Meet our BCS Roundtable Host, Adam Murray

Tell us about YOU?

Since a very young age I was curious about how things were put together. And as many young children do, I explored that question best by taking things apart. Ever since then I have only worked to develop greater methods of questioning everyday practice and how it works. I have a unique vantage point, not only as a BIM Manager, but as a registered architect. At times these two viewpoints clash. There are elements of my education regarding professional practice that tell me to get the work done and on a drawing no matter the cost. Then my BIM Manager voice will interject with a slew of demands, often solely dedicated to ensuring that I do the work correctly, regardless of how timely. It is this cognitive dissonance that strengthens my approach, both in architecture and in technology. 

What interests you outside of work?  

My interests outside of work are short but very effective for my way of life. When I have the time, I enjoy reading (mostly horror fiction – Stephen King knows what keeps me up at night!), playing guitar, watching a good movie or TV series, and most importantly spending time with my wife and son. Those two know me inside and out and I certainly don’t feel complete without them. I’m also very passionate about technology even when I’m not on company time. I enjoy computers the most, having built one myself and spending time connecting with my remote family through a good computer game or two! 

What do you feel is most lacking in our industry currently? And how do you think this can be changed? 

The one major component that I see lacking in my current industry is trust. Not necessarily trust in each other, or even trust between an owner and designer – but trust in doing something different. Most clients that I engage with are large and well-established organizations that are looking to expand an already massive and diverse building portfolio. They have been playing this game long enough to know (according to them) what works and what doesn’t. This also means they are comfortable and introducing anything into the lifecycle of building development that is foreign to their understanding of our industry is crazy talk.  

What are some of the issues You face and how do you manage to overcome these issues?  

This is also one of the greatest issues we face as a design industry. We can talk all day long amongst ourselves about how amazing technology is and the efficiency gains that we see in our own little fiefdoms of the universe, but it does no good if we cannot sell a client on it as well. If we can’t do that, we must start asking ourselves how much work we’re doing without getting paid for it. You see, architecture at least, is still a service that is paid for by someone. Regardless of the perspective on architects themselves, there is a constant contradiction between what we’re contracted to provide and what we’re being asked to do.  

Technology helps the second part, the assumption that we are playing well with all parties involved and that we’ll bend to the whims of the client regardless of scope, time or budget. In some respects, technology has been able to make us more flexible. What happened decades ago when a plan change was made? Either a lot of erasing or an even great deal of re-drafting an entire sheet where now “CTRL+Z” is the paramount problem solver. And what about all the data that everyone keeps asking about? Where does all that end up? Again, the contradiction between what people want and what we are paid to provide. There is a certain amount of data leveraged to produce a set of construction documents, but it can be guaranteed that is but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what a contractor wants from the model in order to build the proposed design. In order to solve this issue of technology, industry and expectations, design professionals need to either reel in the scope of what they’re providing, or we need to train ourselves to be expert salesmen; we need to have the ability to convince our clients of why the data should matter to them justifying our use of it in the first place. 

It is these types of issues and a great many more that have me excited to be working in the industry the way that I am. There is no perfect solution for everyone, but it is an admirable task to take on what that means for my firm, for a client, or for a single project team. I will continue to push our company to become more BIM-literate, to engage clients more to educate them on the value of what we bring to them through model development and data generation, and to continue to raise the level of BIM maturity across the industry. 

Tell us more about your session:  

Through the passions and challenges described above I arrived at my topic to be presented at BILT NA 2019 – Roundtable:  Do Graphic Standards Still Matter in a BIM-Centric World? 

If it wasn’t evident from my writing above, I am very passionate about the dichotomy between contract deliverable and model deliverable and the role that graphic standards play in either of those solutions. It’s an important topic because my architect brain is constantly reminding me that graphic standards are an architect’s language. The way that our work is represented on a two-dimensional drawing is translating our three-dimensional thinking in a way that is tangible for the needs of the construction industry. But – and this is really where I hope the discussion gets deep for the roundtable – what happens when all we need to do is build the model?  

I’ve already seen this to a degree on many projects. We have worked with trades sophisticated enough to measure from the model directly to influence their built result. We have geo-located gridlines from the structural model and performed radiused flooring dimensions and takeoffs from the architectural floor elements. That type of communication is very different from the way things get represented on a plan. Rather than contrived little symbols to represent a door, pipe or column, there is a massive ocean of data behind all those elements that is better informed and better equipped for a greater number of purposes. What happens to the representation of that data moving forward? Is there a need to continue to show this in a simplistic, arcane symbol? Or do we move forward with the raw data itself to inform construction – to inform a new language of graphic standards? 

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