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Finding harmony in project information, integration

Finding harmony in project
information, integration

by TODD STOLARSKI, with ROB McMANAMY | March 31, 2015

Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) are two complementary tools in today's AEC toolbox, but that doesn't mean they always work together harmoniously. With that in mind, HOK's David Ivey eight years ago started the Chicagoland buildingSMART meetup group for interested industry tech players to discuss "pain points" and swap ideas on best practices and recommended hacks. Last week, BuiltWorlds played host to the group's monthly meeting, which featured an augmented slate of stellar speakers in town and on hand to discuss pressing BIM/IPD issues and successful AEC applications.

Good times roll call (from left): David Ivey, Steve Crowley, and Nancy Clark Brown added levity to what could have been a somewhat dry topic last week. And yes, that is a beverage behind them. (Photos by Todd Stolarski)

Good times roll call (from left): David Ivey, Steve Crowley, and Nancy Clark Brown added levity to what could have been a somewhat dry topic last week. And yes, that is a beverage behind them. (Photos by Todd Stolarski)

Once the first presenter, architect Nancy Clark Brown, national account manager for Houston-based Assemble Systems, took the stage, it became apparent that two distinct themes were going to dominate this night: BIM/IPD's bright future, and the promise of collaboration. She began by speaking of transparency in the team building process and her role in training often skeptical industry veterans in the wonders and value of cloud-based BIM software. "I love working with estimators because they don't trust a thing," she said, explaining that as a former university professor, she now relishes the challenge of getting through to that hard-to-reach student.

A photo of Thornton-Tomasetti's Frank Hashimoto taking a photo of a colleague in virtual reality inside actual reality. Mind blown?

A photo of Thornton-Tomasetti's Frank Hashimoto taking a photo of a colleague in virtual reality inside actual reality. Mind blown?

Clark Brown later passed the torch to Steve Crowley, a construction manager and national market leader for Oakbrook Terrace IL-based Graycor Construction. Emphasizing the benefits of IPD, he reported first-hand having witnessed several disciplines working together, focused on the collective good of a shared project. "You just roll up your sleeves and put forth your best ideas as a team," he said, pointing to the successes achieved on a recently completed IPD project for BP in Whiting IN. Working with the owner, architect exp., the general contractor, subcontractors and the building trades, the team remarkably "was able to get to the point where we were all thinking, 'What is good for the project?', not just 'What is good for ourselves?'" said Crowley. 

He added that it was particularly gratifying to see traditionally cautious design partners and even combative labor unions all step up to the plate to embrace more risk for the promise of greater reward. "It was really exciting to see the trades collaborate to do whatever was best for the project overall," recalled Crowley. "And this was not IPD-lite. The team all agreed to put their profit at risk. After all, it's that profit that is ultimately going to motivate people to change their behaviors."

Josh Farkas, our favorite ninja.

Josh Farkas, our favorite ninja.

Next, BIM/IPD night pivoted back to the not-so-distant future as Cubicle Ninjas CEO Josh Farkas emerged from the bleachers to make his way to the front for his presentation on using Virtual Reality for Architecture. Enthused by the boundless possibilities that multiply each day now, Farkas held up his smart phone and asked, "Who knew that mobile was going to take over the world?" And since that world includes marketing, of course, he then went on to detail how his Glen Ellyn IL-based creative collaboration firm channels its "passion for making honest, visually compelling, and emotionally impactful work."

That passion meets impact now in the guise of VR, which allows elaborately detailed walk-throughs for anxious owners and skeptical team members. The results are usually very persuasive.

Such magical marketing tools are now at the fingertips of even the smallest firms in the AEC space. The evening's moderator, David Ivey, HOK's design technology manager in Chicago, noted how just a decade ago, the climate in this industry was quite different. "Why hasn't VR taken off before now?" he asked. "It was the cost. But not anymore."

Why hasn’t VR taken off before now? It was the cost. But not anymore.
— David Ivey, HOK

If cost is no longer a barrier, the relationship between VR and marketing resembles the marriage of peanut butter and jelly. And now, with a consumer version of Oculus Rift VR devices now rumored to be available by year's end, we may all soon be able to use them in the workplace, and our living room. Although no release date has yet been set for that, it's best that we still be patient and refrain from holding our breath. After all, as Farkas added with an innovator's exuberant awe, "When VR is done well, it's absolutely breathtaking."

If you haven't experienced it yet, come to BuiltWorlds and we'll help you get your feet wet.

Perhaps Crowley summed up the benefits of BIM/IPD Night best. "When our BP project was finished, we were all happy enough with the experience to gladly work together again --and we are in fact doing that-- but there were still some things that could have gone better. So I would have given the job a B+ overall," he told the group, turning to his fellow speakers. "But if I had met these folks earlier, and heard what they had to say here before our project, I think we could have gotten to A+."

 

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