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A Different Point of View on Coordination & Communication

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    A Different Point of View on Coordination & Communication

    Before I start, let me explain that I wrote this for my home office and it was suggested that I share it with the outside world. I'm not sure if that is the best idea in this community, but the more scenic views are always on the tallest and longest limbs . . . right?

    Also, let me note that I'm a HUGE proponent of BIM, what it means, what it has to offer and moving forward with it. So this is by no means a push to move back to hand drafting or any other form of Cad other than Revit.

    What this does represent is my thoughts on how we have quickly become stretched so thin by reaching for so much. I often feel like we are standing on the top of a chair back, reaching for something on the top shelf with our outstreached fingers and toes-- instead of waiting till we can afford to buy a ladder. Often times we spend so much time trying and forcing things that we know can and should work that maybe we have slacked on providing a quality foundation.

    So I know that several if not many of you may miss the point of what this means, and I hope that this doesnt turn into a dreaded thread of modeling 3D vs drafting 2D. But here it goes never the less. Take from it what you want, leave the rest.


    The idea of coordination seems simple. After all, we are in a BIM world, so what would be so complicated about linking in eachothers BIM drawings and showing that in info merged with our own info? Therein lies the root of the problem--We don't know what we are getting from our peers. How do we develop a system of putting together drawings when we simply don't know what we are getting from a variety of companies

    I keep coming back to an idea I had a few weeks ago.

    "The best way to improve communication, might be to eliminate the need to communicate about so much."

    I have always thought that it's very easy to over use a good thing. Are we trying to communicate too much in our drawings? Do we create so many opportunities to provide information that we bury ourselves with coordination? How much information do we need to provide in order to get the correct message passed all the way down the line?

    “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”—Hans Hofmann

    Way back in the day we used to play a game. Everyone would stand in a line and the first person would say a phrase to the second person. The game would then be to pass that same message, word for word, on down the line until it reached the last person. Never once did that message remain the same. It would start out as "A man walks into a bar" and end as "A can of chalk writes in the tar.". How can we expect to provide the correct information on thousands and thousands of square feet, when we can't even communicate a sentence?

    “The challenge is about taking things that are infinitely complex and making them simpler and more understandable.”—Robert Greenberg, R/GA, 2006

    Now it can be argued that we are living in a digital world and that we can track written and printed information for years to come. And that's true. I can go back to last year to find an email and read word for word what was said. But does that mean that we should just because we can? We often lose context, such as phone conversations or a emails are lost because the topics seemed non relative. After all that, maybe the information that started at the front of the line is different 6 months later.

    “Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.”
    —Charles Mingus

    From a drawing stand point, creating details, annotations and other drawing information in multiple locations is like passing that phrase from one person to the next. If I over detail a wall section, what is to drive me (or more importantly, the Contractor) to look at the actual detail? If I call out roof slopes on a building section, I now have to change that information in 2 places-- if that "phrase" changes, I have to send it on down the line again.

    “Good designers can create normalcy out of chaos; they can clearly communicate ideas through the organizing and manipulating of words and pictures.”
    —Jeffery Veen, 2000

    This was written based on the drive to provide an equal to or better than product for a lesser cost. It's pretty well known that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but when you are asked to navigate a complex city, it's also understood that we all require directions. Even if those directions are not the shortest route, we should all get there at the same time. Clearly, with answers ranging from 30% to over 100%, we are not all getting there at the same time. In order to provide a better product we must find ways to develop that product consistently, with simpler methods, less decorations and an improved understanding of the tools that we have to generate that product.

    One possible answer?

    "Less is more."
    ~ Mies van der Rohe, Speaking about restraint in design, the New York Herald Tribune, 28 Jun 1959.
    Jasen Arias

    "Thats all I got for now."

    Interesting - Ive been thinking about this for 20 years, and in regards to BIM for a while, of the quotes above:
    “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” is almost my mantra. Before BIM as a documentation manager when mentoring "new" staff I couldnt stress enough to them the importance of the documentation explaining to the builder the tricky/ important/ high design bits - not how to suck eggs. A variety of examples can be used (ie: Have general notes onthe sheet (to cover your arse) and have specific notes pointing to the problem. This ensures that the builder actually finds the important note instead of skimming over them.)

    In regards to BIM, how does one highlight to the other "Model" users the important bits? I guess we come back to "more" communication/ meetings etc, not less since you need to beable to say "hey bob, that area isnt fully rosolved yet, so dont spend to much time on it" "that wall thickness is VITAL" " that wall thickness can change if you need to " etc etc.

    Also we have the problem of different disaplines having different requirements for the model. An example as below (sorry about the length):
    1. Major existing Victorian building, big floorplates, 7 stories high.
    2. Whole "base building" renovation/addition team on Revit
    3. Project Manager gets his engineering firm to do an existing Model - done by MEP Engineers
    4. Very accurate in section, but columns out by 20-50mm on each floor (ie: columns have been rendered more and more over the years on different floors, so they dont quite line up).
    5. Interior Architect gets brought in and given the model to work with. Model a real dog from their point of view. Fine for Engineers, but not accurate enough for interior architect and model too basic for his/her renderings. Interior Architect re-models to suit there own needs. Really accurate in plan, window details in, really pretty, good model but decides not to do all the beam systems etc since they are above the ceiling and dont affect him (also not sure how accurate they are anyway now he has moved the columns...)
    6. Construction company (owned by the building owner) now has two models which cant be joined together!!! - and they arent happy!

    Maybe in the future , the idea of Integrated Project Delivery will sort of sort this out, but its still going to be a worry when you get Revit Models done from Previous consultants....anyone remember using someone elses AutoCAD baseplans without doing a sitesurvery? Just asking for trouble.

    Sorry - Ive digressed somewhat! But yes - Less is More.

    Alex Page
    RevitWorks Ltd
    Check out our Door Factory, the door maker add-in for Revit


      (oops - double posted by a mistake)
      Alex Page
      RevitWorks Ltd
      Check out our Door Factory, the door maker add-in for Revit


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