As a response to a newspaper article (where I was quoted), yesterday’s post focused on my need to delve more into the process of architecture. If you read the article I referred to, it could be easy to misunderstand how architects design and use certain tools to develop their work. I will also preface my next comments by saying I am creating some degree of a digital model for more and more of my projects. However, I must bring up a point frequently disregarded in the discussion of digital tools. Take a deep breath,
…all projects are not worth modeling (with digital/BIM tools).
I can’t speak for large firms or large projects (so feel free to chime in), but for small firms and/or for small projects, a full-blown BIM model (or even a SketchUp model) is sometimes like driving a finish nail with a sledge-hammer. Architects don’t just work on new construction and sometimes the parameters of the project (for many reasons) stipulate a quick, simple set of drawings. Sure, the large new building ought to be modeled and the fee and timeframe probably warrants or permits it. However, some projects can still be completed most efficiently with 2D CAD methods. In a few rare cases, a free hand sketch or hand-drafted drawing can be the quickest way to satisfy the need for that drawing (**gasp**). Simply put, there is no one-size-fits-all method.
The last point I’ll make (that could be a post all to itself) is to acknowledge the common misunderstanding by the public to how digital tools are used. You don’t just push a button and it draws for you. Without going into detail, a digital model is a wonderful tool to extract data from and it can be rather efficient to make editing changes. The visualization opportunities are quite phenomenal. However, to get to that point takes time and skill. Invest in it and it could pay off. Notice I said, invest in it.
I always invite a conversation, but I’m not looking for consensus but I’m not intentionally stirring up debate. My primary concern when quoted in a public journal is to accurately portray the profession and clearly demonstrate value for investment.
If you’re looking to hire an architect, choose one based on many criteria one of which is compatibility. If you’re an architect and you want to use a mouse and never pick up a pencil, that’s fine with me. On the other hand, you may be so adept with Sharpies and pencils but still miss the mark. However, as long as we are human striving to make great architecture, I believe the process cannot be solely digital and you don’t pay 30% less for an architect simply because they use these tools.
If you don’t know what that means, you didn’t read the article.