Friday, April 18, 2014

SCRUG 4/17/14

Qatar - 2022 world cup. Jay Holland gave a report on the largest BIM project currently in design or construction. KEO International Consultants is managing the design team, which includes AECOM London. The software used to generate the design ranges across the gamut. In the end the client, Government of Qatar, requires an Autodesk Revit deliverable. Jay's presentation included a Sketchup walk through, Rino model, and Solibri model. The design he showed is progress from their schematic phase. The final Schematic Design is due in July 2014.

A bit about Solibri: (like Navisworks you import models and files from other programs), you can examine clashes between models, it uses the IFC model format, you can examine model integrity, it is a rules based software, you can examine naming conventions or adherence to other standards.

Interesting fact about Qatar, the government provides city wide chilled water. Qatar has an estimated 200 years of Natural Gas reserves.

While the showing off of projects are a staple of many a SCRUG meeting, the real meat is showing off features in the software and teaching how to make it happen. Marcello Sgambelluri provided a work in progress version of his next AU presentation.

"Dynamo 101"

What is Dynamo? What can Dynamo do? How or why would I use Dynamo?
Marcello gave us the official Autodesk version and his own version. In the end, the vast majority of users do work on standard buildings and just want to do something that the GUI of Revit won't allow or makes difficult. Marcello is an expert on finding out what Revit can do and which tools to use to get the result you want in the shortest number of steps. 

Dynamo is a programming language with a Python back of house. The front end of Dynamo is visual - boxes with text and wires to connect the text. In typical programming you have to get the text exactly correct or it does not work; error checking and debugging are a fact of life. In Dynamo it is easy to see that there is nothing connected to the "input" or "output". In Dynamo you do not need to name variables. The "boxes" or "nodes" are modules of Python code that do something. Autodesk creates new boxes and releases them every day. Others are allowed to create custom boxes you can download and use them. You can create your own. 

Dynamo can:
  • Create moving pictures in your Revit model
  • Grab and change parameters
  • Pick an edge that Revit won't let you pick
  • Create complex geometry
  • Eliminate "work arounds"
  • Access ALL of Revit's parameters
  • Reorder things
  • Renumber things
  • Create sheets from an Excel spreadsheet
  • Create rebar inside a concrete column and schedule them
  • Attach a beam to the underside of a curve - and update it automatically
The reason to use Dynamo is to save time and increase accuracy. 
The most productive way to use Dynamo is dual screen - go back and forth between Revit & Dynamo.
Dynamo is the future of Revit.

Thank you to Jay, Marcello, US CAD, Microdesk and Keller Pacific. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

SCRUG 3/2014

Autodesk formally launched its campaign to enlighten the masses about the benefits of Revit 2015 today. SCRUG was all about the new features. We were graced with the presence of Steve Stafford - Mr. Revit OP ED. He had on an Autodesk vest and presented the official Autodesk Powerpoint (cleared by Autodesk Legal Department) as if he was Scott Davis Autodesk Employee.

Many other blogs cover the feature list, so I will not repeat that here. There was not any thunderous applause for any single feature or the lot of them together. Many of the features added polish to existing parts of the program. One of my personal highlights was a demonstration of adding a shared parameter to a view title. It is not an earth shattering feature, but a nice to have feature. One of the features, opening up a dialog box when one tries to delete pinned objects, functioned a bit unexpectedly during the demonstration. You cannot delete a pinned object, but if you delete the pinned object's host there, Revit says nothing and both are erased.

Overheard... Cyberpower PC's gaming systems are a good fit for Revit. GSA is looking for a National BIM Director (Contact John Russo for more info). A local BIM conference passed out flyers. BIG BIM Theory is having a BBQ.

Thank you to the sponsors. US CAD, Keller Pacific and Microdesk.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The climate debate

As you may know, I listen to a regular podcast on this website. While it is an economics based site, once in a while they have on climate scientists. This week the format was a bit different. In place of having a single person and an in depth interview it was a debate forum with two climate scientists. The science of climate has become a desperate struggle of two sides - one convinced that the presence of man and burning of fossil fuel has caused an in ordinate amount of warming and that the risk of doing nothing is catastrophic the other convinced that the contributions of man are intermingled with all the other factors and the "damage" of man cannot be separated from nature. Here are some of the debate points that stuck out and my characterization:

  • The burning of fossil fuel has the positive effect of reducing global poverty. No one wants more poverty.
  • CO2 was discovered as a greenhouse gas in the 1800s
  • We do not fully understand all the factors that go into climate change.
  • All the computer models over predict warming at every level of CO2.
  • Melting of the polar ice is not a danger for sea levels - see glass with scotch on the rocks.
  • Melting of land mass ice is a danger - if all the ice on the world's land mass melted it would raise the ocean level seven meters.
  • There is prediction of sea levels rising one inch every decade, but that is not as catastrophic as localized effects like a hurricane that can raise the water level locally 15 feet in a few days.
  • Civilizations can adapt to the raising of ocean levels as long as it is over time.
  • France went from near zero nuclear power to 80% nuclear power - any nation can do the same when it merely has the political will.
  • Not all climate scientists want massive change, just making buildings more energy efficient is fine.
It was refreshing to listen to what we "know" about climate science. I conclude that the potential risk is great, but we have no conclusive evidence that man is causing the risk or merely a bit player in a epic production. I recommend that everyone listen to the debate. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

SCRUG 2-20-2014

The South Coast Revit User Group had its monthly meeting last night. There were visitors from the Santiago High School architecture program (thanks Bill Brown) looking for internships. The highlight of the meeting was a presentation by Nick Kramer. His analysis of detailing and the detailed comparison between methods was stellar. Essentially architecture firms are divided into three methods of documenting 2D details of projects:
• Detailing with lines and text - this method is the same as the centuries old paper and pencil method or AutoCad method
• Using the keynote system built into Revit (material, element or user) - this method uses an external text file to help keep a consistency throughout a project
• Detail Components and detail tags - this method harnesses the database power of Revit

Nick reviewed the three methods and listed the pros and cons of each. There is a great power to the third method. It offers portability - the "notes" are connected to the geometry. It offers fast revisions - a change to one means a change to all whether it is the note or switching the component.

A side discussion developed about the shift in the field of Architecture. Drafters are disappearing. People working on projects are expected to understand what the lines mean in a project. Is the line a door? What is the nature of doors? Doors belong in walls and have size parameters based on code and use. People working in the Architecture industry are required to know something of architecture and not just how to draw or use software. Looking around the industry, several firms have let their "drafters" go. HMC, gkkworks, Perkowitz+Ruth Architects, ...

Recent Architectural Projects

  • 2013-14 Facilities Support Center LEED submittals, NASA AFRC
  • 2013-14 Maguire Aviation Hanger, Van Nuys, BASCON
  • 2013-14 Fullerton Municipal Airport Terminal Remodel, City of Fullerton
  • 2014 DEA Fire Alarm, GSA Los Angeles
  • 2013-14 Fuel Farm, NASA DAOF