Monthly Archives: February 2011

Are We Becoming More Integrated and Engaged?

I have written recently on the extent to which integrated project delivery (IPD) is catching on.

And did so primarily in empirical (some might say sensationalist) terms.

Today we’re treated to a guest post,Is Integrated Practice Taking Hold?” written by my friend, Finith Jernigan, internationally recognized architect, educator & author of the bestseller BIG BIM little bim: the Practical Approach to Building Information Modeling – Integrated Practice Done the Right Way.

Always thoughtful and thought provoking, Finith has the goods when it comes to data and asks some tough questions here.

I encourage you to read the post and respond to one of his questions by leaving a comment below.

Thank you!

Is Integrated Practice Taking Hold?

For several years I have used Google Alerts as one tool for keeping current with the progress of building information modeling development and integrated practice. Every day since early 2007, I receive alerts for the terms: bim, building information model, integrated practice, big bim and little bim. In the early days there were few alerts; recently there are days with twenty or more alerts on any one of these topics.

Over the last year, I have begun to notice patterns in the alerts, so I started tracking the alerts by industry. The patterns highlight major issues about how the construction industry sees and understands integrated practice. The patterns show the level of acceptance within different industries and indicate who is embracing integrated practice and who is not.

Health care organizations of all kinds (doctors, dentists and chiropractors especially) are moving to integrated practice technologies. Lawyers and accountants, as well. Baseball teams, meditation gurus, social workers, writers, artists and IT are moving. However the patterns seem to show that far fewer architects and contractors are taking the plunge.

Scientific and health care add up to a total of 58.10% of the alerts. Legal, the arts, sports, writing and IT account for an additional 18.57%. Meditation, social work, education and accounting account for 11.45%. Construction industry alerts account for only 11.88%.

It is interesting that fully 88% of the postings for integrated practice have little or nothing to do with design and construction.

Integrated practice was not created by and is not unique to the construction industry. It is a way to a goal, a process, not an end goal. The patterns from Google Alerts seem to be saying that other industries are much more actively involved in their own integrated practice implementation than are architects and contractors.

The alerts talk a lot about the benefits to individual industry members. There is little talk of the holistic benefits from integration. Construction industry discussions revolve around integrating design and construction with a nod toward operations. Few talk about or advocate for wider initiatives such as integrated decision making. Even fewer work toward possibilities such as the integration of design and construction with healthcare to create more sustainable and efficient processes.

The patterns show that other industries are embracing integrated practice. The patterns may also show that the construction industry is missing an opportunity for a larger discussion. Why is it that the construction industry has not engaged in such discussions?

Is it because architects and contractors do not understand where they fit into the larger world? Do they spend too much time focused on what they see as their niche?

Is it because too many react to the demand for integrated practice, rather than proactively using the process to do better and more?

Is it because the construction industry does not understand how to apply technology to create better and more efficient processes?

Is the construction industry so wrapped up in its’ own issues that the industry’s point of view is too limited in today’s world?

Is it because construction industry professionals are only talking to themselves?

Is it because construction industry professionals are not connecting to and learning from others?

Is it plain old inertia and ego?

Or, is it that construction industry professionals do not write in forums indexed by Google?

Whatever the answer to these questions, the pattern suggests that the construction industry needs to become more engaged in the broader discussion of what it means to be integrated.

Princeton University defines integrated as: formed or united into a whole; introduced into another entity; designated as available to all races or groups; or resembling a living organism in organization or development.

The Google Alert pattern and Princeton’s definition both suggest that the industry needs to become more engaged in integration and to widen its’ view of what integrated practice really means to the world outside of the construction industry.

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36 Arguments for the Existence of BIM

After riffing in this blog for over 18 months on the subject of BIM and Integrated Design, and after conducting extensive research for my book by the same name, I’ve become convinced that the world of design and construction is made up of two kinds of people:

1. those who see BIM as an evolutionary tool and

2. those who see BIM as a revolutionary process.

Or in more familiar terms – despite this blog being vendor agnostic – there are

1. BIM atheists and

2. BIM apologists.

One doesn’t need to be a person of faith when confronted by the fact that their copy of Autodesk Revit Architecture 2011 takes up 560MB of space in their hard drive.

And one doesn’t need to be an angel to long for the day when we’ll free ourselves by computing in the cloud.

The thing is, no one uses BIM.

Not really.

And no one learns BIM.

They learn, use and implement software.

I can see and touch Revit. I can only imagine, envision and sermonize about BIM.

I can laud the praises of BIM to high heaven.

But only ArchiCAD, Revit, Bentley and Vectorworks can deliver results.

So what then does BIM do?

Ask yourself this: If there was a BIM then why wouldn’t ArchiCAD – that has been around for decades – have been called a BIM program?

ArchiCAD was 3D and object-oriented and building-product modeling.

ArchiCAD 14 may be as close to heaven as some of us will ever get. But it was never BIM.

To look at how BIM is defined you wouldn’t necessarily think it exists.

BIM is 100% aspirational. Something that may happen, that we can wish will happen.

But isn’t happening now – not now, nor any time soon.

BIM is faith-based as much as it is virtually-based.

How can this be?

Here’s how:

  • More than half of what it says it does nobody is doing.
  • More than half of BIM’s benefits aren’t being recognized.
  • More than half of BIM’s promises, it doesn’t do yet.

If we were to base our beliefs on facts, on Evidence-based BIM, the evidence is scarce.

All rise and turn to page 12,236,489 of Wikipedia. Let’s read in unison:

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is the process of generating and managing building data during its lifecycle. BIM is a digital technology and a business process for life-cycle facility management, from concept thru disposal.”

Addressing the building’s lifecycle was deemed today in SMARTBIM and Reed Construction Data’s webcast Lessons in Integrating BIM “the Holy Grail.”

Unfounded and like the holy grail, unfound.

“BIM provides the potential for a virtual information model to be handed from Design Team (architects, consulting engineers, etc.) to Contractor and Subcontractors and then to the Owner, each adding their own additional discipline-specific knowledge and tracking of changes to the single model.”

The potential? BIM has…the capacity…the possibility. Even likely, but may not come to pass.

“As computers and software become more capable of handling more building information, this will become even more pronounced than it is in current design and construction projects.”

Not there yet.

“BIM goes far beyond switching to a new software. It requires changes to the definition of traditional architectural phases and more data sharing than most architects and engineers are used to.”

Still not there yet.

Interoperability of all and for all – through the creation of IFCs – is the goal.

You get the idea…

BuildingSMART describes the BIM model as a “single operating environment.”

As appealing as that would be, very few – if anyone – today would consider working off of a single model a good idea.

Six years ago Jim Bendrick of Webcor Builders wrote: “What building information models allow us to do that we couldn’t do effectively before is what Stanford University’s Center for Integrated Facilities Engineering (CIFE) calls Virtual Design and Construction (VDC). In a nutshell, this is the use of models coupled with analysis and simulation tools to prototype the building on the computer—to simulate the building, its performance, and its construction before breaking ground.”

BIM for testing and building simulation is still a ways off.

My goal here isn’t to shake your faith in BIM, nor to confirm its existence, but to help make you a believer in the power of BIM.

Can BIM do all we say it can? Does BIM live up to its potential?

How long must we argue for BIM’s existence?

Revit and ArchiCAD exist. I can see them (and feel their presence) on my hard drive.

Whether or not BIM exists, in moments of transcendence, we who labor away at our BIM models all feel we are working at, for and toward something beyond ourselves.

And this ought to be enough.

At least for now.

BIM is our best hope.

BIM is our best chance.

BIM is the right way to design and construct buildings.

BIM is the best way for us to work together, compatibly, civilly, toward mutually shared outcomes.

I don’t know how it’s likely to go better.

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BIM and Integrated Design: the College Curriculum

This is a first. I don’t know of any situation where a university course – let alone a curriculum – was named after a blog.

There are no Huffington Post studies, and one would need to look long and hard for a college course named after Boing Boing.

So you can imagine my surprise to discover – in so advanced a constitutional monarchy, unitary state and country as the UK – the announcement of the launch of BIM and Integrated Design: the college course.

According to the press release put out by the university, this is a world first.

United States schools have offered advanced degree and post-professional programs related to BIM and IPD as a delivery method for some time. Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) Master of Integrated Building Delivery program is but one example.

But never before has there been one specifically on the topic of BIM and Integrated Design.

As described in the course syllabus, this BIM and Integrated Design program is unique in that it approaches integrated design processes from a Lean design and construction perspective, with the use of enabling technologies – BIM and sustainability.

Also addressed in the program are the benefits that can be achieved through the adoption of BIM, including integrated processes; improved design coordination, information management and exchange; clash detection; clearer scheduling; improved sustainability outcomes; and improved value to clients and users.

While this looks like a lot of information to cover in a school curriculum, it is heartening to see that the considerable collaborative work processes of BIM –  impacting individuals, organizations and the industry – are emphasized in the course as well.

The BIM and Integrated Design program launches in September 2011 – coinciding with the release of my new book: BIM and Integrated Design: Strategies for Architectural Practice (John Wiley & Sons).

Read on for the full press release. Schools here would benefit from such a well-written article announcing new BIM and IPD-related courses and curricula.

At the end of this post is a link to a detailed description of the proposed course.

Skills gap warning as BIM becomes mandatory requirement

UK construction and design industry professionals must invest in skills training if they are to embrace the forthcoming implementation of Building Information Modeling (BIM). That is the view of Arto Kiviniemi, Professor of Digital Architectural Design at Salford University’s School of the Built Environment which today launches the world’s first MSc course on BIM and Integrated Design.
The government’s chief construction adviser Paul Morrell has indicated that BIM will become a key part of the government’s procurement of public buildings and that bidders and contractors on future public building projects would be expected to implement it on all future projects. A team is currently studying the use of BIM in government projects and will report its findings to the Construction Clients Board in March.
Integrated BIM means a fundamental change in the design, construction and facility management processes that involves data sharing between all shareholders based on digital models that can be used from a project’s early design stages through to completion and monitoring of subsequent performance.
The news that BIM will become mandatory in all public procurement has been met with some skepticism from the industry in the UK but Kiviniemi, one of the world’s leading authorities on BIM, has seen the benefits of the delivery of BIM across the US and Scandinavia, where it has been demanded by large public clients since 2007.
He explains: “In Scandinavia and the US public projects now use BIM and there is no doubt that it will become the standard in the UK and across Europe. It integrates the information that architects, engineers and contractors must deliver on a project and creates data which is usable in the integrated processes, simulations and life cycle management of buildings”.
“To make this work it is essential to share the data in open BIM format. The efficient utilization of data helps clients to make informed decisions and will  enable our industry to respond to the environmental challenges, as well as to increase the productivity if we develop our processes too. There are definitely some strong success stories and evidence of measurable benefits if you look at the international studies of BIM and IPD (Integrated Project Delivery).”
He warns: “Those who have not embraced BIM will be simply out of the running for public projects.”

The government’s introduction of BIM is designed to unlock new ways of working that will reduce cost and add long-term value to the development and management of built assets in the public sector. Paul Morrell has said that he hoped that the report would mark the beginning of a commitment to a timed programme of transformation and adoption.
Adopting an industry-wide BIM process is likely to reveal a significant learning gap in many companies with people left wondering how to implement this into their own practice. In response the School of the Built Environment at the University of Salford has launched a unique programme of Building Information Modeling and Integrated Design which commences in September 2011.
The course is designed to promote a deeper understanding of the impacts and business benefits of adopting integrated BIM on the supply chain organizations. It is aimed at design professionals, e.g. architects, architectural technologists, structural and M&E engineers, and design/project managers and will give companies a head start in implementing a BIM-based approach.

Look here for more information about the Masters Degree in BIM and Integrated Design.

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Filed under BIM, BIM instructor, collaboration, Integrated Design, Integrated Project Delivery, IPD, modeling, process, workflow