Information Modeling, from ASLA’s The Field

Apparently, last month’s LAM article has inspired further discussion from ASLA regarding BIM in landscape architecture.

The Field (ASLA’s PPN blog) posted an article, Information Modeling… “Are we there yet?”,” written by Matthew Wilkins, co-chair of the Digital Technology PPN. For those who do not know, the Digital Technology PPN (Professional Practice Network) is one of twenty ASLA networks that aim to ‘help support your practice and provide a forum to make connections outside your market.’ The Digital Technology PPN is concerned with the role of computing in landscape architecture.

It is not surprising to see this article, since the other co-chair of the Digital Technology PPN, Ryan Deane, was the contributing editor for the LAM article, “The Limits of BIM.” Regardless, it is encouraging to see ASLA more openly and more widely discuss BIM as it pertains to landscape architecture.

As a whole, I found the article well-written, and its concluding call to action is highly appropriate.

As a profession we should be adaptive and receptive to the information-modeling wave, as it will help our industry design for the health, safety, and welfare of our built and natural environments.

However, I have recently started to notice that many landscape architects do not seem to fully understand the limitations of using Revit. This is understandable since very few landscape architects use Revit, but if we want to make suggestions for improving the software, we must first understand it.

This article makes two statements about Revit:

One major hurdle in using Revit however is that it is lacking many of the components (called families) for landscape design.

Although there are some site design capabilities in Revit, it is lacking many in depth tools needed for proper site design and landscape design processes.

Though both statements are essentially true, the major hurdle for landscape architects using Revit is the lack of tools (and efficient workflows). It is not the lack of components. The lack of components is more a result of landscape architects not using Revit; it is correlation not causation.

But even knowing ‘Revit lacks landscape tools and efficient workflows’ is not very useful. What does that actually mean? If a landscape architect is considering using Revit, they will want to know a bit more than “it’s not good enough.” What are the specific issues with current workflows? What should be improved?

These are questions that I partially answered with my RTC Europe presentation, however that session was aimed more at a multi-disciplinary audience. So perhaps it is time to re-frame the answers for landscape architects.

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