Posted in practice on April 14, 2014 11:32 am EDT

Life With Bim

Where is it now? And where is it going? Practicing experts share invaluable insight with their peers.











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TAGS: bim, tools,


By Cathy Hutchison

"It used to be that if you had the 3D geometry, you were set. But as BIM tools get more sophisticated, the ability to understand more dimensions of the problem is driving the creation of more sophisticated objects."

—Richard Semmes President of SmartBIM LLC. Atlanta, GA

For those of us in the AEC industry, the Building Information Modeling (BIM) revolution was both empowering and painful. As companies have leveraged the technology, it has fundamentally changed [the] work process and business practices, leaving us with the questions of what is next.

What’s happening now?

Aaron Maller, BIM manager for the Beck Group in Atlanta is well known in BIM circles as an expert contributor in the forums. "We are seeing improvement of capability in conceptual design—especially as it relates to generating free forms and undulations in building design. Architectural styles change in a way that reflects the technology of the time. [Frank] Gehry has always done wild forms, and has been able to do that with his software, but more mainstream architecture groups are now leveraging tools like Rhino, Grasshopper, Design Script and Dynamo. The challenge will be sharing that ‘design data’ with folks downstream, and how many folks downstream can make those computational designs cost-effective to build. Traditional delivery models fall short on this, and that’s where the frontrunners are delving in to design direct-to-fabrication."

From Left, Markku Allison, Bottom Middle: Aaron Maller, and Richard Semmes

Richard Semmes, president of SmartBIM LLC, also in the Atlanta area—a firm that works on both the manufacturer and AEC side to provide content, tools and analytics—finds that firms are moving beyond adoption to maximizing the effectiveness of the tools. "The fundamental question is—how does BIM enable you to do your job better?" asks Semmes. "It is always a matter of ROI. Traditional evaluation methods for ROI may not apply here. On the AEC side, how does making more informed design decisions impact your bottom line? On the manufacturing side, marketing your products in a way that designers can readily find and easily use them in their BIM workflow is a vital part of today’s digital go-to-market strategies. We see that clients who are strong visionaries aren’t looking back. They understand where the real power is."

Markku Allison, AIA, founder of Scan Consulting in Washington, D.C., observes, “There is ever-increasing owner interest in the value of information. Many construction owners have significant Construction Operations Building Information Exchange [COBie] initiatives to accrue benefits to their capital investments through better management of data. COBie is a way to allow the facilities teams to manage their assets over time, and to make that effective, the information to be gathered is ideally identified in the early stages of design.”  continued >>