Thursday, July 19, 2007

Creating the "Completed Model"

So boys and girls here we are. Flying around in our Jetsonian cars, using interoceanic pneumatic tubes to feed the hungry and BIM modelling to put together buildings. Kind of. One things for sure unless you have no desire to be profitable or even remotely efficient there will be NO more CAD.

It's like our industry has decided to grow up a little bit and start to matke an attempt at catching the automotive, aircraft and electronics industry. This is all good! We need to start thinking about a building as a built piece of highly functioning equipment. How then do we even start? To what Level of Detail or LoD do the models need to go? What is the extent of intermodel information liability? And why in the world haven't we developed a necessary assembly standard while we have the chance and before everyone and their cousin decide to establish their own? (everyone remembers CAD standards right?!)

I'm going to try and expain where I am in the industry. And how working with software developers, contractors and fellow architects and engineers we are beginning to put together a complete puzzle. But this is just the entry article so for starters I would encourage everyone if you're not already actively involved to join a forum or discussion group. Secondly, join the damn NBIMS, or (BIM standards committee.) It's free and we need to make sure that as we begin to embrace this new technology that we are doing it smarter. The whole anti-Rand, collective is more intelligent than an educated group of technology leaders thing.

Here is a list of websites I encourage everyone to check out:

To give a brief background about myself and who I am (because i would hate to read a blog by a stranger). I am an architect. I work with a design build contractor in the Midwest and am tasked with integrating BIM into the company. Overwhelming? At times. But here's the thing, after essentially three to four months of web research, webcasts, presentations and tradeshows I am starting to see a completed picture in the industry. Hang on to your hats.

First of all we're behind (United States). You might know this or you might not, but I was amazed to learn in the fast track design build Asian market, models are being shipped around and 2d drawings have ceased to be a standard. Their BIM and "ours" is different. They have started to work with programmers specifically because the modeling platforms (Revit, Bentley, Catia, etc..) aren't responding fast enough to the technology they introduced. Thus, we are seeing an influx in third party software applications in the industry. Programmers are being hired to develop tie in software not only for the firm, but to sell back to the industry (are you listening Autodesk?). Here's what I know is being worked on. Unfortunately, a lot of this is still "in development" but i will let you know as soon as they release any of the programs I have listed below.

Currently wall assemblies in Revit are based off of a Uinformat code, which ties back in to specific components that make up the completed wall system. This is being taken further. A huge standard library of wall assemblies is being built to break down models into even more detail. To keep file sizes small they are loaded in from a server. The wall type is chosen after a series of pop ups are answered that input the information into the model. (For example: Does this wall have a vinyl base? What level finish will this wall recieve? etc..)Does this take more time? Absolutely! But think of the information that could be created in the wall! After asking if the walls are able to be edited and types changed after they are modeled, including the ability to create custom wall assemblies. The response was, one could edit every wall in the project in a relatively short time. Custom assemblies are then created by one or two in-house "gatekeepers", or simply put fellas who know how to insert all of the pertinent information into the script.

The model is then sent to the contractor who can then turn around real time estimates as the assemblies and quantities are already built into the model and the software they are using allows them to take the model and link it to estimating software (Timberline in my case) and produce same day estimates. The contractor takes the model and adds phasing information to walls doors, floors etc... By including phasing and scheduling information contractors and sub contractors can see in 3D what is to be built and by what date. The model will remain with the contractor and will be updated at regular SD, DD and % CD phases. The contractor should not be modeling walls or inputting anything but adding scheduling and phasing information!! This is important because from a liability standpoint the drawings and model information created still lies with the architect to maintain adherence to life safety, ratings, and code compliance issues.

It doesn't stop there. Customized walls are to contain component keynote information. These keynotes are shared to produce Construction Documentation while at the same time keynotes are shipped into a specification writing program. Once again, the model then creates a rather detailed set of specifications (not complete - front end docs, general conditions and other information aren't in there yet). Of course as components are added and subtracted the specs can be quickly updated to reflect this information change.

The architect then recieves information from the MEP, S and any other consultants to create a "completed model." Conflict management is then performed on the model and ductwork that runs into beams, lights that hit structure and pipes that go throught the 13 million dollar glass bottom pool are resolved.

Once construction has commenced, the model is shipped to fabricators who highlight areas of conflict or concern and send the altered model back to the architect or engineer for approval. The architect then signs off on the model change and overlays the new information on top of the existing information in a new and dedicated workset.

Finally, the completed model including all in-field changes and change orders (hopefully not many) are then handed off to the owner as a useful tool for Facility Management. Instead of the 2d blueprints being put in an old boiler room that looks like something from a bad David Lynch film, the model on CD allows the owner to have a constant up to date 3d record of changes, alterations and additions to the property.

Eventually building material websites will get on the ball and provide information that ties in all model components with an associated assembly code, mark, rating, etc...and at some point in the future a cost database website will allow us to link our building components to the web to get real time pricing information as well as directly order components from the manufacturer.

Of course, this just seems like the tip of the iceberg. And a number of these are just programs that are being developed in their infancy, but I wanted to give everyone an idea wof what was out there.

BIM it up and BIM it right.

BH out.

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