A picture paints a thousand words,
but never underestimate the power of text
(Adapted from Source: NBS.com)
Stefan Mordue, Technical Author and Architect
BIM objects are much more than just graphical representations. Using them as placeholder to connect to a wider source of information provides for a powerful and rich source of information.
‘Author it once, and in the right place; report it many times’
Information in the Building Information Model (BIM) comes from a variety of sources, such as 3D visualization tools ( Autodesk Revit or Nemetschek Vectorworks, Archicad, Bentley Systems …) as well as cost estimating, computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS), capital planning and management systems (CPMS), geographical information systems (GIS), building automation systems (GIS), model checkers and specification software.
All BIM objects have properties, and most also have geometries (although some do not, for example a paint finish). To avoid duplication, information should be both structured and coordinated.
Some information is more appropriately located in the ‘geometrical’ part of the BIM object while other information is more suited to the ‘properties’ part, such as the specification. The specification is part of the project BIM, and objects live in the specification. In traditional documentation we would ‘say it once, and in the right place’, however with BIM, we want to ‘author it once, and in the right place, to be able to report it many times’.
Figure 1: Appropriate location of information
‘A picture paints a thousand words, but never underestimate the power of text’
Let’s take an analogy of a BIM object representing a simple cavity wall. The object will tell us the width of the brickwork and height of the wall. However at a certain point in the project cycle it is the written word that is needed to take us to a deeper level of information. It is within a textual context that we describe the length, height and depth of the brick. It is words that are used to describe the mortar joint and wall ties.
BIM objects are as much about the embedded data and information as they are about the spaces and dimensions that they represent graphically.
It is this connection to a wider source of information that really empowers the object, making it a rich source of information. Think of BIM objects if you will as a ‘place holder’ – not only a physical representation of the real life physical properties of the said object but also a home for non-graphical information such as performance criteria, physical and functional condition data, life-cycle data, detailed and current cost data (materials, equipment, and labor), and operational information.
‘A new generation of specifiers is being empowered by BIM. We can begin to specify at a much earlier stage in the process’
Specifications were once undertaken by the specification expert, often once the detail design was completed. A new generation of specifiers is being empowered by BIM. We can begin to specify at a much earlier stage in the process.
In reality “specifiers” are now a team of stakeholders – Owners, Contactors, Subs, AE’s, Oversight Groups ….
By connecting the BIM object to an NBS Create specification, a direct link can be made to NBS technical guidance and standards, at the point where the designer most needs them. For example, if the designer is a subscriber to the Construction Information Service (CIS), then any technical documents cited in the specification that are available can be downloaded instantly.
Figure 2: NBS Revit tool bar
‘We have recently integrated geometric BIM objects with the corresponding NBS Create specification clauses to achieve a greater connection between the two’
BIM and BIM workflows are consistently being refined and updated as they become more commonplace and as standards and protocols emerge. While we can never solve all coordination issues, we hope to improve coordination by linking databases, objects and eventually coordinate key property sets.
Traditionally, a value that was represented on a drawing may not correctly corresponded with the value within the specification simply due to a ‘typo’. An example being where a ’60 minute fire door’ has been recorded on the drawing but has been recorded as ’90 minutes fire rating’ within the specification. Aside from this coordination debate, practices will also need to decide and establish office policies on where information is recorded. While the specification system has detailed guidance and links to standards, regulations and suggested values, geometric BIM software has great visualization analysis and instance scheduling functionality.
Figure 3: Connection to a wider source of information empowers the object
At present, the NBS National BIM Library objects are classified using both the draft Uniclass 2 Work result code and the System name to give a deeper link between the object and specification. The NBS National BIM Library contains a number of objects that connect at a ‘product’ level (e.g. hand driers, baths, individual doorsets) while others work at a ‘system’ level (e.g. cubicle, partition, door and signage systems). Yet other objects are at an ‘element’ level (i.e. made up of a number of systems) such as external walls.
Following a period of industry consultation, Uniclass 2 is now being finalized for publication during 2013. Classification of content in the National BIM Library and NBS Create will then be updated.
National BIM Library Parameters
|NBSReference||NBS section/clause number||45-35-72/334|
|NBSDescription||The full description of an object||Hand driers|
|NBSNote||Where a second system which is related to the BIM object can be described||=[Blank]|
|NBSTypeID||A reference to the object for the user if one or more is used with the project|
|Help||URL of a website where additional help notes are available||http://www.nationalbimlibrary.com/|
|IssueDate||The issue date of the object||2012-12-06|
|Version||The version of the object||1.1|
A hand drier is an example of an object that links nicely to an associated product clause (NBSReference=45-35-72/334). Using tools such as NBS Create and the NBS Revit plug in tool, the corresponding product will automatically be captured; it can then be used to enrich the object with information such as power rating and noise levels.
A doorset is an example of an object that maps beautifully to an NBS Create System outline clause. For example using WR 25-50-20/120 Doorset System, we can then specify system performance, component and accessory products (e.g. glazing type, fasteners and threshold strips) as well as execution.
Certain NBS National BIM Library objects are at an ‘element level’ where they comprise a number of systems. In this situation we give a primary work results classification, the NBSReference. In addition, to help the user, we add the Uniclass 2 element code in an extra parameter field.
The following example is a Unit wall element comprising 100 mm thick stone, 100 mm mineral wool insulation batts and 100 mm concrete block, lined with 12.5 mm gypsum plasterboard on 25 mm dabs.
WR 25-10-55/123 ‘External multiple leaf wall above damp proof course masonry system’ has been used for the primary reference. From this System outline we can specify the stone facing, insulation and concrete block, together with DPC, lintels, mortar, cavity closers (which all in turn have product codes). A further system outline, WR 25-85-45/140 Gypsum board wall lining system, is given, from which the lining can be specified.
‘This year will mark the 40th anniversary of the launch of NBS and we are now seeing project information being coordinated through intelligent objects’
An object could potentially relate to two different systems. An example of this would be a rainscreen cladding object. The following example is an aluminium cassette panel rainscreen system with metal frame, weather barrier, insulation, concrete block and plasterboard lining. This particular system could be either a ‘Drained and back ventilated rain screen cladding system’ 25-80-70/120 or a ‘Pressure equalized rain screen cladding system’ 25-80-70/160. The detail which would differentiate between the two is not shown in the geometric object itself but rather in the detail that would be found within the specification. When used in conjunction with the NBS plug-in tool, you are presented with the option to select the most appropriate system, and then to specify it to the appropriate level of detail.
Figure 4: Technology is enabling better processes and connection
We are now beginning to see project information being coordinated through intelligent objects. The classification system, structure of data and technology are enabling better processes and will allow us to move a step closer towards full collaborative BIM.
via www.4Clicks.com – Leading cost estimating and efficient project delivery software solutions for JOC, SABER, IDIQ, MATOC, SATOC, MACC, POCA, BOA, BOS … featuring and exclusively enhanced 400,000 line item RSMeans Cost Database, visual estimating / automatic quantity take off ( QTO), contract, project, and document management, all in one application.
By Peter Cholakis
Published in the March 2013 issue of Today’s Facility Manager
Emergent disruptive technologies and construction delivery methods are altering both the culture and day-to-day practices of the construction, renovation, repair, and sustainability of the built environment. Meanwhile, a shifting economic and environmental landscape dictates significantly improved efficiencies relative to these facility related activities. This is especially important to any organization dependent upon its facilities and infrastructure to support and maintain its core mission.
The disruptive digital technologies of building information modeling (BIM) and cloud computing, combined with emergent collaborative construction delivery methods are poised to alter the status quo, ushering in increased levels of collaboration and transparency. A disruptive technology is one that alters the very fabric of a business process or way of life, displacing whatever previously stood in its place. BIM and cloud computing fit the profile of disruptive technologies, individually, and when combined these stand to create a tidal wave of change.
BIM is the life cycle management of the built environment, supported by digital technology. While a great deal of emphasis has been placed upon 3D visualization, this is just a component of BIM. The shift from a “first cost mentality” to a life cycle cost or total cost of ownership is a huge change for many. Improving decision making practices and applying standardized terms, metrics, and cost data can also prove challenging. An understanding and integration of the associated knowledge domains important to life cycle management is required, resulting in what is now being referred to as “big data.”
Cloud computing is also a disruptive technology, and it’s one that impacts several areas. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) definition of cloud computing is as follows, “Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. The cloud model is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.”
It is perhaps helpful to define cloud computing in terms of its benefits. Cloud computing enables far greater levels of collaboration, transparency, and information access previously unavailable by traditional client/server, database, or even prior generation web applications. Multiple users can work on the same data set with anyone, anywhere, anytime, in multicurrency, multilanguage environments. All changes can be tracked to “who did what” within seconds (potentially the best form of security available), and information is never deleted.
The disruptive technologies of BIM and cloud computing will accelerate the adoption of emergent construction delivery methods and foster new frameworks. Design-bid-build, the traditional construction delivery method for decades, is inherently flawed. As a lowest bid deployment it immediately sets up adversarial relationships for involved parties. Owners prepare a solicitation for construction projects based on their understanding of them1, with or without third-party A/E assistance, and in most cases they go out in search of the lowest bidder. Then without a thorough understanding of the owner’s facility, bidders base their responses on the owner’s solicitation, plans, and specifications. Owners typically allow a period of time for bidders’ questions and clarifications; but the quality of this interchange is at best questionable if based solely on a written scope, plans and specifications, and/or a meeting with suppliers.
Design-build, arguably a step in right direction, falls short of bringing all stakeholders together. More responsibility of design and construction is shifted to the contractor and/or A/E. However, the dual level participation structure doesn’t assure the interests of all parties are equally addressed. Furthermore, the design-build process is typically reserved for major new construction projects versus the numerous sustainability, repair, renovation projects, and minor new construction projects typically encountered by facility managers (fms).
Because BIM brings together previously disparate information into a framework that enables decision support, using the technology requires a collaborative construction delivery method. The integration of the domain knowledge and robust processes required to allow fms, A/Es, and other stakeholders to achieve heightened levels of information sharing and collaboration is enabled by methods that include Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) and Job Order Contracting (JOC).
Key characteristics of these emergent construction delivery methods include: choices based on best value; some form of pricing transparency; early and ongoing information sharing among project stakeholders; appropriate distribution of risk; and some form of financial incentive to drive performance.
Both IPD and JOC allow, if not require, owner cost estimators and project managers to “partner” with contractors, subcontractors, and A/Es to conceptualize, create, cost, prioritize, start, and report upon projects—in the very early phases of construction.
IPD, JOC, and Simplified Acquisition of Base Civil Engineering Requirements (SABER)—the U.S. Air Force term for applying JOC practices—are practiced simultaneously by a growing number of organizations and supported by digital technologies. These construction delivery processes are embedded within software to allow for rapid, cost-effective, and consistent deployment as well as the associated level of collaboration and transparency.
BIM and cloud computing are disruptive technologies that will accelerate the adoption of emergent construction delivery methods such as IPD and JOC. Construction delivery methods set the tone and level of interaction among project participants and can be viewed as the management process framework. When supported by BIM and cloud computing, the life cycle management of the built environment, and the associated management of big data, can be expected to become commonplace for many construction projects.
Cholakis is chief marketing officer for 4Clicks Solutions, LLC, a Colorado Springs, CO provider of cost estimating and project management software. With expertise in facilities life cycle costs and total cost of ownership in various market segments, he is involved in numerous industry associations and committees including the American Society of Safety Engineers, Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering, Society of American Military Engineers, BIM Library Committee-National Institute for Building Sciences (NIBS), and National Building Information Model Standard Project Committee.
1 “The Art of Thinking Outside the Box;” Vince Duobinis; 2008.
I am writing this from Washington, D.C. while participating in the NIBS Building Innovation 2013 Conference. The buildingSMART alliance conference is part of this gathering under the title “Integrating BIM: Moving the Industry Forward.”
BIM education and practice requires focus upon process and associated return-on-investment. Robust communication and adoption of standard and/or “best practice” construction planning and delivery methods specific to efficient life-cycle management of the built environment are sorely needed.
It is amazing that Integrated Project Delivery – IPD, and “IPD-lite”… the latter being Job Order Contracting and SABER which are forms of IPD specifically for renovation, repair, sustainability and minor new construction… are not being brought to the forefront as critical aspects of BIM. It is the construction planning and project delivery method that sets the tone of any project and ultimately dictate relationships and associated successes or failures.
Collaboration, transparency, and performance-based win-win relationships are necessary components of a BIM-based philosophy. Yet, these and other critical aspects; including defensible, accurate, and transparent cost estimating and standardized construction cost data architectures, are neither in forefront of current thinking nor receiving an adequate allocation of resources.
Far too much emphasis continues to be place on the 3d visualization component aspect of BIM, IFC format pros and cons, and other “technology” areas.
Technology is NOT what is holding back BIM, it is the apparent lack of understanding of … and associated failure to adopt … facility life-cycle management processes… combined and what can only be described as a pervasive “not invented here” attitude.
Many of of our peers are reinventing the wheel over and over again at tremendous cost to all stakeholders…Owners, AEs, Contractors, Subs, Oversight Groups, Building Users, Building Product Manufacturers, …not to mention our Economy and our Environment, vs. sharing information and working toward common goals.
A workshop with members from the BIM Academy, NBS, and various other was recently held to postulate on this topic.
As one might expect topics encompassed; design, procurement, policy and standards, technology, education and culture, success to date, areas for innovation, challenges, and barriers to adoption.
As facilities costs are second only to personal/labor costs for most organizations, the need for breadth, consistency and transparency of BUILDING INFORMATION to understand, articulate, prioritize, and act upon requirements is readily apparent. Information must be timely, accurate, transparent, actionable, traceable, and shared collaboratively.
Change management is a requirement, and those adapt will excel, those that do not will fall behind.
A core, yet perhaps obvious observation was that ” There is a growing realization of the importance of data structure, quality and transferability, rather than geometry alone. We need to stop talking less about “the model” and more about “the data”.
“One participant noted a recent US comparative diagram mapping CAD adoption in the 1980s and recent BIM adoption. The trajectory has been much more rapid for BIM, however from recent discussions with US practitioners it appears the US is advanced in geometric, spatial and visual BIM uses but progress in the productive use of structured data, particularly into the operational phase, seems to be falling behind the UK.”
BIM management is misunderstood by some clients who regard it as purely a technological challenge which can be simply be solved by a software purchase and training, others are intimidated by a perceived complex restructuring of management processes. The truth lies somewhere between and follow the principles of Latham – get the process right before you think of the technology.
The role of IPD (Integrated Project Design) and JOC (Job Order Contracting) will become even more important. It was also noted that collaborative working doesn’t necessarily demand multidisciplinary organizations. There is a balance to be struck between the efficiency gained from freshness and innovation often achieved from different organizations coming to together on a project basis and working collaboratively, however traditional disjointed methods of procurement common in industry, such as design-bid-build or even design-build or CMAR do not fully encourage this. IPD and JOC, the later a form of IPD for facility renovation, repair, and construction are proven methods of developing long term, win-win multi-party relationships. “It’s crucial to get the right people involved early enough and understanding what outcomes they need from the start.”, and both IPD and JOC enforce this behavior.
Perhaps most importantly the topic of education rose front and center:
“It was agreed that this community also needs to escape from its silos. Some universities are starting to adopt a multidisciplinary curriculum supported by BIM, but this needs to become the standard not the exception. “Why not have a combined construction degree with final years dedicated to a specific discipline and practical work experience in between?””
Cloud-computing will have a much more significant impact upon how the built environment is managed than 3D visualization. Information drives cost savings and higher efficiency. How and when we access information will forever alter day-to-day and strategic business practices for Owners, AEs, Contractors, SubContractors, Business Product Manufacturers, Building Users, Oversight Groups, and the Community.
BIM is the life-cycle management of the built environment support by digital technology.
Currently, the efficient life-cycle management of the built environment is being retarded by several factors:
- Existence of data silos;
- Organizational/professional cultures;
- Reliance archaic construction delivery methods (design-build-build, vs. IPD, JOC), and
- Poor life-cycle management knowledge transfer.
Most disconcerting is that, in most cases, methods for gathering and working on significantly enhanced tactical and strategic facility life-cycle management practices are readily available. Primary failures and relative lack of progress relative to BIM occur due to lack of applying information to resolve planning, resource allocation, and execution in a timely, collaborative manner. Cloud computing uniquely addresses all of these important issues.
Data silos evolved from improper higher education and professional training practices, inefficient and adversarial construction delivery methods, as well as piecemeal IT procurement policies.
Traditional data processing systems and application specific software solutions were confined by the high cost of memory and storage. Memory, storage, and processing power are now relatively inexpensive, to the extent that they are mathematically approaching zero. As a result Internet massive scale storage, search, and processing paradigms are rapidly becoming commonplace. That said, Excel and similar spreadsheet-centric programs, and even relational database technology are not up to the task of accessing and working upon data fast enough.
Cloud computing however enables the searching and use of massive data sets in milliseconds. Additionally real-time, multi-point collaborative access is securely enabled by cloud computing. In short, cloud computing eliminates the need for data silos.
Moving the currently disparate knowledge domain AECOO (Architecture Engineering, Construction, Owner, Operations) practices into a collaborative process, and shifting information access to an earlier point within the construction project planning process are also enabled by cloud computing and associated “newer” construction delivery methods (Integrated Project Delivery – IPD, and Job Order Contracting – JOC). Former time-line and silo restricted aspects of present day-to-day AECOO business practices stand to be vaporized by the precision search and analytic capabilities of modern cloud computing. Cloud computing is a highly standardized and virtualized commodity infrastructure, when combined with with standardized terms, cost data architectures, and similar generalized information hierarchies enables real-time continuous processing of open digital document/ information flow.
Fear that cloud computing will reduce the importance of Architects, Cost Estimators, Construction Managers, and other related profession is unfounded. Certainly inter-relationships and roles will evolve, however for those that are receptive, capabilities and potential within each profession will be expanded.
Problem #1? – “While engineering and construction management might legitimately (but also might not, as will be discussed) have efficiency as their primary goal, architectural design does not; what distinguishes architecture from mere building and architects from developers and contractors is the concern for aesthetics and design quality
Problem #2? – “The BIM process offers the opportunity for cross-disciplinary contamination without sacrificing design emphasis. How to blend engineering student input with architecture student design input so each group learns equally from the other and high quality design outcomes ar……”
Problem#3 – “However the nature of architectural idea generation is a delicate process, which does not always benefit from early and quantitatively rigorous engineering analysis.”
|Building Information Modeling (BIM) and the Impact on Design Quality|
|Madis Pihlak1*, Peggy Deamer2, Robert Holland3, Ute Poerschke3, John Messner4 and Kevin Parfitt5|
|1School of Visual Arts, Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape, Architecture College of Arts and Architecture, Penn State, USA|
|2School of Architecture, Yale University Principal, Deamer Architects, USA|
|3Department of Architecture, Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape, Architecture College of Arts and Architecture, Penn State, USA|
|4Department of Architectural Engineering, College of Engineering, Penn State, USA|
|5Executive director, Consortium for the Advancement of Building Sciences, Department of Architectural Engineering College of Engineering, Penn State, USA|
|Received November 09, 2011; Accepted December 15, 2011; Published December 20, 2011|
|Citation: Pihlak M, Deamer P, Holland R, Poerschke U, Messner J, et al. (2011) Building Information Modeling (BIM) and the Impact on Design Quality. J Architec Engg Technol 1:101. doi:10.4172/jaet.1000101|
|Copyright: © 2011 Pihlak M, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.|
|The integrated studios in which architecture students are paired with engineering and construction manager students works on the assumption that the common denominator-BIM-is a tool of equal meaning and value to all. This is not the case: each discipline has its own values, procedures, and protocols that bend BIM to its own needs. When these differences are not recognized, design, which has traditionally been the province of architecture, gets short shrift. The BIM process offers the opportunity for cross-disciplinary contamination without sacrificing design emphasis. How to blend engineering student input with architecture student design input so each group learns equally from the other and high quality design outcomes are empowered rather than diminished will be discussed.|
|The integration of Building Information Modeling (BIM) procedures and the consequent earlier and more collaborative interdisciplinary design workflow is changing the nature of architectural design idea generation. The pre-BIM workflow usually consisted of a patient and sometimes solitary search for meaningful architectural form, to an interactive multi-disciplinary group activity where mechanical, structural, electrical, lighting and construction engineers and landscape architects are involved in evaluating and proposing changes to early architectural design ideas and concepts.|
|The ability to recognize the differences between AECO cultures – and hence, architecture with its design thrust – isn’t helped by the fact that efficiency and cost-effectiveness are the banner under which the different disciplines mutually latch onto BIM. While engineering and construction management might legitimately (but also might not, as will be discussed) have efficiency as their primary goal, architectural design does not; what distinguishes architecture from mere building and architects from developers and contractors is the concern for aesthetics and design quality. One could argue that efficiency (in particular in material and energy use as well as operations) should be a criterion of architectural design, but certainly not the only (or perhaps even the most important one). Without emotional and aesthetic impact a building is not architecture. Without consideration and achievement of a certain amount of efficiency or function, there is a real risk that a piece of architecture is a building with an unhappy client. Such unhappy clients may turn to design/build entities (usually lead by contractors or engineers) as a way to get what they perceive as better architectural results. It is our architectural position that the BIM workflow has the potential to positively impact the creation of meaningful architecture. However the nature of architectural idea generation is a delicate process, which does not always benefit from early and quantitatively rigorous engineering analysis. Of course early engineering input can greatly aid the creative development of the architectural design concept. Herein lays the core position of this paper. The BIM workflow shows great promise. Precisely when and how engineering analysis should be brought to bear on the architectural idea will be discussed.|
|Having said this, BIM challenges many of the tenants of traditional “good” design practice, and the manner in which BIM adjusts the process of design needs to be understood, agreed upon, and secured. The unchartered territory has to do with a number of things: BIM software’s general awkwardness with non-orthogonal designs; its potential for collaboration (in the case espoused here, between architecture students and engineering student designers); its ability to conceive/insistence on constructability; the immediacy with which it integrates design decisions with 2-D and 3-D representational output; its access to and limitation of its library of elements.|
|The things in this list that limit ones design repertoire will, for some, be the reason to shun BIM and/or wait for Revit and other BIM software to become more adroit. But this strategy puts design in a passive position, waiting for change/perfection instead of participating in its technically and culturally unfolding context.|
|It is for this reason that, if one is concerned about the quality of design while working in a BIM environment, each discipline might explore the potential for BIM individually. This is not to say that at a point in the future, or at a more advanced stage of a designer’s education, the inter-disciplinary collaborative potential of BIM should be denied; only that the delicacy of design, for now, needs attention as it moves into unchartered territory.|
|BIM Studio Examples|
|While this position of design delicacy affects design strategies in practice, it more directly implies pedagogical tactics in the academy. How does one introduce BIM in schools of architecture as well as schools/programs of building management, landscape architecture, engineering, and other AECO academies, in a manner that supports design? In this regard, it is fruitful to examine studios that variously explore the location of design as it adjusts to the protocols for BIM. Three such studios provide interesting and contrasting examples: the Penn Studio led by Robert Holland, with Ute Poerschke, Madis Pihlak, John Messner and Kevin Parfitt. Columbia University’s Building Intelligence Project (C-BIP) led by Scott Marble, David Benjamin, Laura Kurgan; and the University of Texas, Austin core studio led by Danelle Briscoe. These studios explore the location of design in differing ways, from the most inter-disciplinary example to the most architecture-centric, and offer interesting lessons regarding the status of design.|
|The penn state interdisciplinary collaborative BIM studio|
|In a prototype Interdisciplinary Collaborative BIM Studio at Penn State, some fifth year and graduate architecture and landscape architecture students worked in multi-disciplinary teams with fourth year architectural engineering students from four different engineering disciplines. (structural, mechanical systems, lighting electrical and construction engineering) This prototype BIM studio has occurred each spring term from 2009 through 2011 . (This BIM studio is currently being integrated into the curricula of all six disciplines as a regularly scheduled alternative design studio). In this studio, three teams of students – each made up of an architect, a landscape architect, and the four types of engineers – were given the same real design project, the “reality” of the project (which is to say, one that was slated to be built) making apparent the multiplicity of players that have input into the making of a project. Each BIM team developed their design project through group meetings outside of studio time and with desk critiques with each of the five faculties. Since for the first two years of the BIM studio only Robert Holland, the Professor in Charge, was given administrative/teaching credit for the class and the other four faculties taught pro bono, not all faculty attended each studio session for desk critiques. On a three week schedule there were formal design juries where all five faculty and invited administrators and real project design, engineering and client participants actively critiqued the student design and engineering proposals. Design quality and overall aesthetic impact, high functioning creative teams and software integration were major focus areas of the BIM studio. BIM workflows and the interoperability of the various software were of necessary concern. The architecture students used Revit, Sketchup, AutoCAD, Ecotect and 3D Studio, while the landscape architect student experimented with Vectorworks Designer, Revit and AutoCAD Land Desktop. The engineering students used Revit MEP, Navisworks(4D and Clash Detection), Timberline (cost estimating), GBS (energy modeling), RAM (structural), Project and Primavera. Learning workshops with Vasari (Beta software) were also conducted with Autodesk representatives throughout the term.|
|With such a complete engineering contingent and only one architect and one landscape architect on each BIM team there was a concern for productive and creative group dynamics. For each of the first two years Professor Sam Hunter of the Penn State Industrial/Organizational Psychology Department led a team of Grad students to study the functioning of the creative design teams. The most interesting finding was that the teams that were able to manage a certain degree of conflict lead to the most innovative architectural, landscape architectural and engineering solutions. The BIM teams that strived to minimize conflict produced the least innovative designs. Dr. Hunter’s team also found that stressing the equality of expertise of each of the student discipline areas lead to the development of the most creative learning environment. The importance of each of the student expertise areas to actively promote their area and then to be mature enough to compromise when necessary lead to the best solutions. Again, too much compromise lead to less than optimal design solutions. Finding the balance of just the right amount of conflict proved to be one of the determinants of a successful creative design solution.|
|In comparison to the traditional architectural studio, early engineering and landscape architecture advice to aid in the development of an architectural design concept sped the design process. Likewise, the collaboration between the designers – landscape and architecture – and the engineers was productive when two conditions were met: when the designers were strong and confident and when the engineers were flexible enough to fly with the non-linear creative process. But in the other cases, the designers floundered with the need to explain their sometimes poorly developed design concepts to four different types of engineers. Either the designers felt the need to absorb the logic of the engineers (which they cannot be blamed for doing poorly) or the engineers could use their quantitative abilities (so much more justifiable than the subject product in of design) to overwhelm the formation of a concept (Figure 1,2,3).|
|The Penn State Interdisciplinary Collaborative BIM Studio has won a NCARB Award (2011), an ACSA Award (2010) and a National AIA Award (2009).|
|Columbia university C-BIP|
|This fourth semester studio in a 3-year MArch program, as student’s transition from the core sequence into advanced studios, combines three traditional studios (hence the three instructors) and employs outside consultants from environmental studies and engineering. In addition, the studio builds on the ideas, expertise, and suggestions coming from the “Think Tank” symposiums that include all the players of the AECO industry as they gather around BIM capabilities. As the brief says, “The single critic/single student/single project model of architectural education can no longer address the design potential found in the complexity of projects or the increasing role that collaboration will play in future practice.” The students are given existing buildings to modify for environmental updating. In the first phase, students are asked to design components or “Elements”, designed in CATIA and documented with a design manual that can be attached to the building’s skin roof, or ground plane and will adjust the building’s environmental performance. These components form a library of elements available to all students in the studio in the second phase, in which the students form groups and establish their “Integrated Building Strategies,” consisting of combining and synthesizing elements from the first stage library into a parametric building solution. These strategies, like the Elements, are intended to be flexible and reusable. Because the Elements can be adjusted to the new groups’ concept/strategy only by the original author, who has to be responsive to the request for modification while adhering to the parameters that initiated its creation, collaboration happens in two ways: the original Element author adjusting his/her element according to new demands and each student participating in a team that forms its Strategy for building performance renovation. The final project is thus a collaboration of various authors who maintain an individual sense of authorship while taking advantage of the wisdom of many.|
|In comparison to the Penn State Architecture/Architectural Engineering Integrated Studio, the Columbia architecture students utilized the information of the non-architecture AECO industries via the consultants attending the Think Tanks and the studio, leaving intact the design-specific method of architects. However, much else challenged the nature of traditional design methodologies: the collaboration and sharing between architects; the inability at all stages of starting from scratch, since the program was on existing buildings, the Elements had to function according to environmental criterion, and the eventual Strategies were compilations of ideas/forms generated by the elements. The strongest projects at the Element level were those that did not forget all of the other things beyond function and adaptability that make good design: appropriate scale of solution to problem; scalability in general; elegance; context. Likewise, the input of environmental and structural engineering, made the performance –driven nature of this problem richer, but did not determine for better or worse the quality of design; it merely changed its content.|
|The austin/briscoe studio|
|This studio, taken concurrently with a Visual Communication course, was offered for 1st and 2nd year students who are taking the first of a seven-semester studio sequence and who have varying degrees of design and drawing experience, some with no design background at all. The students are given a typical design problem of designing a building that must be responsive to program and context, with two initial exercises: the first was the analogue design of a canopy design, its mechanism, and its relationship to a wall. The second digitized this and brought it into BIM. The rest of the semester was spent developing the wall system as it applied to the building in its urban site. After the initial analog design of the canopy, all else is designed in Revit, where the aim was to avoid separating parametric modeling from BIM and to take advantage of the “optimized geometry” when parameters were set up for the performance of the components, their relationship to each other, and their interaction with the building and site as a whole. The challenge was to see how students new to design would handle the potential overload of information as they established a concept and developed them into spatial ideas.|
|Danelle Briscoe indicated that the students were not inhibited by the amount information and took particular advantage of the representational ability of Revit, both in 2-D representations and in the physical models facilitated by the workflow between BIM and fabrication methodologies (laser-cutter; 3Dprinter, 3-D scanner); that they had more sophisticated designs as a result of the construction information required of their design decisions; and, as a result of these two conditions, they produced work more sophisticated than the norm for that level. At the same time, she indicated that the complexity of the software makes it desirable for a separate instruction prior to or parallel to the studio.|
|In this case, there was no desire to mine BIM neither for its interdisciplinary nature nor even for it collaborative, sharing capabilities. Rather, the imperative of constructability – that means that lines can’t be drawn innocently; the power of 2-D to 3-D to 2-D – that makes architectural representation not just sophisticated but information heavy; and the parametric possibilities of Revit without recourse to other parametric software – were tested. In this, the students were not given the same depth of “content” of the two other studios discussed, but the essential tools of design were transformed from something moving from general gesture to specific detail to something moving, like the Columbia studio, from buildable part to overall building/site design. In this, the natural limitations of such a process – the ability to think more abstractly – is understood by the teacher, but needs to be grasped and overcome as well by the students. The strongest designers, again, will be those that latch on to the power of the new, bulky information while also being able to step back and see the success of design solution as a whole concept – integrated, appropriate, elegant, coherent, and diagrammatically clear. Likewise, despite that fact that collaboration was not a primary agenda, the students grasped the advantage of sharing knowledge, sources and design, such that the success of one’s project was not predicated on originality, but rather on access to and judgment regarding choices.|
|As discussed, the Penn State, Columbia University, and UT Austin studios’ primary aims in using BIM to advance design competence were very different. The Penn State studio focused on robust engineering integration with landscape architecture involvement; the Columbia studio focused on design collaboration; and the Austin studio on the formal possibilities for an individual designer. The Columbia Studio concentrated on renovating existing buildings; the Austin studio on developing buildings from scratch and Penn State used real building projects, with design juries with the architect of record and their engineering consultants. The Columbia studio emphasized environmental parameters; the Austin studio, the geometry potential resulting from programmatic and site parameters and the Penn State studio emphasized detailed engineering integration. Thus, one cannot draw any singular conclusions about how “design” with BIM can/ should be taught in an architectural school.|
|However, certain observations can be made:|
|1. The three studios indicate that BIM can be incorporated successfully at either the upper or lower level of design education.|
|2. They show that the two main aspects of traditional design – singular authorship and a formal abstraction dependent on limited information – may rightfully be rethought as sine qua non of design education.|
|3. They indicate that design sensibility is not aided by or thwarted by BIM. Briscoe emphasizes that while BIM helped the students visualize their decisions, it neither made “design” automatic nor took the place of aesthetic judgment. Marble/Benjamin/Kurgan implicitly indicate this by not making the studio about design invention (supposedly happening elsewhere in their education) but rather affective performance. The Penn State studio had somewhat weaker design teams and somewhat stronger design teams.|
|4. Columbia and Austin concentrated on the creation of components as the starting point of BIM design. Penn State benefited from professional engineering students who created original engineered design solutions. This is both a comment on the limits of the existing BIM library and an indication that BIM’s greatest potential at this stage is in the small scale, where the specifics of performance is able to be intimately navigated and the limits of formal synthesis (the inability to easily blend wall, roof and floor, for example) less immediate.|
|5. The studios indicate that collaboration is facilitated by BIM. While this was clearly the goal and stated pleasure and success of the Columbia studio, Briscoe indicated that the “open source” attitude of the students and the facility to share with BIM meant that without specific direction, the students shared their knowledge and resources. The Penn State BIM Studio benefited greatly from busy professionals making time to attend multiple design juries.|
|The ability of design to not only NOT be sacrificed in teaching BIM, but to be explored in new ways, is an indication that BIM design is not an oxymoron. These examples indicate that there is much that needs to be and should be explored as BIM enters architectural design studios. That this exploration needs to happen with attention, vigilance and, to reiterate the thrust of this article, within the arena of the architectural design discipline is also clear. This is not to say that architecture must be the dominant player in collaborations or that collaboration should not happen. Rather, it merely but strongly suggests that design, always economically unquantifiable and unjustifiable, can easily get lost in an expanded playing field where numbers, time and money are so present. Collaboration is vitally important and central to a changed definition of architectural practice. The hope in this is not that each discipline bends BIM to its traditional aims but takes advantage of being moved out of its comfort zone and looking for innovative ways to consider “problem formation,” not only determine “solution-finding.” That this is an attitude shared not merely by architects, but by those other disciplines is indicated in the following observation made by Scott Marble in the description of one of the think Tanks that framed his C_BIP studio: “During one of the discussions, Hanif Kara of Adams Kara Taylor proposed design engineering—the integration of engineering ideas at the outset of concept design—as one step toward a more collaborative relationship between engineers and architects with principles that could expand to an entire design and construction team. He insisted, though, that this not be seen as a casual blurring of disciplinary boundaries, where architects become engineers and vice versa. On the contrary, he suggested that each discipline become more skilled at what they do and, most importantly, respect and value the contribution of each other as a first step towards new working processes .”|
|Additionally, the case can be made that engineering and building management will move towards an engagement with design. The point of saving design within architecture is not to keep either architecture or design in a privileged position, but to realize that all the AEC players contribute to (a larger definition of) design. If this occurs, design not only will NOT be sacrificed, but enhanced, and all players will be in a position to think about quality, not just quantity; to think about innovation and risk, not just cost-effectiveness. The reality is that these disciplines already play this role more than we have traditionally acknowledged, and as we understand instead of challenge each other’s contributions to design thinking, we displace prejudices that benefit no one, least of all the quality of our buildings.|
|‘The Penn State BIM Collaborative studio was generously supported by the Bowers Fund for Excellence in Design and Construction of the Built Environment; the Thornton Tomasetti Foundation and the Leonhard Center for Enhancement of Engineering Education. With the exception of the Professor in Charge, all other faculty donated their time.|
|3. http://www.hegra.org/EDS Independent voice Jan 2008.html|
|5. http: / /www.ar chi tecture.com/LibraryDrawingsAndPhotographs / PalladioAndTheVeneto/PalladioAndHisRegion/Villas/LaRotonda/Rotonda2.aspx|
|7. http://www.agc.org/galleries/contracts/CCR comparision of AIA IPD documents with the consensusdoc 300.pdf|
|9. http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/icb.topic552698.files/WickershamBIM-IPD legal and business isssues.pdf|
|2The first year involved an elementary school with a real site, which was never built due to concerns over the subsurface super fund site. The next year the new campus early childcare center was chosen as a design project. The third time another elementary school was chosen in the State College School District. The two later sites allowed extensive interaction with the consultant team of architects and engineers.|