SPECIAL REPORT: BIM Is a Growing Trend, Necessitating Collaboration

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorBoston–Continuing with the theme of architects needing to accept responsibility for their buildings, the speakers of Friday’s BIM (Building Information Modeling) panel discussion at the AIA (American Institute of Architects) National Convention and Design Exposition discussed the advantages of using this integrated technology.Collaboration and early involvement are two key points for utilizing BIM, said Markku Allison, an AIA resource architect. Traditional delivery of information needs to evolve so that all parties come together, Markku stated, resulting in an increase of data sharing. Using BIM at the beginning of the project raises productivity rates and allows for the building’s design and budget to be more closely aligned.Buildings are the largest contributors to CO2 emissions, the speakers explained, and with early implementation, BIM can decrease a project’s energy output. The benefits of BIM, such as spatial optimization, simulation and innovative construction, are designed to help keep the project’s schedule and budget on track because any necessary changes—as well as the impact of those changes–can be visualized using the technology, explained Kathleen Liston, a BIM consultant and co-author of the “BIM Handbook.” Additionally, BIM can provide an energy analysis of the building’s performance, thus allowing developers, architects and owners to increase the property’s efficiency prior to its being built.With the developer, architect and owner collaborating, each party can bring his own expertise to the project and the model will reflect information from all disciplines, whether it is architectural, structural, MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) or construction, noted Liston. However, she cautioned that the “tremendous benefits only work if people understand them.”