Miami Green Homes


Voyage MIA article – meet Sebastian Eilert

Thank you to Voyage MIA for the feature of the day! Nice to meet you, too. 

http://voyagemia.com/interview/meet-sebastian-eilert-sebastian-eilert-architecture-south-dade-county/

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Building information modeling, or BIM, is the newest generation of software used for design and creation of documents for architectural projects.

For thousands of years, architecture has been worked the same way. The tools have changed, from drawings on papyrus or chipped into stone, to drafting on velum and blueprints. The shift to CAD, computer aided design or drafting, was a major shift in the speed of production but doesn’t really change the way architects work. It was, and still is, essentially drawing on a two dimensional surface. It doesn’t matter if that surface is a sheet of paper or model space in a computer file.

What makes BIM different?

BIM is like building in a virtual environment. The property can be accurately modeled, with the topography recreated and the climate set as part of the information. This includes items such as humidity and temperature, solar information and elevation. The materials used can be accurately described, not only by size but with information that can include insulation values and life cycle costs as well. A CMU, concrete modular unit or concrete block, can be accurately dimensioned. A CMU is 7-5/8” x 7-5/8” x 15-5/8” in size. The drawing convention has been to use the nominal size of 8” to represent this. With BIM we can accurately model a wall with real dimensions which helps during construction as less assumptions must be made.

What can BIM do that CAD can’t?

Information is the most important aspect of BIM. The accuracy of design is much higher and more controllable. This doesn’t just include dimensions but material quantities as well. The content of a material such as cast in place concrete can be much more accurately estimated which can save on costs. The building energy uses can be extrapolated from the model to more accurately size AC equipment. This means equipment can be specified that isn’t too big or to small for the building. This information is not just useful to clients and architects but to contractors as well. They can more accurately price out a project because their material needs are more precisely known.

What are some of the issues with BIM?

The adoption of BIM by design professionals is very limited at this time. There are a few of reasons for this. The first one is the reluctance of established practitioners to make major changes to how they work. BIM is a paradigm shift in how architects design and is not an easy change to undertake. Another issue is once the decision to shift from CAD to BIM is made, the learning curve is very steep and long. It may take up to a year before a design team becomes proficient in the software. During this transition production time may actually be longer than before, however the benefits in the long term will be immense. Finding personnel who can use the software is also an issue. The people who know how to use the software don’t usually have the experience in construction to exploit it fully. Conversely experienced designers don’t know the program.

Our experience with BIM:

There have been two major advantages that we have benefitted from using BIM. The amount of time required for construction document production has been reduced significantly. Depending on the project, we have seen time savings of 50-90%. The accuracy of modeling has resulted in fewer construction revisions and RFI’s, requests for information. The most important change has been how we work with our clients. We deliver 3D models as part of the design process in addition to conventional plans. In many ways, we have found that clients, and in some cases engineers, have a better understanding of their project using the 3D model verses the plans. This allows us to have a very interactive design process and deliver a better project.

BIM has become the foundation for construction and as it is adopted more widely in the future by all members of the building team, will continue to be more useful in making design decisions.

 



Concrete foundation pour – in progress time lapse

Concrete pour for a large foundation/footing. Steel has been placed and inspected. 

Construction workers actually working! Jokes aside, you can see the setup to pour, the harmony between concrete truck driver and the workers, the vibrator machine to ensure that concrete is packed properly and the general smoothing and leveling of the top. Pretty good work! Pretty large footing. 



Architectural Services – Types of Services… What does an Architect do?

An architect offers a level of professional service and expertise which no other building professional can provide. An Architects are professionally qualified, legally registered to practice and bound by a code of ethics.

An architect works as a team leader as well as an individual. In many building projects the role of the architect is to coordinate a team of specialist consultants such as landscape architects, engineers, quantity surveyors, interior designers, builders and subcontractors.

The fees charged by an architect for design and documentation vary by project type and location, but rarely exceed 5% of the total cost of constructing. Including operating of the building throughout its useful life the cost is typically less than 1%.. By investing in the services of an architect, you ensure an exploration of various options for the design of your building. Through good design, an architect can enhance the value of your building and may produce significant savings, especially when it comes to operating, staffing and/or tenanting the building.

You and your architect will identify the service to be provided in your agreement and their fee will depend on the scope of their appointment. Services provided by architects include:

sketch

 

Building Design The primary training of an architect is in the design of buildings in terms of function, form and regulatory compliance

Program Development A good program is the first step to delivering a successful project. Often clients require help from an expert in formulating the program for their project and the architect is normally best-placed to assist.

Applying for Construction Permits Advising if your project requires planning permission and producing the relevant information for making an application to the local municipality. You may also engage an architect to provide services in connection with planning appeals. Your architect may communicate on your behalf with planning authorities.

Project Supervisor Design Process (PSDP) Your architect may act as PSDP or an alternative person  may be appointed to the role.

Administrating the Building Contract Dealing on your behalf with the building contractor and administrating the project to ensure that it is delivered in accordance with the design and planning permission.

Coordinating other Consultants Your project may require the input of specialist consultants such as a Structural Engineer or Quantity Surveyor, and your architect will coordinate their involvement.

Measurement Survey & Drawings Measure existing buildings for the purpose of making drawings to assist in design proposals for alterations or additions.

Condition Survey and Zoning Analysis Inspect and establish the condition of a property and prepare a report. Analyze the zoning requirements for a specific property.

Interior Design You may engage your architect to provide an interior design service, advising on loose furniture, artworks and finishes.

Sustainability Advice and Design Your architect can advise you how to optimize orientation, microclimate, building fabric, lifecycle costing, energy and water consumption and ensure compliance with Building Regulations. Additionally, if you require options for future proofing your building against future costs, or creating a zero carbon building the implications can be established by a specific studies at an early stage.

Conservation and Preservation skills If the building you own is ‘historic’, a ‘Protected Structure’ or in an ‘Architectural Conservation Area’ you will need the advice of an architect with skills in conservation and preservation. Even if your building is not listed as a historic property it can still be worthy of conservation and you will want to make sure that its character is not damaged in the process of any alterations or extensions you plan to carry out.

Project-management The architect normally is best positioned to act as the project-manager coordinating the other inputs to deliver a project successfully.

Urban Design & Master-Planning Architects are at the forefront of the design of urban spaces in existing and proposed sections of our towns and cities.

Dispute Resolution Services Architects offer dispute resolution services such as mediation and conciliation.

 



Architectural Style Guide Mediterranean Style – a Coral Gables favorite

Exert from the “City of Coral Gables Design Handbook”

http://www.coralgables.com/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentID=11730

“The Mediterranean Style Design Standards provide a strong emphasis on aesthetics and architectural design with regulations that encourage the planned mixing of uses to establish identity, diversity and focus to promote a pedestrian friendly environment. This is accomplished through the utilization of a variety of architectural attributes”

That is about all the detail the official guide provides, leaving the actual definitions up to the Architectural Review Board. The guide does provide a number of images that are supposed to help identity this suggested style that is at the heart of Coral Gables architecture.

A better description of the style would probably be the Mizner style; after architect Addison Mizner, who shaped much of Palm Beach, and South Florida with his interpretation of the Spanish Colonial Revisal style. Best definition can be found on Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Colonial_Revival_architecture

“Spanish Colonial Revival architecture is characterized by a combination of detail from several eras of Spanish Baroque, Spanish Colonial, Moorish Revival and Mexican Churrigueresque architecture, the style is marked by the prodigious use of smooth plaster (stucco) wall and chimney finishes, low-pitched clay tile, shed, or flat roofs, and terracotta or cast concrete ornaments. Other characteristics typically include small porches or balconies, Roman or semi-circular arcades and fenestration, wood casement or tall, double–hung windows, canvas awnings, and decorative iron trim.”

 

Indeed there are many visual examples found within the city and other parts of South Florida. It remains a visually dominant, yet climate inappropriate style. Even the outdoor spaces, porches and other outdoor features that encourage embracing the local climate, seem out of place these days.

The columns and finishes typically associate with the style no longer represent the means of construction from which they originated and the barrel tile roof has proven a hurricane nightmare.

With all the downsides of this historic style, the beauty and architectural balance of these buildings cannot be denied.

With a strong focus on sustainable and regionally appropriate design, S.E.A. generally moves away from this style in lieu of more appropriate design and construction features.



Architect versus Architect

Spy-vs-Spy

This is not an homage to an old MAD comic or otherwise a call to war. This is however a (somewhat) serious distinction between the use and meaning of the word architect and architect.

It would be curious to take an official poll to understand what mostly pops into the mind of a person when asked what is an architect, or what does an architect do. Since I do not have access to such data, I did ask a bunch people that I interact with during the course of a few days. Pretty much without exception, they pointed to “someone who designs houses”… to something more general but clearly related to the construction industry.

Do the same search online, particularly when looking for employment, and the result is quite different. The vast majority of architects online relate to the IT field. Here the architect positions seek designers of platforms, networks and systems, rather than buildings, places and cities.

So what then is to become of the word “architect”? Having gone through extensive education, years of verified experience and licensing to allow myself to be called “architect” (indeed persons pretending to be an architect but not licensed are subject to disciplinary action and penalties), it is quite strange to fall under the expanding understanding as network designers. While the latter also have training, they are not required to be licensed in order to be called architect, nor do they have to undergo years of training.

Finally, a licensed architect, by executing the skill s/he learned is entrusted with the welfare of the general public (at least under Florida license). Maybe the same standard should be applied to the IT architect as the field of IT continuous to grow. Going forward however, the profession “architects” is clearly in a state of conflict.

Does architect simply mean “to design” something? …then what is the purpose of licensing? …and what does the public response mean as for the impression of the architect. Maybe it is time to rethink the education and practice of architecture in this transforming time. I always liked the idea to be called a Master – Builder; as in the times of old!

 41-AD-amazing-places-question-mark-21

…curious about thoughts and comments!

 



Permits and board approvals! Miami overview and nuances…

Often referred to as the “necessary evil”, getting a building permit is a crucial part of any project. While the process may pose a considerable time impact, it is important to remember that the primary objective of a building permit is to ensure that safe structures are provided. Beyond the building code approvals, zoning codes also guide the local flair and style of many neighborhoods and cities. The check and balance of this process should instead be looked at as a safety net for the owner, to ensure that the hired license professionals are indeed doing their job – beyond just design.

SEA has been blessed with a plethora of approvals in the last weeks and we are celebrating alongside our clients;

The building permit process and requirements in the respective municipality are typically common knowledge, however some of the nuances that are required may not be completely known and can add substantial time commitment to the permitting process. Some of the more common approvals we help to obtain are the Coral Gables Board of Architects approval – a process that requires a preliminary and a full approval to present to a panel of volunteer architects, Historic board approval (typically in Coral Gables, Miami Beach and City of Miami) – and special Planning and Zoning approvals, such as the recent success in Miami Shores.

building-permit_Page_1

(Miami Dade County Building Permit Application)

Following are some typical permit applications available online in Miami Dade County; these must be singed and notarized by the respective parties:

County: http://www.miamidade.gov/permits/library/building-permit.pdf

Miami: http://www.miamigov.com/nets/docs/permits/buildingpermitapplication.pdf

Miami Beach: http://web.miamibeachfl.gov/building/scroll.aspx?id=37842

Coral Gables: http://coralgables.com/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=741