Now I am mostly retired. Before precast and construction I was involved with software and data in a large insurance company, and before that I was involved in thinking and teaching about technology and society at De Paul University (my resume). I tend to view technological approaches to construction through a perspective some call skeptical, though I prefer "reality-based". I entered construction in 1987 and was astonished at the technical complexity of the materials and of the putting the pieces together to complete a structure. To this day I find that many commentators or thinkers (invariably from either the software or the design side, not contractors) grossly misunderstand those complexities. How we can find, assemble, organize, and access the immense body of knowledge that is embedded in a building is a main interest of mine, and a thread running through these writings.

These writings were done at various moments over the past years and are distilled thinking about certain aspects of the process by which we design and build commercial structures. None are polished writing; please keep that in mind as you read. I was busy with the day-to-day aspects of the business and so for a long period did virtually no writing (except highly detailed job-specific memos on why something is a constructive change or why a particular backcharge is bogus). I have continued to think about the processes I observed, which are so unlike those in most other businesses. I am especially interested in the process by which "design intent" (whether lines on paper or a BIM ) as expressed by an architect is transformed, via large inputs of highly specific knowledge, to fabrication and erection drawings and then to actual fabrication and installation. In that process we go from actual or virtual lines on paper, that despite dimensions and other appearances of detail and precision, are usually just "intent" and rarely could one build (you fill in here with your area of interest: safely/legally/durably/efficiently) with nothing other than the contract drawings. This process is an information transformation, but it is not a simple data transformation or look up. Going from intent drawings to shop drawings, which are instructions to fabricate and to install, requires a huge amount of knowledge. That knowledge is not embedded in a contemporary contract drawing or in a BIM. How to more efficiently get to that knowledge is the focus of most of my recent (and future) writing.

While BIM is undoubtedly helpful, once the low-hanging fruit of collision detection has been harvested, a good deal of the value is not inherently from the fact of the model, but from the process (IPD - Integrated Project Delivery) that gets subcontractors (and their knowledge) involved earlier than in Design-Bid-Build.