The Evolution of Collaboration

23 September 2018All, Architecture and Engineering, BIM 360



Thirty years ago I worked for a structural engineer who crammed every available minute of the day with work. So five minutes before the UPS guy was due to pick up the day’s packages, we were running prints and rolling drawings and taping shut the tube that would be overnighted to the production team 2,000 miles away, thus fulfilling our part in the collaborative process. Every week it was the same thing: prints-package-overnight.  Sometimes he might even drive the package to the UPS hub at the airport so we could get the most up-to-date information (4 more hours’ worth) into the drawings that would make their way overnight to the guys in the shop eagerly awaiting their arrival.

The need for speed in the AEC industry hasn’t really changed in 30 years. But the ability to make things happen nearly instantaneously has revolutionized the way things are built.

Today, it’s all about collaboration, and BIM 360 Design is leading the way.

A Brief History of Collaboration

3,000 BC            Architect in Turkey designs first stone circle; co-workers rearrange stones to form the first smiley face.

2,650 BC            Egyptian architect designs pyramid; co-workers add hieroglyphics to the plans during after-work party.

700 BC               Greek architect designs a column; while goofing around, co-workers invent concrete to make one.

70 BC                 First architect-engineer-construction manager (Vitruvius) standardizes pipe sizes; co-workers refer to him as “the genius.”

70 AD                 Roman architect designs square colosseum; co-workers rework the plans overnight to an oval shape.

550 AD               Byzantine architect designs a dome; co-workers collapse ten roofs before they figure out how to make it work.

1200 AD             Gothic architect designs flying buttresses, co-workers add gargoyles to the plans before submittal.

1600 AD             Architects went baroque.

As you can see, the history of collaboration hasn’t been smooth. Actually, one definition of collaboration that arose from these early attempts is, “traitorous cooperation with an enemy.” However, since the 17th century, events have aligned at an exponential pace to support the other definition of collaboration, “working with someone to produce or create something.”

1846 AD             Fax machine is invented.

1900 AD             Modernist architects emphasize function.

1959 AD             Kurt Vonnegut envisions a cloud “that does all the heavy thinking” in Sirens of Titan.

1971 AD             First email message is sent.

1982 AD             AutoCAD is released.

1983 AD             First file storage on “cloud” is offered.

1994 AD             First web-based electronic meeting place is launched.

2000 AD             Autodesk releases Architectural Desktop, Autodesk Building Systems, AutoCAD Electrical.

Revit Technology Corp releases Revit version 1.0 parametric 3D design software. The term Building Information Modeling is coined.

2006 AD             First online file sharing and cloud content management service is established for businesses.

2012 AD             Autodesk releases Revit, including Structure, MEP and Architecture.

2013 AD             Autodesk releases A360 (became Collaboration for Revit (C4R), and BIM 360 Team).

2018 AD             C4R is rebranded as BIM 360 Design, and collaboration is changed forever.

BIM 360 Design:

  • Allows multiple users to co-author project models in a central location in the cloud in real-time, also known as cloud worksharing.
  • Enables data and document management, even from mobile devices, from anywhere in the world.
  • Makes it possible to control who sees and works on which project drawings.
  • Enables tracking of a project’s timeline by all teams and members.
  • Connects your desktop to your project(s) stored in the cloud.

One day – and that day may not be far in the future – we may not have to deal with paper at all (and yes, I remember they told us that about computers in tenth grade). Yet, might we one day soon go from design to shop drawings to construction all managed digitally? Vitruvius may roll over in his grave.

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