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03-15-2004 01:36 PM
A revolution in how computers are used to model buildings is taking place, and at the heart of this revolution has been a debate about what three letter acronym to use that best describes the technology driving the revolution forward. The default term is currently BIM (Building Information Modeling), although there have been many other attempts, and recently a proposal was made to call it PEN (Parametric ENabled) . The search for a three letter word is clearly tied to the legacy of CAD (which stands for Computer Assisted Drafting or Design) even though the essence of this new technology makes a decisive break with the CAD paradigm. That CAD can have such a grip on the thought process is evidence of a conservative tendency in the AE profession that manifests itself even at the high-tech fringe. The BIM apologists have begun to see and imagine new opportunities and methodologies as a result of emerging technology, but have fallen short when trying to come up with a catch-all acronym that rolls easily off the tongue and embodies a new spirit. References to bygone tools have no place in the realm of next generation design tools. The world has moved on, the information age, the post-industrial society, is here and now, and continues to expand. The machine age, having run its course, is coming to and end. Likewise, the age of mechanical drafting and tireless abstract revisions is primed for extinction. The computer has been freed from the mundane task of representing lines in a banal coordinate space. No longer can the computer be thought of as a device that simply mimics the conventions of hand drafting. The floor plan is ceasing to be an end in itself, and instead becoming a mere by-product of a hyper-coordinated design process. The great modernist Le Corbusier stated that the plan is the generator of form. In the post-industrial era, it is form that generates the plan, and the section, and the elevation, and the perspective, and the schedule.on and on, all in real time. The list of possible deliverables and consequences of using the computer to truly model buildings is nothing short of mind blowing. Today, we have new ways of creating architectural representations, and the information built into these representations exceeds the implied meaning of lines projected onto a 2D surface. Every object can be imbibed with and described by parameters that inter-relate with other objects and their parameters. The information, stored in centralized database that can manage and negotiate changes, allows the creation of "live" models that are always in sync, and represented as explicit graphical and textual controls. This technology enables the age-old process of building physical models to be intimately tied to all other means of representing a building. Now, 2D, 3D and 4D co-exist in single design environment and are all linked together. These tools are the tools that can, and will 'do it all', tools that enable total collaboration across disciplines. Tools that provide total syncopation of a single database of parametrically related, intelligent components that can be analyzed, modified, and published--on the fly. A tool that can do that much--allow for creating truly virtual models of a system--is more than Building Information Modeling, it is HYPERMODELING. Model are referred to as HYPERMODELS, not BIMs. The Hypermodel is a way of interfacing with information, not modeling it. Who wants to model information? No, we want to Model, and have information become a dynamic expression of modeling. Also, the hypermodel is not reserved for mere "buildings"-it can be atomized. Is a window a building? No, but one can imagine entire companies that do nothing but crank out Hypermodel content. Hypercomponents that work in the context of a building, but are not themselves buildings. A photorealistic rendering, or walkthrough, is not really building information modeling-but clearly that is a critical piece of this new paradigm. Think of visualizations as an aspect of hypermodeling; or better, as an opportunity that hypermodeling provides. The chains of the three letter acronym now broken, we can imagine a new paradigm taking hold. We can imagine a new generation of HYPERMODEL designers emerging, while simultaneously, 'CAD technician' becomes an obsolete pursuit. We can imagine a whole new definition of labor divisions, of highly collaborative design-build firms, of new types of hybrid AE companies coming into being. We can imagine using the HYPERMODEL to redefine how projects are bid upon, how they are won, how they are implemented, how they are administrated, how they are evaluated. Ask yourself this, do you want to be known a BIMMER or a HYPERMODELER? Will your firm gain leverage by promoting the use of BIM tools, or HYPERMODELS? To embrace Hypermodeling is to finally take the step into the current of the Information Revolution: to take advantage of it, rather than shy away from it. In doing so, we open the door to new processes, new business models, new methods, and ultimately, a New Architecture.