The Future of Specifications

So what is the future? Hard to know, but Louis Medcalf presented ideas shared at CONSTRUCT2011 in Chicago with the Specifying Practice Group.

CSI asked the BIM, Sustainable Design, and Specifying Practice Group leaders to provide a panel discussion at the CSI national convention in Chicago. I managed to stick Louis with the job, when I learned that Hanley Wood double booked my presentation at the same time as the Practice Groups.

Louis pointed out that there is a new emphasis on information. BIM, building information model, and PIM project information management software is available for the design team's use. Louis proposed that the specifier's role will shift to become the information manager as reliance on data increases. The current state is that many firms have not fully adopted BIM. Some are not using BIM at all. And still others are on the bleeding edge of technology pushing the envelope every day.

So what is to be done with all the data? The specifier will leverage the project data to make rational decisions based on facts rather than intuition or guessing about the design intent. But pure data is meaningless without structure. Structure allows users to find data and imply meaning because of the context within the structure. Understanding structure and applying structure uniformly and consistently to data make the data meaningful. The structure is provided by CSI formats as interpreted by the project specifier.

The goal is to develop data once and cumulatively, adding information as the project progresses through each design phase and through construction. Data is reused throughout the project, never duplicated or recreated. This is a shift from current practice where data is developed to suit the current project development phase, and often recreated.

The specifier is seen as the organizer and keeper of the data. Specifiers will develop data that can be presented in multiple ways. Data will be viewed through UniFormat as systems and assemblies for preliminary project descriptions and through MasterFormat as work results for construction specifications.

But wait, there is more.  This is a never-ending story because the industry, technology, and design processes are constantly evolving. So rest assured, what you know today will be obsolete tomorrow. And what is required for tomorrow has not yet been conceived.

Join the group at Specifying Practice Community.  Louis and I both hope to see you at the next meeting.

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