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Monday, February 13, 2012

What is it that we do?

Aaron Maller, that guy with the unpronouncable blog, wrote 2 posts lately about the merits of his and our profession. Basically the question was: what is it that we do?

I for one am a Building Engineer by education who kind off stumbled into the consultancy business by accident. But I do still think and work as a Building Engineer. So what is it what I do?
After contemplating a bit, which I must admit was accompanied by a fine, barely adult, whiskey, I would answer it like this:

We make believe.

That's it. We are storytellers. We take other peoples hopes and dreams and tell a story about them. We make our clients believe that they can actually come true. Off course it's up to the Contractor to actually make it happen, but hey, what's a book without the letters in it?

When you think of it: providing people with hope and making their dreams come true has always been a compelling reason for building engineers and architects. From the pharaos where the pyramids told a tale of divinity and protection by the gods, to the people rebuilding cities after they are wiped out in a war who speak of hope and resurrection. Buildings are used to tell stories of power, worship and grief.
As for me personally: my stories are far less grand than that. But stories nonetheless. I used to tell people about their new homes. How it will be build to make them happy, to last for their children and their children's children. We all have those conversations with our clients. The conversations in which we take our clients beyond their immediate needs and ask them about the distant future. Talking about how the design needs to be enhanced to suit their needs then. Those conversations have always been my favourites...

So how does BIM fit into all of this?
Back to the second post by Aaron. It's about a new highrise his company is designing and for which he is asked to convert the preliminary designs to a Revit model. While doing this the question arises what the best way would be to divide the glass curtain panels so that deformed panels are minimized, in turn providing a cheaper building without compromising design intent.
He's doing so using some high-tech panels made by Zach Krohn which have the ability to change color based on variations in geometry parameters.

Basically: whatever the topic is of your story, if you can't write properly, it's not going to happen. BIM is our pen and paper, it's our typewriter, it's our means to communicate the story we want to tell to the world.
It gives us the opportunity to review our own story from all angles, to reread what we have written, to polish and shave off the sharp edges. To rewrite our story and change it until it becomes something worth publishing.

And that's what Aaron is doing here if you ask me: working on his story. Making it better, making it more exciting to read. Using all possible recourses at hand. And that's exactly what he's supposed to do I guess: tell the best story possible.

So, as far as I'm concerned: I don't care which pen you are writing with. Just as long as you make it a story worth reading. Make your clients believe...

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