Sept 26 @ 10 AM pst: Webinar Invite

For this episode of INDUSTRY INSIGHTS we are very excited to welcome esteemed panelists Cory Clark, CADD/BIM Team Manager at Vega and Amber Young, P.E., A.C.: Electrical Engineer at Affiliated Engineers. We will discuss:

-Cloud collaboration for IPD projects
-The evolution of work sharing, and what the future holds
-Their first hand experience with a cutting edge IPD project currently underway.
-Live Q&A

Click here to join us!

Revit Lookup

Let’s talk about Revit Lookup, the interactive Revit BIM tool that allows you to explore your data. If you’ve ever had a conversation with me about BIM, you understand that I put most of my efforts towards data within my Revit models. Yes, Revit can produce clean drawings and beautiful renderings, but data within our models is what sets us apart from our predecessors. Revit Lookup is one of the most powerful Revit add-ins for reviewing said data, giving its users the capability to view most of the raw database including several data points that are typically not visible from the frontend. In the screenshot below, you can see that Revit Lookup exposes element data such as element ID, the BoundingBox (x, y, z coordinates), the level ID, and location. All of which are available through the Revit API, but otherwise invisible to the end users.

Revit Lookup

One feature that stands out is the Snoop DB tool included with the Revit Lookup add in. This tool allows users to view data associated with parameters within a Revit project. It helps identify if a parameter is read-only,  whether it is has a value, and if it is a shared parameter or not. Very helpful when focusing on the data side of Revit.

Revit Lookup2

Revit Lookup isn’t packaged like other add-ins; there is no installer executable and  the source code is hosted on GitHub which means it requires users to compile the code in Visual Studio just to install the add in. This is typically out of the comfort zone of most Revit users. The good news is, Peter Hirn of Build Informed GmbH  has launched a website dedicated to Revit Lookup builds  and publishes the add-in files to make it easier for users to install RevitLookup. All you need to do is simply copy the add in and DLL files to your Revit add in folder to install.

In conclusion, Revit Lookup is extremely helpful when learning the Revit API as it allows  to view and navigate element properties and relationships. If you’re interested in learning how the Revit database is structured, Revit Lookup is the tool for you.

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What is Integrated Project Delivery?

You’ve probably heard about the latest type of project delivery, Integrated Project Delivery (IPD). As technology continues to evolve, IPD is gaining popularity and being used in more projects than ever before. What’s not so clear is what exactly is IPD and how does it effect traditional workflows?

Integrated Project Delivery is a project delivery method that integrates systems, people, business structures, and practices into a synergistic process which takes advantage of the owner, designer, contractor, and other participants expertise to get the best possible project results. This process is said to reduce waste and maximize efficiency and a highly effective collaboration from the design to the time the project is handed over. Compared to the typical project delivery methods, Integrated Project Delivery has the potential to result in a significant reduction of losses and risk while enhancing productivity and efficiency.

All sounds fantastic in theory right? Sure. But as you would expect with literally anything new in our industry, the opinions on Integrated Project Delivery are quite variable across the industry. We recently posted a Twitter poll where we asked our followers, “What are your thoughts on projects where the design team and construction team share the same model?”. This is directly related to IPD, because from a BIM standpoint, this is the very definition of IPD.

While 50% said they’ve used IPD and would do it again, nearly the other half of users have tried it and won’t do it again or probably won’t try it at all because it sounds like trouble. Let’s look into some of the perks and benefits of IPD that can explained these scattered opinions.

Cloud technology such as Autodesk’s BIM 360 Design (C4R) has enabled teams working in Revit to share the same model and model in real-time. This means no weekly model transfers and no outdated data. Revit is a finicky beast and without this type of cloud technology, most would agree that you would need to be on the same network, or ideally co-located in the same office, to maximize efficiency and mitigate the risk of model corruption.

One technological benefit that IPD offers is increased model transparency within the BIM environment. The mindset of “throwing information over the fence” should be checked at the door, because Integrated Project Delivery calls for all players to share ownership of the model. Yes, this means the design team and the construction team are required to function as a single team.

As you can imagine, frequent communication is required between any the designer and contractor. Weekly meetings are no longer enough. Again, as technology continues to improve,  we are seeing an increasing number of solutions such as Skype For Business and Slack which support the need for constant communication. Even Autodesk has built the Communicator feature which not only allows you to chat within the Revit application, but will also help you monitor synchronizing to the central model.

This open communication brings us to another benefit of IPD; efficiency. Time is no longer wasted while waiting for a response to an RFI. As a result, project milestones can be reached more efficiently.

Not only does the transparent communication of Integrated Project Delivery save time, it actually produces better results overall. We’ve all heard the sayings such as, “teamwork makes the dream work” and the acronym T.E.A.M., “Together We Can Achieve More”. While statements like these are incredibly cliche and even sometimes humorous, they actually hold some great truth. We see this in practice with Integrated Project Delivery. IPD requires shared responsibility and accountability across the design and construction teams, which means construction can start earlier, even while the building is still being designed.

While we all know the many wonderful outcomes teamwork can bring, even a team of the strongest members doesn’t work together seamlessly right off the bat. Effective teamwork mandates a trusting and positive relationship among engineers, owners, contractors, architects and other project members. This can be an uncomfortable transition depending on the personalities of your team members and also brings some liability issues to light. In order for Integrated Project Delivery to be effective, team members need to be flexible and willing to share tasks with other firms and giving up this control can be not only uncomfortable for some personalities, but also impose new risks to both parties.

Although transparency and frequent communication has its benefits, this process also has the potential to make team members feel vulnerable as their modeling standards are completely exposed to external team members.

While Integrated Project Delivery has been around for more than a decade, it is a novel approach for many. Team members across the board may be unfamiliar with IPD and comfortable with the traditional project delivery methods. As a result, these firms may prefer not to take part in a project using Integrated Project Delivery, but typically this is driven by the building owners.

IPD is a relatively new approach for many in our industry. If you’re interested to learn more, join us on our upcoming webinar as we examine a case study of an IPD project currently in construction. We’ll take a deep dive to learn about the challenges in terms of workflow and technology during our interview the general contractor, electrical design engineer, and electrical contractor on next Industry Insights webinar on Wednesday September 26 at 10 am PST. We will be interviewing Amber Young, P.E., A.C., Electrical Engineer at Affiliated Engineers, Inc. (AEI), Cory Clark, CADD/BIM Team Manager at VECA Electric & Technologies, and Lowrey Pugh, former VDC Manager at Lease Crutcher Lewis. We hope you will join us to gain firsthand insight that will help you form, change, or reinforce where you stand on Integrated Project Delivery.

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Is RevitCity still relevant?

Way back in 2002, RevitCity.com was born out of the creative agency, Pierced Media. The much-needed website was built as an online community to serve BIM objects for Revit to the architecture, engineering, and construction industry. I remember back in 2005 when I started on my journey down the Revit path, RevitCity was the de facto online Revit family library.

I was feeling a bit nostalgic last week and thought, “are people still using RevitCity?”

First Impressions

Revisiting RevitCity.com was like a blast from the past. I honestly don’t think the design of the site has changed in 15 years! I realize that this could actually be considered a good thing. I immediately thought about Craigslist, a classified ad website which has managed to maintain most of its original user interface since 1996.

Here we are in September 2018 and the RevitCity landing page  “latest” piece of Industry News was posted way back in January 2014. The latest article was posted June of 2015. Furthermore, the RevitCity.com News section shows the latest site news was posted in January of 2014. So, at first glance one might assume that the site has been stagnant and dead for several years.

The RevitCity Community

To my surprise, after looking at the Latest Forum Posts in the sidebar reveals that the RevitCity community is actually alive and well with the latest forum post as of today being September of 2018

A visit to the RevitCity forums  revealed even more activity within the RevitCity community. The dates for the latest posts don’t seem to date back further than a month ago, which is impressive to say the least. It’s worth noting that the Technical Support forum has nearly 100,000 replies to over 140,000 posts as of today.

It is undeniably impressive to have a 16-year-old online forum with this much activity. To give you all some context, there are currently 1,141,623 members registered on RevitCity.com which is more than the entire population of the city of San Jose, California.

RevitCity Content

The real bread and butter of RevitCity has always been their content. It was my personal go-to source for Revit content online in the early 2000’s as well as many others. There is something to be said about a community-driven library of BIM objects for Revit, but I believe it has its pros and cons.

The benefits in allowing RevitCity users to upload their own content are obvious; let the community share their families for free and let their peers decide what is good content. It is really low-hanging fruit to allow RevitCity users to rate content. Let a community separate the good from the bad.

The downside of allowing RevitCity users to upload their own content is having an influx of “bad” content. With hundreds or thousands of search results of BIM objects for Revit which have no rating, you really don’t know that you’re downloading unusable content until you’ve either spent time opening the family in the family editor or have loaded it into your project (only to find yourself in instant regret scrolling through the undo menu in Revit in an effort to mitigate the risk of model corruption).

As of today, there are 19,326 Revit families hosted on RevitCity.com and I would never go so far as to say that all RevitCity content is unusable. I am also confident that there are several RevitCity evangelists out there who still make great BIM objects for Revit and share them on RevitCity. After 16 years, our industry is still fighting the same uphill battle in the search for “good” BIM content.

Final Thoughts

Frankly, RevitCity objects haven’t had the best reputation for some time now and whether your BIM Manager is an active RevitCity member or not, it is apparent that most firms have taken the route of developing their own BIM objects for Revit. Most BIM Managers would agree that there are several benefits to having full control of the geometry and data of your firm’s Revit families.

If you’re in the majority and have developed your own library of BIM objects for Revit, how are you sharing this library with your firm? I’m assuming you are not uploading your Revit families to RevitCity. Are you using a file/folder structure on a network drive or are you using a content management system like UNIFI CORE?

Please comment below as I’d love to start some discussion on RevitCity or how you go about managing your own firm’s content.

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UNIFI & IGS team up to super-serve Australia and New Zealand

UNIFI is pleased to announce an organizational change to better support the success of our current and future UNIFI customers in the Australian and New Zealand regions.

Through a thorough evaluation of customer needs, we’ve identified a growing need among our customer base for more customized UNIFI implementation, as well as content services and workflow consulting.
To meet this need, UNIFI’s Australian office will transition into an independently owned and operated company (IGS) providing a range of BIM and Design Technology services, including UNIFI software products.

We’d like to congratulate Luke Johnston in his new role as owner and Managing Director of IGS.

If you are a current UNIFI customer and work with Luke and his team in Australia to manage your UNIFI account, you will now work with IGS directly. There will be no interruption to the relationship or related services.

We look forward to supporting the success of our customers in Australia and New Zealand through our new partnership with IGS.

About IGS:

IGS (Innovative Growth Solutions) was originally established in 2009 as a technology solutions company providing a range of BIM services to the Manufacturing and AEC (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) industry. 

In June 2016, IGS was acquired by UNIFI Labs, and operating under the UNIFI brand, has considerably grown UNIFI’s software customer base in Australia and New Zealand. Now returning to independent management, IGS is excited to expand its service offering, specialising in Revit content development and BIM content library strategy, underpinned by delivering UNIFI’s software solutions to the Australia and New Zealand markets.

Are government mandated BIM Standards necessary?

UNIFI had the privilege to bring on a very special guest, John Messner PhD, to discuss BIM Standards on our latest webinar. Dr. Messner has a lengthy resume of impressive accolades including Director of Computer Integrated Research Construction at Penn State, buildingSmart Alliance chair (a council within the National Institute of Building Sciences), and chair of research at the Lean Construction Institute. Among his noteworthy accomplishments, Dr. Messner led the development of the BIM Project Execution Planning Guide and the BIM Planning Guide for Facility Owners. He also researched the application of advanced visualization strategies and building information including the development of 2 immersive construction labs.

The UNIFI team was very excited to discuss the hot topic of BIM Standards. The UK has recently mandated BIM standards for any government-funded projects, and we wanted to get the discussion started world wide. Prior to our webinar, we conducted a series of Twitter polls to gain insight into the general thought on this matter.  We learned that our audience thinks that government BIM Standards are necessary:

The overwhelming majority selected “yes,sometimes” when asked if government mandated BIM Standards are necessary. In other words government mandated BIM Standards are necessary, but not in all cases according to most of our Twitter poll. All sounds good in theory, but we wanted to dig a little deeper and gauge whether or not our audience would actually support government mandated BIM Standards in the United States:

When it comes to putting a government mandated BIM Standard in the US in practice, 30% of our audience was opposed whereas about half were in support. Overall, it seems like the public consensus is that individuals aren’t exactly sure what they think about BIM Standards and need more information to form an opinion either way. In our interview with Dr. John Messner we just that; insight and information to determine your own position on BIM Standards.

Check it out below:

Did Dr. Messner’s insight help you form an opinion? Change the opinion you had before listening? Or are you still unsure how you feel about government mandated BIM Standards? What information do you need to take a position either way? Let us know in the comments below!

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BIM Objects for Revit

Historically it has been difficult to find quality, usable BIM objects for Revit. At one point, Revit City was the go-to source for Revit families but the tides have changed and the current generation of Revit users are anxious for a new source for quality BIM objects for Revit.

There are several websites that have popped up in recent years which aim to become the de facto standard library of BIM objects for Revit. There are even organizations such as The NBS who not only publish their own library, but offer an add-in to make it easier to load BIM Objects into your revit projects.

Manufacturers have been developing and publishing their own BIM objects for Revit for years in an effort to make it easier for users to download Revit families directly from their website. Unfortunately manufacturers have earned a bad reputation for content in the past, as they often incorporate too much data/detail or use 3D CAD models as opposed to native Revit geometry. BIM objects for Revit in particular can make or break your project once it’s uploaded, so unusable families will often force users to create their own families from scratch.

Building an internal standard library from the ground up seems to be the method chosen by most BIM Managers. Creating your own BIM objects for Revit overcomes several roadblocks including standardized shared parameters and the geometry itself. The obvious downside is that along with that complete control over your library of BIM objects for Revit, you also inherit overhead costs to develop, test, and maintain those families. This can be quite costly when working in a multi-office firm. Fortunately, there are several affordable solutions out there to solve this.

UNIFI CREATE & CONNECT

UNIFI offers a service for creating BIM objects for Revit and other BIM/CAD applications. To supplement that service, we also have our Connect platform which allows organizations to share their BIM objects for Revit through what we call “channels.”

UNIFI CREATE

Our internal team of content creators have been building content for our clients for several years. With companies such as Legrand, Grundfos, and Interior Architects who have trusted us to create their standard Revit families, we’ve built a reputation for developing quality BIM objects for Revit with strategies surrounding not only accurate and usable geometry, but data standards that meet each client’s particular needs.

We also have in-house BIM specialists and BIM managers who have real-world experience at design and construction firms who are part of the QA/QC process, ensuring that families are built the way they would be used in the production environment.

Again, quality has been the number one issue when users are searching for BIM objects for Revit and our team works directly with the end users to create families that they will actually use.

UNIFI CONNECT

Did you know that if you subscribe to manufacturer content in UNIFI CORE your search results can include content from multiple manufacturers inline with your internal library? This makes for an even more powerful search function. This means that if you were searching for a chair in UNIFI CORE, the search results would include BIM objects from not only your internal library, but from the several manufacturers as well. This saves time from searching multiple manufacturer websites to find something as simple as a chair.

Below are just a few examples of manufacturers who have chosen UNIFI CONNECT to share their BIM objects for Revit. All of which are accessible to our UNIFI CORE users:

In conclusion, developing, finding, and using BIM objects for Revit can difficult, regardless of which route you decide to take. Whether you need help building your library of Revit families, need to find manufacturer content, or just need an effective way to share, UNIFI has you covered on all three fronts.

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