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Saturday, December 03, 2011

A BIM-less Design

I’m back from Autodesk University (AU) and starting on my first project in my return. It’s preparing a model for incorporation into a bid for survey work for a landfill project. To my delight the plans were prepared utilizing Civil 3D,image unfortunately the model is rubbish for extracting the information I’m interested. Essentially the model is just for the showing the top layer of the landfill.

There’s no modeling for the various layers that will make up the impervious layer of the landfill. No swale object to determine the length required to construct and no easy way to determine the differentiation between the perforated pipe and non-perforated pipes. Definitely not a BIM model.

During AU I was fed a constant stream of quotes regarding innovation and disruptive technology. Here are some of the quotes:

Jeff Kowalski, Chief Technology Officer, Autodesk

“The sea of complexity has waves of disruption. We can ride even the biggest wave if we have the right mind set and toolset.”

Carl Bass, President and Chief Executive Officer, Autodesk

“Tools are what amplify our ability.”

“Use infinite computing to achieve optimal designs.”

“Our tools allow you to translate your ideas into a computable model so that you can test how your design reacts and interacts with the environment.”

I think my problem is that I’ve bought into all of the quotes. I want to ride the wave of disruption. I want my computer tools to amplify my ability to design and construct and I want to put my ideas into a computable model. Unfortunately the tools Autodesk have provided for the Civil industry have failed to deliver on the marketing. I can’t ride the wave, since the wave sets aren’t coming in.

While some Land Desktop (LDD) users have been reluctant to move to Civil 3D, they are missing out on a better version of Land Desktop. Essentially Civil 3D is just a better version of LDD. The alignments are editable, there are tools to do our labeling better. Unfortunately the output of our designs are the same. For instance for surfaces, the surface contours are still the main design interaction of designers rather than modeling the project and extracting the contours from the model. The surface is made up of feature lines instead of a clay layer, impervious manmade liner and gravel around the perforated pipes.

During AU I was a lab instructor for Navisworks for executive level users of the product. The architectural models that were being used looked awesome, a far cry from the Civil 3D  models I’ve created in the past. A non-corridor based model comes in as on big green blob. It’s hard to differentiate between the pavement, curb and gutter, landscaping and the like. In the project from above not even the rip rap protection at the bottom of the downslope is modeled. Mainly because it’s hard to model. The tools just aren’t in Civil 3D.

Maybe I should start a company to develop such a product. I have the ideas, but I guess I’m lacking the capital to take the ideas from concept to reality. Until then I’ll be working on improving my experience with the product through customization.

1 comment:

forest.peterson said...

We all love a good metaphor and they can really grab our hopes and inspire us to think of what it is we are truly grasping at. But, nothing is a free lunch and metaphors are no exception. They are empty, difficult to articulate in real terms and can lead to disappointment if expectations are not managed early on. Professor Lakoff is the father of metaphors http://linguistics.berkeley.edu/people/person_detail.php?person=21 - big people love to use his metaphor tools. But, it is limited, every time I get frustrated with BIM 'braking down the silos' metaphors like "ride the wave" (isn't that an LSD reference by Jim Morrison?) I pick up Professor Winograd's http://www.stanford.edu/class/cs378/ book "Understanding Computers and Cognition: A New Foundation for Design"; just as relevant today and in the future as it was in 1987, $5 on amazon.

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