September 03, 2007
Experience BIM in Hours, not Months
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News

Experience BIM in Hours, not Months

by Susan Smith

We hear a lot about BIM and how the adoption rate is increasing, however, the truth remains that most architectural CAD users are still what are called “Flat CAD” users, or, those using 2D CAD to do architectural design.

Graphisoft has always been a 3D CAD vendor, and they provided a model based design solution before the term “building information modeling” became popular. Their flagship product, ArchiCAD, is sold in over 100 countries, in all major languages. The basic principles of ArchiCAD are the creation of a central virtual model of a project that contains all the relevant information for that project. According to Akos Pfemeter, director of Global Marketing for Graphisoft, by using a central database to generate all deliverables, architects can focus on their primary responsibility: design. “They have their buildings in a 3D format from the very beginning and they are in a much
better position to evaluate what they’re doing so they can have a look at their design from various angles. They can show it to the client, and the client can pick a design that is best for everybody.” Additional benefits include the ability to modify your building elements and have those changes updated throughout the model automatically.

Even though most CAD users realize that BIM is the future and that it is more efficient, they are very slow to change. CAD software vendors employ various methods of luring 2D CAD users into the realm of 3D and BIM. Autodesk, for example, has incorporated some 3D capabilities in its latest release of AutoCAD, so that users can sample it without having to incur the additional expense of purchasing an entire 3D or BIM product.

Whether or not these methods will prove successful still remains to be seen. Graphisoft has taken another approach: provide a BIM Experience Kit that users can download and learn how to use in a short period of time. Graphisoft recently surveyed users working in 2D as well as offices that use both a 3D and 2D workflows. 2D users were asked why they were not switching to BIM.

The three main reasons were:

No time to change - These offices have a lot of work, and their perception is that changing is a big switch. “You have to stop what you’re doing to switch the offices around, train the members, and get really effective with the new tool,” recounted Pfemeter.

BIM is too hard to learn - BIM is perceived as too complex for most team members. There are certainly issues around learning which are very well addressed in Graphisoft CEO’s recent article, “

We may not be able to deliver drawings to clients in time if I go to BIM - Users were afraid that in making the move to BIM, they may not be able to produce drawings in a timely manner which is the ultimate deliverable to customers.

“We also asked if they didn’t change because they thought their current workflow was good enough, and 0% answered yes to that!,” said Pfemeter. “Everybody knows BIM is more efficient once you master how to work in a BIM environment.”

When asked if they were planning to move to BIM, one third of them answered yes, they were proactively searching for a BIM application. Concurrently, many are worried about not moving to BIM because they are worried about losing their competitive edge. Given that it appears the market is ready to switch to BIM, Graphisoft felt that they just needed some help getting there.

The BIM Experience Kit is an answer to that dilemma: offering “the fun way to learn what BIM is.” “Normally if an office wants to learn what BIM is, they pick an application, they train some people in the team, they start a pilot project, and three to six months later, based upon their experiences, they can see what actually BIM is,” explained Pfemeter. “This is a long process, the threshold is really high, so you have to think hard before you start such a project. We thought we could help by creating a package which gives everyone the opportunity to have a short, first hand experience, in a way other than being trained in an application and starting a
pilot project. Also we wanted to lower the threshold as much as possible. With the BIM Experience Kit, in two hours time, you will have a practical experience of how a BIM application is working. By the end of this experience, you will have built a signature building from scratch, not just created the drawings, but built its 3D model and created all the deliverables.”

The kit consists of free software that you can install to do the exercise, a free, new, interactive learning within the application and the ability to test your knowledge.

Free software - The software is a special version of the latest version of ArchiCAD 11 specifically for the BIM Experience Kit. It is a fully functional version, that can be used to do anything that the commercial version is capable of. You can see your work, save it, print it and create full projects. The duration of this full functionality is 30 days. If, after that period, you’re interested and you think you want to have more copies of ArchiCAD, you purchase the commercial license and plug the protection key in the back of your computer. This allows this special trial version of ArchiCAD to switch to a full version and there you have the full commercial license and all the
files that were created, convert automatically to the commercial version so the time invested is not lost.

The free learning part of the package takes you through the process of building up from scratch a project, namely, the Frank Lloyd Wright designed
Massaro house which is in New York State on an island. This exercise consists of ten chapters including:

1) short video clips explaining the big picture concepts of BIM.

2) creating your 3D model. During the course, you work on the floor plan, drawing walls, and placing windows and doors into it. By the fourth chapter you switch to 3D and realize you actually built something. “This is the purpose of the exercise. By the end of the tenth chapter, you are creating even simple photo rendering” said Pfemeter. “You are going to create the full documentation set of this Frank Lloyd Wright building. For the very last step is you click the “Publish button” and you are saving a PDF document which contains all the floor plans, elevations, sections, basic schedules of your openings, and a simple rendering of everything you have

Chapter 5 is about creating the terrain model, Chapter 6 has some 3D refinement like placing staircases and refining the site terrain. Chapter 7 is about how you create the interior parts of the building. Chapter 8 is about annotation, dimensioning walls and major measurements of the building. Chapter 9 is simple sketch rendering, Chapter 10 is putting together the documentation set.

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-- Susan Smith, Managing Editor.


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