An occasional sampling of reader electron-mail, or "keep those waves and particles pouring in, folks!"

In IssueSeventeen's LLLetters, Volker Mueller, Design Technology Manager with NBBJ in Columbus, OH, took us to task for our espousal (in IssueFifteen) of BIM—building information modeling—as the successor term to CAD for AEC design/documentation software. Volker's main point was that software vendors have ill-served the "D" in "Computer-Aided Design," and that BIM shifts the software center of gravity further from design (instead of closer, which he would prefer). His conclusion: our choice of "BIM" is a "BUMmer." In this letter, Volker again takes up his cudgel:
> "Interestingly enough the tools that you quote as strong on the design front-end [JLformZ; SketchUp; Autodesk Architectural Studio; Autodesk VIZ; CATIA from Dassault Systemes; Maya from Alias|Wavefront and Rhino from Robert McNeel] in response to my previous e-mail are a) only partially so and b) do not offer any "BIM" downstream benefits. Additional steps of painful data migration, data amendment, or data reconstruction in "BIM" tools are necessary. That is the opposite of the downstream benefits of the design phase that Prof. Teicholz [Paul Teicholz, professor emeritus in Civil Engineering at Stanford University, who also contributed his opinions re BIM in IssueSeventeen's LLLetters—JL] and you argue to be benefits of BIM. How can there be any downstream benefits of the design phase in BIM if BIM tools do not have a design front-end? Without offering strong design capabilities the excursion into BIM is in fact detrimental to Computer Aided Design firms because it provides "BIM" software vendors with the pretense of a theoretical underpinning for their blatant acts of omission."

"On the upside, if for example MicroStation is a typical CAD tool and TriForma with its building industry layer software packages is a typical BIM tool then MicroStation TriForma is a CAD/BIM tool with weaknesses on the design front-end. Therefore, my point is well-aligned with your own sentiment of "[...] if such end-to-end continuity is not a vain hope, I believe it is more likely to come about through the addition of front-end flexibility to BIM-like tools [...]" which are the CAD tools that I have been using. Therefore, I will continue to push my CAD—your BIM—vendors to add that design front-end, without which your BIM—my CAD—is like a building without a foundation. If such end-to-end continuity remains a vain hope, then it is in my opinion the death-knell to BIM, the virtual building model, or whatever you or the vendors want to call it. If it is not a vain hope, then it is the confirmation of the obsolescence of that three-letter acronym BIM and the reaffirmation of CAD with more intelligent data and an extended data life-cycle."

"Put differently, such end-to-end continuity would finally be the coming-through of CAD."

> Volker's arguments, as well as those below by fellow repeat correspondent Ken Jensen, are so well presented that they deserve a lengthier and more formal response than we usually provide to LaiserinLetters. Instead, we'll move our reply to this issue's Laiserin'sLemma—Ad BIMinem Argument.

In IssueSixteen's LLLetters, Ken Jensen of Seattle also responded at length to our initial BIM argument in IssueFifteen. Ken's main point was that Architecture is a loftier pursuit than Building or Construction (A => B => C) and therefore deserved pride of place in his proposed label, "architectural information modeling" or AIM. In his current message, "AIM-ing for the Future," Ken reasserts his point of view:
> "It is correct in a sense that Building Information Modeling is a more "...universally useful..." term than Architectural Information Modeling because not all buildings are designed by architects. After all, anyone can (legally at least) design and build a house, garage, canopy, barn or a stable and these types of buildings are numerous. That must be why modeling software for builders can be found in hardware stores. So, this type of software may be all anyone needs to get these types of buildings constructed.

"However, it's also correct that buildings are the only type of structures that architects are licensed to design. As building design specialists, architects do not need to limit their professional expertise to only designing these above building types, but are trained, tested, certified, and experienced in leading multi-disciplinary design teams in designing, developing, producing, and administering the construction of all building types. So, architects are actually the universal market that should be catered to by these modeling software vendors, unless they only want their products to compete with the hardware store packages for builders.

"Merely choosing AIM over BIM as the replacement acronym for CAD is not enough. The software developers should raise the bar and challenge themselves. The AIM software should be designed to enable both the architects and the design team to focus on the future architecture that they are collaboratively creating. By catering to architects and the consultants, they will need to provide fast and easy modeling automation features for the architectural design processes in addition to the building construction documentation ones.

"Visualization of the qualitative as well as the quantitative opportunities and constraints of the program and of the specific site from the beginning of due diligence and feasibility phases through planning, design, development, documentation, construction administration phases and even into occupancy will facilitate and encourage the transformation of a potentially ordinary building to that of a work of architecture. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a model can really tell a story. If the creation and modification of the model is fast and appropriately accurate for each phase, then the all of the design team can clearly understand and reach a consensus on the direction of the design. The architect can then accurately interpret and refine these design directions and creatively integrate them into the evolving architecture.

"By being able to simultaneously consider all aspects of a design in a single model, there are no cracks between programs, phases, sheets, systems, or match lines for anything to fall through and no decisions should inadvertently be based on partial views. Even though changes are purported to be easier with parametric systems, I think they will be also be reduced because misunderstandings or mistakes should be minimized.

"The design team can only refine what it can visualize. By having the model evolve through the design phases, it can be useful as a powerful design tool rather than just as a rendering tool for an early ethereal sketch or for a photo realistic single viewpoint image. Often the design team (and the community) are unpleasantly surprised by differences between the actual resulting building and these renderings. With the confluence of the enabling hardware and modeling software, architects will have the opportunity to become better professionals for their clients and communities by creating deliberate architecture based on refined inspiration rather than derivative buildings based on obtuse perspiration.

"Besides, I don't think any architect wants to be a 'peripheral visionary,' as defined by the comedian Steven Wright as: 'one who can see into the future, but it's off to one side.'

"Thanks again for this forum. I hope it will inform the Architectural Modeling Information software developers as to what we want to see in their future upgrades."

> Well, thank you, Ken, for your extensive and thoughtful contributions to this forum. As noted above, I'll save my response for this issue's Laiserin'sLemma—Ad BIMinem Argument.

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