Thursday, May 31, 2007

Revit in Academia: Take 2

Another local architect and myself (both adament Reviteers) have been trying to persuade a School of Architecture to introduce Revit to the student body, as part of the curriculum. I remember the (not too long ago) CAD class i took at UB, with AutoCAD Polyline extrusions, exporting to Max, and rendering... A lot of work for just an image, nevermind intelligent data. At first whisper of it, the Schools we approached were (sadly) not extremely enthused about the idea, to say the least. Understandbaly so, as it may appear that we were two people wishing to promote our software of choice in a University setting. The letter below is a correspondence i sent back to the university, hoping to pursuade them. As ive said in the past, for me its not just about more intelligent Construction documents, i believe we can change the way work gets done in the field, and i think the first thing necessary for us to do is spread the word. Here is the primarily unedited (my email didnt like copy to clipboard, so the spacing of words had to be fixed) communique:

I know this corresponence is lengthy (and believe me, this is the edited version!) but i would greatly appreciate it if you could spare me a few minutes of your day.

In recent years, I have had the pleasure of working with many graduates from the Syracuse University's School of Architecture. Since relocating back to the CNY area almost 2 years ago, I've been immersed with many of your graduates, as they educate me through the early years of my career in architecture.

Having graduated in 2005 from the University at Buffalo's School of Architecture, my time in the field thus far has opened many doors, affording me the capabilities to work with a myriad of new technologies that have asserted themselves as placements in theArchitectural industry. I have been working with Dal Pos Architects,working on advancing our use of the Building Information Model throughout the architectural process. Through my exciting travels at DPA, I met (remaining nameless here), an Architect who shares my passion for the changes that Revit can bring to the field of architecture.

These changes are best described in Stephen Kieran's and James Timberlake's Refabricating Architecture. (Find it here)

They delve in to a process where:

Architects are no longer limited to the fragmentary representation of physical ideas; we can now fully pre-form them. This composite understanding of architecture before it actually becomes substance offers a deep understanding of the elements of architecture that affect our daily lives. Refabricating architecture leads towards a new humanism. (Kieran and Timberlake xii)

While their book speaks of the specifics as related to the manufacturing industry, their point is driven home in the comparison they make of modern architects and architecture, to that of Brunelleschi and St Maria del Fiore: "The master builder was a person who combined the roles of architects, builder, engineer, and scientist... Brunelleschi was such a man." In a chapter-long diatribe about the current state of affairs, they go on to discuss how our current industry trend to try catching up to more advanced industries have removed the architects from many of the decision making roles, proclaiming that there is an "art vs.commodity" battle taking place, where commodity is the ease of interoperabilitybetween all of those involved in the AEC industry, and where we (as DESIGNERS, as architects) have the disconnect with the rest of the industry, because of our antiquated methodologies.

It is my contention, that (while only a tool to communicate design intent and design iteration) THIS is where the capabilities of a software like Revit can put architects and designers as a whole back into their roles as Master Builders. With the capability to accurately convey the roughest design iteration to everyone involved in the process, Revit puts the Master Builder in the middle of the entire driving force that creates architecture, making US the translators(not only of OUR designs), but of everyone else who's designs will come to interact with ours. When the simplest of forms and designs can start generating intelligent data, which can then drive our consultants and collegues to make educated decisions WITH us rather than AGAINST us, our collaborated final product can achieve a higher degree of closeness to our original intent. Software as a whole is generally seen as a tool of efficiency, of production, and of profit. While Revit may be these things, I have seen its potential to communicate, and to inherently break down a wall that I personally believe exists between designers and clients: That wall being an education we have received to visualize and conceptualize a space, while trying to communicate it to an individual without those capabilities.

It is for the above listed reasons, why I have a great passion for seeing Revit make it in to a Higher Education's program in a School of Architecture. I have (enthusiastically) discussed this with (name of other enthusiastic Reviteer), and I have told her that I would be willing to teach such a class, if such an opportunity were to be made available and if the students were to display interest. I am aware that Syracuse University has the seats of Revit licenses available, and that some of your gifted students are already using it for some of their projects. (I have also had the joy to work with a few of them already, and see some of the magic they have made with it!)

I would love to see this come to fruition at the University. If nothing else, I implore you to put it to the student body. I would be more than willing to bring a presentation and a short lecture (an hour or so) on its effects in the DESIGN profession, (and not just the production profession) to the university, so that the students could get a feel for what kind of class we could theoretically give to them. Iwould love to hear back from you, if such a presentation and/or such a class would be of any interest to you. Please feel free to contact me at anytime regarding this matter.

Im happy to say that shortly after distributing varying copies of this letter to a few universities (honest variations, i havent worked with students from all the schools, so i had to edit it, lol...) we actually had a bit of positive feedback! The professor at the School of Architecture is interested in sitting down to discuss a potential class, and a professor from the school of Engineering has said he would attend as well, if it would be beneficial. I think it would be GREAT to get the students to do one assignment with collaborating somehow... The School of E here uses RISA-3D... All in all, it may end up never coming to fruition, but im happy about it. At least tonight i know we tried, and at least a couple of people will listen. :)