Posts in category ‘Education’

2018.10.13

BILT EUR 2018, First Look

A BiLT event is very human-centric. As mentioned in Part One of this blog series, the number of attendees is limited to maintain an intimate community vibe. Official count from the organisers of BiLT Eur 2018 for the number of delegates, speakers and vendors is over 300 total, representing 32 countries from around the globe. The highest number of attendees from any one country were travelling from the UK, followed by the USA and Denmark. 

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The GR Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre is just under 1 kilometre from the various hotels available for attendees, which I arrived at with several others under our own power, and buses are also provided. Coffee and tea breaks between sessions and a not too early start of 9 AM makes for a great environment for learning new ways to use design technologies. Kicking off the opening plenary session, Marcus Fich, BILT Europe Chairman described our purpose for coming together with the provocative, “We are here to break down the silos of our industry” to more collaboratively work together; a concept I wholeheartedly endorse. 

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On the walk over to the event, I noticed a curious collection of stone pillars in a park and discovered they are part of a project called Hologram of Europe. The concept, while a bit mystical in nature, has a great mission: to uniquely celebrate member states of the EU, and those in the region. From the website (requires Adobe Flash) “The Hologram of Europe is composed of 27 stone pillars for the 27 member states of European Union, 6 additional pillars for those countries or regions that function outside the Union yet belong to Europe and one lithopuncture stone for Ljubljana, the host of the project”. Essentially, as Marcus was inferring, we are a part of a larger community. Keeping that in mind, below are some observations.

We heard in the opening plenary that the day before to the event the first BILT Academy Summit was held in the city here at a local university building. The summit consisted of 80 people, providing students from around Europe and professionals who spend time in the lab to have some hands-on practical uses for the common enabling technologies of BIM, Computational Design, and reality capture to encourage expert-level thinking to ready the students to enter their respected professions in the AEC industry. 

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“BIM is not Fake News” was the on point slogan for event promotional materials.

Taking the stage next Zach Kron, leading the Generative Design Group at Autodesk, provided some prompts for conversation, suggesting why we might need to have more focus on collaboration. “More is inevitable”, he said. More work, opportunity, constraints and more people, and with the majority of those people having the expectation of being in the middle class. We may have a reality alignment problem, however there is a belief that more complex, mega building projects as a trend is here to stay. As these people concentrate into our cities, this leads to more congestion.

 

Zach then continued saying, “Less is a reality”, he continued explaining that we have less natural resources, less time. With an over one trillion dollar infrastructure gap in the US, opportunities abound to do more with less. He suggested Generative Design can help balance the constraints and opportunities to work within this fast paces world, leading to more prefabrication, systems thinking and high-performance buildings.

 

 

Graphisoft presented three possible solutions to interoperability:

  • Compell every tool to speak each other’s language
  • Promote a single existing proprietary format (the PDF of BIM) - like Revit
  • Embracing an open platform neutral format - IFC

What if Revit became the way forward, like the English language becoming the defacto language of business. He suggested we could create a new language, and used Esperanto as one example, or we could have a better way to translate between languages, although as anyone who uses online translation tools, lots of errors are introduced and meaning can become lost. However he proposed that mathematics is the one universal language that we can all understand. It doesn’t do everything, however it does a lot well and reliably. Compatibility is not equal to Interoperability. Thinking in workflows is how we will realise the efficiencies BIM promises. Graphisoft is a promoter of using their investments in the OpenBIM approach.

The Main Keynote

Keynote speaker Dr. Beau Lotto, founder and CEO of Lab of Misfits, describes his consultancy as “the world’s first neuro-design studio”. In his talk entitled, “Seeing Differently: The best design begins with not knowing”, Dr. Lotto posits that innovation is outpacing vocational education with his observation, “the top ten jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004”. If we focus only on efficiency in a changing world, we will become stagnant and lose. Dr. Lotto’s proposed solution is to balance creativity with efficiency. Understanding perception is to understand what it is to be human, he made a promise saying, “You will know less at the end … upon leaving”. A true scientist. I was hoping he only meant his keynote.

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Information by itself is meaningless. He went on to describe how we can never see the world as it really is, because we are separate from it. We only interpret the information that comes in through our senses as we’re locked inside our own bodies. The hate, pain and love we feel are simply how we are programmed to respond to the world based on our own inherent biases and assumptions. Emotions don’t exist outside ourselves, yet design tries to always create an emotional connection with people. After showing us a series of hilarious lol cats and videos challenging our perceptions, he convinced many of us that creativity isn’t really a giant leap. Creativity, and therefore innovation, is simply when someone makes a small step to the next possibility and manages to change their biases and assumptions. From the outside, it appears someone is making a big leap, however they just have a different perception of possibilities than you.

Possibility of better solutions is to create an environment of diversity and stimulus, without overdoing stimulus. Here is where he describes how his design studio suggests to clients the pairing of efficient experts and creative novices working together. Dr. Lotto left us with the thought saying, “Experts don’t ask the right questions, but recognise when a good question is asked”.

My Class Highlights

There were so many classes to choose from. When I first signed up, admittedly I chose my sessions somewhat quick. Knowing that, I looked over the classes on display in the big board, as the app on my phone provided by the organisers in the Apple IOS App Store and Google Play. Then I broke the rules a bit. My first class was an advanced programming class for ArchiCAD, a tool I know nothing about, so I quietly made my escape and sat in the back of a Dynamo class led by Radu Gidei of Grimshaw that showed some really fantastic concepts about programming that enables cross-platform development for various tools. It opened up a great deal of possibilities for custom development. 

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Computational Wizardry

A session discussing possibility in: “From NURBS to Meshes – Parametric design & BIM”, Ákos Karóczkai, of Graphisoft described how tools that previously were separate can become more integrated. The company worked closely in partnership with McNeel to embed a grasshopper workflow into ArchiCAD. Some very compelling imagery and videos were shown in a design platform one would not normally expect to see parametric design explorations. It does make one stop to think that, even an old BIM tool (ArchiCAD is a nearly 35 year old architectural modelling platform) can be taught new tricks. Initially, this seems like a good approach, however the function of moving data is handled by an API, rather than using existing open source tools. I came away with the feeling this workflow may have been more interesting to explore the possibilities of Grasshopper reading/writing IFC directly and having that translation sit in the middle. It might be that I’m a bit naive or that I see many people approaching the same problems over and over rather than making the leap to solve new bigger ones. To read up more on these tools and how they are integrated, visit this ArchiCad page.

Making the Invisible, Visible

The history of data on an object is not immediately available to us in the physical world. This may be why the idea of COBie spreadsheets has become so common. The spreadsheet is an initial attempt at passing some asset data to facilities managers to augment the pieces and parts of a building. Cesar Escalante and Alberto Tono of HOK showed in “Augmented Reality and Deep Learning in the Design Process” some ways we could bridge that gap between the digital and physical world. Head-mounted display (HMD) trends as predicted in a Credence Research report predict a doubling of the combined Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) headset market to 70 million units by the year 2022. That number could climb rapidly if the rumours of highly secretive companies, Apple and Amazon both separately working on their own devices to compete with the already large number of options out there, are true. Preparing models for AR/VR takes a lot of computational horsepower and many platforms. The group at HOK propose that Speckle, a web service beginning to fill the void left by the now shut Flux.io, may have some answers. 

Computer programming for designers doesn’t have to be complex or a barrier to experimentation. The presenters illustrated how facial recognition is accomplished with just three lines of code and  the $250 Amazon AWS DeepLens. Gasps of delight were heard throughout the room when they showed how a Microsoft lab in San Francisco was used to capture real time video from multiple angles that could potentially one day allow us to put real people as actors in our architectural visualisations.

With AR enabled mobile devices assisting in the activities of collaboration and model review, HOK developed bespoke tools to capture gazing time on various parts of the virtual model from different devices and display that data as a heat map. This type of information could be used as a way to inform better projects, based on what areas the participants focussed.

That was just day one… whew! Signing off for now, I’ve got more to share in my third and final segment, coming soon. Until then, keep thinking about the questions you ask of your work, and how our tools can help answer those questions.


About Sean David Burke

A member of AUGI since 1997, Sean has been at the forefront of BIM for most of his career. His focus on advancing the adoption of digital tools as a Senior Associate at NBBJ and previously with Autodesk has always been to inspire and instruct others around the world in order to make building better.

2018.10.10

BiLT EUR 2018, Part One of Three

The BiLT EUR by RTC event, is taking place from 11-13 October (starting tomorrow) in the Slovenia capital city of Ljubljana, at the GR - Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre. I am fortunate to be a delegate this year, amongst the few hundred attendees. Many thanks to AUGI and the organisers for sponsoring me to attend and I am pleased to be your guide over these next few days.

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The weather greeting those travelling via air today was a comfortable 21C.

I’ve previously attended the North American version of this conference in years’ past and it’s one of my favourite events of its kind - truly, I'm saying that without prompt. Attribute that experience to the unique people, all experts in their field and any one of the delegates could easily be a speaker, there’s the “by users, for users” approach to learning, and the intimate nature of a purely building industry focus limited to a maximum capacity of around 500. Since a large number of people who attend these know each other there are a few traditions involving presenter outtakes, top ten lists, the swimming pool and funny coloured socks. But, enough of that. So, what’s in store?

In its eighth year, the European version of BiLT - formerly known as the Revit Technology Conference (RTC) - dates back to the early days of Revit, now the dominant building information modelling (BIM) tool in many parts of the world. The annual meeting of the minds was originally initiated by a few scrappy architects in Australia who wanted to share the unvarnished truth about how to work effectively in BIM. Today the annual event has taken a larger stage with a core cast of characters and many regional experts all coming together throughout the year on a travelling stage across four continents: Asia, North America, Europe, Australia and sometimes New Zealand.

Why the change in name for the event?

The American born idea of Revit is now of drinking age, having been idealised by its founders to transform the industry twenty one years ago this month as Charles River Software within the Route 128 technology belt around Boston. First shipping in the year 2000, the 18th birthday of the product was earlier this year. Now solidly part of the Autodesk portfolio, it’s clear the tools have reached a maturity and provide a solid platform for designing buildings around the world.

Since that is the case, the organisers acknowledged the Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Operation (AECO) disciplines of the built environment use more than just the one tool. And our digital tools are merely that, enablers to produce better outcomes by using more effective processes. Many of the conversations extend around the concepts of BIM-like or BIM-ish technologies like: Computational Design, Big Data, Simulation, and Mixed Reality (Augemented/Virtual Reality, and Reality Capture). 

What to Expect?

Cities where BiLT EUR has taken place include Dublin, Delft, Aarus and others. Some interesting venues are chosen by the committee to enhance the learning experience; one year had delegates filing into “The Church of BIM” as the decommissioned church booked for that week was affectionately nicknamed. There was even a pulpit for the speakers. Much of the content of the classes I’ve chosen this year are focussed around workflows and computational thinking.

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View from Prešeren Square of Ljubljanski grad, one of many castles surrounding this historic city.

It will be interesting to see those other than Autodesk platforms discussed in the context of the bigger picture of interoperability, such as the popular McNeel Rhino/Grasshopper combination, and also Graphisoft ArchiCAD, which maintains a strong footing in Europe, and of course the lowest common denominator BIM and Computation tool: Microsoft Excel. After all, it’s all about being data-minded in how we exchange information about our projects. After I settle in, I’ll do some exploring around the city, eagerly awaiting the kickoff sessions and keynote speeches to set the theme for this year’s peek into the future of our digital industry. I’m most looking forward to the below sessions, and have signed up for a full three-day schedule:

  • Tapping the Source: Establishing Responses to External Data 
  • Augmented Reality and Deep Learning in the Design Process
  • Effective ‘LOD’ Implementation in Projects
  • Datadriven Facility Management - Value-based ICT and BIM for Clients and Building Owners 
  • Connecting parametric design and BIM through Grasshopper, Excel and Dynamo 

All in, there is a good deal of optimism in the building industry for a shift in what is next in a post-BIM world. I’ll be sharing a bit more as the event unfolds over the coming days here and on my Twitter account: @seandburke. Thanks for joining me on this ride. Let’s see together where it goes.

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The canals and rivers running through the city are a must see, especially with all this wonderful architecture and foliage lining the banks.

For more information about this conference and others by the RTC Events organisation around the world, visit: rtcevents.com.  If you are on social media, look for the hashtag #BILTeur or follow @BiLTEvent on Twitter.


About Sean David Burke

A member of AUGI since 1997, Sean has been at the forefront of BIM for most of his career. His focus on advancing the adoption of digital tools as a Senior Associate at NBBJ and previously with Autodesk has always been to inspire and instruct others around the world in order to make building better.

 

2016.05.24

RTC Australasia 2016 - Post-Event Wrap Up

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The Twelfth RTC Australasia: A wrap up and why it is not being called the “Revit Technology Conference” anymore.

This year, the RTC Australasia was held at the Crowne Plaza in one of Australia's most sophisticated food and wine regions: the Hunter Valley. About 150km north of Sydney - nearly 400 people attended this year’s RTC Australasia, making it a great conference once again.

Welcome and opening statements: Opening the conference, Chris Needham started the Keynote Address event with an opening remark, announcing that the RTC is no longer the Revit Technology Conference – not confined by name or nature to all things Revit. It is no longer constrained to design, either. He outlined that the goal of the RTC event management would be to build an attendee base of a much broader demographic.

The Freak Factor: This year’s keynote speaker was David Randoll who presented The Freak Factor: Discovering Uniqueness by Flaunting Weakness. As someone who professed to talk for a living, he spoke about how people can get the most out of themselves by allowing them to do what they are best at instead of trying to fix their flaws. In fact their flaws can be important clues to their strengths.

Conference Sessions: Afterwards, the conference continued with individual sessions, including presentations and lab sessions as well as two new streams for construction planning and estimating and the ArchiCAD user community which joined via ARCHICON. As usual the lab sessions offered gallery and class seating and – apart from some technical challenges during some sessions – were very well prepared and presented.

Exhibition: The exhibition took place in the exhibition centre, presenting Sefaira, Autodesk, Codebook, USG Boral, Solibri, Invicara, the RTC gadgets lab, CAD Learning (who also sponsored the competition prizes), Pluralsight, A2K Technologies, SysQue, Newforma, Peer Software, Ideate, Revitzo, CAD Group, CR Kennedy, dRofus, Oasys and Chaos Group as well as Common Elements Ltd.

Social Events: As always, the social events were one of the highlights during the RTC event. At the end of the first day of the conference, the Welcome Function took place in the exhibition hall (sponsored by Ideate), being followed by the Friday Evening Function which took place at the Hope Estate Winery (sponsored by Chaos Group). The last day was highlighted by the Saturday’s Gala Dinner (sponsored by New Forma) in which Chris Needham announced that the RTC Australasia 2017 will be held at the Adelaide Convention Centre, from the 25th to the 27th of May, 2017.

Overall the twelfth RTC Australasia 2016 has shown that the AEC industry is not just discussing BIM as a new technology anymore, instead BIM has become an integral part of business strategies and conversations. As Dr. Dominik Holzer mentioned in his session, BIM technology may not always be mandatory yet but there is an increasing number of organisations and states that are already asking for it, changing the AEC industry and the role of those managing it.

2016.05.13

RTC Australasia 2016

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The Twelfth RTC Australasia: Thursday 12 May – Saturday 14 May 2016

Not being completely over yet, but the twelfth RTC Australasia at the Crowne Plaza can already be described as a great event again. Having attended numerous sessions to meet some of the world's top instructors and industry experts while being able to network and share ideas with an international community - accomplishing the free Revit certification examinations in between - just make this conference unique.

Keynote Speaker: This year’s keynote speaker was David Rendall, presenting The Freak Factor: Discovering Uniqueness by Flaunting Weakness. David Rendall has spoken to audiences around the world and has a doctor of management degree in organizational leadership, as well as a graduate degree in psychology. Believing that amplifying people’s weaknesses is crucial for their success, he encourages them to do the same. In fact, people’s weakness is actually the best clue to their strengths. As a result, people should find out how maximizing their “freak factor” can transform their life, work, and relationships:

“What makes us weird also makes us wonderful. What makes us weak also makes us strong.”

Speakers and the Glorious Gadgets: Usually a project is not only about modelling as documentation is also playing a big role. Katja Gard – Revit Manager at the Buchan Group – was speaking about this in her session: Documentation…Documentation. She outlined a typical workflow by dividing it into four simple steps: Pre-model, model set-up, working model(s) and documentation. While outlining the pro and cons of the strategy itself, she also reminds the audience that the human factor will always be important. Harlan Brumm - Autodesk’s Revit Product Manager for Architecture and Construction – presented the latest advances in Revit and its companion building products. These included i.e. new functions for railings which can now be hosted on shaped edited floors, roofs and on the top of walls, the introduction of depth cueing which allows users to add depth to their elevations and sections as well as a new text editor and layout engine. Also tags have been improved, allowing to calculate values and improvements to leaders to document a model more individually. One of the last speakers today was Dominik Holzer – owner of AEC Connect and author of the book: The BIM Manager’s Handbook. His presentation: You are a BIM Manager – Really? outlined the cornerstones of management activities associated with BIM as most BIM managers seem to be insufficiently trained in management – definitely one of the most interesting presentations today. As always the glorious gadgets session was again one of the highlights during the RTC event. This year, Chris Needham presented new gadgets such as the mushroom death suit, flyboard, aeromobile, metallic glass, a drone defender and much more.

LAB Sessions: Like the years before, the lab sessions have also been part of this year’s RTC again, offering class and gallery seating. Especially Dynamo as the visual programming extension for Autodesk Revit has been discussed quite often during these lab sessions. For example, Jason Howden – CEO and Director at RVT Tools - presented the String Theory – Dynamo for Absolute Beginners and a follow up lab session, getting people started with leveraging the power of Dynamo. Stephen Taskin – Studio Design Technology Manager at Woods Bagot – identified useful applications of Dynamo programming to increase efficiency on projects as part of his lab session: Dozen Practical Uses of Dynamo. Following these lab sessions, Konrad Sobon - the creator of Mantis Shrimp and Bumblebee plug-ins and Project BIM Specialist at Grimshaw – presented: Mantis Shrimp - Interop for Grasshopper and Dynamo and a second session called: Bumblebee - An Interop for Excel and Dynamo. Mantis Shrimp is a Dynamo (Revit) and Grasshopper (Rhino) interoperability project which allows users to read Rhino's native file type while Bumblebee can be used as an Excel and Dynamo interoperability plugin that vastly improves Dynamo’s ability to read and write Excel files.

Looking at all these possibilities and new developments that have been presented throughout the event and during the lab sessions, it is quite obvious that design technology is rapidly transforming how architects and engineers are working today.

2016.04.28

RTC Australasia 2016

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The Twelfth RTC Australasia
Crowne Plaza, Hunter Valley, Australia: Thursday 12th - Saturday 14th May

In less than two weeks, Architects, Structural, Mechanical, Electrical, Hydraulic and Civil Engineers, BIM, CAD and Design Technology Managers, IT, Design, Construction and Project Managers, Quantity Surveyors, Technologists, Thought Leaders and Academics - as well as other experts within the AEC industry - will gather again at the RTC Conference – the twelfth RTC Australasia at the Crowne Plaza. And it is located in the world famous Hunter Valley, NSW.


Over the years, the RTC has become known as a unique, independent conference, covering all things of Revit and the technology and process of BIM in a "by users, for users" format. But it seems like this time will be quite a different year for the RTC Australasia and it is not just because it is no longer being called the Revit Technology Conference – being just the “RTC” from now on. This year, the RTC is also welcoming less traditional attendee groups, such as the ArchiCAD user community who will be joining via ARCHICON. In addition, two new one-day streams – one for construction planning and the other for estimating – have been added to the program for Construction Planners and Estimators - and the changes will not be limited to this.


The Conference Schedule itself will take a similar format to the former regional conferences, offering an opening plenary session and keynote address followed by multiple sessions over the 3 days. This year’s keynote speaker will be David Rendall, presenting “the Freak Factor: Discovering Uniqueness by Flaunting Weakness”. This year’s program also presents an expanding group of Australian experts, including returning as well as new speakers such as Mark Abrahams, Joe Banks, R. Robert Bell, Anthony Butler, Joachim Clauss, Mark Cronin, David Foley, Nathan Hildebrandt, Aaron Maller, Chris Price, Chris Razzell, Adam Sheather, Konrad Sobon, Paul Wintour and many more.


Another highlight is the free Revit certification examinations which will allow each examinee to attain certified professional status. This exam typically costs more than $100 – so places are limited and will be offered on a first come, first served basis. The exams will be offered in collaboration with CADLearning and can be selected by topic - Architecture, MEP or Structure - during the conference. It also has been announced that the RTC competition is back again as well. The winner will receive an iPad Pro 128GB and the runner up prize will be a choice of a Flight Centre or a Red Balloon voucher, also being sponsored by CADLearning. Between the sessions, food and drinks will be served during all refreshment breaks and lunches and it will be possible to visit the trade exhibition as an integral part of the conference.


For those who need a shuttle transfer to the Crowne Plaza, the RTC has also a number of transfers on offer for delegates to get to and from the conference. These can easily be booked during the registration process: Departing from Sydney Airport, collecting passengers at Sydney Central and North Sydney before arriving at the Crowne Plaza, making the venue more accessible to those travelling from interstate or overseas. Not registered for the RTC conference yet? More information on how to register for the RTC conference or how to modify a registration to select the appropriate session for the Revit certification exams can be found on www.rtcevents.com. What are you waiting for?

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