Think “outside the box, or at least make the box bigger”

03Jul13

BIM Will Change Everything

by Dennis Neeley, AIA

I am an architect. I loved practicing architecture and often wonder what I would be doing if I had not moved into the world of technology. Our firm, Neeley/Lofrano Architects, practiced in San Francisco for over 20 years. Our firm stayed at about 20 employees most of the time. We started our practice in 1970 and were very lucky, we had very good clients and were able to stay busy and make money. We lived through several down turns in the economy, and interest rates for mortgages that were above 15%.

During those years we watched other firms do better and some worse, but in all those years I never saw architects take the hit that they are taking now. Several hundred person firms of a few years ago are now sixty person firms, many small firms have disappeared. I talk to architects that are not working and they are wondering if they should even try to go back into architecture when the economy gets better.

Architects do not determine when the economy will become stronger, until it does we wait. We serve our clients, when they have a need and money for buildings we are hired. The current situation is: Owners, 1) do not have money, 2) do not need new or remodeled buildings, 3) cannot borrow money, or 4) are sitting on their money waiting for the economy to get stronger. Some building types are being designed and constructed, schools and hospitals come to mind, but if you have not done schools and hospitals it is doubtful that you can compete against all the experienced and very hungry firms that are going after this work.

Clearly I believe in technology and more specifically in BIM. “BIM will change everything for everyone dealing with buildings.” We are at the start of a new era, so if BIM is going to change everything and we are at the start of a new era, there must be some opportunities now and in the future. I know that none of the ideas below are easy to undertake, but the more you can do now the stronger you will become and the more likely your firm will be the ones getting the work, or if you are unemployed the more likely you will be the first hired.

CAD mainly touched those who were drawing; BIM touches those that are drawing, but also designers, project managers, interior designers, specifiers, field workers and principals. I have some thoughts on what can be done now. I would also like you to contact me with your ideas.

Read the full article here

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