An occasional sampling of reader electron-mail, or "keep those waves and particles pouring in, folks!"
A former subscriber offered the following thoughtful insights:
> "I am amazed at this phenomenon: Of all people, JL should understand technology.
"How is it that a wise person like this engages in such a stupid use of the internet—sending e-mail messages so large in file size that it is the most annoying message I get from anyone. I can delete dozens and dozens of pornographic spam messages in less time than your nuissance [sic] e-mail blocks my mail server.
"Do not darken my mail server again."
> Thanks for the kind use of the adjective "wise." Seriously, several thousand recipients of every issue of the LaiserinLetter seem OK with our HTML format; a few have even complimented us on the design. The writer of this letter subscribed, received a bunch of our HTML-formatted issues over several months without complaint, subsequently unsubscribed, and only then tendered this constructive feedback. Although we always strive for superlatives, topping even one reader's "most annoying" list represents yet another "first" for the LaiserinLetter.
On a more positive note, architect subscriber Michael Perciali writes:
> "In supporting some of the letters you published, my experiences have not been any less frustrating when a registered architect chooses to use CAD as a design rather than a drafting tool. We, the professionals literate on CAD, know well the benefits of having registered professionals at the steering wheel of the drawing production, and also we understand that there is a certain amount of work that could be delegated to the support staff. However, in my opinion design cannot be delegated. What do you think?
"There are design offices out there which would prefer that I would return to the paper environment, produce sketches and pass them around to the support staff, and check them back and forth. That, I believe, is in an effort to distribute the work around, and has, I believe, a 'job security' tint to it. That explains all these very complex and sophisticated CAD standards that exist today, all different from office to office, taking time and attention from the real thing—design—to something that may not bring such important value to the customers, what do you think?"
> Excellent points, Michael. My experience is that some of the best design work does come out of processes that engage designers from start to finish on a project. As an architect, I agree with your point that design decisions cannot be delegated. For those architects sufficiently skilled in digital technology, the ideal process would have them documenting design decisions in digital form from the earliest stages of project workflow. It is because today's sophisticated and efficient production workflow methods typically involve a division of labor among folks with varying degrees of design ability, production skill and digital expertise that the LaiserinLetter places so much emphasis on design front-end tools such as form*Z, Autodesk Architectural Studio, @Last Software's Sketchup, Informatix's Piranesi and others. For the same reason, we look favorably on Building Information Modeling (BIM) solutions—such as Autodesk Revit, Bentley TriForma, Graphisoft's ArchiCAD and others—as the successor technology to CAD as we've known it (ideally, BIM solutions shift more of the design decision-making input to the earlier phases of project modeling and delegate more of production to the software itself, rather than to support staff).
> Regarding the point about a multiplicity of CAD standards from office to office, at least for the USA we have a National CAD Standard (NCS). While it may not have the force of law behind it as a mandatory standard, the NCS does carry the force of common sense. In most cases, I see little sense or economic justification in designers or facility owner/operators investing significant effort in the creation and maintenance of proprietary "standards" for structuring files or laying out drawings. I believe that it would be difficult to demonstrate, at a macro scale, sufficient project-specific or firm-specific benefits in document clarity to justify the expense of reinventing the standards wheel.
In our recent think piece on "Comparing Pommes and Naranjas", we proposed adopting "Building Information Modeling"—BIM—as the successor term to "CAD." So far, Autodesk (who initially popularized the term), Bentley Systems, and Graphisoft are in accord on this approach (comprising some 90% of the CAD market and nearly 100% of the software that plausibly could be called BIM). Our proposal apparently struck a chord with many readers as well. We've given the longest and most negative response received to date feature treatment in this issue's Laiserin'sLemma, and we include another response below. If the volume of dialog on this topic grows large enough, we may need to partition it off into a separate, new department. Kicking off the discussion, Ken Jensen, an architect with Weber and Thompson in Seattle, writes:
> "A design professor emeritus at my alma mater was fond of saying that his design grades meant the following:
F = forget about it
D = dumb
C = construction
B = building, and
A = architecture.
"So now, whenever I hear the word building, I think of something closer to dumb construction than to architecture, along his continuum.
"Since architecture additionally involves art, aesthetics, context, and environment (all aspects that 3-D visualization enhances), perhaps "AIM" better encompasses the intent of the replacement acronym for CAD.
"Thank you for this forum."
> You're welcome, Ken. One of our reasons for providing this forum is to engage in exactly the sort of thoughtful dialog you propose. However, I am going to respectfully disagree with part of the premise that I suspect underlies your old professor's hierarchy. In the same way that cuisine is more than food, and fashion is more than clothing, architecture indeed is more than building and construction. That said, most architects depend on building and construction for the realization of their work. Musical composers depend on performance—a conductor, an orchestra, a venue and an audience—for realization of their "art, aesthetics, context and environment." The information that architects model in order to represent any design requires contractors and tradesmen working on a specific site for a facility owner-operator in order to bring that design to physical realization. "Architecture Information modeling," appealing though the term may be from the architect's point of view, is not as universally useful a term as is BIM—in my not even remotely humble opinion