Tuesday 18 February 2014

BIM’s Big Impact on Design

The concept of Building Information Modeling (BIM) has been around since the early 70s but the term “Building Information Modeling” didn’t become part of mainstream terminology in the design and construction industry until the early 90s.

BIM could not be possible without the use of software developed by companies such as Autodesk, Graphisoft, Bentley Systems,and Vectorworks, and now with design-specific software such as Rhino and SketchUp we have many design tools available to suit all budgets. But the software is not BIM— BIM is the process. The software is just what we use to develop the process. Any form by which you can link information into a design is considered BIM. It could be as simple as linking an Excel spreadsheet with door type and hardware information from the supplier into a CAD file. However 3D modeling in a program specifically designed for BIM, such as Revit, can easily facilitate the process and give you more options.

I’ve been fortunate to see the progression from the drafting board to the adoption of 2D computer aided design (CAD) to the use of BIM software, and I’ve seen the dramatic impact each phase has had on the design industry. At CEI Architecture, being able to include digital information in our designs is quite empowering to the entire design team. To be able to see in an instant the impact a decision has on the design enables you to quickly and easily explore design possibilities and react to design and client demands. Being able to track and calculate materials and components for quantification and verification, we can use the model to verify specific requirements such as colour coding walls to verify fire ratings.

BIM has also had an impact on the analytical design of a building. We can analyze how the building performs and make changes accordingly, creating a more sustainable design. Using the digital model we can analyze the lighting options and create a solar study showing how a buildings shadows impact adjacent buildings. Being able to input the local weather data we have the ability to alter the building’s design or orientation to see how environmental conditions affect the performance of the HVAC systems and maximize natural lighting and take advantage of the prevailing wind direction.

3D digital modeling allows you to do this and more. By being able to share our model with the consultants, we can properly integrate each consultant’s model into one model allowing us to alter the design to best suit the project. Being able to coordinate between mechanical, electrical and structural all on the same BIM platform is far easier and more cost effective than 2D coordination, which is prone to errors, or having to deal with coordination on the construction site. 

This is why it’s invaluable to have all parties involved using BIM.
 In the future we will see this type of analysis to be part of every building’s design. Communities in the U.S. are already requiring this type of analysis as part of the building permit application process. It’s just a matter of time before it becomes the norm here in Canada, as projects are already stipulating the use of BIM on most government projects. Just another indication of the power of BIM on design.

 You can follow this article and other on the CEI Architecture Blog


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