Building Information Modeling: Fasten Your Seatbelts

June 20, 2014

BIM is Driving Design Forward
When I started working in architecture eight years ago, Building Information Modeling (BIM) was barely on the radar. It was more of a buzz word than a real topic of discussion. At the time, there was reluctance to change. Some in our industry chose to grasp tightly to CAD, not wanting to stray from the known. Others, like myself, followed the technology.

When the economic downturn hit, BIM (and those using it) went into overdrive. A single BIM user was now expected to perform the tasks of two or three individuals using CAD. This forced shift in the design process forced us to make the “switch”, which actually turned out to be much easier than anticipated. Not to mention that the tangible benefits of BIM were immediately evident.

Designing in the 3rd dimension and embedding information into a building model gave the designer, as well as the client, the ability to visualize and provide quality input throughout the entire process.

Another by-product of this collaborative tool is the improved interaction between designers and builders. By blurring project phases, BIM allows us to integrate information into the model at the time decisions are being made, rather than later in the process or after the fact. And its always there, all in one location for everyone to access.

The integration of subcontractor fabrication-level models also means less guesswork. True conditions are represented during design and eventually built in the field, giving the model legitimacy and creating a much more informed design process…and design team. Who wouldn’t want that?

Are We There Yet?
Fast forward from eight years ago and BIM is more of a household name today (or at least one used around the architectural firm with ease). You’d think we’d all be using this tool to its greatest potential. That’s not the case, though. The use of BIM and its application still vary widely from end-user to end-user.

Enter BIM Standards. Collegiate and government agencies alike have discussed, analyzed and created standards “that were signed in triplicate, sent in, sent back, queried, lost, found, subjected to public inquiry, lost again, and finally buried in soft peat for three months” and finally published. These new standards lay the foundation for BIM throughout the entire life-cycle of a building, utilizing a standardized format for building information.

Technology is growing at an exponential rate. This enables us to become more efficient as designers and builders. Many savvy design and construction firms are now poised to take advantage of this.

Taking Full Advantage of BIM
With this technology we are able to create a living deliverable that the end-user, client, facility manager or otherwise, can use as a tool. Whether its using BIM for asset tracking, energy analysis, space planning, 3D visualization, smart building systems integration, or integrated project delivery, it is a tool that gives them a view from the driver’s seat.

So the question becomes: How will these clients, facility managers and client representatives take full advantage of building information models? And how will these models interact and connect into a larger city infrastructure?

We will be discussing what’s next for BIM at the Sacramento BIM Networking Event on July 16th, 2014. If you are a BIM professional or interested in BIM, please join us. Send me your contact information at for more details.

Download a copy of the full Sacramento BIM Network brochure.pdf

Building Information Modeling Network Event brochure.