November 26, 2007
Outtakes on BIM
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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As of February, 2007, Bhatt said that Revit usage has grown to 190,000 seats.

Supporting the BIM process

Graphisoft has taken an innovative approach to marketing its BIM products: 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 Akos Pfemeter, director of Global Marketing for Graphisoft.

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.”

There are three key areas where Newforma Project Center Fourth Edition supports BIM:

Coordination, review and markup. “We provided a powerful environment for marking up, reviewing and sharing those views and discussions among fellow project team members,” said Newforma CEO Ian Howell.

There’s also search that has been extended to support the intelligent object properties in BIM models so you can now search the hidden object properties in a BIM model.

Compare. As you’re moving from milestone to milestone in a BIM environment, you have the ability to compare the upcoming milestone with the previous milestone to catch any unintended changes and to insure that any changes that were intended were properly documented.

With the advent of BIM, there is a need for a product to address the pre-design aspect of the design-to-operations and maintenance lifecycle of a building. As the definition of BIM expands and shifts, the need to include more perspectives becomes evident. BIM encompasses not only 3D but all the data behind it. According to Carole Kernohan, VP Business Development, "BIM is not necessarily one model, but a combination of models, each with its own unique view, yet it can be pulled together. So if someone needs that whole view they can get to it via an electronic representation."

Affinity 5.0 offers integration with the Autodesk Revit 9.1 design tool, enhances integration with Graphisoft Archicad 9 and 10, and delivers new functionality. The software provides another view into the building model, one that begins before Revit or ArchiCAD. "Affinity has access to the initial planning and programming even as you’re progressing with that model in Revit," noted Kernohan.

Affinity 3D Viewer provides 3D views of the project design, as one of several tools for visualizing the conceptual design.

New BIM Standard

click to enlarge [

Affinity 3D Viewer provides 3D views of the project design, as one of several tools for visualizing the conceptual design.
At BDP, all team members are in house, so architects and engineers, structural engineers, and mechanical engineers use the same software and BIM model which is available to them at all times. In some cases, the BIM model is led by structural engineers under the direction of the architects, according to architect director Keith Papa.

Because there can be so many decision makers involved in the creation and use of a BIM, there is a need to strengthen relationships between owners, architects, engineers and contractors on projects. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has been spearheading the development of a new BIM standard—the new
buildingSMART Alliance which will operate within the independent nonprofit
National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS). We will hear more about this later, but basically the new public/private initiative expands on goals of the North American Chapter of the International Alliance for Interoperability (IAINA), whose Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs) have initiated open standards for national and international links among industry players, and will serve developers and users of BIM in helping to form a more cooperative relationship between players.

A real challenge is, does BIM get the job done? Does it meet the needs of users? Many vendors would have the public believe that BIM is used in an enormous number of occasions (Revit, for example, has grown to 190,000 seats. There are 500,000 AutoCAD Architecture seats (formerly Architectural Desktop), also considered a BIM, although it could easily be used solely for 2D CAD). It is difficult for vendors to qualify where BIM is being used and where it isn’t, except on the bigger projects that win awards and gain a lot of attention. Part of the reason for this is that A/E firms already have numerous seats of a 2D CAD software in place, with users who have upgraded to 3D but are not
necessarily using BIM.

One colleague said that of all the architectural projects he consults on, only a very small percentage use a BIM, but many are interested in it.

Some AEC firms say the definition of BIM is a “little slippery.” Many firms create models, but not necessarily BIM models. HOK, which has hundreds of projects going on at the same time, estimates that perhaps 10% of their projects are full BIM projects.

Some of the confusion lies in the fact that 3D is a big part of a BIM model, but not the only factor in a BIM model. “BIM is about ¾ 3D model, and the other ¼ is additional information,” Mario Guttman, firmware CAD director, HOK, pointed out. “We’re tracking more detailed identification of things that are in the BIM model such as what they are and what they cost, etc.”

Certainly, reading the new product feature list from one of the vendors can get you thinking that it’s all very simple. Those toiling away in the trenches know that it’s not all easy, no matter what the marketing literature says. “Some people would give you the impression that you would build a BIM model, push a button and get an energy analysis. That’s not really true. Architecture is a complicated art that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to simple answers,” said Guttman.

Top News of the Week

Bentley Systems, Incorporated has begun shipping StormCAD V8 XM Edition, an easy-to-use storm sewer network design and modeling solution that is the first to offer multiplatform interoperability. StormCAD was identified as the No. 1 hydraulic modeling solution for stormwater networks in a recent national survey.


Avatech Solutions, Inc., the nationwide technology experts for design, engineering, and facilities management, has become a high definition scanner Gold Dealer with
Leica Geosystems . Avatech is among the largest US distributors for Leica Geosystems high definition scanners (HDS), serving companies engaged in surveying, plant design, architecture, and facilities management.

You can find the full AECCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, Managing Editor.

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