Wednesday, May 7, 2014

BIM Perspectives - NY May 29th

Join me in NY at the BIM Perspectives event, where I and a number of Industry professionals will be speaking on BIM in the Practice of Architecture and Engineering:

Building Information Modeling (BIM) Perspectives is a series of events that we hold in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. In this event, you will hear from various members of multi-disciplinary project teams about their best practices for using BIM as a basis for a collaborative design and construction process. You will learn about the challenges and benefits of implementing BIM technology from the perspective of leading local and national AEC practitioners.
This year's theme for BIM Perspectives New York is "Collaboration," focusing on the entire project team. From the property owners and facilities professionals, to the architects, engineers, construction, and specialty contractors, we will investigate new ways to accelerate innovationon. We will examine how cloud based and mobile collaboration are empowering extended team members and enabling flexible and dynamic project workflow.


Thursday, May 29, 2014
8:00 am – 1:00 pm EST

McGraw Hill Auditorium
1221 Sixth Avenue
New York, NY 10020

Microsol Resources is an Approved Provider through the AIA/CES and will provide a Certificate of Completion for 3.5 AIA LUs and PDH for this seminar.

There is no cost but you need to register to participate


Safiy Abdur-Rahman, Director, Integrated Building Solutions | BIM, NYC DDC
Ian Atkins, Associate Principal, Firmwide BIM Application Manager, KPF
Craig Barbieri, Design Technology Manager, Pennoni
Luciana Burdi, Deputy Director for Capital Programs, Massachusetts Port Authority
John Cannistraro, President, Cannistraro
Erik Churchill, Project Manager, SHoP Construction
Jon David, Regional Manager | Virtual Design and Construction, Turner Construction
Laura Handler, Director of Service Design & Strategy, Tocci Building Companies
Stephen Jones, Senior Director, McGraw Hill Construction
Jan Leenknegt, BIM Manager, Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)
Robert Mencarini, Principal, Array Architects
Ken Murphy, BIM Director, Thornton Tomasetti
Joe Romano, Principal, Vice President, Langan
Shawnita Sterett, Director of Infrastructure, Autodesk
James Vandezande, Principal, HOK

They will be discussing the following topics and more:


Microsol Resources has been delivering integrated solutions to the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industries for 25 years. It is a recognized leader in building information modeling (BIM) technology solutions, as well as an Autodesk Platinum Partner with offices in New York, NY and Philadelphia, PA, with a professional staff of BIM/CAD Applications Experts focused on supporting the AEC community.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Design Technology Summit (DTS)

You may know that I'm involved in the RTC DTS Organizing committee and I'm excited to say that the 2nd DTS is almost here. If you don't know about the DTS, info can be found here.

Reposted from the Design Technology Summit blog:

It’s less than a week away now, here’s a little update. If you are already registered to attend you should have received an email recently too. If you haven’t please let the Secretary know as soon as you can.
If you are still interested in attending registration is full, with 27 companies being represented. We may have an open slot however. Keep in mind that the focus is biased toward firms with 100+ staff and/or multiple sites. If you’d like to make it even though it is last minute please contact the RTC Secretary.
We’ll kick off the event on Wednesday evening with some networking. We’re going to be doing a little Design Technology speed dating, yes it will be as geeky as that sounds, but it should be a good ice-breaker to help get conversations going.
Thursday we will focus on establishing our small groups, something new that we will start this time around. Each small working group will address these topics: Innovation, Collaboration and Management.
The small group leaders will be:
  • Collaboration – Lee Miller – HOK
  • Innovation – Josh Emig – Perkins & Will
  • Management – Robert Yori – SOM
On Friday our small groups will report back to the full group on their topics. Going forward they’ll be focused on them for the next 6-9 months and they’ll set the expectation for what kind of deliverable the full group should expect to see at future sessions. Each group will prepare draft reports for their Bucket and make them available 1 month prior to the Summer DTS (June) meeting which is co-located with RTC NA in Schaumburg, IL (near Chicago).

We will also strive to solicit and include input from people that were not able to join us this time.
We’re very excited to have the HP/Nvidia team as a sponsor, for DTS as well as a Platinum Global Sponsor for RTC overall. A special treat, they’re taking us up to Fort Collins on Friday afternoon for a behind the scenes tour (NDA required) of the HP R&D Facility located there. This should be very interesting and I’m sure we are all looking forward to it.
In June we’ll get back together just before RTC begins. It will be an opportunity for the full group to hear back from each of the small groups and then discuss each major topic in a large group format. Going forward we envision our Winter meetings as our Small Group meeting and then the Summer meetings being our Large Group meeting. We’re also hoping to find a way to present what DTS has been working on to RTC attendees during each RTC event.

We expect that the Summer meeting will be either 2 or perhaps just 1-1/2 days. We’re still working on scheduling it around some of the RTC related activities currently being planned for the Wednesday prior to the official conference start on Thursday. RTC is hoping to have something special sorted out and naturally we want DTS attendees to be able to take part too. More news on that when it becomes available.

RTC’s Design Technology Summit is proudly sponsored by our Platinum Global Sponsor -  HP|NVIDIA

We are also very pleased that Global eTraining has joined RTCDTS as a Bronze Sponsor
Global eTraining

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Revit rendering vs. Autodesk cloud rendering - Fight!

Recently I had the pleasure of designing a few options for a potential remodel of our lobby here at HQ. During this time I also trialed Autodesk 360's rendering service and I must say, I am impressed. What I liked most about it was the speed with which it rendered. The quality of the images was fair/good and the way it handled material textures was good, in fact in some cases better than Revit. But then the cloud handled some things a little oddly.
Looming deadlines are the modus operendi for Architects. Unfortunately for us, renderings usually take time and unless you have workstations set aside for rendering, you've got to juggle your time in Revit and your time rendering such that you can accomplish what you need in the nick of time. Well at least you used to have to juggle your time. With Autodesk's 360 cloud rendering, juggling time has become less of an issue. The cloud is FAST. And it's easy. Take the two draft images below for example. Both were set to roughly equivalent quality and size settings, though the model was at a different level of completeness in each which should explain the subtle differences. Revit took 1 day, 9 hours and 24 minutes to render. The Autodesk cloud took roughly 10 minutes.

Draft image rendered in Cloud (Final, Large, Advanced setting)
Draft image rendered in Revit (Best setting)
There are some noticeable differences though. It seems as though the cloud uses a different rendering engine. In fact if you check the Help, you'll find this statement:
"The rendering service relies on a new, highly optimized rendering engine. Minor differences in the appearance of materials should be expected."
In general the Revit rendering has a softer look to it which I like.


Note that some of the materials are not showing up in the cloud rendered version for the bar, and the chrome of the coffee table. These use stock, out-of-the box materials (Cherry and Chrome) so I sent off a note to the nice support folks about it. Apparently there's an issue using the "Tint" feature in the Revit material editor, though this was not used in these materials. They're looking at the file at the time of this writing and I'll try and update this post if I get a response/solution. I changed the materials for these elements to Wood - Cherry and Metal - Chrome and it rendered fine. 
The wall paint is also very different in appearance in the two different renderings. Some of this has to do with the exposure settings but the mottling of the material is typical Revit rendering effect. If you adjust your rendering settings in the Custom options, you can eliminate the mottling but I find it comes with a time cost.
The textured wall behind the receptionist turned out to be incorrectly rendered in Revit but correctly rendered in the cloud. As far as I can tell the texture and the bump are not aligning correctly even though they were locked and use the same image:

Rendered in Cloud

Rendered in Revit
Not so good


The lighting in the above draft has not been adjusted in terms of color. To make the fixtures glow, I created a new material called "light glow" and set the Self Illumination to create the fixture glow:

I later adjusted the color to match that of the fixtures photometrics. 

The lighting in both looks fairly good but in both the Cloud and Revit I had to adjust the exposure and white point to get the right brightness and tone. 
The odd thing about the lighting is that in the cloud rendered image, there's a black plane showing up in the fixture, perpendicular to the direction of the luminance, that is not in the family and isn't rendered by Revit. I ended up switching out the fixture for a different one as I couldn't find a way to eliminate it. 

Rendered in Revit
Looks correct
Rendered in Cloud
Ummm, wtf?

At the end of the day, I ended up finalizing the design and rendering 6 or so images via the cloud, blowing through the 25 free "cloud credits" and generating some good images for the presentation. I recommend you use the free "standard" setting until you are completely satisfied with the output materials, textures, lighting and so forth, before you spend your credits on rendering a "final"  Large image.  The dialog will let you know how many credits are required and this website has a breakdown of cost and the different settings. All in all the convenience is well worth the cost. You get 100 Cloud credits allocated annually for each software license on Subscription. According to the Revit Kid, Autodesk Cloud credits cost a buck each.

Rendered in Cloud

Rendered in Cloud

Rendered in Cloud

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Classical Architecture with Revit

Checkout this post and book on classical architecture... Great stuff and some super tips for aspiring Revit Masters.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What to Expect When Your Client Is Expecting BIM - Five BIM Trends You Need to Know

This is a cross-post with Digital-Tutors. To view the post on their blog, visit DT Labs.

In a recent interview with Digital-Tutors I was asked what market and software trends I saw involving BIM and Revit. They were only able to include one trend in the release but what follows are my insights in full.

Clients Want Revit
What we see at our firm, and what I know others are seeing as well, is that savvy clients are saying their project is a BIM project and you’re going to use Revit. I think it’s what’s forcing a lot of firms to make the transition. Those firms that have already or are in the midst of making the transition are in a good spot. Design firms don’t want to end up like Kodak, B.Dalton or the music industry, where they falter in adapting to a major disruptive change in the way things are done. Revit is enabling designers to deliver a better product, a coordinated set of design docs that reduces construction costs and improves overall project outcomes. Who wouldn't want that?

Analysis Isn’t Just for the Big Dogs
In terms of a multi-disciple firm, like we are, we're seeing the incorporation of the types of analysis we do become far more accessible. As such, it's perfectly reasonable that a small firm can now do very expensive computation fluid dynamics analysis with tools they have on their desktop, or even laptop, through the cloud without having a very heavy-duty computer at all. That's a huge change. Five to ten years ago, you had to have a fairly expensive piece of hardware and even more expensive software to run analyses.

Budgeting Woes
BIM is a major change in more than just process. Before BIM, a firm could plan out the number of sheets they were going to create and budget off of that. Now with BIM, the number of sheets does not matter, because you can do 1,000 sheets for a small house with little effort - hopefully you don’t have to do 1,000 sheets though! Budgeting is a difficult challenge because many firms don't have any sort of experience in budgeting for a BIM project. It’s the Level of Development (LOD) that needs to be used as a baseline now, in place of the number of sheets.

Isometric Cake Walk
Back in the day, we used to do isometric drawings, or hand draw 3D details/cutaways of a very complex part of a building, and we moved away from that in CAD because it was fairly difficult. Now, in Revit, it's a piece of cake and firms are bringing them back. Those kinds of drawings are so much more useful for a contractor, showing how things are joining up in three dimensions.

Contractors Don’t Want Your Model
What's also very fascinating is looking on the engineering side. You’ve got MEP engineers using Revit MEP to create these systems and drawings like they always have. On the other hand, contractors have gotten far savvier with BIM lately, so much so that they're requiring their trade contractors, like sheet metal fabricators, to produce fabrication models. It's come to the point where the trade contractors say to the design engineers, "We don't want your model. Draw a single line where you want these ducts to go, and we'll create the model." It leaves MEP engineers in an odd position. How do you adjust to that sort of change in the industry? I don't have an answer for that.

Learn more about me in my Digital-Tutors Featured Tutor interview. See more from watching my Revit tutorial on Designing and Documenting a Building in Revit.