the bummer of BIM

For my readers unfamiliar with the term BIM, it stands for Building Information Model(ing). Simply put, it is a 3D digital model (or method of developing that model) that is pretty smart containing a wealth of information to document a building digitally. No longer do we draw lines on the computer screen, but build a digital model with parametric components loaded with specification data and information. Cool huh? It is hard to tell if BIM or “green” is the most overused word these days found in architectural journals, seminars and daily architect discourse. I liken it to that favorite song of yours that you now hate because it was played every few hours on every radio station until you couldn’t stand it any longer.

I recently shared my current opinions of BIM on an AIA Small Practitioner online forum. After writing what amounts to a small novel or manifesto, I couldn’t help but share the content of it here. As always, I welcome your input, but to the BIM zombies, you will definitely have a rebuttal. To the consummate designers, I hope you’ll follow my logic.

Despite the wide use of Revit, I use Vectorworks 2011 (soon to be 2012) and I am slowly learning its BIM capabilities so that the computer can do some of the work for me. I really love the software and I believe it is a smart direction to move. Wouldn’t we all love to get construction drawings done quicker and avoid conflicts between components? It’s also cool to see our designs in 3D and it makes great client presentations and other forms of analysis.

However, we are architects and we are the humans in charge here. It is our still our job to design, manage and coordinate our projects. Yet using technology to increase productivity and reduce errors is an obvious choice to pursue. I am not opposed to BIM as a concept, but as a sole proprietor, the learning curve is much longer since I am doing so many different things everyday in addition to drawing on the computer. Many days I am barely on my computer because I am on the phone or out at some type of meeting. I feel I am an expert at 2D CAD and only ‘good’ at 3D modeling and rendering. However, at building a true BIM model, I am still a novice. I seem to get in my own way. I want the computer to do it my way, but it won’t obey. I am challenging the logic of its programming.

Therefore, my fundamental criticism of BIM is it forces us to produce our designs counterintuitive to how we’ve been trained and how we think as architects. It wants precision and information too early in the design process. I still draw and sketch with pencils and fat markers on yellow trace. There is fluidity to that process. Drafting by hand is still free because it doesn’t require the exactness that a computer demands. Even 2D CAD requires a specific known dimension to enter information. A decision has to be made for a wall thickness before it is entered. Now BIM exaggerates that and wants not just physical size and location, but other data that I can’t even think about until I have a design concept. Data that is often generated during the construction document phase is suggested or demanded to be entered earlier in the process. This requires a shift of the fee structure as well, but convincing clients to invest more fee earlier to build the model could prove challenging on small projects. This is especially true for projects that may never make it past the Schematic Design phase.

Yes, it’s cool to blow smoke out of the computer with quick 3D images to impress clients, but is it good design? I am in favor of any tool that can allow us to quickly study spatial concepts and test multiple ideas, yet I find it can often “hide” the weaknesses of the design by wooing us with cool rendering techniques. Believe me, I’ve been fooled by them myself. I’ve been guilty of feeling “satisfied” with a design long before it has had time to fully develop. In the past few years I’ve seen buildings in magazines where they’ve celebrated how it was designed using BIM (Revit to be precise). To be honest, looking at some of the buildings, it is obvious that Revit deserves the credit. The designs are average at best with little design creativity. They look like they’re made with “out of the box” parts, the ones that come with the software with no further editing.

My last hurdle is my office does mostly renovations and additions, both commercial and residential. New buildings have been rare these days. I don’t have the patience (or fee) to build a model of an existing building. They are often complex, especially those with much detail. I am a stickler for beautiful, detailed drawings, but I can do that much quicker with traditional CAD tools. As you get deeper into construction drawings, detail is another concern. I have read comments from several architects honest enough to explain the weaknesses of BIM when it comes to details. At a small-scale, the 2D drawings generated from a BIM model may look just fine, but what happens when we need to produce the details? When enlarged to 1-1/2″ = 1′-0″ scale, we find the 1/8″=1′-0″ cartoon just doesn’t cut it. The profile is not quite accurate and the details still need to be added as an overlay using 2D drafting tools. Perhaps I am a bit too pedantic.

My work is generally not repetitive, my details are custom and I find some of the “smart” parametric objects in Vectorworks to be a bit clunky looking. They’re hard if not impossible to edit, and I know from many colleagues, that Revit is equally as guilty.

The contractors that I work with on small projects have little use with digital information. They generate their take-offs and information the way they prefer to do it. What will it accomplish to have a 3D intelligent model of a small project if the contractors are not going to use it to fabricate the elements or to do their take offs with the embedded data? Contractors around here are good, but they still work off of paper drawings.

I admit the way we produce architecture is changing rapidly. However, I hope we train future architects to still think like architects and only use BIM as a tool. I said before, I am in favor of moving towards BIM appropriately, but I am struggling to find a way to use it exclusively. Perhaps I’ll catch on in the months and years to come. Yet I also hope the software companies continue to develop their software to fit the way architects design, rather than force me to change how I think and design as an architect.

Maybe I’m behind the times here. What do you think?

 I wonder if Revit could handle this?

photos are from Stuck in Customs’ photostream on Flickr (used under the Creative Common License)

the bummer of BIM

32 thoughts on “the bummer of BIM

  1. Jeffrey Folinus says:

    The reality is that BIM’s value is really only for a fraction of projects: those with sufficient complexity to warrant it. A real concern is the contradiction in pressures for competitive (price-constrained) fees vs the costs to document BIM data. There is a transfer of cost and liability to the designer, with a downstream saving (if any) by the contractor.

    1. I agree completely, yet where is this issue being addressed in the common journalistic world for architects? Will mainline magazines address it when BIM software companies are major advertisers? I appreciate your comments.

  2. Rebecca M. says:

    3D modeling tools draw attention to the generation gap. Younger designers are willing to change their practices for “how” they show elements still in design. At my firm, we add color (like purple ceilings) for placeholder elements that have not been defined for thickness or type yet.

    The article completely overlooked the fact that BIM is really all about the database. 3D modeling has been out for years, the value in BIM is the INFORMATION, not whether you like using a certain software for modeling design concepts.

    I agree that a sole practitioner attempting to hash out design is not ready to use BIM tools. Which is why there are other “loose” design modeling tools for this purpose, i.e. SketchUp. When the author is ready to document and use the database for scheduling, clash detection, item counts and cost analysis, he will benefit from BIM, not 3D modeling.

    But beware, BIM is not a silver bullet solution. If the complexity of the project does not warrant BIM, time spent filling in the database will be thrown out the window.

    1. My reference to the database functions was a bit hidden, true. I mentioned that digital information is not useful to a contractor who won’t use it. My long term goals to adopt BIM is exactly for the database functions. I agree with your comments. No its not a silver bullet, but where is the discussion in mainline media of where it IS useful? Thanks for your comments.

  3. I enjoyed this post (and the other comments) because it begins to make clear when and where BIM makes sense. I work at a firm of 5, and much of our work involves small projects, small fees, and existing buildings. We purchased licenses for Revit about 3 years ago but we still haven’t adopted. Everything I have read about integrating BIM into a practice involves full commitment to making the change from team members and external consultants.

    I want to believe in the potential of BIM especially as a production-enhancement tool that can eliminate wasted time spent on coordination and put it back into the design phases, but I don’t think it’s there. Looking ahead I’m sure we’ll remain a Sketchup and CAD operation unless our projects grow in size and complexity.

    1. Thanks for your input. Everyone states “after a period of time” you will be proficient in BIM. Well, that’s my point, for a one person office, that “period of time” is a long time.

  4. Lee- very thought provoking post. You need a dissenting voice so I’ll take the role :).

    First off, I need to clarify that BIM as you refer to it has two components not found in traditional 2-D CAD. 1. Parametric 3-d and 2. BIM (the database which contains the Information, i.e. wall rating, manufacturer, finish, etc.).

    You make a great case that you have no need for the ‘BIM’ part, I can see that. Such functionality has limited purpose for the small project unless the contractor will use the BIM (such as in a design build scenario).

    Concerning the 3d parametric modeling however, I wholeheartedly disagree. You make a very good case concerning the problems you have experienced, but the way in which you write about them suggests to me they are a result of the way YOU (in particular) use your program and not inherent flaws in the “BIM program” (constraints on your time, etc). You voice a common complaint – these programs aren’t ready to perform “out of the box” (clarifier: I don’t know about Vectorworks, I only know Revit and am writing from my experience with that program). But then again, neither is AutoCAD.

    So at the risk of comparing apples to oranges (Vectorworks to Revit) here goes:

    Revit is *possibly* the best thing that has happened to me in my architectural career. Why? Because it frees my time to be more involved in design and less in production. Funny how you mention design as a reason it is a “BIM bummer” (nice consonance btw).

    Sure it has a steep learning curve. Rebecca made a very insightful comment when she referred to the generation gap. I can see how it would be completely overwhelming to someone who has never lofted a shape or extruded a bezier spline element. The true parametric nature of Revit also requires a bit of programming knowedge/logic (ask anyone about nested families and conditional statements).

    So why has my experience been so overwhelmingly different? For me, working in Revit is like a fish swimming in water- it feels second nature. But I have both programming experience and years of 3d modeling experience (from school 10yrs ago) under my belt.

    In my current firm we do mostly remodels as well. So I’m not just speculating. We do this day in and day out. And the contractors don’t use the models either. Nevertheless I have still seen a huge productivity boost.

    I can say unhesitatingly that you would see similar gains. But you would need someone to set up your program to your office standards, and would need to take a training course. The question is, would it be worth it for you? Sounds like you are doing just fine.

    I have tons more to say but I’ve hijacked your blog enough! Better get back to work before the boss comes in 😉

    1. Enoch, I like your position, and dissenting voice. I am in favor of the concept. Yet I am just honest enough to publicly say what many architects are not saying but thinking. This is where I am today. In a few years, my follow up post may have a different perspective. Please visit and comment often. You’re always welcome.

  5. Your article hits the nail on the head. BIM value is a question of cost for program and annual maintenance plus training startup versus getting database information and clash detection? How many times have we made buildings that don’t have clashes versus the few times it does happen? That has been a weak selling point forever. BIM programs have been building for decades now and the products out on the market are no more intuitive or truly beneficial to architects as anything other than a modeling tool that coordinates the plans, elevations, and an abundance of sections while everyone hopes someday to tap into the database portion. We are now building everything in the computer to extract the shorthand set of documents we need to describe to a contractor how to build. Common sense says this will be more complex/take longer/and we won’t get paid extra for it. hmmm…..value? It’s amazing how some people in charge of business decisions in firms can be suckered into believing that in 5 years BIM will be our future. Five years with BIM has gone by and the majority of small/medium size firms are not jumping on the band wagon future. Those that have made the jump may say they are fully BIM but we know the truth lies somewhere in between, even for the large firms.

    CAD is a hammer that works well and we have done large amounts of new and renovation projects using that hammer. How do you make a new hammer that everyone needs? We are watching the computer programming world try and it seems like a long road to travel, yet it has picked up ground in the past few years. BIM is not going away however it’s not spreading like wildfire as they had hoped because it is not an intuitive easy to master program. Let’s collectively put the onus on the programmers to make it more intuitive if the price of the software is to stay inflated, otherwise we should be getting it for free to test their ongoing beta products. Unfortunately we don’t, we follow the proverbial cowbell in whatever direction they want to lead us as architectural cows and we don’t critically criticize or change the direction. We just follow. We haven’t even touched on the issues related to insurance and legal rights. It’a a long journey with a clanking sound ahead of us where we are paying more for software that makes us put in extra time and effort to get the same end result printed on paper and yet the built-in information is valuable to the contractor. Will our copyright stand up and keep an electronic model in our sole possession? Doubtful. Contractors will obtain the model for no cost. It’s time to stick together and collectively ask for more from the programmers and educate the client’s about what they think they are getting with BIM versus the reality. The times are achangin, which is always good, but “new hammers” and “cowbells” are not necessarily the change that will make us more efficient, solvent, or creative.

  6. First I’m an architect who’s career started in the early 1970’s. I was trained to design and draw by hand. To this day I still sketch ideas and do some hand drafting to explore a concept. And like many of my generation I find this an easy task.

    Fast forward to the mid 1980’s and i (like so many others at the time) drank the AutoCAD coolade. The one area of the software I found confusing was the layering system and the impact it had on my workflow time. AutoCAD was and still is a labor intensive program and I spent way too many hours working the program and not the design. I purchased Vectorworks and found it no different. Different function methods but working the software and not the design.

    In todays world I am fully a Revit user. I still sketch and use the sketches with Revit (a very interesting and wonderful workflow). I am no longer working the program but rather the design and documents! Additionally – NO LAYERS to manage; not mine and not others!! That sold me by the way. I cannot count the number of heartbeats I’ve lost managing the cad software

    In full disclouser I must reveal I teach Revit as part of the work I do for the firm I work for. I am an Autodesk Authorized Training Center instructor. And if you were to take one of my three day classes I could have you up and running. There is always going to be a learning curve to anything different or new. Revit is no different that way. The big difference, in my opinion, is the amount of resources available to learn the program.

    And as far as early decision making goes; you’ve been doing that anyway. The big difference is Revit brings that issue to the forfront. And if we are really honest, architects have been doing tons of upfront work on projects hoping to capture the lost revenue hours in DD or CD phases. In fact in my classes I teach students to use generic objects through the design and SD phases. This is a great way to explore before identifing materials and finishes.Isn’t that what you do with 2D geometry? This approach provides freedom to explore the design spaces without making detailed decisions. And with Revit, spin the 3D model and find those areas that need to be worked – rather than find out during construction.

    I think it is important to remember that “BIM” is not new. Architects and designers have been doing BIM since the first person created materials for craftsman to build by. A hand drawn line placed in context conveys information and by extension is therefore imformative.

    With Revit I now have the opportunity to convey so much more with less effort. For instance; when I draw a wall I am starting the elevation process, section process, 3D view process – just by drawing a wall!! Do that with a 2D program. And tag coordination releaves the Q/A process so you can focus on those things that can be potential issue … like leaky details for instance.

    Revit, like any other program, is a tool. It cannot know your intentions until to do something. Then there are some automated features which are logically connected to make the process easier and complete.

    No doubt there are some spelling errors or grammical errors in what I have written. In fact there are several in the article you wrote. Using your logic this should not have happened. But we all know the programs we use are only as smart as we are.

    I could go on … but then I would have to start charging ….

    1. I appreciate your passion for the software. I am glad it’s working for you. My article never stated opposition, just questioning applicability. I am getting there with Vectorworks. It seems from the size of your firm and the projects you take on, it makes sense for your firm to pursue this path.

      1. When I started with Revit I was a sole practitioner! And for me at that time (as well as now) is how much effort did I want to place in managing the software vs outcome? With AutoCAD and other programs which rely on Layers (levels – Microstation) for document control and graphics expression, much of the project time is managing the software program. As you menitoned on your origional post – you have a lot to do. Is manking sure the correct layers are used a good use of your time?

        One of the many areas which made Revit compelling was the terminology. The program tools are things like “walls, ‘doors’ windows’ – not just lines. The “Information” one addes to these object is the benefit. And most importantly not hard at all.

        And as I said before, we have been doing “BIM” for a long time. Now we have better tools and an acronim which makes sense as to that effort.

        I do not know very much about Vectorworks today. Perhaps some of the features from ArchiCAD are not part of that program. If so, that is a good thing. As for your use of BIM software completely or partially, that will be how much you want to commit to that learning effort – again you have been doing that all along. I remember the resisitance when things moved from drafting machines and drawing bars to 2D cad. It was ugly in some cases. And the learning curves were tremendous. You are lucky you live in today’s environment – there are many resources to help you.

      2. Thanks for your honesty John. My point was simple…what makes sense for practitioners like me…small projects and renovations? I intend to pursue my use of BIM and use the features of my software in due time. I do want to benefit from the “information” aspect of BIM. I was simply making a point that with the incessant use of the term BIM in every magazine, website, seminar, etc. I was getting frustrated as a sole practitioner trying to do 100 things in a day. It is not as simple to adopt it as the magazines and pundits claim. I have spoken to many architects “in the trenches” and they have resisted it too. We will get there, but I don’t want to be considered a Luddite for resisting the movement or not drinking the BIM kool-aid. Hopefully I’ll look back in years to come and be teaching it as you are.

  7. Would it be safe to assume that there is more value in BIM for the design build and contractor community? As a consultant, I work with many commercial manufacturers of architectural building products and they are confused as to if and how they should proceed with building BIm models of their products. As architects, would you not prefer generic content vs having to choose if you are going to include or exclude a specific manufacturers product based on whether it is available in a BIM format or not?

    1. To me its not about the specific content. As a design oriented person, I am very concerned about the specific content. However when I start to sketch ideas, I really don’t care who makes the window or what model number it is. There’s value to BIM, but it is still just a tool to be controlled by the user. My opinion of BIM is fairly irrelevant to the force BIM is taking over the AEC community. I just raise questions based on my experience to engage conversation. I tend to be the fish that swims against the current at times. Thanks for your input.

  8. ThomU says:

    Right tool for the right job. As a sole practitioner, at some point, Revit would seem to be critical. Personally, flexibility is a real plus! REVIT import/exports really well with consultants (who are working with industry standard software) as well as across platforms such as 3DS Max, SketchUp, ACAD.. VWorks doesn’t seem to be as seamless. The situation may be better today, however, a couple of years ago, we had a tough time importing/exporting with international correspondents using VWorks. I agree…once out of concept design, Revit becomes much more powerful….and actually not that difficult to use once you understand the process/limitations.

    1. Your first statement has generally been my point, but I’m not one to jump on any bandwagon either. The software type isn’t of importance, it is how one’s process is with design. As the generations go by, less people will be in practice that have known anything else, so this may not be an issue in a few years. We have built complex and large buildings for hundreds if not thousands of years without BIM. It’s just a tool. Again, I am learning to use the BIM aspects of Vectorworks and will work in that direction. I was simply frustrated with the media’s portrayal that if you don’t use a BIM process or output you’re a Luddite. Thanks for a good response.

  9. Caroline Langley says:

    A lot of interesting comments. I am a sole practitioner working on domestic projects – mostly small so fees are not great. I took my Part 3 in 1980 so have made the transition from pen and paper to Microstation (2D). It is a sledgehammer to crack a nut in my case, however I cannot imagine going back to scratching and blotting.
    In order to learn the programme I worked for a year in my husbands office – if I had not had this opportunity I would have had no chance of picking it up from 3 inch thick manuals written by anoraks.
    Now for the 3D – It is clear that clients can sometimes not read 2D drawings and I would like to learn a simple 3D programme.
    I have downloaded a trial version of sketchup and will have go at it, however at my level there will be no extra payment. Accordingly it will be a labour of love and am struggling to find time to fit in the tutorials.
    I do have to say, however that I agree with the first post about the dangers of the tail wagging the dog. Clients like 3D but Architects can to a certain extent construct 3D images in their heads by looking at a combination of 2D images. 2D images are absolutely clear – I.e. No lines are obscured etc. We still produce working drawings in 2 D for that reason.
    I recently heard through a very experienced Engineer that he had to rescue a job on site. The young and inexperienced Architect had given the client only 3D drawings (which the client loved) but which did not accurately describe a buildable entity. Fees spent, the Engineer did his pragmatic best to instruct the bemused builder.
    Recently I completed a new build house on the Isle of Wight. Sydenhams designed the timber frame based upon my 2D CAD drawings. They produced and used a 3D model of the frame, which was a helpful design tool.
    My client was exceptionally inept at reading drawings do I asked one of my husbands colleagues to produce a sketchup model. The site was steeply sloping so the model was built up on contours. The client asked why it showed a huge cliff by the building – where the countours were sliced through. A cardboard model was more successful.
    I think my point is horses for courses and rubbish in rubbish out. We are in the business of getting buildings made and that means using every means at our disposal to communicate clearly to client and builder. Sketches, physical models, BIM, 2D all play a part but what lasts is the building – if it ever gets built !
    If anyone has an alternative easy/cheap ?? To sketchup please let me know.

    1. Thank you for such an honest but respectable series of comments. Again I am favorable to 3D and BIM. I’m just saying it’s not the only solution for small practitioners like me. As you, I am still learning even though I’ve been using my software since 1995. Please come by again, read and comment often.

  10. MarkK says:

    If anyone has an alternative easy/cheap to sketchup please let me know. For SketchUp alternative; Bozai3D, sort of FormZ Lite abut the same price as SKP Pro. (Modo, aso…)
    As for the blog post (and some comments); well… , both; very true and highly confusing.
    1. Forget BIM – use Virtual Building term – less misunderstandings.
    2. Tools don’t guarantee design/documentation quality – it’s totally different subject.
    3. I like VectorWorks (eariler MiniCad), but use ArchiCad (for last 20+ ys.)
    4. Both Revit and about a decade older ArchiCad had a selling point;the software that works the way Architects do; – the post proves them wrong.
    But… :
    5. I lost quite a few years of productivity, because of people thinking like leecalisti. (and lastly; project size/budget do not make the difference…)

    1. If you read my post carefully I am in favor of BIM as a concept and am moving in that direction. My basic point is it is being portrayed in the media as “the” solution to producing architecture and you’re a fool for not getting on board. It is just a tool and has it’s place. My experience is those who cry the loudest about BIM do not have a frame of reference against which to judge it. In other words, they’ve never used anything but a computer so they don’t know where we’ve come from as architects. Many who did come out of the past where a pencil was the only tool are learning and embracing BIM. I am interested in hearing their point of view the most because they can understand how an architect thinks and creates architecture rather than allowing a machine create it.

  11. George Fulton says:

    I too, tire of hearing BIM, it was just Revit when I first started using it (very early adopter). Does anyone not remember the terrible learning curve with CAD? How about pin register drafting? There was always some old guy who said they could do it faster the “old way”. Well, I guess I’m an old guy and wasn’t really young when I made the switch to Revit but I am smart enough to see something that will change my life.

    Of course, there was enormous pain involved (much as when I switched from hand drafting to CAD) but I could see enormous benefits beyond doing things faster. I can’t tell you how much I hated the layer system we had to endure with CAD and, since switching to Revit, I haven’t had to think of layers once (ok, maybe I had a couple of nightmares when I woke up in a cold sweat) and, while not perfect, it is great.

    The key difference, as far as I’m concerned, is that when I am working in Revit, I am consciously always considering how the building will fit together and I am forced to think in 3 dimensions. Isn’t that our ultimate job as architects? I can honestly say I have not had a dimensional or coordination error since adopting Revit. Any problems I’ve had have been related to either bugs in the software or trying to get a model half done and finish it in CAD.

    Take the pain (as we always have) and dive in.

    1. Thanks for your honest but realistic input. I agree, we need to dive in. I’m just glad to hear people being honest to admit the realistic side of BIM, the difficulty in adjusting and how they struggled to learn it.

      1. George Fulton says:

        I must add that I have done a couple of Vectorworks trials and really had a hard time figuring it out. I know a lot of people make it work and perhaps I’m just dense or uncommitted. I’ll just say my advice relates to Revit because that was and is my reality. I still would like to switch to VW or ArchiCad just so I can move to a Mac and leave behind the mess that is Windows.

  12. John Murray says:

    I am not convinced that BIM produces better buildings. I know that it helps with Structural and MEP coordination – but a good practitioner can do that already.There are still issues about details, manufacturers warranties and disclaimers, shop drawings and who is responsible for what. Systems design is fine as long as everyone agrees to it but when a system fails the finger pointing begins. BIM seems to lend itself to design build rather than the current practice of contractor bidding. This puts the contractor and manufacturer in the driving seat when it comes to the detailed design of the building which can really screw up a great design – just like value engineering it can decimate an inspiring piece of architecture.

    To me Architecture is a about the process of design not just meeting the clients needs with a box. Unfortunately BIM by its nature, shortens the design process and relies on the Architects ability to select from predetermined sets of bits and pieces to put together a building as fast as possible. In most cases design and the quality of the Architecture is sacrificed for speed and “standardized” components.

    The learning curve required for BIM makes this process expensive for the Architect without compensation in a time when we are all struggling. Unfortunately if you are not using BIM you can loose work to those who are. So we forge ahead.

    I am still not sure how the client can actually benefit from BIM after the building is built to justify them purchasing the software, hiring someone to run it and then interpret it. I know a lot of corporate level owners and that is not in their make-up to deal with this kind of management. I know its all about the DATABASE but just because you have the information doesn’t make it valuable if you can’t access it or use it in practical terms. No one has been able to show me that yet – its just oh that’s o.k. buy more software. How do I justify this to my repeat clients and how do I get compensated because they want me to show them how to use it! I know clients who have hundreds of files of AutoCAD drawings for their buildings and don’t know how to use them so how do we think that BIM will be easier for them to manage and utilize?

    1. John, thanks for writing an intelligent response and not just complain. I’m with you, but I trying to figure out how to use my own version of BIM software. I can’t say I’m using it in a BIM fashion yet or just drawing. You make a lot of good points and you can see we share much in common.

  13. Leecalisti, I would be interested in an update to where you are at now. Has you opinion changed, have you gone down the BIM highway 100%, are you still having trouble with work flow?

    I am a BIM advocate yet understand why others do not feel the same way. . I understand what you mean when you say that designing using BIM software distracts creativity. It appears as though a lot of the post and replies are more in reference to 3D software more so than BIM.
    Just to clarify a little to some of the responses, drawing in 3d is not necessarily BIM. Drawing in 3d is essentially geometry on 3 axis, it is simply geometry with no intelligence. Drawing in 3d software that has material, or structural, or added data that can be extracted is essentially building information. Therefore Building information models…

    There are levels of detail that can be associated to the geometry which help with work flow and these can be swapped out using parametrics. It would be insane to draw a medium to large project using a high level of detail for several reasons, some of which you have brushed upon and others have to do with the ability of the software to handle the task.
    If concept design is your main gripe then I recommend Sketchup, as most architects use Sketchup for concept work. It does not make sense to draw in Sketchup and redraw in Revit or Archicad so you can export to these software packages using various methods. I personally created a plugin for Sketchup that allows me to have BIM functionality and increased 2D functionality with Layout (Sketchup Pro 2d software). I, like you got tired of work flow issues so I employed 2 developers to create an add on for Sketchup. I think it will be a game changer in the future and many architects that are testing agree. It is a valid point that software companies do not consider work flow and this was also one of my major gripes. I saw no way to to have an influence on these companies and my design and build business just needed it so I built it at my own cost.
    I do hope to have it available by the end of March and will keep you posted if you are interested.

    I do like the post, even today (2+ years later) as lot of the points are still relevant. It is great to see most people played nicely as many posts with similar content can get a little nasty.
    I look forward to hearing how your going with the process now.
    Kind Regards Andrew

    1. Andrew, thanks for the series of comments. I enjoy the conversation over just writing an editorial. You make some valid points so I’ll share with you where I am at today and perhaps I’ll write about it more in the future.

      I use Vectorworks and am comfortable with it. I am not the type to be interested in using various types of software or learning new software. I just don’t find that fun or interesting. I’d rather use a pencil at times to be honest, but I’d never produce any final drawings with hand drawings.

      Most of what I am doing now is 3D in order to facilitate production. No contractors in my area would know what to do with a digital model; we all work off of a roll of drawings and will for many years to come. I am trying to find ways to query the program to extract data beyond the proverbial door and window schedule. However, my work and my world doesn’t warrant it like a large office or large project. It is nice to get instant 3D when drawing walls and windows and such. Not having to “draw” elevations is great, but some of the parametric tools for creating roofs and stairs are extremely difficult to customize to the designs and profiles I want. I don’t want to design based on what the computer defaults.

      What has been helpful recently is using VW to model projects at the early phases for programmatic studies. This allows a quick calculation for area and volume and one can see the relationships of spaces in 3D rather than the old fashioned bubble diagram. I’ve also used the software for solar animation studies and creating animations for presentations. Then I string images and animations into one movie for a client presentation. They seem to like it.

      Having a 3D model is great and it certainly makes the editing process smoother than paper and vellum. However, I still have my same hangups that the BIM police continue to harp on us and insist that everyone use BIM with every firm, every project every everything.

      In a small office like mine, we still have a project or two that doesn’t warrant any 3D – ever. Some things just need to be drawn and sent out the door. These are not the bulk of my work, but I get agitated when these types of projects are never mentioned by the BIM zombies that won’t relent on the BIM mantra.

      I like it, it makes sense and it’s helping me. It’s a useful tool as is any other tool. However I don’t chop my carrots with a chain saw and I don’t weed the garden with a paring knife. Every tool has its place not matter what year I’m living in.

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