Directive Environments

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Many of us have worked in firms where integrated project delivery (IPD) contracts are in use, with their aim to improve cooperation, reduce adversarial-ness, and so on. As goals, these are truisms.

But, with what medium of communication are the parties to communicate with each other regarding the work. Models? Drawings? Are models going to replace drawings?

The latter (replacement) is often suggested, in today’s standard BIM discourse. To propose it is to be very modern, so it is believed, while to cling to drawings is to be hopelessly archaic.

There is only one problem.

The suggestion (replacement) is nonsense.

The idea of drawing, and what it means to draw, is an idea that is not “pre-BIM”. BIM does not surpass it, does not transcend it. Modeling does not make drawing obsolete.

Let’s talk about the idea of drawing. What is drawing?

The idea of drawing is to draw attention to something. Someone says, “look here (at this location), understand this, and do this.” BIM does nothing to diminish the validity of this idea, this thing, this act, of “drawing”. On the contrary, BIM increases the need for the drawing of attention (to a location). An author directs a viewer to understand something specific, and to do something. At the same time, an author can declare, affirm and certify, that at that location, the author claims responsibility, has reviewed what is there, and declares that what is there is complete (enough) and reliable.

There is no other concept that can replace the idea of “drawing attention to something”, nor will there be. Simple thought experiment shows the distinction between an environment (a model) and the act of drawing of attention to things in the environment.

The idea that drawing (“to draw attention to something”) is obsolete, is absurdity.

The idea of a person drawing the attention of another person to a place and a collection of things and saying, “look at this, I certify this, understand this, and do this” is not, and will not be, replaceable by an environment standing on its own without these drawings of attention.

When the medium of communication is clear about this, then teams can well and truly collaborate, and contracts that minimize adversarial relations and maximize incentives for collaboration will come to fuller use.

Please allow for a generalized idea to be taken from the example linked above, not just the limited specific example shown at the link. The idea is not limited to “sticking some drawings into a model”. The idea is that within a modeled environment, an author draws attention to things, using some kind of technique or combination of techniques.

Each drawing of attention will exhibit these characteristics.

A drawing of attention will:

–have a known author
–have a location
–be composed of a specific set of media elements and data, and transformations of these and the rest of the environment in such a way that supports understanding and the transfer of understanding (communication)


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