I was fortunate enough to attend the fourth annual BIM Analytics Conference on the USC main campus in LA earlier this week. It was a real pleasure to spend some time with top educators and practitioners who are really pushing the envelope of BIM. Preceding the conference, I also attended one day of the provocatively titled "Kill Bim" session in USC's ExecED series. I am not going to go into detail on each talk (hopefully the organizers will post the content online soon.) Instead, I pulled out a series of themes that kept coming up over the course of two days.This is just a quick summary and I plan to delve into these topics more in future posts. I am also curious to hear your impressions and in-the-field stories related to these topics.
BIM and Analysis - What questions can I ask of my model?
Based on the premise of the conference - and the breadth of speakers - BIM is starting to deliver tangible results as a platform for analysis. Obviously, analysis is a broad term, and the range of speakers reflected this. CO Architects presented a case study in how they were able to deliver a unique copper cladding scheme within budget by carefully tracking material costs within their BIM. Arup shared their technique for creating acoustic "fingerprints" to realistically recreate, simulate and analyze spoken voices within a virtual model of a court house. There were also a variety of examples of architects using tools such as Ecotect and EQuest to perform early and periodic analysis of day lighting and energy performance throughout the design process. The democratization of these tools (in terms of cost and usability) is clearly making an impact on the industry. However, the question of accuracy versus precision came up at various times. These tools present a danger in that they present compelling and precise results - but if the accuracy is off, a designer could be lead astray. It is interesting to observe the larger industry conversation switching from "how do we build BIMs" to "what kind of questions can I ask of a BIM once it is built?"
IPD and "Who owns the model?"
I apparently missed quite a lively discussion related to IPD on the first day of the Kill BIM session. But the topic kept coming up in other talks. It appears that many thorny legal issues are yet to be ironed out before a digital BIM can act as the contractual record of the design intent. The state of art still seems to be printed documents from a BIM acting as legal documentation. This is not my area of expertise and I would be curious to hear from others about their experience with IPD and/or using a BIM as a contract "document."
BIM and Facilities ManagementA topic for a longer post. The question boils down to this: "Why has this not been solved yet?" Of course a handful of people will respond "Well, we ARE using BIM in FM" (but digging further you find their workflow is incredibly circuitous and painful) It still appears that this is one of a few remaining BIM frontiers.
Also a topic for a follow-up post or ten. The discussions and debates this week tended to focus on the pain of file translation between the multitude of platforms and tools. It started to really dawn on me by the end of the two days: BIM is not being served by the whole files and folders paradigm - especially as project complexity balloons and teams disperse across the globe. Cloud-based access to data, real data - as in queries not a bunch of files on a server - is coming, but it is a sticky problem that has not been solved yet. Once again, a potential game changer. As product designers, we love sticky problems. Bring it on. More to come...