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
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.
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