Volume 43, Issue 4 - April 2008

Issue @ Hand

Reality Bytes 

Not since I wrote about my fatherís love of hockey have I seen an outpouring of emotion like the reaction to my article last month about the National Fenestration Rating Councilís (NFRC) efforts to inflict its Component Modeling Approach on the glass industry. I heard from so many readers that I lost count. All were concerned and wanted to take action to stop the effort from going forward and Iím pretty sure Iíll be able to report progress in that area in our next issue.

Progress is always a relative term as youíll see in this issue. The development of Building Information Modeling (BIM) is being hailed as the next great invention in the construction process. Everybodyís talking about itónow. No one in the glass industry is using itóyet. And few people understand what it isóat all.

It was against this backdrop that contributing editor Ellen Rogers began her excellent investigative series that starts on page 28. To her credit, Ellen decided the topic was so big and so important that she expanded the article into a multi-part series that starts this month. One of the first things she did was learn about the history of BIM through an interview with Steve Jones of McGraw-Hill Construction.

BIM, as Ellen reports, is a computer modeling tool that allows planners, designers, manufacturers, contractors, glazing subcontractors and owners to work from the same object-related database. In other words, instead of project drawings of lines, arcs and texts, everyone involved with the construction is able to visualize the entire building with a 3D model representation.

Where did BIM come from? A French company originally developed the technology for the aerospace, automotive and shipbuilding industries. The power of the tool it developed, called Catia, is that you can design a very complicated product virtually, test it and simulate its operations so you donít have to build big, expensive prototypes. ď[The construction industryís] contact point was with famed architect Frank Gehry. 

Being that he does these very complicated exterior envelopes, it was difficult for him to describe those to contractors. So he found this Catia program and, with it, once you design something fabricators can then take that model and use it to drive computer-milling machines. It takes you directly from the designerís model right to the equipment on the shop floor thatís creating the parts and pieces,Ē noted Jones. 

Whether or not you like BIM, the decision of whether or not you will use it is already being made for you everyday in the schools of architecture and the universities that offer project management degrees. Those studying there are already in tune with BIM; they are using it and they understand it. And soon this technology will be showcased right before our eyes.

Speaking of showcases, be sure to visit USGlass editor Megan Headleyís excellent article on showrooms in the glass industry on page 36. Megan has done some great research on what works well in a showroom. In the course of her research, readers who feel their showrooms are particularly effective have sent her tons of pictures as well. 

They sent so many, in fact, that we canít fit them all in this issue. But the ever-resourceful Megan has made arrangements for you to view them in a slide show at www.usglassmag.com. Just visit the Only Online section of the website and youíll see some amazing showrooms. 

Happy Spring!


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