I attended the buildingSMART alliance national conference in Washington, D.C. in mid-December. It was held in conjunction with Ecobuild Fall/AEC-ST, and provided me with a valuable background into green building practice. It also drove home the need for standards in order to align CAD and GIS with BIM.
The buildingSMART alliance was founded in January of 2007 as an offshoot of the International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI-NA) in order to push for technical, political and financial support for Building Information Models (BIM) standards.This group will build upon IAI-NA’s Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs) for greater integration among building disciplines.
Patrick MacLeamy, chief executive officer of the design firm HOK, and the International Chair of the International Alliance for Interoperability, was the keynote luncheon speaker at this event. I’ve heard Mr. MacLeamy speak in the past and am impressed by both his vision and delivery.
Following is the first of three excerpts that I extracted and condensed from his address that outline a need for change:
The word building started out as a noun and soon became intertwined with the act of construction, to become both a noun and a verb.
For many years buildings were built by groups called guilds. The groups were formed around building types, such as wood or masonry. The guild master was the knowledge repository of that building type and was also the key designer that was informed by a deep knowledge of the material. It is during this era that great design became art.
The term architect evolved later, when the designer became separate from the builder. At first the architect was still involved in the building process, but over time that evolved to include a new player, the contractor.
At this point in the evolution, buildings are no longer built, they are assembled. Pre-manufactured parts built elsewhere come together at a central site and are assembled by workers. It’s not a guild process where materials are hand crafted on-site. The general contractor and subs assemble parts in the right sequence, the right order, and the right fit to make our finished building.
Design and building have become separated in the current day, and often to our detriment. We need to recognize that the processes of assembling a building needs improvements, and we need to look at the manufacturing industry for ideas on how we can improve.
While this conference is all about building green, if we can’t get the fundamentals of the processes right, we can’t hope to achieve any realistic goals about building green.