Building Information Modeling, BIM, is the life-cycle management of the built environment supported by digital technology. As such, the core requirements of BIM include collaboration, standardized information, multiple domain competencies, and several supporting interoperable technologies.
Let’s face it, BIM continues to languish. Sure a lot of architects use it for pretty pictures to win business, and there are several “case studies” surrounding clash detection, etc. etc. However, life-cycle and/or ongoing facility management using BIM? No so much.
This is not only sad but economically and environmentally imprudent. The efficient life-cycle management of the built environment is critical to both global competitiveness and preserving sustainable resources.
Why is BIM of to a slow start? Too much focus on 3D visualization, too much “reinventing the wheel” trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, and virtually NO EMPHASIS upon the requirements for life-cycle management… associated competencies, domains, technologies, ongoing collaboration, integration, and continuous improvement.
Design-bid-build and “low bid” awards are the downfall of the Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Owner, and Operations sector. The method is antagonistic, wasteful, and typically delivers poor initial and ongoing results.
Focus upon CHANGE MANAGEMENT and building awareness relative to both COLLABORATIVE CONSTRUCTION DELIVERY METHODS AND LIFECYCLE, TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP MANAGMENT is the only thing that will “kick start” BIM.
Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) and Job Order Contracting (JOC) are both collaborative construction delivery methods that have been proven for decades, however, awareness remains low. IPD’s focus is upon major new construction, while JOC focuses upon the numerous renovation, repair, sustainability, and minor new construction projects so critical to efficient use of our current infrastructure.
The below diagram outlines the competencies, technologies, and process required for the lifecycle management of the built environment.
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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;
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
School of Visual Arts
Stuckeman School of Architecture and Landscape
Architecture College of Arts and Architecture, Penn State, USA E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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).
Figure 1:Robert Holland Associate Professor, Architecture and Architectural Engineering leading BIM studio students in a discussion in the Stuckeman Center, Stuckeman School, Penn State.
Figure 2:Students of six different disciplines present their project to invited guests form practice and academia.
Figure 3:Digital models used in a project by different disciplines (from top left to bottom right): coordinated model, construction scheduling, structural analysis, energy analysis, coordination of structure and mechanical systems, architectural models.
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.
Deamer P, Bernstein PG, eds BIM in Academia. Yale School of Architecture, New Haven, CT, 96.3.
Eastman C, Teicholz P, Sacks R, Liston K (2008) BIM Handbook, A Guide to Building Information Modeling for owners, managers, Designers, Engineers and Contractors. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
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.
BIM (Building Information Modeling) is the life-cycle management of the built environment supported by digital technologies. As such it is a process of collaboration, continuous improvement, transparency, and integration. 3D distractions aside, achieving optimal return-on-investment (ROI) on BIM requires focus upon change management, first and foremost. Ad-hoc business practices, traditional construction delivery methods, and legacy software must be cast aside.
BIM is managing information to improve understanding. BIM is not CAD. BIM is not 3D. BIM is not application oriented. BIM maximizes the creation of value. Up, down, and across the built environment value network. In the traditional process, you lose information as you move from phase to phase. You make decisions when information becomes available, not necessarily at the optimal time. BIM is not a single building model or a single database. Vendors may tell you that everything has to be in a single model to be BIM. It is not true. They would be more accurate describing BIM as a series of interconnected models and databases. These models can take many forms while maintaining relationships and allowing information to be extracted and shared. The single model or single database description is one of the major confusions about BIM.(http://4sitesystems.com/iofthestorm/books/makers-of-the-environment/book-3/curriculum-built-world/categories/introductionbim-integration/)
The principles of BIM:
Life-cycle management: Process-centric , longer term planning and technologies that consider total cost of ownership, support decision making with current, accurate information, and link disparate knowledge domains and technologies.
Collaborative Delivery Processes: Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) procurement and construction delivery processes that consider and combine the knowledge and capabilities of all stake holders – Owners, AEs, Contractors, Business Product Manufacturers, Oversight Groups, Service Providers, and the Community. (i.e. IPD, Job Order Contracting/JOC)
Standards and Guidelines: Common glossary of terms, metrics, and benchmarks that enable efficient, accurate communication on an “apples to applies” basis.
Collaborative, Open Technologies and Tools: Cloud-based systems architectures that enable rapid, scalable development, unlimited scalability on demand, security, real-time collaboration, and an full audit trail.
(Johnson et al. 2002) – There is an interrelationship between business goals, work processes, and the adoption of information technology. That is, changes in business goals generally require revising work processes which can be enhanced further by the introduction of information technology. But we also recognized that innovations in information technology creates possibilities for new work processes that can, in turn, alter business goals In order to understand how information technology influences architectural practice it is important to understand all three of these interrelated elements.
Business Goals… Work processes …. Information technology
require/create require/create require/create
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Sustainability – “to create and maintain conditions, under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations.” – US Executive Order 13423
BIM is the life-cycle modeling and management of the built environment supported by digital technology. Forget the 3D visualization distraction for a moment and let’s focus on the important component of the BIM acronym; the “I” for information.
As we all know from a quote commonly attributed to Peter Drucker… and I paraphrase ‘You can’t manage what you don’t measure’. Most, if not all failures to implement BIM and/or facility life-cycle management are likely traceable to the fundamental failure to gather the requisite accurate and transparent information required in order to make informed decisions. (Note: I use the terms “facility” or “facilities” to include any built structure.)
First, a few clarifications and items to help frame this discussion:
BIM definition: “BIM is the life-cycle modeling and management of the built environment supported by digital technology.”
While BIM can be applied to any situation, the focus of this discussion is upon – multi-facility portfolios, with extensive capital reinvestment, renovation, repair, maintenance, and sustainability requirements/projects.
We are all faced with a significantly altered economic and environmental landscape: more to do, limited capital/cost cuts, more accountability and transparency, and the need to reduce our “carbon footprint”.
Success in today’s world requires moving from a reactionary and needs-satisfaction mode to longer term strategies with associated options. This is a major shift in thinking for many, but especially for our business or “for-profit sectors”.
Robust, proven processes with associated accurate transparent, and actionable information in support of fact-based decision-marking are drivers for success.
Creation of a business-based capital reinvestment and asset management framework and decision-making capability are central requirements.
Accurate, timely information is required for sound decision-making.
Decisions regarding reinvestment into the built should be made in concert with the attainment and support of an organization’s mission.
Technology is a tool to enable lower cost implementation of strategies and processes. Technology’s role is to assure consistent, cost-efficient application of embedded business process, enabling faster deployment, automation of routine or complex mathematical processes, and associated decision-making and reporting capabilities.
BIM’s SLOW START
Okay, so know let’s look a bit more about why BIM is not fully understood, nor being rapidly accepted across the Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Owner, Operations/Facility Management sector(s).
Many, if not most organizations lack robust, consistent, and transparent planning policies and overall life-cycle management processes.
Existing processes and construction delivery methods are largely antagonistic and outdated, with divergent goals for involved parties.
Stove-piped mandates with many players, and unused or misunderstood information.
Lack of clear direction and leadership focus, process management, and desired, quantitative outcomes.
Lack of appropriate tools to assist the life-cycle management process, inclusive of appropriate data validation and standardization.
The appropriate use of consultants, especially in the areas of “change management”.
Lack of understanding and adopting of newer and more efficient construction delivery methods (Integrated Project Delivery – IPD, Job Order Contracting – JOC), contracts, and supporting technology tools.
All aspects of BIM/faclity life-cycle managment, it’s organization, purpose, policies, assumptions, mandates, methods and scope must be discussed, agreed upon, and re-evaluated on a continuous, cyclical basis. It’s important that process ownership resides with everyone in the organization with appropriate expertise applied and shared from multiple knowledge-domains. Furthermore, that direct involvement and support of decision-makers and appropriate involvement of consultants and/or outsourcing is available.
BIM/life-cycle facility management requires fundamental changes in business practices. Unfortuantely, change management is a tremendous chasm to bridge, and achieving any significant success using internal resource only is unlikely. Just a few of the areas associated with implementing a BIM strategy are shown below.
Anticipated outcomes must be linked to ALL decisions in terms of anticipated financial, functional and/or conditional improvements.
Proprietary (e.g., Excel) and COTS tools for are used for various aspects of facility life-cycle management – strategic planning, capital planning and management/financial modeling, construction delivery, maintenance management, spaces planning/untilization, building automation/security, project management, etc. Relatively limited effort, focus, associated or investment is typically applied in consideration of integrating and rationalizing these various systems in terms of the validation and standardization of information across multiple knowledge domains. The piecemeal/ad-hoc approach is a symptom of process and cultural issues with an organization and/or lack of attention to change management. For example, a common “excuse” relative to this issue of integrating disparate technologies and processes is that the involved technology is” incompatible”. In today’s world, virtually any technology using current technology can communicate with another. The real issues reside in the people and process that create the information. The inherent “fear of change” and traditional lack of collaboration among various professional discipline are the fundamental issues to be address. A good example is the continued use of proprietary spreadsheets for cost estimating and other somewhat complex domains. The use of spreadsheets is well beyond their technologies ability. Spreadsheets are single user and non-collaborative, have no concept of hierarchy, nor full audit capability. In short, spreadsheets are inefficient and costly to maintain at best, and are costly relative to information reuse or updating. Spreadsheet use cost estimating and cost control for facility portfolios is unfortunately both pervasive and untenable.
Similarly CAD-centric visualization tools, such as Revit and AutoCad [from Autodesk], SketchUp (graphical design), Archicad, Bentley, etc. are excellent data visualization tools however, should not be confused as a turnkey BIM life-cycle management solutions. Relational database centric systems offer enhances data management, however, do not afford the flexibility of spreadsheets. Newer cloud-based technologies and associated offer higher degrees of collaboration, transparency, and flexibility.
THE IMPORTANCE OF CHANGE MANAGEMENT
Any attempt at life-cycle facility management – BIM will have little or no value unless based upon a collaborative evaluation of current and planned operations, conditions, and priorities. The objective of BIM is to cost-effectivey meet infrastructure requirements in support of an organizations mission, and to mitigate any preventative and unplanned disruptions to operations and/or compromises the financial position of the organization. This includes an asset management decision support capability the bases capital reinvestment upon financial and functional returns. All projects compete for organizational resources and objective criteria must be established to enable maximum utilization of these finite resources. Informed, goal focused decision support capability is a definitive source of opportunity for efficiency/productivity gains.
Cost awareness across the organization is an important starting point. Everyone in an organization must realize that capital reinvestment decisions are inter-related and impact long term operational expenses.
While uncertainty will certainly be present to some extent, virtually any facility life-cycle project or task can be modeled for decision-makers, and modeled over several timelines… 5 yr, 10yr, 50yr. etc. The mindset that performance and process improvement is ongoing vs. static must be adopted. This accounts for associate organizational “growth” or “shrinkage”, trends, regulatory impacts, etc. The overall goal is to maximize any ability to adapt, renew, renovate, recycle, reuse, and/or grow/shrink physical resources.
WHO IS INVOLVED?
“Everyone impacted by decisions made” is the short answer, including but not limited to Owners, Architects, Planners, Contractors, Sub-Contractors, Business Product Manufacturers, Technology Providers, Consultants, Building Users, Oversight Groups. From an Owner perspective, involved parties would include; Senior Management/HQ, Local Management, Planners, Capital Planners, Finance, Procurement, Project Managers, Building Users,
So, assuming one proceeds down the BIM life-cycle facility path, what are the reasonable expectations? First, it’s important to understand that a phased approach is likely the best approach. Think of BIM as a large pie, one that you are going to put together a piece at a time. That said, you need the to be aware of the list of ingredients and how and when to put the ingredients together.
Secondly, BIM / life-cycle facility management is verb, a process, not a one time thing… like a project. It’s primary gold is to improve upon the efficiency of impacts of the built environment, helping decision-makers compare and better select among available capital reinvestment alternatives. All decisions should consider space, equipments, physical and functional conditions, current construction cost estimates and operational cost estimates over defined periods of time. An ROI, Return-on-Investment business analysis is mandatory for all projects, inclusive of due consideration of any associated potential risks to the organization’s mission. So called , “lean practices” are an important objective, as are simple to use decision support and monitoring tools such as “dashboards” and associated key performance indicators (KPIs).
Ongoing facility portfolio reassessment based on a routine and consistently conducted functional and physcial facility assessments associated with appropriate standardized and well vetted reference cost databases, cost models, and other tools such as GIS and BAS.
Efficient facility construction, renovation, repair, and sustainability process management methods such as IPD [integrated project delivery] and JOC [Job Order Contracting], which involve all stakeholders collaboratively from project concept and design, through construction and warranty periods are core components of BIM/facility-life cycle management.
Thus in summary, anyone involved in BIM, particularly owners would do well to establish clear leadership and organizational ownership of the associated business processes at all levels in the organization ( local, regional, and HQ) as well as defined inter-relationships and expectations of all collaborative partners (Architects, Engineers, Contractors, Consultants, Technology Providers, etc.). Organizations also must
clearly articulate all associated business processes and workflows, and mandate their use, as well as the fact that all decisions must be outcome-based. Full training and support must be available as all levels, including access to all requisite tools, software, information, etc.
For BIM to succeed will require a fundamental changes in how the AEC industry (architecture, engineering, construction) industry does business. Integrated Project Delivery – IPD, Job Order Contracting, and similar LEAN construction methods will need be become mainstream. In the interim, BIM will be relegated to 3d visualization and an organic growth output of 2D CAD, vs. the process of efficiently managing the built environment supported by digital technology.
The entire design and construction industry needs to rethink Lean in terms of overhauling entire project delivery models. Once it is accepted that the change is not a singular independent piece of a larger system, but an entire system of systems, teams can realign expectations not just around potential benefits, but the level of comfort (or discomfort) that will be required to transform an industry for the purpose of real strategic advantage.
By examining Gartner’s five phases of adoption, one can identify interesting similarities to the construction industry’s acceptance of lean practices, organizational process change, and the ability to inform strategies to increase the speed of adoption. Our findings suggest that organizations can decrease time spent in the “Trough of Disillusionment” and accelerate the successful adoption of new process strategies such as Lean Thinking and Integrated Project Delivery and new technologies such as Building Information Modeling and collaborative tools through focused alignment and engagement.
The key to the successful adoption of an innovative change is to ensure that the amount of time spent between entering the Trough of Disillusionment and the climb up the Slope of Enlightenment remains as short as possible. By reducing this period, industry moves faster in acceptance of perceived benefits and best practices are codified quickly. The Trough of Disillusionment also explains why technologies often fail. They never make it out of this stage and the technology is abandoned or replaced (Fenn and Raskino 2008).
Many conclusions can be drawn from Lean Construction’s (BIM’s) adoption lifecycle. The first is that Lean Construction is a discontinuous innovation that requires a fundamental change to the way one conducts business. While Lean philosophy is not new to business and reduction of waste (non-value added activity) is firmly rooted in sixty years of development as illustrated in the Toyota Production System, it is relatively new to design and construction. The implementation of practices such as the Last Planner System, Set Based Design, Integrated Project Delivery, and Building Information Modeling, require a change in business practice.
Finally, we have not created the “perfect storm” to accelerate adoption by selling Lean as a philosophy not a tool. The Early Majority is still looking for the clear definition (for examples, see Alves et al. 2010) and/or the checklist (“do this and you are Lean”). After 20 years of distributing the message, why haven’t (construction industry) people flocked to proven methodologies that have transformed manufacturing and other industries?
If industry is to adopt Lean Thinking in construction, it needs to create a desire for stakeholders to participate differently to mitigate this risk. It needs to create a project delivery model that is rooted in the Lean principles and not just in the adoption of Lean tools.
Lean Construction (BIM) while an important innovation with great potential and benefit as an idea, alone is not enough to tip the scales towards socialized adoption. We need to understand the barriers to that adoption in order to develop strategies to remove them. Understanding that the Design and Construction industry is huge and accepting that as an industry it is relatively conservative when it comes to change adoption and has grown to the present organizational models over a long period, one draws several parallels from other industries and areas of study.
Key influencers must champion new ideas and have a message that is simple and compelling. In addition, there must be a contextual environment that promotes the change. When an environment deems a change as “optional” with no consequences, group dynamic will allow others to bear the responsibility for the change to the point where nobody will be responsible for the change.
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