August 8, 2012

Conventional and Unconventional Ways to Leverage Data with Ideate BIMLink

Nicholas M. Kramer (NK), LEED® AP is a well-recognized guest lecturer on BIM and sustainability at Autodesk University (AU) and other forums. He is employed as a BIM Project Administrator at HMC Architects in Ontario, California, and currently serves as president of the BIM User Group Inland Empire (BUGIE), and is Program Manager for Revit Technology Conference (RTC) North America.

At RTC 2012, Nicholas presented his experience in the use of collecting, cataloguing and leveraging room data with Ideate BIMlink. On behalf of RTC, he also explored a heretofore unreported use of Ideate BIMLink.

In a recent interview with Ideate Director of Software Development Glynnis Patterson (GP), N.C.A.R.B., Nicholas shed light on these two distinctively different uses of Ideate BIMLink. One is a unique and unexpected usage, and the other represents a more mainstream AEC data problem.

GP: As the Program Manager for the Revit Technology Conference in North America, one of your jobs is to select and coordinate the speakers. Can you tell us about your unique use of Revit and Ideate BIMLink as a way of managing this rather unconventional “BIM” data in 2012?

NK: We had over 400 online applicants who were interested in speaking at this year’s RTC conference. Part of our challenge was to not only select great speakers but also to provide the right balance of topics across disciplines, difficulty levels and to make the most of each available time slot. Because we’re already using Revit to manage data, we took it upon ourselves to see if we could also apply it to this event management problem.  

The event management software we have been using can provide us with a .CSV file. The file contains each proposed speaker’s contact information along with 17 other data fields. We use those to sort and refine our selection process.
After we created a simple custom family within Autodesk Revit to represent each potential speaker, we used Ideate BIMLink to transfer the data from the event management software onto our “speaker” object. Importing 17 data fields for each of the 400 speakers would have taken quite a while, but with Ideate BIMLink it took just a few minutes to set up and then import all the data.

By using some simple visibility parameters, we were able to color code each speaker and arrange the speakers into a virtual conference. We used this as one way to assess whether we had the right mix of speakers during each time slot.

GP: It’s great to see such an unconventional use of the software. I understand you also used Ideate BIMLink in a far more conventional way: the management of a space program for a project you’re working on at HMC Architects. Can you tell us about the customer’s requirements for cross-coordinated data and how Ideate BIMLink was used to address these requirements?

NK: Sure. The customer is California State University (CSU) at Pomona and HMC was selected to do a 17,000 square foot wing addition for Collins College. They have specific submittal requirements in format as well as the links between multiple forms from program validation to the project estimate.

I realized early on that being able to manage this data for a relatively small project such as this one within a highly portable format, such as Microsoft Excel, would be central to our success with larger projects on our horizon.  We utilized Ideate BIMLink to transfer our programmatic requirements into Revit at the beginning, and then throughout the project we were able to continue to manage the requirements via Ideate BIMLink. Managing this amount of data any other way would have meant a loss of profit on our end.

GP: You mention that Excel is “portable.” Can you elaborate on that and explain how accessing the Revit data via Ideate BIMLink increases portability?

NK: This was one of the themes of my RTC presentation, leveraging the BIM data. Being able to use the data where and when you need it is one of the many hot topics in the AEC industry. The reality is that not everyone will be using Revit throughout a project’s lifecycle. Ideate BIMLink helps by putting the information into a portable and usable format that allows non-Revit users to leverage this important BIM data.

GP: If people want to learn more about your RTC presentation, where should they go?

NK: I’ll be expanding upon my RTC presentation at this year’s Autodesk University in November 2012, so I hope those who are interested will come out to Las Vegas if they can. In the interim, a hand-out distributed to BUGIE is available here.

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Nicholas M. Kramer (NK), LEED® AP, is a project leader and BIM project administrator at HMC Architects in Ontario, California. He has been using Autodesk® Revit® since version 8.1 and has helped implement Revit access across an architectural company with a staff of more than 400. He is currently the company-wide resource for BIM content creation and standardization on a wide variety of projects. His project experience varies from a 400,000 square foot library to higher education laboratory buildings to medical tenant improvements to the renovation of the MLK hospital in Los Angeles, California.

Import Space Program Data into Revit

Glynnis Patterson is a registered architect and the Director of Software Development at Ideate, Inc. In a previous life Glynnis spent many hours looking at blueprints with a scale, highlighters, and a scratch pad to develop detailed cost estimates.