Building Information Modeling – What is it and how is it used in the design process?


Building Information Modeling, or “BIM” for short, is a collaborative and holistic process used to create and manage information for the built environment. With BIM, all building information is created and housed in one location allowing open communication and collaboration between architects, engineers, contractors, and facilities. It connects teams, workflows, and data across the entire project lifecycle.


At the beginning of any design project there are a few questions that come to mind first:

  1. What will it look like, how will it fit space needs?

  2. How can it be done, what will it cost and how long will it take?

BIM is a great tool to answer these questions upfront to prepare for a successful project. Traditionally, the design process is very linear and contained multiple stages. With the use of BIM, the linear process becomes iterative and holistic, though the project will still have stages. Projects are being built in a virtual environment and not using simple 2D lines and objects. Therefore, more issues can be resolved upfront, the coordination between disciplines is improved, and there is an increased ability to provide material take-offs.



Example Project with existing BIM model for all the mechanical/electrical building components but the PEB structure and building enclosure


BIM in Design


BIM allows a 2D drawing to become a representative 3D model with information from the designer, allowing for quick 3D views or even fly-throughs for a more immersive experience of what the built space could be. Finishes can be applied within the model and rendered to a life-like quality to illustrate the design down to every detail. 3D models can be taken into VR getting a virtual design as close to reality as possible prior to building.



BIM in Engineering


As the design becomes more finalized in BIM, MEP and structural engineers can input information simultaneously, working alongside the architect and designer within the same model. The designer can run clash detection within the model to pinpoint where there are interferences between architectural, MEP, or structural items. With this integrated design approach, the entire team can easily work alongside one another, resolving design conflicts between structure and mechanical systems as design progress while also alleviating conflict in the field during construction.





BIM in Cost Estimates


BIM allows cost estimates to be done quicker and with more accuracy. As more information is applied to the model, quantities of material and dimensions of spaces are calculated allowing for quick and accurate cost estimates throughout the design process. As the design is tweaked, these estimates are updated in real-time.



BIM in the end


BIM is a process that creates a collaborative building model that will guide a project through design and construction with ease. It can be used as a tool to continue to support facility management years after the building is complete.

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