18
Jun
08

The Inevitability of Building Information Modeling

Ronda Bridge visualization

“Don’t send a boy to do a man’s job,” the old saying goes. That’s the gist of John Tobin’s plea for universal adoption and fullest possible use of Building Information Modeling (BIM). Tobin’s career has focused on 3D technologies. Now the principal architect at EYP Architecture & Engineering PC, he has also taught at Rensselaer School of Architecture.

His message is to not rely on the same old convention of two-dimensional drawings to visualize a project when there is a so much better tool at hand. And likewise, don’t send a man to do a boy’s job. Don’t think of BIM as just a fancier way to produce two-dimensional drawings. It’s a whole new world. Tobin says, “We would be better served to look beyond using BIM merely as a more powerful representation tool, and instead to treat the models we create as proto-buildings.”

A BIM model is the first iteration of a building, Tobin says, a true prototype, because proto means first. Once BIM gets its hands on a project and is used properly, what you get is less like a picture of a building, and more like a building. What you get is virtual construction.

Like anything else in life, the full realization of the BIM promise depends on attitude, the willingness to learn, change, co-operate, and share. New ways of thinking are called for. For instance, Tobin says:

After working with BIM for several years, many architects find themselves modeling in ways that don’t necessarily make sense if 2D representation is the end-goal.… A segment of the architecture profession is moving beyond representation, and embracing a proto-construction mentality, carefully but inevitably.

Tobin suggests that contractors have a head start on architects when it comes to adaptability, and discusses the options for interoperability, including the National BIM Standard (NBIMS), about which he is optimistic. He breaks down the chronology of BIM history into generations, and, along with the great examples and many illustrations, this is really why it’s worth reading the original article:

BIM 1.0 – CAD on Steroids, but still doing the traditional representation.
BIM 2.0 – The Big Bang in Reverse – this has to do with solving the design/build dichotomy. Now we get into the 4th dimension, which is time, and the 5th, which is money. Then came analyses of energy and environment, and the drive for interoperability, all wrapped up in a steep learning curve.
BIM 3.0 – Post-Interoperability: This era is in its infancy, and the quicker we help it grow up, the better. Just think of the advantage: Unlike any architects or builders in history, we can build a thing twice (or as many times as it takes) without the dreary agony of tearing down masonry or pulling out wrongly placed components. We get an infinite number of do-overs, without the sweat. What’s not to like?

Wiley’s BIM Handbook is just what’s needed to get up to speed on this vital topic. It includes everything you’d want to know about BIM, and case studies, too; a universe of information in a very accessible format, starting off with a chapter called “BIM Tools and Parametric Modeling Interoperability.” Other chapters approach BIM from the viewpoints of the architect, engineer, owner, facility manager, builder, subcontractor, fabricator, and family dog (just kidding.)

The visualization of Ronda Bridge, at the top of the page, was tagged by its creator with the labels Autocad and Maya.

SOURCE: ” Proto-Building: To BIM is to Build ” 05/28/08
photo courtesy of Ziuth2008, used under this Creative Commons license

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