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« Aspiration, History | Main | School Days 2012 »

May 29, 2012


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Hi Phil,

Great post.

I agree that the design coordination of the building project can largely be done through BIM. However, I can see us using drawings for the manufacture and installation of building elements for a while yet.

This is largely because individual tradesmen don't want or need access to ALL the information. All they need is a clear instruction of their next task or process. Drawings fulfil this need perfectly.

Paper drawings have the added advantage that they boot up immediately, they work even when they are dirty, trodden on and dropped, they never run out of batteries, and no-one is likely to nick them!

Keep up the good work,


Phil Bernstein

Thanks, Paul. I agree with your logic, and I doubt a several thousand year-old tradition will disappear from our process any time soon. And high-resolution, coffee-proof, easily reproduced and cheap pieces of paper make sense for all the reasons you outline. Of course, the real question: how, exactly, do we produce that paper? Certainly not with compass and rule...



Phil, I really enjoyed this post. I am working as a Virtual Construction Engineer/Visionary with a large CM firm. One of the ideas that I came up with was to develop drawings just as you are talking about here. Maybe not completely eliminate a design side set of CD's, but I am also creating what I have began to call trade specific data sheets for each room of the building, for each trade. Consolidated information the way that each trade wants to see it for each room. It's been a big plus so far. Elimintaing the process of leafing through multiple drawings to build one room, or calculate what quantity of material they need for that room. I believe BIM is about not only the information, but having the information you need to see it.


Hi Phil, very interesting. I have recently crossed over to help out on a large Interiors Convention Centre project. I like and agree exactly what you are saying, but how do you think, with this new direction in mind, people will verify and confirm the quality of the work that consultants have contributed to the BIM model. Recently , we had an AV consultant, take existing Interior and Architectural plans and place his work into it (speakers, projectors, cameras etc) and submit it. But only upon printing out and look at each instance of his work did anyone come to realize how shockingly ill coordinated and inappropriate all his work was. Its true that better coordination here may have got rid of the problem but only through his prints did all of this become apparent on a project with many other consultants.
Im curious to take this subject further and look at what the new "Design Intent" phase may now include.



In reading the artilce I was intrigued by the notion that CDs may pass into extinction. Intrigue however quickly morphed into anxiety that our "standard of care" as Architects may also be changing. At what stage are we required to leave our safe harbors and engage in the realm of "completeness"? Scary.

And, I wonder how new generations of Architects will learn to understand the way a drawing is crafted (in its individual sense of art). That is, how do we teach young architects to use lineweight, linetype and hatching to convey what BIM doesnt automatically generate? All those years behind a drafting table give you the eye for proportion, development of cosntruction lines into real lines and overall sheet organization. It is the skipping of these fundamentals that concern me. Are we to assume that the physical drawings are now also passe? Are we now facing the extinction of 2D representation of a 3D world?

Balazs Trojak

Hi Phil, thank you for a reassuring article. The purpose of drawings to be clear and targeted conveyance of information was well undestood in the past. On the flip side BIM enables us to assemble anything and everything into the model creating magnitudes of complexity. This emerging gap is seen by our clients who increasingly comment: "too many parameters", "too much data", "too much detail". We have to deal with this as a daily routine. I like the analogy with "reverse engineering" to extract data from the BIM. The winners will be the ones who can best manage complexity and make the data accessible to Everyone in the process.

Phil Bernstein

There are several really interesting comments here, much appreciated, and each connected to the issues of how design information is defined, organized, displayed and transmitted for purposes of construction. I think my vague assertion is that each will evolve accordingly. Of course drawings--super fast, cheap, and abstract--will remain important, but the other forces at work must force us as architects out of our "safe harbor" into more turbulent but much more interesting and valuable waters where we can add (and extract) real value. It seems that some combination of the digital, three-dimensional, parametric, and data-driven will move discipline-based drawings ("the structurals, the mechanicals") to trade-based integrated representations that would obviate the problems with the AV consultant that Barry describes above. It's the need to refract the work exclusively through that discipline lens--and drive everything from business model to drawing organization to risk management approach--that is at the heart of this issue, overlaid with the obligation to manage levels of abstraction versus detail. And as the line between design intent and execution gets ever fuzzier, new ideas for how to solve this puzze will emerge. That's what I'm hoping will happen!


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