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JI: Of course Linux is popular in Finland because of Linus Torvalds. But it is not so much used by the general public. But several state authorities, big institutions and some towns have already started to use or are planning to go for Linux as servers.

AFR. It's interesting what you are saying. You are saying that 3D oriented firms choose Macs or have chosen Macs. And earlier you said that most firms in Finland are conservative and use Autocad for 2D drafting. I could say that resonates with many other countries as well, even certain parts of the US.

My question is, how is the CAD/BIM industry going to ever get such conservative thinking in architecture to change? You would think that after seeing engineers choose CAD drafting earlier than architects -- and seeing architects then lose control over the industry standards with these tools -- that architects would be wiser today and lead the rush towards BIM or 3D CAD. But that's not what is happening.

Again, if architects are not careful and decisive it may be large construction companies that determine the next generation of CAD/BIM standards. You must see this as unfortunate? What can CAD/BIM companies do to help encourage architects to change their thinking?

JI: Absolutely, that's why I have been involved in the Finnish Construction Industries project on BIM. As for 2D/3D? 3D is coming, no doubt about it. The software companies are clearly moving towards the BIM-based programs. But as you said there is a great danger that the construction companies will determine the next generation of CAD standards.

The way the programs work [will] define the way we can think about and create architecture. The construction companies seem to think that the architect's task is to collect the necessary amount of predefined building components and somehow pile them together. What CAD/BIM companies can do is not to make architects change their thinking, but create programs that instead of distracting us help us do the thinking and dreaming the clients in the end wanted to hire us for in the first place.

AFR. Got it. What you are saying is: it's important that CAD/BIM companies realize what master they are serving. It's not necessarily the 'architect versus the contractor' but instead 'the client' and his vision.

One could extend this a bit and say if they fail to realize this and instead serve too much the interests of the building professional -- which are so often only economic -- then both the client and society at large will lose out because the architect is not optimized to serve and represent the broader matrix of interests for which society has mandated his profession.

When BIM is looked at this way it is very understandable why an architect like Frank Gehry -- who history will judge as making a momentous contribution to culture and society -- would start a technology company focused on IT's impact on architectural design process. Why would architects just trust software developers who are instinctively -- and rightly so -- focused on their own business interests? ...As you said earlier so succinctly, the way programs work defines the way architects "can think" about and create architecture.

Can we talk more specifically about BIM?

JI: Sure.

AFR. Now that you did the Aalto project as a true BIM applied project, what were some of the key advantages gained from applying BIM cohesively throughout the project? And where could the improvements come next? What areas of the BIM applied project can be much improved in the short term?

JI: One, BIM is a design tool. "Virtual building" is visual by nature, and it is at any time viewable from any point of view. Simulation of design alternatives is easy, in our case through use of intelligent parametric design components.

Second, from the point of view of the architect's "production line", from one source (the model) you get: virtual worlds and simulations to support project decision and client briefing. You also get Bills of Quantity for cost estimations and 2D and 3D information for the needs of other consultants. Lastly, the impact on the architect's construction documents. That's why you get minimal discrepancy between design documents through the use of a single data source; adding the other consultants 3D-information in your model makes it easy to check the collisions between separate structures and technical systems.

Each of the consultants were actually constructing their own model. The data to be exchanged was then separated from the file, manipulated because of incapatibilty problems, and then sent forward used for valuation/checking in other programs. So all information was one way only, no coming back; the various consultants' documents were in no way linked to each other. Obviously the next step will be everybody working online on the same model sharing the data through a product model server.

AFR. This has been a very engaging discussion but before we part I'd like to ask you one more question that we ask all our profiled firms. What is the essential advantage you see to using Apple's Mac platform and what could they be doing better to help support your use of Apple technology?

JI: The main advantages have remained the same: the ease-of-use and little need of support. Today more and more important is reliability, and thanks to Unix and security there are essentially no virus threats for Mac OS X.

There are some tools for PC's which are not available for Mac like Microsoft Project. Apple is focusing on iPods and such things but they shouldn't forget the business tools. We are not considering leaving Macs but ArchiCAD is the tool for us. So if it wouldn't run on Macs we would need to buy PC's.

AFR. Thanks for such an excellent and informative interview.

JI: Our pleasure.

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