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Monday, April 2, 2012

Creating a Building Information Model of a Custom House (Part 2)

In part one of this two-part entry, we saw how BIM is still difficult for smaller projects (such as detached houses) that have been highly customized. In this entry, I am showing the changes that were made after surveying the building. In most cases, this made the project easier to draft. In other cases, the limitations of BIM became obvious once I discovered the reality behind the way different features were constructed, many of which were not obvious from the hand drawings mentioned in part one. And all the mistakes are still obvious when examining the 3D model. The 2D drawings that BIM creates are still solid when you have the true dimensions of the rooms, which is much easier to achieve by visiting the site and measuring the project than by drafting from someone else's (non-BIM) documentation.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Creating a Building Information Model of a Custom House

While we normally measure buildings to generate our drawings, sometimes we work from sets of two-dimensional architectural drawings. In this case, the challenge was to work from a set including exterior elevations, plans and a section in order to create what is called a building information model. The drawings were done in the late Seventies, when people were drawing by hand as opposed to using CAD, meaning that dimensions and alignment were not always accurate. Even now, with CAD as the industry standard, drawings are still prone to error when it comes to coordinating multiple two-dimensional views of a complex three-dimensional shape.

With the arrival of new CAD software that automatically makes all 2D representations part of a 3D model that contains all the information about a project, known as a building information model, if alignments are off there will be error messages and glaring mistakes in the model. Take this process rendering for example. When the vertical stone element was extruded based on the two-dimensional hand drawings we were given, all of a sudden other walls began to intersect that stone element. That was impossible in the 2D era. The rendering also shows the limitations of building information modeling (BIM), because if you compare it to the photograph the pitch of the roof is different. The BIM model has an obvious hole in it where the roof is supposed to angle down to the right and overhang toward the adjacent slope. Overall, BIM is a great way to make sure that all of the two-dimensional drawings line up perfectly, because they are all based on one 3D model. Often, however, in order to do things accurate to the way they are (supposed to be) constructed, it requires that the software 'understands' whether or not an angled surface is supposed to be a roof or a wall, for instance. In the real world, BIM is the best thing ever for repetitive buildings made of standard parts. Customization in the software (Revit in this case) is still cumbersome for projects that require uniquely crafted details in their construction.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Serving the Community

When we completed a project at The Mission Preparatory School, we were able to donate our services because of their status as "a non-profit public benefit corporation." Existing Conditions Drafting is committed to serving organizations that offer constructive support to people in need, like low-income students.

We received a letter of thanks from the Founder & Head of Schol, and we appreciate her contribution to morale around the office. We wish to restate what she expressed to us in her letter about the goals of the school: "we are committed to providing a rigorous, college-preparatory education to under-served students growing up in San Francisco's low-income communities."

We feel that volunteering is an important part of running our business. It reminds us that we are actually having fun doing our work!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Recent buildings

We had the opportunity to measure some of the administrative office spaces at Pier 39. It was a clear, warm, beautiful day in San Francisco. The smell of fresh sourdough bread, crabs and clam chowder always brings back so many fond memories of being at Fisherman's Wharf. Oddly enough, it was cold and cloudy that day in Oakland, where I live. It was very good timing to be out there enjoying the day with seals and sea lions since the next day things were back to normal: cold and foggy in the city and warm and sunny in Oakland.

The next week we were up on a hill between Pacific Heights and Nob Hill, in a neighborhood technically called Lafayette Heights. There, we measured a four-story residential project with three units, a basement and a roof. These units had tons of rooms, angled hallways, and had been remodeled at different times, all making the measuring and drafting of the spaces a fun challenge. The Astroturf sun-room on the roof made for an excellent place to stop, have lunch, and look out over the city before finalizing the roof plan.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The view from my first assignment

Here is a photograph from my first measuring assignment. The building was nice, but needs a lot of repair work, so I decided to take a picture of the view instead. It's great to be advancing my architectural skills and knowledge without being in an office all the time! This was my best ever first-day-on-the-job: drive to Sausalito and measure a house that's worth over a million dollars. And when it's done, just enjoy the view.
PS - Here's a link to open the image in a new tab to see the original size (If it doesn't work, leave a comment describing what happened and I'll try to fix it). Enjoy!

Monday, November 7, 2011

New Employee Announcement

My name is Greg Baker. I was recently hired on to the surveying team here at Existing Conditions Drafting. I am interested in creating impeccable architectural drawings and learning more about architecture and construction. I am currently a Master of Architecture candidate at the California College of the Arts, and hold a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture from UC Berkeley.
I was born in Chicago and grew up in a small suburban village of less than 10,000 people, although my high school had 2,500 kids. I was able to take a couple of drafting classes way back then, and now over ten years later I am excited to become fluent in the language of drafting.
Every day that I'm in the office I learn something new. Last Thursday, I created a new template for the office to use that involves using sheet sets and fields to automatically update the title-blocks in a large set of drawings wit the click of a button. And today I'm writing a blog on a new interface for me...
Here's a link to my current Master's thesis blog: Greg Baker | Resistance thesis group

Monday, June 6, 2011

An Eichler Home

Living in a Frank Lloyd Wright house during world war two gave Joseph Eichler all the inspiration he would need to become a successful home-builder in California. Eichler homes are located all over California and we traveled up to Lucas Valley to complete a set of as-built drawings and an electrical plan for an Eichler home nestled in the hills of Marin. Joesph Eichler was unlike most of the home-builders of his time due to the fact that he designed his homes and planned communities for middle class Americans of any religion or race. "Bring the outside in" was one of Eichler's main concepts. An Eichler home most likely comes with skylights, patios, and a swimming pool.

If you are ever looking for a weekend road trip to get out of the city I highly recommend checking out this neighborhood of Eichler homes located up near Marinwood. Bring the dog because the neighborhood is located right next an open space filled with trails leading up the surrounding mountains and if you get up there early enough you could head over to Tomales Bay and grab and Anchor Steam and oysters for lunch.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A 1960's Remodel

Our last project took us down the peninsula to the town of Hillsborough, where we measured and drafted a complete set of as-built drawings for the classic California ranch house. Through out the whole project we both felt that we were walking on a set from the television show Mad Men. This relaxing ranch house set below and sprawling oak tree and a grove of redwoods has not been remodeled since the 1960's and it has the wall paper and linoleum to prove it.

The amazing thing about this house is how environmental friendly it is. There is not a HVAC system in the house. There is a fire place to take the chill out of the air in the winter time. In the summer time the house is well shaded by the surrounding trees and a cooling breeze refreshes the house due to some well placed windows. It also helps to have a pool in the back yard to cool off in. It seems like the old school builders of this house really knew what they were doing by designing the house to fit in with the environment around it. We really hope that they keep the wet bar where it is and do not demolish it during the remodel.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Storybook Home in Belvedere

Working with Aleck Wilson Architects we took a trip up to Belvedere to develop a set of as-built drawings for quite a unique home. Belvedere is ranked first in California for per capita income so of course we fit right in with our surroundings. Being a Hansel and Gretel home the property looks as if it belongs in a childrens storybook. There are nooks and hidden compartments all over the home, which is built around a brick tower so you can imagine how fun it was measuring a home with very few straight lines.
It was a challenging project and we were pretty exhausted after a couple days work but to be able to step out on to the front patio and have a view of Tiburon, Angel Island and the rest of the bay helped us to relax and just enjoy the view.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Measuring the Warfield

With all of the buzz around town to redevelop the mid market area in San Francisco it was nice to have a project right in the middle of all the excitement. When people think about the Warfield, images of the Greatful Dead or Bob Dylan pop into their head but there is a whole other building attached to the Warfield Theatre. This side of the building has 9 floors of office space in the heart of the mid market area. Along with floor plans we also surveyed the electrical, sprinkler and HVAC systems for a detailed MEP plan of the building and gave these as-built drawings to our client EHDD. It was a lot of work but the surrounding buildings provided a great back drop for a relaxing working environment. The Golden Gate Theatre and many of the buildings along market have beautiful architectural features that mainly go unnoticed when we are flying by in a cab. I got a great view of all these buildings and most of downtown when I was up on the roof. With the announcement of Twitter moving to an office near by I am sure the Warfield office space will be in high demand.