As a licensed Architect-turned CAD Manager-turned BIM Manager, I found myself at yet another career crossroad when the economy dipped into recession earlier this year. To maintain employment, those of us in a so-called “Digital Design Group” needed to become embedded in billable work; thus, I was lucky enough to become part of a project team designing a large project in India. This was the first project work I’ve been personally involved in since the design phases of One World Trade Center several years ago (we started implementing Revit on that project in February 2004!). Since January (my, how time flies!), I have been building, coordinating and documenting with a fantastic team of design and technical professionals. The bond of hard work and close collaboration is something I had missed in the years dedicated to research, development, support, implementation and training.
I’m sure this story resonates with many of those who have crossed the chasm from architecture or engineering into digital design specialization. I recall a conversation with a friend at Gensler who appreciated remaining as an Architect (or ‘Architectural Professional’ as the case may be) and forgoing a possibly accelerated promotion track in a BIM leadership position. Now I can say I truly appreciate his point of view! There are very few A/E firms that can appreciate or support an individual or team dedicated to the development, support and/or implementation of digital design tools. My firm has a long history of developing and implementing cutting edge technology, but ultimately we are a design firm – not a software company. In my opinion, it was a blessing to have programs such as Revit, Digital Project, Navisworks and Ecotect become robust enough to enable us to stay close to the cutting edge without the need to build these tools ourselves like we did in the 1980’s (read more, from “The Engineering Design Revolution” an online book written by David E. Weisberg at www.cadhistory.net).
Now it is up to me to decide if I fully return to Architecture, stick with Digital Design, or pioneer a new hybrid of the two…think “VDC-certified Architect.”