Introduction to Building Information Modeling, 1940s style!

By October 4, 2010blog
Analog Sheet Sort Management: Designers shuffle their barn-door sized drawings in a climate controlled room

An architect discussing their computer systems seems a little like a chef talking about their kitchen utensils – yes, other chefs may find it interesting, but for diners, the kitchen is usually someplace unworthy of exploration.

However, in consideration of my upcoming Introduction to Building Information Modeling (BIM)course at NYU, I mention a transformation underway in the kitchens of architecture: BIM is an evolution in digital design & fabrication software that will allow a building to be fully designed, sourced & manufactured from a 3D database.

This digital integration began in other industries many years ago. Naval architecture, aeronautical engineering, music; each has seen huge impacts in terms of both design & production, and lessons will be drawn from these examples in my course.

But in the spirit of this blog, shown below are instructive examples from the 1940s of how complex form-making and intense engineering coordination requirements were met before digital technology.

And its awful for this BIM-evangelist to admit, but: those models, huge cameras and the laying around on the loft floor making drawings looks kinda fun…

Analog Sheet Sort Management: Designers shuffle their barn-door sized drawings in a climate controlled roomAnalog Sheet Sort Management: Designers shuffle their barn-door sized drawings in a climate controlled room

Analog Clash-Detection: General Motors engineers coordinate trades over a large physical modelAnalog Clash-Detection: General Motors engineers coordinate trades over a large physical model.

Analog NURBS: The circa 1940 process of translating the compound curves of physical aircraft models to full scale templates involved giant cameras and squads of drafters in loft rooms scribing projected lines into enamel-coated, temperature-controlled aluminum. From Popular Mechanics, Sept 1940 issueAnalog NURBS: The circa 1940 process of translating the compound curves of physical aircraft models to full scale templates involved giant cameras and squads of drafters in loft rooms scribing projected lines into enamel-coated, temperature-controlled aluminum. From Popular Mechanics, Sept 1940 issue.