Friday, December 21, 2012

Symbols for Fun and Profit

Identity and function is the name of the game with symbols.  A sign; a pointing towards another object, process, or location somewhere in the context of the plan.  A really good symbol is the one that is the most broadly understood.  And that can mean that it's been around for a while, easily recognized, positioned where there may be a question.

It takes many years to understand representations in the food service game.  Templates were (and still are) a huge influence in the world of design.  Transparent green floppy plastic with rectangles that represent booths, worktables, or any other common place object (not easily moved) in the food factory.  Using a mechanical pencil they were accurate stencils that introduced us to the world of 1/4" or 1/2" scale (to name a couple common ones).  Although they were poor physical representations of actual objects they were taken as symbols that had the same attributes and function of the thing itself.

Can a blank space be a symbol?  In the design world it can be.  It could be a masking, a placeholder for implied content; a dimensional region.  For those of us that have grown up in food service design we are intuitively wired to understand the references.  And for those that haven't they are left with the insecurity of not fully understanding the environment.

Or as my good friends say, "They couldn't read the gawd damn prints!"

It always helps to go to a site of a finished operation that is occupied with the objects, processes, and locations that the symbols represent.  "Oh, that's what that round circle is."  It isn't a symbol without them. 

Of course the actual OPL's (objects, processes, location) are much better for understanding the functions and identity of the workplace itself.  We now can print the 3D objects in miniature form out of various materials using printers controlled by powerful computer software.  However, as accurate as they are the printed models never reveal the processes of the space.  This is done with a presentation enveloped with language (some of which can be hard to understand).

As such, the understanding of the process is lost without it's host movement.  The Chef turns 35 degrees, opens refrigerator door, takes out a vegetable, turns back, dices the vegetable, etc.

The point has been made that as professional food service consultants we need to have access to the 'best' symbols that are most easily understood by the non-consultants.  (As Chef's they may have a great intuitive grasp of the processes but may not know much of the objects, or location (flow).  Which is why a Chef can make an outstanding consultant and a great source for project interview in many cases.)

BIM (Building Information Modeling) is a powerful software solution to understanding the objects within a food service operation.  Not only can BIM provide a near perfect representation of a physical object it can also show other requirements such as power requirements, processes, and movement.

You've probably guessed right my friends.  Another pitch for BIM.  Happy Holidays! 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Zen of Revit Content Creation

Question.  Do you know what it's like to be inside of a convection oven?  Go to Florida in August. 

Even with that my friends, I am happy to say I spent seven days of joyful family time down at Disney World in Orlando.  93 degrees and 107 with the humidity.  Wild Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Animal Kingdom...  As is common with me I could not get my mind off of work even though I spent a lot of time 'catching up' before I left.  But after a few days of acclimating, sleeping in (so I could stay out late when the sun was down) I started to understand what the essential value of vacation was about.  It's all about family.  Once I got over the difference of the climate and the chaos of theme parks I really started to enjoy my time with my family.  And when I was in process, in the pocket, enjoying them and the time I was spending with them time flew by.  That is, time ceased to be a linear process.

As I am less interested in the learned procedures of Revit content creation and more interested in the way to proceed I contend that immersion, reflection, and application is the cycle that thought must take when proceeding with Revit content creation.  I think it is especially the case with those CAD operators that have spent years in the trenches with their command lines in a non-BIM world.  It is not a comfortable conversion for these veterans.  "Where are my icons?  Where's the command line?  I am a CAD guru but now I am a beginner again!"  The operator becomes self conscience of his/her inadequacy as an asset.  Every movement within the project becomes weighed for value, reflected upon, and judged for worth.  Gone is the intuition and the smooth movement of mind to hand.  We are no longer in the pocket my friends.  We now live in the world of the Revit process.  

To be a fluid intuitive Revit operator takes time.  Leave the hubris behind.   Enjoy the discovery process.  Do not bite off more than you can chew. 

There are those in management that think, "Oh it's another CAD program.  You push a button and it happens.  It won't take anytime for my seasoned CAD veterans to learn this tool."  Wrong.  This is a new world for the 2D's.  No, it's a new UNIVERSE for the 2D's.  The objects now stand in the third dimension.  The elevations are done, the utility loads for scheduling are already in the object.  There are different procedures.  Elevations now appear in the early stages of the project for review by the client and you have less reverse engineering as the operation of the facility is revealed early in the design process. 

A welder once told me that laying down a bead with 7018 was very Zen like.  "You start in the most uncomfortable position of the bead.  You strike the arc and focus on the bead.  As you bring the bead towards your body you become more comfortable.  As you finish the weld you are in the most comfortable position of all.  The flux is peeled back like a caterpillar's skin.  It is beautiful." 

Again I posit that it's the cycle of immersion, reflection, and application that thought must take when proceeding with Revit content creation.  Proceed into your flagship Revit project with some basic tools and stretch into the project horizon.  Reflect on the use of new tools and apply those.  Repeat.  Enjoy the process.  Be at play with the process.  Dance with the process.  Time flies. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Learning Revit for Foodservice: Part 1

I get lots of spam.  An unusually large amount from African nations alerting me to the millions that some kind hearted or befuddled billionaire has bequeathed me.  Even though I know these are all bogus I have been noticing how uplifting they can be.  They may start out with 'God Bless You' or 'Something Wonderful is Happening' or something to that effect.  I put a filter on them so that only the first 8 words will show up in the email.  'God Bless You', 'You're in for a Treat', 'You are God Himself'...  I find reading these first thing in the morning up lifting.  Pre-work stuff on the Ipad, still laying in bed, hiding my Ipad near the pillow.  Hoping my wife doesn't catch me. 

I'm a foodservice consultant in the business of creating documents for design professionals.  It's been foodservice for me since I graduated from High School, then back to college, then finally back to foodservice.  I was a Yo-Yo bouncing between school and a foodservice way of living.  It is my way of life.

Foodservice is an industry with a wide mix of individuals that come from very different beginnings.  Maybe they came the Hopitality way, or the Culinary Arts way.  I came the manufacturing way.  I spent years as a Stainless fabricator and custom layout designer.  Everything from vibratory weigh cells for food processing to three compartment sinks and custom refrigeration.  I would design, layout, fabricate, weld, and polish out stainless objects that would eventurally end up in a commercial kitchen somewhere.  It was a way of living and being.  I would take special care when I positioned myself to weld a stainless edge.  I would start out in the most uncomfortable position that I could and as I welded I would end up in the most comfortable position I could.  Focus on the bead, the tempo, the penetration, not the past, move towards comfort.  It was a beautiful metaphor. 

What does this have to do with learning Revit for Foodservice?

There are those in the foodservice design industry that say the best way for ramping up for Revit is to bring in Revit designers straight out of trade school or bring in a trainer.  The trainer is to be an expert in Revit Architecture and Autocad.  Knows how to create spiral staircases and create custom families for wall glazing. 

Again I ask:  What does this have to do with learning Revit for Foodservice?

I used to tell new employees that Autocad is just another tool like a carpenter has tools.  Everyone can have a hammer but not too many know just where to drive the nails.  You have to know carpentry first.  It goes for Revit for foodservice too.  Those employees that were keepers and really developed into fine designers were the ones that knew foodservice first.  They knew when to add the double overshelf or where to spot the floorsink.  Schools that teach Revit focus on everything but foodservice.  They will teach you a way of thinking Architecturally or Structurally but not the Foodservice way.