Sunday, February 27, 2005

BIM Conference further Validates the Concept

The upcoming conference that Jerry Laiserin recently brought to my attention will potentially add more momentum to the BIM movement, and at the very least will provide additional real-world insights from a variety of perspectives for those interested in learning more:


Industry Experts to Explore Building Information Modeling

Atlanta, GA, February 23, 2005 -- As building owners increasingly demand
smarter ways to design, document and deliver their building projects, an
approach called building information modeling (BIM) is poised to "cross the
chasm" from pioneering technology to mainstream adoption. On April 19­­20,
2005, leading experts, solution providers and users of this technology will
meet at the Global Learning and Conference Center on the campus of Georgia
Tech in Atlanta to explore the challenges and opportunities of BIM, as well
as the processes necessary for successful deployment. Organized and hosted
jointly by the Georgia Tech College of Architecture (COA) Ph.D. Program and
the LaiserinLetterT technology advisory service, this conference includes
real-world case studies and interactive panels, as well as industry
applications and analyses essential to everyone who owns, operates,
constructs or designs buildings.

Links to audience registration and the conference agenda are available on
the web at or by contacting
Mrs. Mercedes Saghini at, phone +1 (404)
894-3476. Sponsorship information, for vendors of qualified technology
solutions, may be obtained by contacting Jerry Laiserin at, phone +1 (917) 225-7058.

The conference will examine the ways that BIM "offers fundamentally new
opportunities for improving the quality of design, shortening the building
procurement life cycle, and reducing costs," according to Charles Eastman,
director of the COA Ph.D. program and author of the definitive book
Building Product Models. Both public and private building owners are
beginning to recognize these benefits. A key confirmation of this trend is
the US General Services Administration's (GSA) requirement for a BIM
approach at the concept design phase of all projects starting in fiscal
year 2006 (which begins October 2005). Notes Eastman, "the issue no longer
is why or when to adopt BIM, but how to effectively deploy it now."

LaiserinLetterT editor Jerry Laiserin, founding director of the aecXML
project for industry data exchange and widely credited with standardizing
and popularizing the terminology of BIM, observes that "the
multi-dimensional, data-rich models of the BIM approach enable contractors,
engineers, architects and building product manufacturers to work as a
tightly integrated team helping owner-operators build smarter." Case study
and application presentations at the conference illustrating such teamwork
include BIM for Steel Construction, BIM for Precast Concrete Construction,
BIM for Energy Analysis, BIM for Project Delivery and BIM for Industry
Integration, as well as BIM for Owners. Panel presentations include leading
providers of technology solutions in each of these areas.

With the BIM approach finally "ready for prime time," this Georgia
Tech/LaiserinLetterT conference offers important business and professional
knowledge critical to every executive and manager in the building enterprise.

Conference on Building Information Modeling:
Challenges, Opportunities, Processes, Deployment
April 19­20, 2005­Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Registration contact:
Mrs. Mercedes Saghini
Georgia Tech College of Architecture
+1 (404) 894-3476

Media and sponsorship contact:
Jerry Laiserin
The LaiserinLetterT
+1 (917) 225-7058

About Georgia Tech
The Georgia Institute of Technology is one of the nation's top research
universities, distinguished by its commitment to improving the human
condition through advanced science and technology. Georgia Tech's College
of Architecture Ph.D. Program has been a leader in the development and
testing of BIM modeling applications and the integration software needed to
allow such applications to work together.

About the LaiserinLetterT
A technology advisory service providing analysis, strategy and opinion to
business leaders in the built environment, the LaiserinLetterT, under
editor/consultant Jerry Laiserin, has been in the forefront of tracking BIM
technology and advising clients on its capabilities.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Autodesk University 2005 Info

If you're looking for information on Autodesk University 2005 - Autodesk has a web page that will be updated regularly as the details are firmed up:

Autodesk University 2005 Information

There's a little bit of info there now, but you might want to bookmark it and check back regularly. As speaker proposals get approved and classes scheduled, you'll see it flesh out quite a bit this summer, eventually including on-line registration later in the summer.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Looking for Autodesk University Topics

Believe it or not, it's time to start getting speaker proposals ready for the next Autodesk University, to be held in November.

While I have a list of topics that I plan on proposing, if you have an idea that you'd like to see presented at AU concerning ADT, I'd be interested in seeing it - email me with any ideas you have at No guarantees - the vast majority of proposed topics get rejected simply because there are so many of them. But if I see one that looks like a winner, I'll include it with my proposal.

Time is short - get me your ideas before mid-March!

And... See you in Orlando in November!

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Hotfix Available for 0kb DST Files!

As posted by Chris Yanchar of the ADT development team, there is now a hotfix available on the Autodesk web site for the 0 kb DST file issue that has plagued some ADT 2005 and ABS 2005 users. This hotfix is applicable to both products:

Download the 0 kb DST Hotfix for ADT 2005 and ABS 2005 Here

Monday, February 14, 2005

Awesome Hubble Images - With Sound

Totally unrelated to Architecture or ADT, follow this link for a REALLY nice media show of images from the Hubble telescope - be sure your sound is on!

Hubble Images

Saturday, February 12, 2005

ADT Book Recommendations

I've been hesitant in the past to make the following recommendations, because many who know me also know that I consider Paul Aubin to be a personal friend, and he and I are in frequent contact. Paul and I became friends while working on complementary projects - at the time he was working on the "ADT Implementation Guide" for ADT 3.3. Therefore, my opinion could be seen as biased. Regardless, I feel compelled to recommend his books for ADT users who want to expand their knowledge. Paul's knowledge of the software, familiarity with Architectural practice, and his concise, easy to understand and thorough writing style make his books, in my opinion, superior to all other publications on the subject.

If you're using ADT 2005, I recommend his most current works:

"Mastering Autodesk Architectural Desktop 2005" - an excellent resource for the day-to-day use of the product.

"Mastering VIZ Render for Autodesk ADT Users" - co-authored with James Smell, of Autodesk, this is a must for anyone who wants to fully understand how to use ADT with the built-in rendering application that comes with it.

You can purchase Paul's books at, however, since I've shamelessly plugged my friend's works, let me also ask you to to go his website to get to Amazon, as he will get a very small commission off of your visit.

Watch for more updates of his work soon!

ADT Standards Out of the Box for U.S. Users

For many firms beginning an ADT implementation, a key stumbling block is frequently the incorporation of company standards into ADT. In fact, this can sometimes be a seemingly insurmountable barrier to effective use of the product.

In many cases, while an organization may have a very detailed and well-documented set of internal drafting, CAD and procedural standards, they're loosely adhered to at best. Standards, in most cases, are nearly impossible to enforce. In the past, we've been able to get away with loose standards or no standards, but when you move to model-based design, and more automation in project management, plotting and content distribution, standards become an absolute requirement. ADT provides lots of opportunities for standards automation (not enforcement), however taking an existing set of standards and placing them in ADT is a herculean task. Not only do layers have to be accounted for in the layer key style (a relatively simple and fairly quick process), but display control must be set up and standard symbols and content must be incorporated into the interface. The single largest hurdle to jump is the incorporation of standards in the display control system. I know. I've done it - from scratch. For someone with an intimate knowledge of display control (something that takes some time to master in itself), you can budget a solid month of forty-hour work-weeks (or more) to get a display system to the point where it is ready for live testing on real projects. And then you can expect to do some further tweaking as the occasional unforeseen circumstance or issue arises in the course of real work.

That's the bad news - in a nutshell, even if you know what to do, incorporating your company's standards into ADT is a huge undertaking.

Now, before the good news - a disclaimer (and a suggestion): If you are absolutely married to an existing proprietary company standard that you are bound and determined to continue to propogate, you will find little value in what follows. If, however, you think you fall into that category, I would suggest you step back and consider objectively your reasons for doing so, and what it could potentially cost you in productivity if you're trying to make the move to model based design and building information modeling. Are you in the business of Architecture, or Standards?

The good news: There is a built-in, functional, widely accepted standard already in Architectural Desktop 2004 and 2005 - out of the box. The National CAD Standard is actually such in name only; there is no governmental mandate or set of laws requiring AEC firms to follow it. On the other hand, it is becoming more and more widely accepted in the industry (more so than any other set of standards), and many governmental and institutional customers are beginning to require adherance to it by their AEC professionals. Theoretically, it transcends disciplines and can apply to engineering disciplines as well as architectural, however since my background is architecture and not civil engineering, and since this is a discussion of architectural standards, I'll not go there.

While not explicitly documented (for valid, non-technical reasons that I won't go into here), the National CAD Standard version 2.0 is built in to the AEC Imperial templates that ship with ADT 2004 and ADT 2005. This includes everything from layers to dimension styles and text styles, all the way through to the title blocks and callout symbols.

Before going into some of the details of NCS support in ADT, however, a little review of what the NCS actually is comprised of might be in order. The National CAD Standard is really not a standard in an of itself, but is more of a collection of three separate but complementary standards:

The CSI Uniform Drawing System (UDS) makes up the largest part of NCS and prescribes drafting standards for symbology, schedules, title blocks, object lineweights (not layers, just what lineweights should apply to which types of objects), and folder structure. (Note: ADT does not prescribe to the UDS folder structure in Project Navigator).

The Tri-Services Plotting Guidelines is a list of 256 colors and what lineweights they plot to, and whether they plot monochrome or color. Admittedly, in my opinion anyway, this plotting guideline is archaic and became outdated and irrelevant with the advent of AutoCAD 2000, however it is supported if you want to be in full compliance. If you, like me, see it as limiting and non-functional with today's technology, you can still use the ADT NCS content and templates and choose to ignore that aspect.

The AIA Layer Naming Guidelines prescribe a layer naming format and some preset layer names (although there is a great amount of flexibility built in).

A thorough explanation of each and every bit of ADT content and it's relationship to NCS is beyond the scope of this article; I'm just going to present a few examples. I suggest that if you want to pursue this further you go to the National CAD Standard website and purchase a copy of the NCS for reference (ADT 2004 and 2005 are compliant with NCS version 2.0).

So, let's take a look at a few examples. First, you MUST use the AEC Imperial or Metric templates (either CTB or STB) for full compliance, primarily because of the display system, which has been pre-configured for you.

Layers and plotting:
Look at a wall. It should be created on the layer "A-Wall", which is what the AIA Layer Guidelines suggest. The "AIA (256 Color)" layer key style that the template loads by default is based on the "AIA Second Edition" layer standard that also exists in the template. The color of the wall is based on the fact that the UDS suggests that wall profiles normally plot with a lineweight of 0.5 mm (or "Wide" - all lineweights in UCS are given a name). Tri Services specifies a range of colors that will plot to a 0.5mm lineweight and plot black. One of these is color 113, which is the color assigned to the "A-Wall" layer by the layer key style.

Now take a look at the default plot style tables. If you are using a .ctb template, it should be "AIA Standard.ctb". You'll find that the color 113 is mapped to a pen weight of 0.5 mm and plots black. If you are using an .stb template you'll find that the "A-Wall" layer is assigned a plot style of "Wide". Looking at the default "AIA Standard.stb" plot style table, "Wide" is assigned a color of black and a lineweight of 0.5mm.

You have other options regarding plot styles. For example, you can also choose to use the "AIA LWT By OBject" ctb or stb styles, which map all colors or styles to the object lineweight, allowing you to assign lineweights directly to layers and objects (note that the "A-Wall" layer already has a lineweight of 0.5 mm assigned to it).

A thorough examination of other layers compared with NCS will reveal similar compliance and flexibility.

Display Control:
Again, look at a wall (one with internal components and hatching). Most likely it has a material assigned to each component and the plan display is set to "By Material" for the components and their hatching. Looking at the material definition, however, you'll find that the "Plan Linework" display component is assigned a color of 11, a lineweight of 0.25 mm and a plot style of "Thin". Hatching components are assigned a color of 30, a lineweight of 0.18 mm and a plot style of "Fine". All of this, again, is compliant with UDS, Tri-Services, and AIA.

Symbols and Annotation:
UDS specifies a standard text height for notes as 3/32" (or the comparible value in millimeters if you are using metric content). Going to the drawing setup dialog, you'll find that the annotation plots size is set to 3/32" for that reason. The "AEC_Arch_X" dimension styles that pre-exist in the template are modeled after the UDS prescribed dimension standards, as are the text styles that come in the template. Additionally, the stock schedule table styles that are located in the Design Content Catalogs are NCS-compliant. If you look up the annotation symbols that UDS prescribes for callouts and tags, you'll find that most, if not all of them are provided on the documentation tool palettes, and the text sizes are in compliance. Looking at the title blocks provided with the AEC Imperial sheet templates, you should find these to be NCS compliant as well.

The list goes on, but in short, if you're tired of constantly having to update your standards to the constantly changing technology that you're using, give the out-of-the-box content a try. For many who have, it's working, and they can now focus their efforts on their profession, Architecture, not on maintaining their standards. There's too many other things to spend your time on!