Thursday, 20 September 2012

David Miller Architects combines BIM and Autodesk PLM 360

This week I visited David Miller (Director & Principal Architect) and Fiona Clark (Practice Director) from David Miller Architects, based in London and new users of Autodesk PLM360.

Mike: Hi David, Hi Fiona, thanks for meeting me today and sharing your thoughts on the Autodesk PLM 360 experience! Can you tell me about DMA and the company’s background?

Fiona: The practice was set up in 2000 by David shortly after he completed the Media Centre at Lord’s Cricket Ground when he was the Project Architect for this Stirling Prize winning building at Future Systems. The structure was the world’s first monocoque aluminium building and the knowledge that David gained from this experience, along with his work on earlier projects with the Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava, helped develop his expertise in complex three dimensional problem solving. This has been a major influence on our practice’s approach where we combine 3D skills with new technology to enhance the design of everyday buildings. The office is now a thriving team of fourteen and we are based in the heart of London’s West End which is a great place to be.

David Miller offices in London, UK

Lord’s Media Centre
Mike: Can you tell me a little bit about your products and what you specialise in?

David: At DMA we place equal value on design and delivery excellence and we have a strong track record of producing inspiring designs which has earned us high-profile repeat clients. We work on a range of building types and in the past few years we’ve enjoyed focusing on schools, housing, hotels and mixed-use projects. Having said that, we love applying our grey matter to a fresh challenge! To come up with the best design solution we work through a number of different options with our clients. In recent years we’ve made a big break through in making this whole process more efficient by being early adopters of BIM (Building Information Modelling) technology. This means that we design everything in 3D from the outset and build a virtual prototype of the building in the computer before it starts on site. Using Autodesk’s Revit and their suite of BIM tools, we are able to communicate our ideas much more easily to clients which gives them confidence to make decisions and they can see exactly how their finished building will look. Also by prototyping the building we are able to iron out all the potential problems which means the construction process runs smoothly and avoids costly delays. As a result we’re winning new business with existing and new clients because this approach brings tangible benefits to their projects.
George Eliot School – BIM of a new school in Westminster showing the structure and the architecture with classroom and furniture layouts
Mike: How do you think Autodesk PLM 360 will help you?

Fiona: As a relatively small architectural practice we’ve always believed that having robust systems and procedures has helped us punch above our weight. Essentially this means that our team can really focus on the design aspect of the job which is where we add value, whilst the strong infrastructure means that jobs run smoothly and there are no distractions. We think that Autodesk PLM 360 will fit in perfectly with this approach and really compliment our existing ISO9001 accredited Quality Management System. Also because we already use a lot of Autodesk products we know that they are user friendly and Autodesk PLM 360 is just as intuitive.
Design Team Meeting – reviewing the virtual building to resolve problems
Mike: Sounds great, can you tell me about some of the processes that you are going manage in Autodesk PLM 360?

Fiona: There are two angles that we are really keen to explore. Firstly the technical project development process where it should provide a well structured framework within which we can communicate and store information about the building as it evolves. Building design is a very collaborative process so having a system that allows us to share information easily, but in a structured manner with the other consultants, our client and the contractor is very appealing.  Secondly from a project administration point of view we think there could be some major benefits to us in developing and managing information to do with fee proposals and appointments and generally strengthening these processes. 
Project/Portfolio Management apps

Request for Information (RFI) app showing the workflow map
Elgin Estate – initial proposal to add new roof top extensions and community facilities to a large housing estate in Westminster
Mike: Do you think Autodesk PLM 360 is good for your industry and will it help you and your customers be more productive? 

David: Like most other sectors, it’s a tough trading environment in construction so we are constantly seeking new innovative ways through technology to find efficiencies in what we do and to make us a more competitive part of our customers’ supply chains. Adopting BIM has had this effect and we’ve seen the benefits of that. We think that adopting Autodesk PLM 360 is a natural progression and believe that it will help us to streamline our processes even further and potentially allow us to offer new project management services to our customers as well which will help them be more efficient too.
CityWest Homes Area Service Centre -  model shows the client services locations in the building to help with facilities management. 
Mike: Ok so tell me something random/interesting about DMA!!

Fiona: Not sure how much we should reveal here! Something which we are really excited about right now are Epson’s new see-through glasses (or X Ray Spex as we like to call them!). We work closely with the product design studio Keech Design discussing new product development and they have just given us a pair of the new Moverio glasses to trial. They allow you to enter a virtual world through vision and sound whilst still being able to interact normally in your real environment and we’re sure there must be a way that we can use them to advance how we work. As you can imagine we’re having a lot of fun playing with them and there seem to be plenty of non-work related ideas too – as a team we’re fond of a karaoke evening (yes we really are!) we can definitely see scope for Moverio there!

Great to meet you guys and I'll look forward to catching up with you in the next few months.

Thanks for reading...Mike

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