Tuesday, December 20, 2016

6 Qualities of a Building Information Modelling Mandate

I've held a deep interest in the mechanisms which help us design and build for a long time simply because it contributes to the final goal of supporting all who design and build as well. My surveillance of the subject came to an arresting stop last week when I came across the claim some rather exotic research regarding BIM implementation in Australia was "equally well known". What drew me to reread the article instead of ranting against its assumptions was that the author was right; as BIM standards become stronger it will be possible to increase the benefits of collaboration. There were some problems with the article however; the text is dense and dry; and by the time the piece gets to describing what type of BIM mandate should be implemented in North America only the bravest BIM fanboys and fangirls will have lasted to the final page. Therefore, to help spread a good idea, we're going to breakdown the article's six qualities of a BIM mandate here in a more digestible format so that readers can take that information forward into the new year and hopefully build with it. 

The mandate should:
  • Have a clearly defined scope. 
  • Describe all relevant requirements, outcomes, and deliverables.
  • Reference international standards (ISOs, IFCs, etc.) whenever possible. 
  • Work like a national BIM standard building code. 
  • Be scalable to cover various types and levels of implementation. 
  • Evolve as industry implementation matures.  
A shared characteristic of the above suggestions is that they all foster interoperability. If one is looking for a model to follow, one need look no further than the U.K. who – annoyingly for someone who loves to build – continue to advance digital manufacturing techniques beyond Canada. I find the jurisdictional reactions to BIM in Europe comforting, especially as issues of sustainability continue to dominate the design process, because it seems like building information modelling might finally offer an excellent entrance into applying performance based building codes through the analysis of building models.

Not directly addressed in the article but hinted at by the website hosting the piece, the construction industry is really relying on designers to implement the technology first. When using a BIM workflow to design a complex structure, a significant amount of the resulting productivity and quality come from considering the construction phase much earlier in the design process (through the use of manufacturer models etc.).  

Though I'm at pains to stress the cooperative nature of the technology, the process still has a direction to the flow. For the construction industry to see the full benefits of BIM; architects, engineers, and designers will have to bare designing the digital model first. I, for one, am up to the challenge because the world definitely needs more architecture. A good example of this digital collaboration between architects and contractors on a complex project is Calatrava's Oculus World Trade Center Transportation Hub, a fun short video of which sits below. 

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