A view into the U.K. library’s BIM model, which saved time and cost while also showing the
public its proposed designs. (Manchester U.K. City Council)

The future of construction: Meet BIM (or else)

By C.C. Sullivan | February 13, 2013, 3:00 AM PST

“Ultimately, we are going to have to work slightly differently.”

That’s the understatement of the decade, made by a cost consultant working on the renovation of the Central Library in Manchester, England. As reported in Building magazine, the associate from Davis Langdon didn’t use BIM — building information modeling — like everyone else on the project. Instead, he requested drawings from the architects and marked them up, the old-fashioned way.

In the case of Central Library, as in tens of thousands of other projects worldwide since, BIM was shown to be a pricey retooling that ultimately paid off by shaving time and costs.

Unlike plain-vanilla CAD, BIM software creates a three-dimensional (3D) model full of smart objects embedded with information. BIM makes it easier to integrate architecture with engineering work, avoid “clashes” of building elements, instantly output lists of materials and labor, and automate valuable tasks like simulating the effects of sunlight an interior space.

As for the cost consultant? BIM is about to eat his lunch, I’m afraid.

The fact is, BIM can do much of the estimator’s work. In addition to its built-in database about practically every material and product, BIM software can track the cost consequences of every design change in real time — live, as they say — and even take the client on a “walkthrough” of the revised design via full-color, 3D animation.

Sound good? In fact, recent changes in the construction kingdom portend a full industry shift to BIM. Soon it will be in every architect’s toolbox, as these six key trends suggest:

Read more: The future of construction: Meet BIM (or else) | SmartPlanet.

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