Thursday, May 11, 2017

Advanced BIM Workflows in the Digital Design Office

I came across the below linked video last month and instantly knew there was something to learn from it. However, the video format – a recording of a live meeting – was extremely limited as a medium to transfer the knowledge I so desperately wanted, and so had to come back to it later. I don't consider this the fault of the good folks at EvolveLAB or Autodesk Fromit. Quite the contrary in fact, I think they should be celebrated for releasing whatever they can to the community. I love learning and am more than happy to take up some of the responsibility for learning a complex subject myself. That said, one method of learning any subject is writing about it. Here I thought I would share my description of the class after draining all useful information from the video and reconstituting it here for my readers in a much more inviting and engaging form.

The almost hour long video is notable for how it links together several software applications. Transitions between software programs have traditionally been a pain point in BIM projects because the complexity of the digital model can inevitably lead to the introduction of small bugs that result in unexpected behaviour. Anyone in charge of supporting parametric design in the office should be aware that to support an architect's vision at a high level, a fluency in the topics discussed here on the blog continually, or specifically today in the video, is fundamental. 

Autodesk's Formit 360 is mentioned. Great little program. It's a lightweight modelling environment for conceptual design which integrates with each DynamoBIM, Revit, and the Cloud. I love REVIT but it's a heavy weight champ when sometimes nimbleness is required. Fromit was made with this goal in mind. The helpfulness of this software rests on the undercurrents of digital design the AEC industry is currently transition to. The ability to have a robust and flexible conceptual workspace supports iterative design techniques so prevalent in data-driven design methodologies. 

The presenters show DynamoBIM still growing in its role as a complementary tool in an a world-class digital design workflow. Here we see Dynamo used very effectively in a conceptual environment. Many firms could use this skill set to make amazing architecture, but I'm not sure all firms are ready to take the plunge, at least in Canada. Certainly from an architectural criticism perspective I don't know if this is totally a good thing either. But in an empirical way – taken in context of a suite of digital design software – this tool allows optimization of the design which, in turn, can drive building value for all stakeholders in a project, especially users. Two other characteristics of computational architecture and Dynamo not illustrated in the video but important applications nonetheless are 1) Dynamo has many functions in a BIM production workflow not mentioned in the video; and 2) there is a subtle but important difference between computational architecture optimizing a conceptual design and production workflow versus optimizing a building materials or performance through analysis. Computational architecture needs to be attacked from both angles to maximize the benefits of digital design. 

Lastly we introduce Autodesk's Project Fractal initiative. Certainly this isn't as big a piece of software as REVIT but it has some interesting characteristics for sharing parametric designs that have implications for teams designing distributively around the world. Basically it's a way for parametric models to be processed and hosted in the cloud for users to inspect and review. It's nice to see lightweight mobile options continue to be developed along side enterprise-level creative software. 

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