Monday, February 21, 2011

Is BIM a catalyst or in need of one?

Most contemporary write-ups on BIM refer to this (often ill-defined) technology as the great catalyst for change for the AEC industry.
The ‘change’ they allude to is again a bit hazily described.
Still, many believe  that in the foreseeable future most buildings will be modelled before any site work begins, and as a result contractors will gain the advantage of knowing what they need to build and how. There will be no drawings in the process.
Apart from this theory being extremely patronising to construction – I wonder how we built for thousands of years – I am intrigued by the ‘catalyst’ role BIM is given in this change process.
While the word itself can have slightly different meanings depending on context, it should always describe “a person or thing that precipitates an event or a change”;
This theory implies, AEC is broken, BIM will hasten its change.

I like to turn the ‘catalyst theory’ on its head;
I DO believe we need a good trigger – AEC is broken, BIM is the toolset to fix it, something should hasten the acceptance of BIM.

I can think of 3 primary candidates:
1/ large part of the workforce unwilling/unable to work non-BIM way
2/ project environment so fluid and demanding that other systems not suitable
3/ economic conditions necessitate a more productive industry

There are others too; Add yours!


  1. ("Catalyst for this response was a seminar last night "All the way with Section J")

    Government legislation is rightly upping the ante for more energy efficient buildings. However the tool set(s) they provide to audit and certify buildings are inflexible excel spreadsheet type tables that are full of flaws. To do anything remotely interesting now will require some modelling by a 'certified modeler' to prove the acceptability of a solution that might otherwise appear nonconforming in the tables!

    Got me thinking. We produce 3D models full of information about construction etc. Surely such analysis should be a mere button press away? As professionals grapple with such cumbersome tools surely an integrated BIM response would be a huge catalyst for adoption? This is a good example of what BIM should be about.

    (Aside: No GS, your Ecodesigner is not relevant. I'm not going to waste money buying and time learning software that is not certified to local legislative requirements. If you are going to do it, do it right. or encourage a developer to create such a tool (anyone from CADIMAGE reading this?)).

  2. What about Owners demanding it?
    Pr even governmental bodies requesting it for public projects?