It is now the end of another year, with all the experiences of life that comes with that year. As such, we tend to evaluate the past year and look forward to the challenges and experiences of the new year. That includes all different aspects of our lives, including the personal and professional sides. However, in additional to individuals doing this, organizations need to do the same thing.
Since this is an building industry oriented blog, I am going to touch on what I believe to be an important component of AEC firms in the technological age in which we now live. That is the evaluation of Building Information Modeling (BIM) within your firm. While there are still many AEC firms that have not moved into the world of BIM, it is becoming more common and more important in the industry.
It is extremely important to evaluate BIM within a firm. There are costs associated with moving toward BIM integration and it is important to understand whether your firm is getting a return on that investment and how it can be improved.
ALERT! Breaking News! Computer software can be expensive!!
Okay, I realize that isn’t really breaking news and is something that people already know. However, the fact that people are already aware of that is what can create issues. While various software packages can be expensive, design software is one of those software categories that really is expensive. I have previously written a blog article on architectural design software packages under $2500 entitled “Inexpensive Architectural Design Software“, but those packages are not the mainstream products being utilized. For most companies to compete in the AEC design community, they are pretty much required to utilize a software package that will cost a minimum of $4,000.00 per user. Most software packages also either require you to be on a subscription plan or make you pay a large upgrade fee to remain up-to-date with the software.
Regardless of the method that you use to pay for the software, it is a large expense for each user. However, I must say that is the cost of legally doing business. If a company (or individual) wants to participate in a market that requires design software, then the software costs must be considered part of the business expense. I may not like the cost to play, but I still want to play, so I need to pay.
The AEC industry is seeing more clients requiring Building Information Modeling (BIM) on projects. Some clients have very detailed standards and expectations for the BIM process, and some clients say that they want BIM but have not idea what they really desire or how to get BIM. And then, there are clients that fall somewhere between those two types. Many clients (especially in the private sector) that have BIM standards in place have not publicized their standards, but will provide it to the design/construction team for specific projects. However, there are public entitites that have established BIM standards and have posted those standards on the internet and are accessible to anyone with internet access. Since it is nice to reference those BIM standards, I thought that I would list various public entities which have BIM standards that you can reference.
Regardless of which design software you decide to use for your architectural design, the software continues to change. It is not only important for users to stay on top of those changes, but to also network with other knowledgable users about usage of the software. Conferences dedicated to this training and networking are an important aspect for many users and managers. I have tried to gather information about major design software conferences such as this and list them in the article.
It is becoming more common for the Level of Development (LOD) to be specified on projects that require Building Information Modeling (BIM). Many times, the “LOD” term is thrown around and utilized without the specifier being familiar with what the term really means. As a result, confusion abounds and clients may say they want “a LOD 500 project”, although it does not really exist.
Get the file format that you really want or need on a BIM project!
The AIA® Document E202™ is a contract document that dictates how the Building Information Model is developed for a project. The document itself is design software package neutral, but is typically developed around specific software packages desired by the document author. Document authors will sometimes complete the document thinking that they are specifying the desired software package, but in reality are providing “wiggle room” for other packages to also be provided.
Many, many years ago, architects started designing buildings and puting their designs down on paper so that builders knew what was desired. As time has moved forward, some designers are now creating electronic Building Information Models (BIM) for design and construction purposes. In some cases, BIM files are being passed to the owners for future facilities management. Thinking long term, how long will those BIM files be usable and will those BIM files ever get upgraded?
While I am a big proponent of BIM, I am concerned about the usability of BIM files in the future. This is due to 2 primary reasons:
Throughout history, architects and other designers have been creating some form of Construction Documents that would be referenced by workers when constructing a building. While the media and method has changed over time, the method of showing the information on the documents has not substantially changed. Information is still shown almost exclusively as 2-dimensional views represented by plans, sections, elevations, and details. It is time that Construction Documents take on a new look and include 3-dimensional information, even if the digital model is passed along through the process. This includes the architects, MEP engineers, structural engineers, and any other consultants providing Construction Documents. Continue reading →
The Building Information Modeling Protocol Exhibit Document E202 was developed by the American Institute of Architects in 2008 and is an extremely important document when working with Building Information Model (BIM) technology. I have previously blogged about the Level of Development portion and its impact, but there is another aspect of the document which is also very important. A portion of the document addresses the BIM standards that are to be utilized when creating and sharing the model. This portion is very important as it creates continuity for the project and provides the owner with the format that they desire, if applicable. It can also have a big impact on productivity. Continue reading →
Autodesk has released a utility that will benefit users that need to create a file to be used with the Autodesk’s Navisworks 2010 program. This is excellent news as users no longer must have a licensed copy of Navisworks Manage installed on their computer to create this file. This has real benefits to companies needing to create the exchange file.
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is very powerful, but it does come with a price. Higher levels of model development mean more time involved in creating that detail, and someone has to pay for that time.
The AIA Document E202 (by the American Institute of Architects) is the Building Information Modeling Protocol Exhibit and assigns the specific responsibility for the various project team members in developing model elements to specific levels of development for project phases. This contract document is extremely important in legally determining how the model is developed and who is responsible for different parts of the BIM file. This document is not to be taken lightly and has dramatic impact on both the profitability of the project and liability of the project team members.