BIM – realistically, still over the horizon has reprinted a couple of interesting articles from AIArchitect by Michael Tardif, both on the subject on Building Information Modelling (BIM):

BIM “not yet”

The first article starts by echoing an argument I made in my book in that, despite the advent of computer technology and 25 years experience of CAD applications in particular: “paper remains the principal medium of information exchange among project team members”, before adding (depressingly): “and there is little evidence that this overwhelmingly common practice will change any time soon.”

With optimistic claims being made about how BIM will revolutionise the industry, Tardif says the technology is available to achieve the vision. However, he then asks (and answers) the crucial question: “is it possible for players in the industry – owners, designers, builders – to implement this comprehensive vision in their businesses today? In a word, no. BIM technology simply has not yet matured…”.

(Recent related articles: Asite BIM; BIM and ‘lean construction’; Use of BIM)

BIM impact

The second article is a set of predictions about the impact of BIM on architects’ business and practice. Tardif suggests there may be fewer liability claims, due to improved quality of deliverables and use of tools to discover design errors and omissions earlier. He also predicts impacts on the quality of information, on the diversity and complexity of the building industry, and on the organizational structure of large design firms:

Large design firms will begin to look more and more like large construction firms…: They will have few employees and little equipment of their own relative to their workload and billings, and instead will manage large networks of highly specialized design subcontractors on a project-by-project basis. This will foster the growth of more—not fewer—small, highly specialized design firms able to command a premium for their specialized services.

Coincidentally, this is similar to a prediction I made in my book two years ago, but in respect of construction collaboration technologies (aka: ‘extranet’ systems) not BIM:

“… some AEC professionals have already opted to work as freelances or as independent consultants, undertaking a succession of contracts of their own choice instead of working for an employer. Particularly in the consultancy sector, just as small firms might combine with others with complementary skills and/or resources, so experienced individual professionals could combine with other independent practitioners to compete for work and then form part of the multi-disciplinary team appointed to undertake the project. Such teams would have a more direct relationship with the customer and this may help customers procuring a succession of projects achieve greater continuity of people…. Being formed of a group of independent ‘e-lances’ or ‘tech-nomads’, the operational overheads of such a multi-disciplinary consortium are also likely to be lower, making their services more cost-effective – an advantage likely to be underlined if the team also uses low-cost collaboration technology to manage and share its data.

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  1. BIM – (Building Information Modeling), which combines the objectivity of progressive cad, also strategically offers the practice of four dimensionality (4D = 3D + time,) can generate queried databases, renders with striking photorealism, and allows for complete building sets to be executed in profoundly different ways from ordinary traditional and digital drafting. BIM technology incorporates a practical, egalitarian system by using parameterized tools as its foundation. These parametric objects, somewhat familiar to those using cad, are extensively more accessible and can be managed much more comfortably within the framework of BIM programs. However, BIM projects are often misunderstood.
    The foundation of BIM is the use of objects in lieu of 3D drafting with vector based lines, which ultimately created forms, but which led to bulky sized 3D files that were hard to edit; in other words, non virtual, non sustainable 3D cad files. BIM erases this problem automatically. Because BIM objects are: built based on typical standardized divisions, have been pre-coordinated and packaged to contain all the necessary information common to a project with programmatic development. This containerization has served to address both commodity and nuanced element pertaining to the architecture being considered. Inside the container all programs are in a multiple stack as sequenced families. This sequence is subsequent to the research and development by that which the manufacturer stands behind. In essence, think of the BIM model, already having the shop drawing information built in as per the manufactured unit, system, or type, and can be augmented by the designer based on future determined points. Of course this applies when only those manufacturers producing BIM objects are involved with the BIM data they represent. It has to come from BIM, first hand to truly represent.
    With BIM technology, the exploration of interstitial, aggregate space is performed in ways quite varied from what typical designers normally practice with drafting. Actually, with BIM technology, architects have been compared to the early builders who had built with modularity and derived a building practice from this. A strong de-engineering, de-constructing, component is felt mostly when executing a BIM project but need not be considered austere. Rather than what might be felt drafting, as linear mediums are not always as precise and as predictable (especially when floor plans can sometimes stack up incorrectly, a frustrating dilemma) the relative ease of execution, with BIM, can be felt as enlightening. When building vertically in BIM technology, a seamless, imperforated spatial continuation exists, and allows for more site and space specific views. This means there is no worry for selecting something off in space that may overlap an object in the foreground. With BIM this is never an issue.
    The BIM revolution will be gradual, perceptions of this technology show that is slow to be accepted. The fact that this methodology is perceived as imposing reveals the paradigm shift but it isn’t at all unattainable, as far as I see it. Written by Joseph J. Nicholson

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