Posted: August 31st, 2009 | Author: Jonathan Bahe | Filed under: Best Practices, Education, Leadership | Tags: BIM, IPD, LEED | 1 Comment »
In his recent blog post, Scott Simpson states that, “Over the next five years, the A/E/C industry will undergo a profound transformation.” Simpson asserts that the leading drivers of this change will be BIM, IPD, and LEED. I believe quite strongly that Scott is right but would argue the transformation is upon us rather than something that may or may not occur in the future. In his post, Simpson summarizes just a few of the reasons why building information modeling (as a tool) and integrated project delivery (as a process) are changing the way leading firms and sophisticated clients across the world are doing business. According to ongoing research done by the Greenway Group for the Design Futures Council, these are among the most important trends driving the ongoing revolution of architecture and design.
However, if we are to believe in our own future, as the title of his post suggests, it is time for serious action on the issue. Rather than focusing on tools for execution, I believe the profession and, perhaps most important, our academic institutions should begin to greatly enrich the focus on collaboration and leadership in the creation of designers and architects. As the A/E/C industry goes through a powerful redefinition of relationships in the coming years, the architectural profession has the opportunity to assert leadership and design thinking, which will both have increased relevance to our clients and the design and construction process.
Simpson says, “With IPD, all the brainpower in the room can be focused like a powerful lens on the problem at hand.” However, as the state of affairs in the halls of the United States Congress reflects, lots of brainpower focused in one place does not always lead to powerful solutions. What the IPD process needs to be successful and truly transformative is leaders who can enhance discussions and successfully encourage all team members to work toward common goals. Most architects have never received any formal leadership education — an unfortunate outcome of the priorities of architectural education in most institutions. However, architectural education and practice does create great skill in understanding complex relationships. With focus and coaching, architects can serve as the facilitators of these integrated teams to create truly remarkable outcomes.
I believe that the firms and institutions that focus on developing and enhancing leadership characteristics in their staff and students, promote collaboration, and provide stimulating environments that foster design thinking are best situated to lead the profession — both now and in the future. To this end, academia, firms, and the profession as a whole must renew our focus on the importance of leadership and collaborative skills and devote meaningful time and resources to their development. It is these skills, along with an increasing awareness of the power of design thinking, that will lead our industry forward in the future, but we cannot wait for them to happen organically. It is time for action!
Posted: August 27th, 2009 | Author: Scott Simpson | Filed under: Best Practices, Economy, Leadership, Professional practice, Strategy, Sustainability, Technology | Tags: AEC, BIM, IPD, LEED, new economy | 10 Comments »
While no prediction is ever 100 percent correct (including this one!), we do know this: Sooner or later, the current recession will subside. When it does, things will be different. The conditions that existed between 2003 and 2007, which created unprecedented prosperity worldwide, will not be returning. It follows that the successes of the future will not look like the success of the past.
Over the next five years, the A/E/C industry will undergo a profound transformation, powered by the three primary game-changers of building information modeling (BIM), integrated project delivery (IPD) and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). BIM is a technology, IPD is a process, and LEED is an attitude. Individually, each is very powerful.
Together, they combine to exert huge leverage for change. All three are at the tipping point; there is no turning back.
BIM provides a way to connect the silos of expertise that have traditionally divided the design and construction process. The increased transparency of who does what makes the interdependency among all the key team members painfully obvious. The traditional model of design/bid/build promotes a culture of self-defense, with each player on the team incentivized to consider individual interests first and team success second. With BIM, this is no longer possible; it creates a whole new sociology of design. Ironically, BIM promotes both creativity and predictability in equal measure. It’s a powerful design tool yet equally adept at demystifying design documents, bridging the gap between design intent and project execution from conception to creation.
IPD takes this a step further, substituting a single, inclusive contract that aligns the interests of the owner, architect, and construction manager. What a concept! The benefits are as obvious as wheels on luggage. IPD invites a whole new approach to decision making. Since IPD represents a truly integrated team, all the key players are at the table from day one. The traditional sequential approach no longer applies. With IPD, all the brainpower in the room can be focused like a powerful lens on the problem at hand (much as parallel processing does for computing), which leads to better, faster, and more creative solutions every time.
LEED symbolizes a profound social and political shift from an economy based on consumption to one based on the wise stewardship of shared resources. In the past, the winners were the ones who made the most or consumed the most. With sustainable design, values have shifted 180 degrees, inspiring us to ask how we can do more with less. Over the useful life of a building, even small improvements in energy use, water consumption, and air quality create huge benefits. Sustainable design is like BIM and IPD in that it forces us to recognize our interdependency — no one can win unless everybody wins. It creates an unbreakable bond of mutual interest.
As we consider what’s next, it’s important to keep in mind that design is both a noun and a verb — a thing as well as process. It’s also about creating value. As currently configured, the A/E/C industry is acknowledged to be hugely inefficient. About 37 percent of all construction materials end up as waste, some 30 percent of all projects do not meet budget and schedule, and more than 90 percent of clients believe that design documents are insufficient for their intended purpose.
A conservative estimate is that of the $1 trillion spent on construction each year, $300 billion is wasted. But here’s the good news: We can view that waste as a resource. By using new technologies, processes, and attitudes (BIM, IPD, and LEED), the waste can be re-deployed, funding innovation. The result will be better, healthier buildings, constructed faster, for less. Everybody benefits — owners, architects, constructors, and the public.
This is a natural and inevitable outcome of the post-recession economy, which will demand a new accountability for value creation. The downturn imposed a certain discipline. It made us much more cognizant of what we do, how we do it, and what we spend. Viewed correctly, this discipline, which seemed harsh at first, is actually refreshing. It opens the doors to new ideas, and as designers, ideas are our stock in trade. Going forward, we should behave as if we believe in our own future. The rest will follow.