOD challenge could be in a deliberate avoidance of placing information within the object database, while rather equipping this same object database with a more functional interface connecting to a relational database that hosts a range of properties related information.

Instead of focusing on data aggregation within the model the real focus should shift toward creation of expert systems that would react and make assumptions based on the amount and quality of referenced data.

4 Comments

  1. Did I miss something?

  2. Thanks Kevin. I deleted the offender. I did not catch that one.

  3. Kevin Sobraken

    GU (for those who need a translation – "Grow Up.") or don't bother posting if you have nothing meaningful to contribute. DA. Can't even post with your name on here.

  4. "Providing the right information to the right person at the right time is a paradigm that requires enabling thorough content creation as well as content management processes, and to do so we should start questioning whether the delivery cycle and its stakeholders have the capacity to accommodate this approach."
    No truer words have rung within my head. On the other hand your closing statement reads of loss of control by the user and expecting intelligence from software. Great post!

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