Adventures in BIM - at the BIMForum

Originally started by the Associated of General Contractors (AGC) of America, the BIMForum now includes experts and interested parties from all areas of the construction industry.


A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity of attending the BIMForum held in San Antonio, Texas, with Liz Chodosh. For those not familiar with the BIMForum, it is a gathering of many of the leaders of the BIM movement in the Construction Industry - a meeting of the minds. It is a place to present the latest accomplishments in BIM and to suggest where it is heading. The format provides a place to mingle with like-minded people doing extraordinary things, who are still just scratching the surface of possibilities. There is so much yet to be done, so much yet to be figured out, so much yet to evolve.

Originally started by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America, the BIMForum now  includes experts and interested parties from all areas of the construction industry. General contractors, sub-contractors and suppliers mingle with architects and engineers. The AIA is now a co-sponsor of the event with the AGC, and is heavily involved.

It is clear that this group will help shape and determine how BIM will be used in the future, which will in turn determine how architects and engineers do business.

It is not surprising the contractors have taken the lead on this venture. It is clear to me they have the most to gain from the BIM process. But architects and engineers have a great deal to gain at the same time. The well-advertised advantages (advanced tools for design studies, documentation and coordination) are well known, but what is not as well known is the fact it creates a more accurate delivery process. Complex forms and shapes that were traditionally hard to convey can now be delivered easily. Even simple orthogonal forms can be delivered in a few more accurate manner. While drawings may be very accurate, the contractors' implementation of them may not be. By delivering a digital BIM model, a contractor can more accurately construct what the architects and engineers had in mind. Digital fabrication will be more and more of the norm moving forward.

This new delivery process will require major changes though. Architects and engineers are going to have to change how they have conducted business in the past. Contracts, insurance agreements and process will all need to change – our minds and the way we view the process will need to change.

Our industry is moving toward being a fully integrated part of the construction process, and BIM are not the only initials we should be paying attention too. There is IPD (integrated project delivery) and ILPD (integrated lean project delivery) and they are gaining momentum.

The contractors are leading the movement of change and the owners are quickly jumping on board. Owners are now seeing the great advantages that all this brings for them. They not only get a faster, more accurate and better coordinated construction process (which means money), they also are starting to look at the building information model as a deliverable for them to use to manage their facilities for years to come.

One of the next waves in BIM will be facilities management. Standards are being developed and owners are seeing the possibilities and the advantages. Architects and engineers better wake up and be prepared. Cannon Design is paying attention and is focusing its efforts on facilities management, but this is a quickly evolving movement, and we must stay on top of it.

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