AECcafe.com has reprinted a couple of interesting articles from AIArchitect by Michael Tardif, both on the subject on Building Information Modelling (BIM):
- Faith-based BIM (originally published 27 October 2006)
- BIM 2011: A Five-year Forecast (5 January 2007)
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…”.
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.