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Design Optimization Flashblog: Spring 2014 BIMForum – Whats Design Optimization?

By Peter Marchese of Microdesk on May 06, 2014

Recently the Spring 2014 BIMForum was held in Boston, with the main topic being, “focusing on design optimization”. While optimizing design can mean a lot of things to many people, several of the presenters focused on the abilities and methods that can be utilized to streamline processes. They also spoke about and showed actual examples where they utilized both technology that’s available, as well as some that was custom to do some of the time consuming or complex tasks for their project teams.

In many ways our tools that we already use have been doing that in one way or another. Our email can move and sort messages and our BIM applications can automate many routine tasks as well. What they don’t tend to do for us yet, (but can) is tell us what we should design or help us narrow our focus when it comes to direction.

Now this is not to say that we should leave design to computers; quite the contrary. What this means is that the effort we spend looking into and working on multiple design iterations and directions, as well as all the analysis we do to understand their impact, can be streamlined. These processes can be helped along by using some great existing tools as well as some custom work to allow for more informed options in less time.

Several of the presentations focused on just those topics, and one of the great things were they didn’t all approach this from the same angle. Some focused on the workflow side and others on the technical side. Many of the presenters that showed the more technical aspects of their solutions went over the ability of tapping into the api (application programming interface) as well as utilizing visual programming. Frank Fralick’s presentation “Design to Fabrication Workflows and Visual Programming” explained what this was in a great way with a table saw.

The major visual programming tools used by the speakers were Dynamo on the Revit side and Grasshopper on the Rhino side, but both enabled people to streamline and generate more than they could have otherwise. For those who wanted to learn a little about Dynamo, Zach Kron even had a little class in Autodesk’s booth area on it. If you missed that class I definitely recommend you look at any of the great videos and posts here: http://dynamobim.org/to continue forward from the information the presentations started.

The wild thing for me is I see that this kind of toolset or ability becoming the one of the next pieces or stages of the BIM workflow. At the moment not many are doing this or even able to do this, but that is changing. As people become more comfortable with their tools they tend to want to see what else they can do with them, and as companies have progressed with BIM they have looked to see how they can utilize it to both become more efficient as well as more competitive to in an effort differentiate themselves.

The ability to not only have your models run an analysis on the current state of what you are working on, but to be able to quickly change aspects and maintain integrity with things like specs, consultant models, analysis and have it done on multiple iterations and directions with minimal effort is the next step, and the ability of the tools to compartmentalize things here, will lend themselves to the modularization of our industry that we have already started to see happen.

Overall though I really enjoyed the conference, the speakers were great and the conversations I had with my colleagues were informative. I’m also looking forward to being able to talk about some of these things with more people and have them already know a little bit about it… which is cool.

[Read Peter’s full post here].