Sunday 22 May 2016


A few photographs from Philadelphia. I managed to get a little bit of time on the last day of the AIA Convention before my flight home to do a quick early morning tour of the city.
Philadelphia Town Hall with the tallest building One Liberty Place in the background
The view from the R2 37th floor cafe
William Penn statue on the top of the town hall - build higher than him and your sports teams will be cursed
The nice and healthy traditional lunchtime snack that is the Philly Cheese Steak
Independence Hall - Where the United States Declaration of Independence was approved in 1776
The famous bell that was rung after the declaration of Independence
Food from all over the world at the Reading Terminal Market (that was under the convention centre)
Columns and carvings inside the Town Hall complex
Baseball in the shadows of the skyscrapers
The Art Museum and the famous Rocky Steps

The Water Works that used to pump water into the city via a reservoir (now where the art gallery is)
Beautiful garden at the back of the gallery
Lovely street art
Inside the pretty creepy Philadelphia East State Penitentiary
Illustration of how the % of the American population in jail has grown over the decades
Al Capone got a nicely fitted out cell for his stay
...and, of course, every shopping centre needs a huge bronze statue of an eagle

Saturday 21 May 2016

AIA Convention 2016

I spent a little time this week attending the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Convention in Philadelphia USA.

It was fascinating being a part of the 10,000 person event which had hundreds of presentations and hundreds of exhibitors in the historic city of Philadelphia.

The opening keynote was set in a huge auditorium on a circular stage with the delegates positioned on all sides. Past presidents of the AIA were thanked, the best places to visit in Philadelphia were mentioned and credit was given to a number of architects who had worked on significant projects in the last year.

The award for the firm of the year went to LMN Architects from Seattle. Their video giving an overview of their practice is below...

The opening event was very much a celebration of the architectural profession - turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. The AIA talked about their digital transformation strategy with new website and social media campaigns. Their short film below has also been showing on American TV promoting the benefits of architecture...

The opening keynote speaker is traditionally one from outside the industry. This year it was the actress Julia Louis Dreyfus who is best known for her roles on Seinfeld and Veep. As I am a huge fan of Veep it was pretty good to listen to her speak first hand.
That's like using a croissant as a...
The exhibition hall at the conference was huge. It was good to see some of the familiar business from the UK were out at the event promoting their products and services. The photo below shows the stand from the AIA's equivalent from across the Atlantic the RIBA. Many of the architects in the USA are actually members of the RIBA too. When speaking to them it was good to hear that they appreciated reading the RIBA Journal to keep updated with the activity in the UK.
The RIBA Enterprises delegation does their bit on the RIBA exhibition stand
Amongst the other presentations over the day, as always it was good to listen to Autodesk talk about their future vision. In particular, Angi Izzi talked about how technology was helping architects become more efficient and offer more to clients. The video below is from Angi presenting a few months before the AIA Convention...

Another notable presentation was from Brian Skirpac from Canon Design. I had met Brian at the European BIM Summit earlier in the year so it was good to have the chance to hear him present for an hour. Many of the things we are trying to introduce into the UK such as responding to employer's information requirements and putting together a BIM execution plan were covered by Brian.
Brian Skripac talks LOD as part of a BIM at planning process 
We also had lots of very interesting meetings with organisations like ourselves where we shared what activities we were focusing on. It was nice to see some real interest and nice compliments in the NBS BIM Toolkit and the other NBS products and services. For more information on the BIM Toolkit please watch the short video below...

It's hard to do justice to all of the things that were on in a single blog post. But it was a great few days in the USA...
Welcome to the USA

An English gents beats the Americans at their own game and wins the IPAD 2 at the convention basketball competition ;)

Tuesday 17 May 2016

Newcastle Castle

I've lived near to Newcastle all of my life and I have never been the actual castle before. ...until last weekend.

Some photographs below...
Cut away sketch of how the castle originally looked
Lovely ceiling on the entrance hall
1000 year old door still looking in decent shape
Cross bow as seen on telly used by Mr T Lannister
A criss-cross of staircases and doorways
They built a railway line right through the middle of the keep and the gate house!
Looking north west you see our NBS building and also St James (click for bigger picture)
Zoomed in
Looking south east you see the Millennium Bridge, The Baltic, The Sage and the Tyne Bridge  (click for bigger picture)
The Great Hall from above
The logos of the construction companies who built the castle
Looks like 'project stair case' ran out of money before completion
A 30 meter well inside the castle
If you are interested in visiting or knowing more about the history please see the links below...

Friday 13 May 2016

RIBA Enterprises

When out and about I'm often asked about the structure of NBS as a business.

Well we've just updated the website now of our parent company RIBA Enterprises to simply explain what we do and how the company is split.

Please visit the new website -

...and here are some screenshots below...
We are the knowledge management business of the RIBA - and we use two brands
A list of the main products and services under the NBS brand and those under the RIBA brand
More information on NBS and a RIBA services with hyperlinks through to the main websites
We started the year before I was born in 1973
We're always on the look out for great people to come and join us
...and we have colleagues in Newcastle upon Tyne, London and on the road around the country
Visit the new website at

Introduction to the principles of BIM

A nice little cartoon video explaining the open BIM principles through the project timeline from buildingSMART international. Worth a watch...

It's interesting contrasting this vision with how far we have come on the UK BIM journey. We're definitely on the same page, just not quite as far along as these buildingSMART open BIM principles (yet).

BIM Level-2 in the UK...

  • Data format = COBie not yet IFC
  • Process = Digital plan of work not yet IDM
  • Terminology = Data templates not yet IFD/bSDD

Maybe an in-depth look at BIM Level-2 vs buildingSMART vision is a good blog post for the future?

Thanks to my colleague Ian Chapman for the video spot.