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Codice Appalti: il (gravissimo) parere del Consiglio di Stato

Il 10 gennaio, la Commissione Speciale del Consiglio di Stato ha espresso un parere circa il Decreto Legislativo 50/2016 comunemente noto come “Codice Appalti” e in particolare circa l’articolo 23 (comma 3), ovvero la Definizione dei Contenuti della Progettazione in materia di Lavori Pubblici nei tre livelli progettuali. Il parere è scaricabile qui. Confesso di non avere ancora avuto tempo di leggerlo. Fino a oggi.

Cos’è un parere?
Questo è quello a cui serve il Consiglio di Stato, almeno parzialmente: nella sua funzione consultiva, il Consiglio fornisce pareri circa «la regolarità e la legittimità, il merito e la convenienza degli atti amministrativi dei singoli ministeri, del Governo come organo collegiale o delle Regioni» (grazie, Wikipedia). Questo particolare parere, definito “interlocutorio” dai giornali, è il nr 22 del 2017 e fondamentalmente richiede una proroga dell’istruttoria: si dichiara incapace di esprimere un parere definitivo e rimanda il proprio giudizio previa acquisizione dei pareri della Conferenza Unificata e di ITACA, l’Istituto per l’Innovazione e Trasparenza degli Appalti e la Compatibilità Ambientale. A questi due enti, in particolare a quest’ultimo, vanno le mie più sincere speranze perché… beh, perché il parere del Consiglio di Stato è, per quanto mi riguarda, ben oltre ciò che si possa definire “deludente”.

L’argomento del parere
Argomento non è l’intero parere, ma una specifica porzione ovvero quell’articolo 23 e relativi riferimenti a cascata, in cui vengono definiti i tre nuovi livelli di progettazione, ovvero:
progetto di fattibilità tecnica ed economica;
progetto definitivo;
progetto esecutivo.
Tra questi, ritengo che l’operazione più interessante venisse svolta, nel Codice, sulla prima fase ovvero il progetto di fattibilità. Particolare accento veniva posto sulla necessità di presentare diverse opzioni di progetto, e sull’importanza della preventiva esecuzione di una serie di indagini.
Ora, se avete familiarità con il nostro drinking game, munitevi di tutto il necessario perché sarò costretta a rispolverare dei grandi classici, i principi base (ma veramente base) di quello che stiamo facendo e del perché lo stiamo facendo.

A cominciare da questo.

macleamy-curve-2011

Ecco che ci risiamo…

Perché vi faccio rivedere lei?
Beh, perché bisogna pensare a lei quando si legge la porzione di parere riguardo al progetto di fattibilità che, nelle stesse parole del Consiglio di Stato, assume «un ruolo chiave nell’ambito del processo di progettazione». Si tratta del «livello in cui deve essere effettuata la scelta della soluzione progettuale valutata come la migliore tra tutte le possibili soluzioni progettuali alternative, che dovrà essere sviluppata nei due livelli successivi del progetto definitivo ed esecutivo in modo da non subire variazioni sostanziali». Un riassunto meraviglioso, come molti riassunti di questo parere.
Tuttavia, sempre nelle parole del Consiglio di Stato:

[il progetto di fattibilità tecnica ed economica] ha come conseguenza un notevole impegno di risorse economiche a questo livello iniziale del processo di progettazione.

Beh… sì. Certo. È uno dei principi fondanti del BIM, nella sua teorizzazione di workflow, e in generale su questo principio si basa una progettazione più efficiente, più accurata, più responsabile. L’anticipazione del lavoro alla prima fase. Proprio questo.

006_macleamy curve for architects

La solita cattiva notizia

Negare l’anticipazione del lavoro alla prima fase per un beneficio delle basi successive significa negare ogni principio di efficienza sul quale la progettazione (digitale) degli ultimi vent’anni ha poggiato le sue basi.
Ma c’è di più.

C’è  di peggio.
Non è solo il naturale aumento del carico nella prima fase ciò contro cui viene mossa obiezione, in questo miope parere.
È il concetto di analisi preliminare. Probabilmente il secondo principio base di una progettazione matura e responsabile. Il problema sarebbe che «il progetto di fattibilità tecnica ed economica deve essere redatto sulla base dell’avvenuto svolgimento – per tutte le possibili soluzioni progettuali alternative – di tutte le indagini e gli studi necessari per l’individuazione delle caratteristiche dimensionali, volumetriche, tipologiche, funzionali e tecnologiche dei lavori da realizzare e le relative stime economiche». Ora, non posso credere che sia davvero necessario dirlo, ma… non vengono fatte analisi e studi per ogni soluzione progettuale: sono le soluzioni progettuali che vengono fatte sulla base di indagini e studi.

Processo Virtuoso e non Virtuoso

 

Mi sembra superfluo far notare che è sostenibile solo un processo virtuoso, che progetta a partire dai dati e non si limita a verificare posticciamente un’idea più o meno discutibile. Mi sembra superfluo farlo notare, ma evidentemente è necessario.

Sgravare la fase preliminare, quindi, è la parola del Consiglio. Un parere contrario a tutti i principi verso cui si sta muovendo la progettazione di domani (che, in molti casi, avviene già oggi).

Ma non è tutto.
I principi base verso cui ci muoviamo prevedono che il committente abbia un ruolo centrale, un ruolo consapevole, un ruolo attivo e partecipe del processo progettuale. Per questo, nel Codice, l’amministrazione aggiudicatrice (sempre nelle parole del Consiglio) aveva un ruolo centrale «nell’individuazione delle specifiche esigenze/fabbisogni da soddisfare», in particolare attraverso due documenti: il Quadro Esigenziale e il Documento di indirizzo alla Progettazione (se questa dualità di concetti vi è familiare, potreste averli letti l’ultima volta che vi ho parlato delle PAS inglesi).

ideal

Nelle PAS i due documenti hanno questo aspetto

Orbene, nel suo parere il Consiglio di Stato ritiene che questi due documenti non vengano definiti a sufficienza, il che ci porta al terzo e ultimo problema cruciale.
«Al fine di semplificare e quindi facilitare la redazione di tali elaborati, è stata prevista l’adozione di apposite Linee Guida, che il Consiglio Superiore dei lavori pubblici redige, approva ed aggiorna periodicamente». Tutto ciò è malvagio. Molto malvagio. Talmente malvagio che, nel parere, si merita un paragone con le deposizioni di ammiragli nazisti al processo di Norimberga (pagina 15 del parere, se pensate che io stia scherzando).

 

E quindi?
Giusto questa settimana si discuteva sulla possibilità di normare un processo fluido e in rapida evoluzione come quello della progettazione digitale. Giusto la settimana scorsa scrivevo circa il valore delle PAS: «a sponsored fast-track set of standards». Bene. Con questo parere del Consiglio di Stato, possiamo dire addio al concetto di PAS. La Legge deve essere scolpita nella pietra, lenta ad essere elaborata, lentissima ad essere approvata e, soprattutto, ancora più lenta a venire approvata. L’ideale, naturalmente, per un processo che si fa digitale e che deve stare, necessariamente, al passo di tecnologie e processi in rapidissima evoluzione.
Vedendo negati tre dei principi base per la progettazione digitale, il parere che il Consiglio di Stato “si pregia di trasmettere”, ci scaraventa indietro di parecchi mesi. Siamo alla casella 58 di questo Gioco dell’Oca. Paghiamo la posta. E torniamo alla casella 1. Oppure speriamo che ITACA e la Conferenza Unificata accorrano in nostro soccorso.

Altrimenti?
Si vedrà.

 

Pas 1192-2 is under revision

You might have heard the news and if you haven’t… well, I’m telling you now. The British guidelines for all things BIM (or, at least, for collaborative working) went under public revision right before Christmas and you have until January 25th to review it and, if you want, to submit your comments.

– Disclaimer –

In this article you find few screenshots, both from the original PAS1192-2 and from the version currently under public revision. They are used with fair intentions and a pure heart, in order to explain better the proposed change. They were taken between December 2016 and January 2017, therefore if you’re reading this after the PAS 1192-2 publication they might be superseded.

1. Public Revision: How to

Before I start telling you what are the major changes proposed in the new PAS 1192-2, let me tell you once again how you can read it for yourself and, if willing, submit your comments.
I am a member of the BSI (British Standard Institution) but you don’t need to be in order to read and comment. That’s why it’s called a public revision. This is not dissimilar to what has been recently done in Italy for the UNI norm 11337.

All you need to do is go to the Draft section of the BSI website: http://drafts.bsigroup.com/
From there, you have to log-in.
In case you are a member, this is not your BSI member account: it’s an entirely different one. In case you are not a member, no worries: you can sign up for free.

Login

Yeah, graphics is a little ‘retro’ but I promise not everything is like this.

Once you’ve done this, the easiest way to find your PAS is searching for it.
You’ll see that you have Chapter 2 and 3 under revision.
Just a quick reminder: Chapter 2 is Specification for information management for the capital/delivery phase of construction projects using building information modelling, while Chapter 3 is Specification for information management for the operational life-cycle of assets using building information modelling.

Once you’ve choosen your favourite PAS to comment, anyway, you can either read it online or download it as a pdf. Actually downloading it is encouraged since certain sections are a little hard to follow on the portal.

Draft Scope

See if I’m lying.

The process of leaving feedback is actually very efficient. You can drop them while you read, as if you were commenting on a forum, and review them later. You comment directly on the section, so I believe everything is made a lot easier even for the people receiving feedback. It’s a system I would love to see applied also on the UNI portal, honestly.

Comment

Comment Suggestion

View Comment

 

2. PAS: what are they?

The acronym PAS, yet another acronym in our BIM world (and there goes another one), stands for Publicly Available Specification and, in the Standard Institute’s own words, «is a sponsored fast-track standard». What does that mean? Well, that’s simple. Writing norms is long, considered to be boring, mostly unprofitable and, above all, freaking expensive. This is why you have to pay for norms. If you’re looking for a more articulated answer to that question, you might want to check this article out: Why Charge for Standards? by the American National Standard Institute.
Anyway, whether you agree or not with the concept that you have to pay for Standards, PAS are not Standards, strictly speaking. They are Specifications, meaning they resemble a Norm in the way they are written but they are drafted on a speed track, often responding to an urgent market need and equally often in areas of rapidly evolving technology. This is how the PAS about BIM come into the picture. The official standard they refer to is the British Standard carrying the same number, BS 1192, equally available for free on the BSI shop. It’s a document carrying a 2007 date and it’s a Code of Practice about Collaborative production of architectural, engineering and construction information. As I already wrote many times, it’s not about Building Information Modelling, the term BIM doesn’t appear even one time. It’s about collaborative working and exchanging information within the fields of architecture, engineering and construction.
As you know, BIM is all about collaboration. Or at least true BIM is.
Therefore, when the British Government committed to BIM in May 2011, the principle of BS 1192 was good but an update was badly needed. The Construction Industry Council sponsored his development and a so-called steering committee was formed. Then BS came around: in 2015 an annex was developed and was aligning BS with the PAS, which should have been aligned with the BS in the first place.
Yeah.
I know.
Another annex came out in 2016, so the correct reference should you ever want to mention them would be BS 1192:2007 + A2:2016.

Technicalities aside, the points that I find interesting about the whole PAS mambo jambo are these:
– they came out fast, when the professionals needed them;
– they came out free, when the professionals needed them.
Now, some of you think they were just propaganda. Part of a Governative heist to talk professionals into doing BIM. And you know what? You are probably right. But I’ve got a bad news for you. The British Government created a very elaborate and very efficient marketing system in order to create the culture needed in order to put a collaborative machine into motion and you can’t do BIM unless you have a spread knowledge of the basic collaborative systems. There have been lots of criticism towards the PAS and I do not approve of it. Before you take up arms against them, just stop for a moment and think whether they did or did not fulfill they purpose and whether you could have done better.

3. PAS 1192-2 R2: what’s new?

While the first PAS was sponsored by the Construction Industry Council, as I said, this new draft is sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Among the agencies working with this department, on their website you can find the Land Registry and the UK Space Agency.

Ep00_CoE_torchwood_team

UK Space Agency. It’s highly possible it’s them.

Use of this document
It has been assumed in the preparation of this PAS that the execution of its provisions will be entrusted to appropriately qualified and experienced people, for whose use it has been produced.

Well, that’s something I would love to be able to put into… well, anything, actually. We are rapidly reaching a point where you can’t put up anymore with people unable to understand what you’re talking about so let’s cut the crap down: if you face a project without appropriately qualified and experienced people you are the one to blame.

Therefore I’m not going to take your hand and walk you through every single minor change that has been made to these documents. You download them and run them through a document compare, if you want that kind of service.
What I’m going to do, is point out some key changes, give some opinions and provide you with my perspective on how changes are looking from my angle.

3.1 The Strategic Phase

 

PAS R1 - FIG3

The original figure 3

The Contract Phase in itself seems to be the main focus of this revision: the Model Production and Delivery Table is officially within the contract documents (of course it is) and a full set of Annexes and Appendices is fully formalized. And let me tell you they are a lot. You have:
Employer’s Requirement (ER) and Employers Information Requirements (EIR) and they are not the same thing: ER is the traditional brief, traditionally used in traditional contracts and talks about the project itself (“I want to build a Hotel”) while EIRs is traditionally the “BIM part” of those Requirements (the only viable guideline about EIRs is still this one);
– the Digital Plan of Work (the fastest way to draft one is the NBS BIM toolkit);
– the BIM Execution Plan (pre contract);
– the Master Information Delivery Plan that states who is going to deliver what and in which stages and is in close contact with the Responsibility Matrix, the Model Production and Delivery Plan and, consequently, the Model Production and Delivery Table;
– the matrix for Project Roles and Responsibilities (see above);
– the Contractors Proposal, which is a response to the Employer’s Requirements and is still tied to traditional schemes.

399423

Things are getting more structure

Few of them are new names, as you can see, and lots of them are old concepts with a fancy name.
The main idea in the Contract Phase, here, is controversial. «It is the UK government’s express objective that BIM Level 2 has minimal impact on existing contracting methods», the PAS used to say. It still says that, even if I think that idea is long gone and we all agree on the fact that contracts need to change dramatically for Level 2 to work. Check out the work of David Mosey at the Centre of Construction Law & Dispute Resolution in King’s College, London. For my Italian speaking friends, you might remember the summit we had in Milan about Legal BIM, a milestone in the process of defining where are we going with our Country regarding that issue.
With this perspective, PAS 1192 seems to be a patch up. Without getting into merit of actual contract forms, it provides a set of documents as a layer to put on top of what you have, as if BIM still doesn’t have the power to change the whole process but needs to settle for minor fixes, adjustments. Needless to say that I do not agree with this concept: it’s go BIM (and I mean full BIM) or go home. Even in contracts.
The main point in which I believe this is shown as critical is the relationship between Employer’s Information Requirements and pre-contract BIM Execution Plan.
Now, if you look at the relationship between Employer’s Requirements and Contractors Proposal, what you have are two documents talking to each other and the latter is drafted as a response to the first.
I do believe that with BIM you should have the same scheme: the pre-contract BIM Execution Plan (and we should really start calling it simply Project Execution Plan) should be drafted as a response to the Employer’s Information Requirements, meaning that it’s not drafted by the client but it’s a responsibility of that main contractor we call BIM leading consultant.
This scheme is partially proposed in section 5.1.8, when the BIM execution plan response gets its first mention.

ideal

Relationship between brief and operational plan: why shouldn’t it work like this for BIM as well? The pre-contract BIM Execution Plan is drafted as a response.

Underneath each phase, you still have lots of the documents you used to have: you have Assessments, Task Information Delivery Plans and all that jazz.

399424

If you still think the BIM coordinator should be a modeller for 80% of his time, let’s have a face-to-face chat.

As if this was not enough, a couple of additional documents have been added as appendixes to the Employer Information Requirements, with two main purposes:
– further specification in terms of the Built Asset and its Security, with due reference to the infamous PAS 1192-5 “Specification for security-minded building information modelling, digital built environments and smart asset management”;
– assessment tools.

EIR

In the Information Delivery Circle diagram, the strategic part has been updated with a couple of additional documents. A couple more.

The Assessment Phase has been split in several parts, again:
– OIRs and AIRs are concepts taken from PAS 1192:3;
– the Plain Language Questions are that part of the assessment more shaped like a quiz (you had to call them like that since people get all stiff when you say “Assessment”: you can look them up here).
Moreover, the Employer Information Requirements get a whole different structure: instead of having the original three sections (information management, commercial management and competence assessment), the proposed breakdown starts from a what-when-how concept. And I couldn’t approve more. The points an EIR should define are stated as:
information content (what);
timing of delivery (when);
delivery process and standards (how).
The previous sections aren’t completely erased, however. You should think at the above mentioned as “objectives”, while in the main sections you still have “technical management” and “commercial management”, alongside a more general “management” taking care of data segregation, clash avoidance, details of the collaboration process and the whole set of BIM management things.

3.2 Procurement

The link between Execution Planning Phase and the Need Assessment and Specification Phase is Procurement and its scheme seems to agree with the idea that I was illustrating above.

Two major updates proposed here:

Two major updates here: Employer Information Requirements and pre-contract BIM Execution Plan are linked together by a two-way street, Also we have now the Execution Planning phase, formerly known as the Execution Phase. Nice accent on the word “planning”.

This is not new as well, but the double arrow is particularly significant, meaning that procurement is actually able to give a feedback to the client and influence its requests upon receiving the market’s response to the requests that were made.

Just note that you still have to carry out three types of assessment:
– a “BIM” assessment form;
– an information and communication technology assessment form;
– the resource assessment form.
To make a silly example, if you have a consultant called Gigi and he designs bananas this means you have to ask questions about Gigi’s expertise as a banana designer, about his expertise as a banana designer in BIM, about his expertise with BIM in general (he might have been designing pineapples for ages before shifting to bananas), which kind of computer and connection Gigi will be given, which kind of computer and with which banana-designing software. All these aspects are important.

banana designer

Gigi has been a banana designer since 1975 and has done it in BIM since 1989. He is a BIM banana designer with a very high ranking.

The BIM assessment itself gets a new structure. What originally was gateway questions (“Are you prepared to share your model with us along with your mother and sisters?”) has now a specific focus about whether the company is aware of standards and how much it is willing to use them on the project. It makes sense, in a document of standard specifications.
Also, the former Information Technology Assessment Form is now mentioned as Information and Communication Technology Assessment Form (even if it still has the old name in some paragraphs and I fear this generates a little confusion) and has a whole new section about security. It’s a hot topic.

3.3 The Execution Planning Phase
Originally called just Execution Phase, it’s the second step of the project, after the EIRs, and it’s where you should draft your pre-contract BIM execution plan. It stands right after the Strategic phase of need and now the link between them is a two-way link, meaning that some things you find out – for instance – during the assessment phase can influence your EIR through a feedback during procurement. I couldn’t agree more.

A section about the post-contract BIM Execution Plan is badly needed. For now, we just have to say a prayer for the Project Implementation Plan. The document is no more: the Supplier Capability Assessment has taken completely over.

Meanwhile, the pre-contract BIM execution plan is still described as a light document, containing:
– the Supply Chain Assessment Summary;
– project goals for collaboration and information modelling (including model uses);
– major project milestones consistent with the project schedule;
– Model Production and Delivery Plan, hereby described as Delivery Strategy. Yes, there is a discrepancy between this part and the previous part: it is still unclear whether the table is part of the pre-contract Execution Plan and only the Plan is part of the Contract, or the Plan itself is in the pre-contract Execution Plan and therefore attached to the contract itself.

Unfortunately the cascade scheme for the Design/Constructor Supplier Chain stayed the same. I was sincerely hoping to see some updates and improvements in terms of clarity.

Design Constructor Supplier Chain

Do you see those portions dismissed as nice green circular arrows? Those are where the real fun begins.

 

3.4 Delivery Phase
It’s the actual phase of the project, after the contract has been delivered through procurement and everyone is on the same page. It’s where people actually work: up until now we’ve been just talking.
The crucial document of this phase is, of course, the BIM Execution Plan. It’s a live document, a master document containing all procedures and agreements necessary in order to carry on with the project.
Between the first version and this revised proposal, the main sections in which the BIM execution plan is organized are still the same:
management;
planning and documentation;
– method and procedure.
No significant changes here, just a couple of things were added. Specifically:
– in the management section, they added a section about change control methods, meaning you have to set up some sort of system to track revisions;
– in the standard method and procedure, a couple of sections about security were added. A hot topic, as I said.

From the strategic point of view, there’s a shy but significant attempt to unify figures and erase the dichotomy between BIM management and actual management. We’ve got a long way ahead of us and we’re certainly not ready to go down that road, but you have to start somewhere.

399431

Hurray! The Technical Advisor/Resident Engineer on behalf of the client is no more a separate set from the Employer Representative. We had to start somewhere.

As  a consequence, the whole column A of Table 2 (“Information exchange activities”) is no more: Information Management activities are blended in and divided by role; the Leading Consultant is becoming more and more similar to what we call  a BIM leading consultant: the figure in charge of the whole process also from the Information Management point of view. Tables regarding activities and authorities are much longer, in this new draft, and developed in more detail. That’s good.

On a lighter note, Figure 11 about Volumes has been redone and now it’s understandable even without a couple of glasses of whiskey. Wonderful. I wonder how many people will realize that they always got it wrong.

Figure 11 beforeFigure 11 after.
Volumes before and after the cure

 

3.5 – Mobilization

You might think that this is delivery, all the preparation needed in order to actually give the client what you worked on (and hopefully get paid). It’s not. You still haven’t done anything, we still have just been talking. In the PAS 1192-2 own words:

«Mobilization is important because it provides the opportunity for the project supply team to make sure that the information management solution works before any design work is started. This includes making sure that the necessary documents have been prepared and agreed, the information management processes are in place, the team has the appropriate skills and competences, and that the technology supports and enables the management of information according to this PAS»

This is where your team reads your BIM Execution Plan and tells you if you’re crazy or just have been drinking.

Ideally it’s also a stage in which you provide the needed training, which details were originally provided in the Project Implementation Plan. It’s a moment where the project has already started but nobody is working yet. How many times have you seen that happening?

3.6 – Production Phase

Ok. Now you can start working.

Something crucial gets stated about deliveries, in this section. The original version (9.,1.4) said:

Data delivery shall include some all of the following data entities: native (product-proprietary) file formats, COBie-UK-2012 and read-only PDF; to enable a complete Level 2 project.

We always knew it was too shy and incomplete. Now (still 9.1.4) it reads:

Data delivery shall include some or all of the following data file types: native (product-proprietary) file formats, clash renditions, open source file formats (IFC-Industry Foundation Classes), COBie and read-only PDF; to enable a complete Level 2 project.

The focus on data file types, alongside with all those corrections from IT to ICT, reveal a steadier, more technical hand behind these PAS. IFC gets an explicit mention but make no mistakes: natire product-proprietary file formats still have to be submitted. Shall has a very specific meaning, in the PAS: it’s used to express  requirements. Sorry, guys.

From the practical point of view, the whole Level of Definition concept was cleared up a little in order to reflect latest trends: you still have an explicit split between geometrical detail and information definition, but we got rid of those awful terms, “level of model detail” and “level of information detail”. You also have a basic example of progression, from Conceptual to Construction (without Stage 4).

.399433 399434 399435 399436.
Stage 2 (early concept), Stage 2 again (but not so early), Design (stage 3), Construction (Stage 5).

When you reach the relevant section, however, you have Level of Detail and Level of Model Information. The expression Levels of Model Definition is no more, at least in the title. You have it afterwards, with the progression table. This is only one of the sections in which you have inconsistency of terms and I’m a little confused.

Just bear in mind, on a lighter note, that BIM-enabling tools are now called “Data Production tools” (Table 1) and I think it’s just a shame. Moreover, I honestly think that a significantly small portion of the tools presently available on the market are able to actually “produce” Data. And if the production is driven by a human… well, AutoCAD actually produces data just as much as Revit. I reject the concept that any “Data Production Tool” is good to do BIM and my heartfelt suggestion is that we go back to the original term “Enabling tools”.

 

 

In the Common Data Environment chapter, the Archive has been clarified to be a section where you place superseded files, without any validation needed, and the overall schema is much more neat than the previous one.

Regarding the Approval Gate, there’s something a little alarming and I also pointed it out in the comments. It’s written that the task team manager «defines the purpose for which the information may be used», and it seems that he defines model uses in this stage. Of course he doesn’t. Model uses are defined way before, in the contract phase. During Approval Gate, the task team manager simply verifies if data is suitable for the intended model use.
In what we can call verification phase, PAS 1192-2 takes a couple of concepts from ISO 9000:2015. You now have both validation and verification. Both are “confirmation, through the provision of objective evidence” but the concept here seems to be that validation is confirmation “that the requirements for a specific intended use or application have been fulfilled”, and verification simply confirms that “specified requirements have been fulfilled”. A further note explains this: verification simply should confirm that the information has been received, without getting into merit whether it was conform or viable for the specific model use intended. That should be the role of validation.
I kind of agree with this distinction, with some due notes.
1. both validation and verification should be carried out through demonstrable and certifying protocols, otherwise they are simply a manual qualitative check and have no place in this kind of workflow;
2. while verification seems to be good enough as a light protocol, verification is a full-on certification: it’s the stamp you used to put for approved drawings and as a protocol should be treated with lots of care.

Keeping these terms in mind,  the task team manager verifies data and validates them with reference to the purpose for which the information model was intended. Or at least this is what I would like to read in that section.

Another crucial update is about the document status in the Common Data Environment. Even if they did not change codes, they clearly state that documents of status S (shared) and D (getting from WIP to Published) are «non contractual and to be used at risk». Which conflicts a little with descriptions of D stages:
– D1 is Suitable for Costing;
– D2 is Suitable for Tender;
– D3 is Suitable for Contractor Design;
– D4 is Suitable for Manufacture/Procurement.
Unless it’s not, is it? It’s not reliable enough, if it’s “to be used at own risk”. I’m confused. I hope someone can clear the fog for me.

File Naming stayed the same (you’ll be happy to hear that), but they added something about the Number itself and I am really grateful.

“00001” is the unique number when concatenated with other fields. The number of digits might have to be extended if the first three characters are used for some classification purpose.

What I am less grateful is that it’s unclear which “other fields” you are to concatenate it with. You can actually choose? Seriously? I hope not. I really hope not.

Chapter 10, BIM stages for the dPOW, is something I have been awaiting for and I’m happy to see it in the PAS. We now have an official document stating that the project phases are:
a) strategy and need (0)
b) brief (1)
c) concept (2)
d) definition (3)
e) design (4)
f) build and commission (5)
g) handback and close-out (6)
h) operation and end of life (7)

It’s odd not to see anything about reusability of the asset, honestly, but here you have them.

The Evaluation Phase is a novelty as well. As we set the stage for Level 4 (and we might want to skip Level 3, if you take my advise), the Handover stage goes into a Post Occupancy Evaluation that should provided significant data for the following phases and when the circle comes back to Strategy.

On the other hand, these PAS take a step back when it comes to Classification. You can kiss Table 4 goodbye: they are not going to take responsibility and advise you on which is the more suitable classification system for each phase.

Classification

You can kiss Table 4 goodbye

Guys, guys, we really really need guidelines on this. It’s a crucial and potentially disruptive subject.

 

4. Conclusions

I think it’s clear that the main focuses in this revision are two:
– security;
– contracts.

On a general principle I agree with lots of updates: the ecosystem of documents revolving around contracts is richer and I approve of that, but I do believe we are lacking a strong position on how much contracts and working relationships in general need to change for BIM to actually work.
From an editorial point of view, I think this draft is still to be worked upon. There are inconsistencies in terms, even in crucial terms, and this sometimes creates confusion.
I encourage you to participate in the public revision and add your voice to the debate.
We’ll come back to this after January 25th, when these documents will be updated in their final form.

Drink up

Tonight I drink to people. Because in challenging times, like this year, you find out what paople are really made of.  This year I had a handful of people around, and they really were made of beautiful things.

O proud death,
What feast is toward in thine eternal cell,
That thou so many princes at a shot
So bloodily hast, struck?

carrie-fisher

Who needs luck? – A Star Wars Story

I feel a little bit old, I must say. I feel a little bit old because I can’t help but thinking that I preferred when Star Wars was something mythical, something you couldn’t get everyday, a whole infinite universe inside George Lucas’ mind, a tangle of stories made up of vague references and allusions. This is what makes a universe so special: the abundance of work behind it makes it plausible and charming, but things stay this way only until you break the toy, until you open the box to reveal what’s in it. Because the marvels you can imagine will always be better than the ones you can see. And I do feel a little bit old in saying that this Star Wars Story scares the hell out of me. Are we going to tell everything? I had never bothered to imagine how things went, when rebels stole the Death Star plans in the first place, but what will happen when they will tell a story I actually bothered to imagine? I already know how that feels: I had imagined the fall of Anakin Skywalker, and trust me when I say it looked a lot more epic in my mind.
In short, I guess I’m scared.
Scared they will spoil the universe and they will fill it with Disney princesses and good feelings.

Having said that, let me also add that I don’t think this Star Wars Story entitles me to be scared.

Rogue One is a good movie, actually a better movie than what was shown in the trailers. Or maybe I found it to be a good movie because I expected it to be really really bad and I can never admit when something Star Wars sucks. Even if it sucks bad. Spoilers ahead, so don’t you dare whine if you keep on reading.

rogueone_logo-0-0

Rogue One has a good story, and basically speaks about this guy. You’ve been wondering about him a lot, especially if you’re in my line of work: who, in his right state of mind, puts an exhaust channel leading straight to the main reactor? Well, Rogue One offers an explanation: the guy wasn’t an incompetent jerk, the equivalent of a Stormtrooper when it comes to engineering. It’s a start. It’s a good start, actually. On one hand, it shows the will of building these new stories on plausible foundations. On the other hand, it shows a will of fixing certain ingenuities of the original Trilogy, and I think this arrogance might eventually lead to the Dark Side.

Anyway, what happens here is that we have a good setting and decent foundations for a story.
Also, we have good new additions like the desertic moon of Jedha, integrated with old references like kyber crystals. Settings are rich and varied, almost overabundant: in apparent response to some critiques moved to The Force Awakens, during the first ten minutes of the movie we jump planet at least five times. Then again you don’t seem to be able to have a desertic planet that doesn’t loke like Tatooine and you just can’t have a fortress on a volcanic planet that doesn’t look like Mordor, but these are different stories.
Characters also are varied and cleverly harvest from topoi of other genres, the blind monk being the most obvious of them. You need to have heroes that don’t overshadow the original ones and yet remain interesting and compelling. Heroic. Then again, you have major flaws in writing and their evolution is shallow. One minute people could care less about the revolution and the other minute you just have to fight. One minute everybody is so wound up about rebels being killers and ten minutes later nobody gives a shit about it. I would have appreciated a little less change, more justified, instead of going to lengths you are unable to justify in two hours of movie.

Also, I would have preferred to suspend my disbelief about Moff Tarkin just as we did about Mon Mothma. Genevieve O’Reilly resembles Caroline Blakiston enough to make us understand what character is that. That’s enough. The CGI version of Peter Cushing, modelled around Guy Henry, was just too damn difficult and the result is just depressing. Too much of him. Too many imperfections to recreate.

So, in short, what do I save of this movie?

1. I don’t need luck: I have you.

Probably the best quote, and bound to become one of my favourites of the whole franchise. Who needs luck, when you can have an angry friend with a huge blaster?

2. Everybody dies.
I said it. I just loved the fact that this movie doesn’t fall short of drama: rebels win in the end, of course, but everybody dies as you would expect and the dark side of being a rebel is shown in full. The movie starts with a rebel murdering an informer. It takes guts to write something like that. It takes even more guts when you work for nowadays Disney. You have to give them credit for that.

3. Darth Vader.
Ok, I know, the first time you see him he’s taking a shower and I just wanted to punch the screen fpr all that stretched unnecessary dialogue. But afterwards he doesn’t talk and in all his majesty he sends shivers down the spine.

All the rest is decent and enjoyable. The reprogrammed droid is interesting enough, there’s no Poe Dameron and these rebels will probably soon be forgotten. But not their effort. As it was in the original story.

And, just as princess Leia, I feel that these rebels brought me a new hope.

Merry Christmas

If you got it, and if you’re still trying to figure it out.

The weather outside is frightful

I’ve always loved Christmas. And not because I’m religious: I’m not and I haven’t been… well, since the age of reason, I guess.
Regardless of that, I don’t claim to get the holidays for myself. You won’t hear me speaking about season’s greetings and other stuff. I don’t expect it to be a civil holiday. Hell, the very word “holiday”, implicates religion. Denying that is ridiculous. And hypocrite.
So I guess that what I’m doing, what I’ve always done, is actually taking advantage of Christmas. Of the occasions Christmas creates.

The party, and everything that comes with it. Food choosen, detailed planned, things prepared. Showing you actually care. And if you can’t manage to care, even one fucking time in the year… well, you’ve got a problem.

The time off, and this idea that you just have to spend it with the people you love. Making it different from any other time off you might get at any other time of the year. And if you can’t manage to see your loved ones even now… well, you’ve got a problem.

The gifts, and this idea that you just have to stop for one minute and think about what your loved and beloved ones might actually like. It’s not about buying anything. It’s about figuring people out. Checking if you actually understand them, if you got your time to know them, if you can manage to give a damn about their tastes and desires. And if you can’t… well, you’ve got a problem.

So yes, I’ve always loved Christmas.

This year, though, it’s going to be a difficult Christmas. I will be facing, all together, the ghosts of Christmas past, the ghosts of Christmas present and the ghosts of Christmas yet to come.
So I’m going to cling to all the things I like about this time of year, ok? I’m going to draw a circle around me, and if you know me enough to wonder whether you’re in or out, you’re probably in. We’re going to have gifts and sweets and wine and a New Years’ Eve party to remember. You’re going to get the best gifts I will think of. And, eventually, everything is going to be fine.

But I’m going to need some help.

Schedule it, baby (Just another Flux workflow)

As I was saying, we’re back.
We saw lots of cool stuff, in Vegas, and not all of them were of the kind you would expect to see in Vegas.
Some of them actually involved technology.

Of course one of the first things we did (or at least one of the first we tried to do) was visiting our friends at Flux. They had a booth in the exhibit hall.

As you know, I’m very fond of their concept. I wrote about it here and here, and one of our classes (this one) actually involved lots of Flux demonstrations in the main workflow. What I like about their idea is this brand new concept of interoperability, where the development of an open format for a whole model is hardly relevant anymore, as long as you are able to move data around. I do believe this is the future. Firmly.

Now, the Flux development team has many qualities: they are smart, friendly, based in charming San Francisco, always active in terms of communication and they just won’t stop developing stuff.
Along with the constant development of plug-ins, they have this thing called “the kitchen” and it’s home to many many side-products like:
– the Site Extractor you saw me talking about and its twin brother, Terra, that allows you to throw back your models into Google Earth;
– the Dashboard, to create infographics about data in your model so that they will be real-time connected with it;
– the VRviewer (I wasn’t able to check this one yet);
– the Flux Capacitor (gotta love the name) to travel back in time and restore previous versions of your data, and the Tracker, to connect your project activity with e-mail and Slack;
– the Sightline Analyzer, which helps you find the best view;
– the Quartz Workflow for material impact analysis;
– the Pathfinder, to find egress routes.
You also have some coordination tools such as Project Sync and File Uploader.

And then you have the Scheduler.

What it does is pretty simple: «Create, view, and edit Revit schedules on the web».
Now, I can already hear you objecting: “Why should I do that? I can do schedules in Revit”.
Right.
And wrong.
So wrong, on so many levels.
Just stick with me and, with a small but real-life example, I’ll show you why this tools is useful and why these kind of concepts really are game-changing for our industry.

If you don’t want to to that because you don’t like to read, what I recommend is:
1. Get your brain checked (a simple CT scan should do);
2. While you wait for the scan results, watch the video below. It’s a short demonstration of what the Scheduler can do.

..

1. Let’s set the scene
Just imagine, if you can, that you are the BIM leading consultant of a collaborative process and almost everybody is working in Revit.
You have the architect, the interior designer, the structural engineer, the MEP guys are dragging their feet a bit but everybody is on board, with different levels of maturity.
Then, another figure appears on scene. He has a very narrow but crucial specialization: for instance he can be a consultant from the fire department, or somebody who works on sustainability.

What we usually say is that, in order not to loose money with your collaborative process, all the involved parties need to work in BIM. And if you have a crucial consultant who is not working in BIM yet, you should aim to having him implement BIM in his practice as well. This of course doesn’t apply when a small consultant, who might be working alone, steps into the project at a very late stage and will probably make a small contribution in terms of data.
Therefore, you have two basic options in front of you:
– he works in a traditional fashion, delivers traditional output and you take upon yourself to remodel his stuff or re-enter his data into your model, with lots of extra work and few responsibility issues not to be underestimated;
– you find an information exchange tool so that he doesn’t have to change that much the way he works but you’ll still be able to take his work and acquire it into your models.
Of course the second way is the one I prefer.
Of course the second way is feasible only if both parties are willing to compromise a bit.

Now, in order to set the scene, imagine you have a project. Let’s say a hotel.
In this hotel you have lots of plumbing fixtures, of course.
Your client is concerned about water waste and he would like to have a numeric simulation of how much water you save by using products from an environmentally aware supplier in comparison with a less concerned one. He calls a consultant to perform this comparison. So you throw a new shared parameter into your plumbing fixtures, you call it “Liters per Minute” (check under Flow, in the Plumbing group of parameters) and then… and then what? He doesn’t even know what Revit is.

003_comparison_axorcitterioe

Axor Citterio E (5 lt/m)

001_parametersproperty

2. Do not Panic (and try Excel)
Everybody has a spreadsheet of some sort. Really. Everybody. And if they don’t have Excel, they do have access to Google Drive. And if they can’t access Google Drive they are probably in China and you might have bigger problems that this.
The person responsible of working out the right tools for this task is your BIM coordinator so, as usual, you’re going to have to rely on him.
Let’s imagine you decide to use Excel.

There are lots of plug-ins that will save you the boring roundabout of exporting a text file and then importing it into your spreadsheet. There’s “BIM Query” from CGS Revit Tools, which is quite smart and quite popular, and DBlink, quite popular too. Or you can use Dynamo and write whatever you want into your Excel spreadsheet.

dynamo_sendtoexcel

Of course the node shown above is barely enough to throw the elements names into Excel: you need to map all parameters you want to send to Excel.
Anyway, going out from Revit to Excel is relatively easy. That is not the problem.

3. Things gone horribly wrong
Ok, so we cleared the floor: you can perform data exchange using simply Excel and Dynamo, or you can buy plug-ins that allow you to export directly from Revit a semi-intelligent spreadsheet.
But you don’t wanna do that.

Why?

Well, when you import back your schedule, especially with a large amount of data, you are sort of flying blind.
Your consultant might have changed the wrong parameter. He might have merged cells because “now it looks more pretty”. And if you use Dynamo, you might be throwing an atomic bomb into your Revit model without even realizing it. Just as an experiment, I suggest you try to rename elements within a Revit model by feeding Dynamo with a list of non-unique strings. Have fun recovering it, afterwards.

What you need is a safe environment, an interface that:
– allows people to compile just the data they need (and this can be achieved by simply protecting rows into your spreadsheet, of course);
– allows you to actually check what they did before throwing it into Revit and, more importantly, decide whether you want to import their changes or not. Selectively.

Guess what? This is what the Flux Scheduler does.

5. Try the Scheduler
In order to try the Scheduler, you need to authorize its usage and sort of link it to your main Flux account.
This is easy enough: you press the big blue “CONTINUE” button. A small walkthrough in 3 slides will appear so again, if you don’t like reading, you can check that one out.

002_walkthrough_01 002_walkthrough_02 002_walkthrough_03

So, how would I replicate the previous workflow by using the Scheduler?
Well, first of all you need to send your data to Flux. And it’s preferable to do it directly with the plug-in for Revit, without Dynamo, so that the schedule will already be organized in a way that Flux is expecting.
In my fictional-not-so-fictional hotel, I decide to send to Flux all my Plumbing Fixtures. There is no plug-in for Revit 2017 yet, so you need to do this in 2016.

As usual in the Flux tab of your Revit project you log in, you press another big blue button, you choose “Send” and… well, you send.

003_login

004_send

What do you send?
Well, we talked about it. You send all types of all families of all Plumbing Fixtures.
You select (or create) your project and key, and you send data into the Cloud.
This will create a permanent connection, allowing you to re-send your data anytime you need to do it, without mapping them again. This means that anytime I can press a button in the “Manage Flux Connections” lateral tab and synchronize again my model with data stored into the cloud.

 

005_sendall

 

006_project-and-key

Now, when the Scheduler asks you questions about the Schedule you want to create, you can select your project and key.

007_create

You will then be allowed to create a schedule as you would do in Revit (with a much nicer interface, I must say): you’ll be able to add type and instance parameters and reorder them.
Now, these parameters are editable.

008_schedule

 

And what’s really marvellous about it is that you are not going to be the one to edit them.
You can add a collaborator to the schedule and he’ll be able to edit what parameters you decide, without even knowing how Revit looks like.

009_addcollaborators

010_editing

In working on the schedule, Flux is actually creating another key, and you’ll be able to receive it back into Revit.

011_anotherkey

 No manual import required. No magrin for tragically corrupting errors (just minor errors on miscompiled data). Isn’t this nice?

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children


As Wikipedia recites, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a British-American-Belgian  dark fantasy adventure drama film.

This really seems to sum it all up: the movie has just too freakish much going on and yet it doesn’t seem to be enough. As we said for Alice in Wonderland, it just doesn’t have enough of what you would expect from Burton and yet it does have way too much of what you wouldn’t want from him.

Don’t get me wrong, the concept is amazing. Nothing new, since it has elements of lots of these novels for “young adults”: you have the campus for gifted children (Harry PotterPercy Jackson and X-men before that), you have the shape-shifting villain, you have time tangles, you have protectors and demi-gods, and a very special boy who doesn’t feel that special at first but then realizes he really really is the most special of them all.

Visually, the movie is a grand sarabande that seems to jump out from a nightmare by Francis Bacon and is highly enthralling. Eva Green is as beautiful as you can dream of (see Penny Dreadful without Vanessa’s fragility), and the war setting works perfectly for these kind of fantastic stories, as we already saw for Narnia: it creates an intimate immediate parallel between a conflct we know, and we consider to be immense, and yet another supernatural conflict upon which the human war seems to fade away, a pale shade in comparison to the forces that are struggling to take over.

Still, the movie oddly fails in chilling you. And it’s rather strange, considering you have people who devour the eyes of children in order to regain their humanity, and children who survive stuck in a time loop, segregated from the outer world, living the same day over and over again, and it’s unclear wherher it is to protect them from the world or the world from them. There was enough to go on and to create some really dark and really compelling fairy tale, as Burton used to be able to do. Unfortunately, that Burton seems to be long gone. With an urge to please and not to disturb, his latest works are Disney and this movie makes no exception.

You’ve got the body of a boy with no eyes upstairs, right. And another boy brings broken dolls to life with organs from animals. Miss Peregrine shoots the same monster every day with a cross bow and every night a bomb falls on the school killing everybody. This is where the movie is at its peak. Then, unfortunately, it fades away with a buffoonesque villain by Samuel L. Jackson, quite embarassing, and the main struggle seems to be comic relief for what was built before, in quite an anticlimatic way.

Fantastic Beasts (and Where to Find Them)

fantastic_beasts_001

I am not ashamed of saying that I was, and am, a Harry Potter fan. Not much a fan of the latest books, to be quite honest, but still I have always been a fan of that universe and I think J.K. Rowling delivered us some graceful pieces of writing when she was focused. If you don’t believe me, I’ll just save you the troubles of reading through the whole stuff and point you right to the Prisoner of Azkaban, which I still believe to be her masterpiece.

But I digress.
As usual.

The point here is that being a Harry Potter fan I do understand all the hype around Fantastic Beasts. It’s one more chance to take a pick through a universe we are fond of and whose exploration seemed to be lost after the Deathly Hallows. I do understand it. Truly.
The trouble is that, being a Harry Potter fan, I do own the book. And by book I mean the 41 pages booklet of funny and yet irrelevant list of fantastic creatures, supposedly written by Newt Scamander.
Having read that, I was rather skeptical when I heard that it was going to turn into a 4 movies set. That’s about 10 pages for each movie. You get my point. I feared that there simply wasn’t enough material in there to support a fully developed narrative.
Was I right?
Just bear with me and find out.

fantastic_beasts_002

 

Well, almost inevitably, the plot is thin.
There are some clever ideas in it, sure, like tapping into all that pre-Voldemort material briefly outlined during the Deathly Hallows. And here lies, as I see it, the very first problem: all that material didn’t fit into Harry Potter, as if Rowling helself just came up with something new towards the end of her old narrative and couldn’t resist in sqeezing it right through it. Which is pretty much what I think happened there.
Now you would imagine that, giving a blank canvas and the opportunity of actually telling that story, she would go back in being her focused true storyteller self. Then why isn’t this called The Rise of Grindelwald, or something? The truth is something I do not own, of course, but I do believe it to be a sad story and this story is about how little Rowling is and has been focused lately.
The story told in Fantastic Beasts seems to have the very same problems you could read into every Harry Potter novel from The Order of the Phoenix onwards. Or worst.

Ideas are good, and setting is great. The whole beauty of the movie seems to be about two concept keys: one of them is of course the grand displya of fantastic creatures; the other is the setting. New York during the late 20s, with charleston and glamour, contradictions and prohibition, can conquer anyone, with or without magic. Take the movie as it is, shift it towards in time and set it nowadays and what will be left of it? Very little, I’m afraid.

Then, aside from setting and ideas, Harry Potter had plot twists.
Not that many, I will grant that, but still you have some serious plot twists during the Harry Potter saga and what I like about them is that almost all of them were well constructed, not preposterous and actually made sense.
Do we have this in Fantastic Beasts?
Well, I’m afraid not.
Spoilers are in white, as usual, and you can read them by highlighting the text. My feed-reading friends choose not to see any formatting, so they can drop this right now.
Ready?
Ok, let’s go.
The only decent plot twist in Fantastic Beasts is that Scamander and Kowalski do not exchange briefcases the first time they jump into each other. Everything else is so obvious it’s rather insulting. Percival Graves is Gellert Grindelwald? Oh, you don’t say? The obscurus is actually Credence? Oh, I’m really shocked!
But that wouldn’t be so bad if it was the only insulting thing.

What I really really really did not enjoy was the way characters were built.
And it leaves me with the doubt of what Rowling would have done if she was given full control of the movies.
Because I know, characters from the Harry Potter novels were groctesque as well. See Umbridge, or Luna Lovegood, or Snape himself. The trouble with books is that while you are reading you can use your imagination to stress and underline what strikes you the most, so if a groctesque character does something particularly dramatic the comic factor instantly fades away leaving you with the impression of what cought your mind the most. On the other hand, movies have a greater power: as they say, a picture is worth a 1000 words. Why is that a trouble? Because if you present a character with groctesque features in a movie, it’s more than likely that we will be unable to take him seriously no matter how heroic his deeds will be.
Was Snape groctesque? Well, yes. But he was Alan Fucking Rickman. Was Dumbledore a parody of Merlin? Well, yes. But he was Richard Fucking Harris. And I could go on and on with Bellatrix, Lupin and Voldemort himself.
In this movie, we are sort of lacking this kind of stature for characters. Even if Colin Farrell is trying, and doing a decent job at it, you have some really really bad pieces of acting.
I mean, after you get everything sorted out, and you see Gellert Grindelwald’s true face, even Scamander doesn’t manage to come through as that odd. Everyone is odd. Odd beyond recognition. Odd beyond credibility. And nothing, not even a death potion, is able to be perceived as a threat. The my-God-he’s-going-to-kill-us-all monster is an emo kid. Pure Disney in its latest and less amusing form.

So was I right or was I wrong in fearing that this movie was going to be inconsistent?
Well, I was right, but for the wrong reasons.
The trouble is not Fantastic Beasts (the booklet). The trouble is the broader story underneath.
Harry Potter started with a very dark, very twisted setting: killings, orphanage, war, prophecies, secrets stirring.
Fantastic Beasts starts with a Niffler.
And though I am very fond of the little guy, I don’t believe this is what narratives should be about.
Science Fiction and Fantasy both have a great power and a great responsibility: they tell stories that are out of our world in order to make us understand ours a little more. The art though is not being able to do this: everyone can do this with a couple of metaphores and a niffler. The art is doing this without being obvious. It’s a test that this first Fantastic Beasts is tragically failing at.