Real #BIM is about Considering all Things

This Day In Awesome History! February 10th, 1996 – Deep Blue Beats Kasparov!

Real #BIM is about considering all things, being Holistic & complete. It’s NOT just about 3D, collision detection, schedule, cost, or etc.


OK. So it’s about time to turn the discussion about BIM into something positive. The fact remains that BIM means different things to different people. In a recent previous post I focused on What BIM is NOT, thinking that was an easier issue to tackle. However, that approach is a weak method for defining a concept. I have planned to also write about what BIM should not be, what it should be and What it is according to dictionary and other official sources. After all, words are tools for communication and to ignore history and officially recorded conventions is sort of plain foolish.

I say “sort of” because sometimes words become limiting in negative and unintended ways.

So before I soil my brain with potentially backwards concepts about what BIM is supposed to mean according to dictionaries and textbooks, let me tell you what I found inspiring and exciting about the concept when I first heard it, I think some time towards the end the previous century.

I thought and expected BIM to become the key to real intelligent design, not just mere drafting or design documentation but creative problem solving done not just by human brain gray matter but digital machines. I’m pretty sure I first heard the concept definitely AFTER reading Bill Mitchell’s book titled, “The Logic of Architecture.” I thought that book, at least for me, was seminal work to replicate in Architectural Design what IBM”s Deep Blue software had done in the sport of Chess. I call it a sport shamelessly because any person that has followed the world chess scene, and played some chess intensely, will attest for both the physical and mental components of the game.

I’m also aware that some of my best friends and clients who are architects might be offended by the “oversimplification of the much more complex design challenges than a mere game of chess.” However, two ideas come to mind to the rescue. The first is the idea of divide and conquer. A complex game or design challenge can be broken down into manageable pieces and then each can be tackled one at a time. It’s like answering the question, “How do you eat an elephant?” Answer: One bit at a time.

The second inspiring idea is to remember the foolish projections that certain geniuses have made that were proven to be the result of thinking small. I’m talking about quotes such as, “I think one computer is about all the world will need some day,” or even more, “64 Kilobytes is more memory than people will ever need.” I realize I am grossly paraphrasing John Watson and Bill Gates here, but you should get the idea.

One of the main difficulties of design challenges is to mediate conflicting interests or constraints, such as cost, function, schedule, etc. And that’s where computers shine. They have excellent memory and they follow rules diligently. If you read The Logic of Architecture, you may agree with the author and me that there is a way to quantify emotion, beauty and other “subjective” concepts. The challenge is coming up with a measuring stick that works. Fortunately, within an acceptable range of error, you will find it’s possible to do it.

The key to making it all work is to learn how design, process, query and report using database programs. If you start thinking of your favorite CADD program as a relational graphical and textual database engine, then a whole new world of opportunities and productivity will open up for you.

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