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.
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?
- 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.