Information is at the center of the entire building delivery process, primarily for proper communication between the Architect, the Consultants and the End-users.
Thousands of years ago, this information was in the form of detailed sketches by the Architect – who would likely still be the builder – inked onto a palette, for the communication of his ideas to his Patron, the promotional products client. This hand drafting persisted through the various civilizations, until just recently, the advent of the Industrial Revolution – and its modernist movement – birthed the PC evolution, with a much aha! moment in the construction industry, when the revolutionary CAD Technology was borne.
Computer-aided Design largely took over ink and paper, as the primary means of creating information through the building delivery process. The basic ideology behind CAD however, was using the computer to produce same result as the old manual drafting – just much faster and efficiently. The monumental pace of technological advancement quickly revealed the vast computer resources can be utilized to do even much better – that is exactly how the story of Building Information Modeling began.
So, what really is Building Information Modeling – popularly nicknamed BIM?
- Recall that Information is at the center – between Building and Modeling.
According to the National Institute of Building Sciences, a BIM is defined as “a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility” that serves as a “shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life cycle from inception onward.”
- From this definition, it becomes obvious that information-sharing underscores the ideology of BIM – and that in itself makes all the difference when producing a Building Information Model.
- Another word in BIM is ‘Modeling’, which is at least 3D-grade (of course there is 4D-grade Modeling, 5D-grade Modeling etc.) From the definition, the model is basically a database – a shared resource for information. Such a database that can be reduced to spreadsheet information for various quantitative analyses; as well as for eventual procurement, facility maintenance et al.
- Then, there is the word ‘Building’, which simply implies that the Information and the Model is that of a Building – not an Automobile, for example.
This definition makes a world of difference between the mindset of a BIM modeler, and that of a CAD drafter. BIM is a database, it is a storehouse of information – not just a computerized version of the old-fashioned hand-drafting.
So, you might rightly ask: ‘What are the benefits of going the extra mile to produce a true BIM Model?’
BIM enhances collaboration, and makes Building Design, Delivery and Maintenance a truly Integrated Process.
BIM enables diverse forms of design analyses, which are not obtainable with the ‘traditional’ CAD Technology. Such analyses as Lighting Analysis, Thermal Analysis etc. Many of these services have become cloud-based, which means the design workstation is relieved of the processing requirements, giving it enough RAM to continue the design process simultaneously. On the other hand, this helps to create more sustainable and climate-responsive buildings.
BIM Software have more advanced tools that eases the creation of more complex conceptual building forms/masses. These same schematic elements get detailed after initial design analyses, possibly in the same software.
BIM software adhere to such Open-source Technologies and Protocols as Industry Foundation Class (IFC), Open Database Connectivity (ODBC), Extensible Markup Language (XML) etc. This ensures interoperability between diverse software – as basic as notepad!
BIM enhances the visualization of design ideas in real-time. Being a parametric model, various aspects of a BIM can be visualized in real-time, with the use of such features as filters, color schemes etc. Even more advanced plugins can be integrated into BIM software for a real-time VR Design Experience.
With the use of such concepts like 4D and 5D modeling, BIM can be used to sequence the execution and financing of a project respectively – which are critical aspects of project management.
Since BIM software are interoperable, BIM also helps to ensure standardization of projects documentation – especially symbols – to ensure easy interdisciplinary communications.
BIM also brings about better presentation of a project – utilizing such tools as Design Options (in a single model), emotive visualization, schedules, quantity take-offs, and legends.
BIM easily lends itself to such emerging technologies as prefabrication and additive manufacturing (popularly known as 3D printing); thus BIM is even more useful during building construction, and most useful during building maintenance, as the database is basically extracted from the same building elements.
These obviously are not the only uses of BIM. Pennsylvania State University’s CIC Research Program has summarized the entire uses of BIM, chronologically.
But then, you ask again: ‘What are the best BIM software in the Industry?’
There are many BIM software in existence, including Autodesk© Revit©, Archicad©, Vectorworks©, Allplan©, Digital Project© etc. However, the most popular is the Autodesk Revit – which is currently a merger of Architecture, Structure and MEP platforms, making it arguably the most complete BIM Design Software in the industry.
Having defined and explained what Building Information Modeling entails, how then is it incorporated into the building delivery process? Find out HERE