Nov 8, 2009

The BIM Race: Architects v. Contractors

Without a doubt, Building Information Modeling (BIM) is the way of the future in the construction and design world.
If you have had the chance to work with BIM for a few years, and then tried to get something done in ADT or AutoCAD, I bet you wondered how the heck you made it work before the BIM revolution.
Professionals in the industry, like Raymond Kogan, suggest that the big push for BIM will be coming (if it isn't already) from the owners and the contractors side. This is leaving architects and designers as the trend followers. Why could that be? Aren't designers the ones to be on the avant-garde?

I have seen contractors modeling projects at owners' request, and using programs like Naviswork, capable of combining 3D project information from a variety of programs and disciplines.
But anyone can use Naviswork, piece all the pieces of the puzzle together, and have it to use at the contruction site. Why would the contractor be taking over this additional service? Contractors must be selling it as a key piece to their well-coordinated time-critical performance. In an industry where money is tight and time is precious, clients must love this high-tech approach and see the value.
On the other hand, what happened to the architect's role as the big orchestrator of all contructions? what happened to the A201 Contract Document where the architect acts as the owner's agent? And the engineering part of a project is contracted by the architect's consultants. Can't the architect take charge of the overall 3D modeling of the project too?
BIM has been a hard pill to swallow for some architecture firm managers who see the learning curve as an additional expense. Learning a new computer program doesn't go on without its bumps and delays. Contractors saw the bigger picture and the dollar signs first, and have been jumping on the BIM wagon faster. So for now, they are winning the BIM race. Maybe the newest delivery model: Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) will even out the road for architects in the future.

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