Ayers Saint Gross Maker Fair 2015

January 15, 2016

During the summer of 2015, Ayers Saint Gross completed the addition of a wood shop including a 3D printer and laser cutter. Employees were invited to take training and safety courses in order to use the newly available equipment. I jumped at the chance and did the training. I was very excited and inspired about the prospect of building models of our projects in the shop, but I also realized that not a lot of Ayers Saint Gross employees would get the chance to use it, since the task of model-building is typically relegated to interns or junior architects.

I approached a few of the senior architects at the firm about the idea of creating an in-house design competition. This would encourage the use of the shop and especially encourage the growth of our employees through learning how to use both traditional tools and newer ‘maker’ tools, like the laser cutter and 3D printer. The growth of maker culture has been exponential over the past couple of decades, nationally and globally, and architects stand to gain much by exploring its possibilities. We know this, so it wasn’t hard to convince the Executive Committee to approve this endeavor. Without the support of forward-thinking leaders, proposals like this wouldn’t come to fruition. I formed a committee and moved forward with the development of the Ayers Saint Gross Maker Fair 2015, with the intention of it becoming an annual event.

The aim of the Maker Fair is to present would-be competitors with a small, self-contained, hands-on design challenge. The committee met and discussed a few options, finally landing on the challenge of designing a light fixture using a simple bulb and chord provided upon entry. This was in part influenced by the upcoming Light City Baltimore festival, set to take place in the spring of 2016. The Maker Fair was announced to the Baltimore and DC offices, with a kick-off charrette open to competitors for the last couple of hours of the following day. Competitors were given two months to design and fabricate their lights. They were encouraged, but not limited to, the tools available in each office. When all of the submissions were received, the lights were displayed in the entrance corridor of the Baltimore office.

During the week of January 4th 2016, the lights were turned on in the late afternoon so that voters can see them in action. Voters are asked to consider the use of materials, design process and production, and of course, the Vitruvian ideals of structural integrity, utility, and beauty. The ballot required voters to rank their top five favorite designs, with points awarded in ascending order according to standing. Winners were announced at the January Office Meeting.

Thanks to my supportive committee that made it all possible – Scott Vieth, Kevin Johnson, Alvin Rudolph, Joe Kim, Logan Mahaffey, and Brandon Moore.

BIM Kick-Off Meetings: A BIM Necessity

September 23, 2015

BIM models serve as the primary tool for multi-disciplinary teams during the design and construction of a project. In order for teams to efficiently collaborate, a BIM Kick-Off Meeting can alleviate any of the project management issues that may arise with BIM coordination throughout the life of a project.

What do you need to discuss at a BIM Kick-Off?

  • Team Members: Identify BIM managers/leaders from each discipline who will be responsible for model creation and maintenance. Typical model upkeep includes daily monitoring of file size, family creation, resolution of warnings, and ensuring compliance with office BIM standards. For continuous model support and collaboration, a BIM Manager contact list should be distributed to the project team.
  • Expectations: Set the expectations and goals for the project. Discuss the level of experience each discipline has in BIM and determine at which point in the design process each discipline will implement Revit. Discuss additional software that will be used in addition to Revit and how these programs will work together.
  • Workflow: Review how each discipline develops their models through the project timeline. Establish modeling requirements and ownership (who is responsible for the floor slabs?) and identify what level of BIM modeling will be done by each consultant during the various project phases. Review how each model will be linked and how changes will be tracked (copy monitoring?) How will the model be shared between consultant disciplines? FTP, Model Server or via Email. Determine when and how often the model will be updated and shared.
  • Communication: Decide on the communication tools to be used to relay project information to the BIM project team. Discuss how the team will address and resolve issues throughout the design process already established under team members.
  • Deliverables: Identify the deliverable documents expected at each phase of the project including BIM Model, 2D documentation and CAD drawings. Discuss and make clear what the BIM model deliverable expectations are for the client, including possible facilities requirements, and how the model is intended to be used by the contractor. If a BIM model is required by the owner, confirm modeling standards and level of development are understood and contractual obligations are being met.

The BIM Kick-Off meeting allows for open the lines of communication with the project team members and ultimately helps maximize productivity during the project process. An organized and well- managed model can streamline coordination, reduce conflicts in design, and help ensure project success during construction.