BIM Is the Future

It’s official. I have entered into the new world of building information modeling (BIM). This has been a hot topic for a while and we all know it’s coming whether we want it to or not. My firm has decided to integrate us on a project basis. We completed our first BIM project, a 450,000-square-foot high school in San Antonio, at the beginning of this year. A team of five co-workers, three of whom had previous experience in Revit, became the guinea pigs for the office. They attended training and worked through the kinks to become our Revit gurus in the office. They are now teaching new project teams of four to six people how to use the program.

My first impression of the program is that I love it! Anyone who has experience in other 3D modeling programs, especially SketchUp, will have no problem switching to BIM. The biggest thing I’ve seen others in the training class have a hard time grasping is that they aren’t drawing plans or elevations; they are actually modeling their entire building in 3D. During our first training class, everyone kept talking about drawing the floor plan and where that plan was located in the file. The thing to remember is that there are no floor plan drawings. Instead, the floor plan is a cut view of the model. To try and put this in layman’s terms, imagine a dollhouse and imagine if you cut the dollhouse horizontally a few inchs above the floor. Then stand over it and look down, you will see the floor and all the walls that have been cut through. That is essentially what is happening when BIM creates a floor plan.

My first BIM project will be a 12,000-square-foot classrooms and multipurpose gymnasium. It has been exactly one-week since I started modeling the building and so far I have quickly modeled all the walls, roofs, floors/slab, doors, and most of the windows and curtainwalls. The curtainwall feature is really great and user friendly. Creating custom windows though, is another story. The windows contain multiple constraints, which make editing them very difficult. Another great feature that I am sure I’m going to appreciate is that we can easily go back and change all the walls in a few minutes if we decide, for example, to change from structurally insulated panels (SIPs) to traditional wood framing. That change will then automatically show up in all plans, sections and details. With all these features, and many more, I think this software will be a great asset to everyone within the architecture profession and hope that everyone is as excited as I am to jump on board.