Posts tagged with "BIM":
During my days as a technology vendor, I chafed at the idea of introducing government standards for technology developed by a polyglot group of stakeholders. Users, software companies, and bureaucrats often sought a “lowest common denominator” between various software, sacrificing innovation and progress for vague notions like “open access.” In the early days of Building Information Modeling (BIM), several such efforts emerged, the most prominent of which were the General Services Administration (GSA) attempts to create a standard and the development of BIM-derived digital permitting submissions in Singapore. Both projects garnered much attention but gained little traction in the form of implemented technologies or operating protocols—at least in their early forms. But they had one important effect: In the loosely organized, disparate network of the building industry supply chain, government could provide a galvanizing influence. At least when government spoke, the industry listened.
In 2011, however, we witnessed a welcome change with the publication of the United Kingdom’s “Government Construction Strategy.” Much of the early theory about industry productivity and need for process integration had long emerged from that side of the Atlantic—for example, Sir Roger Egan’s seminal “Rethinking Construction” report—but there was little action. The David Cameron government, however, saw construction as a critical economic engine, concluding that improving the cost and carbon impacts of building while bolstering U.K. capabilities as a global building leader would drive growth. One pillar of the resulting government policy document was BIM, and the following requirement: “2.32. Government will require fully collaborative 3-D BIM (with all project and asset information, documentation, and data being electronic) as a minimum by 2016. A staged plan will be published with mandated milestones showing measurable progress at the end of each year.”
As upwards of 40 percent of construction dollars in the U.K. are spent by the government, the industry snapped to attention, formed cross-industry collaborations, and established and implemented BIM requirements for all their projects (with logistical and financial support from the government). BIM adoption shot up from 10 percent in 2012 to 70 percent by 2018, and savings on the first prototype projects were estimated at as much as 2.5 percent of the total lifetime cost of designing, building, and operating the project. By my own estimate, that’s as much as five times the fees likely paid to the design team and 25 percent of original construction cost. Not bad for a first effort. And, in typical British fashion, the resulting standards (search online for “PAS 1192”) were clear, rigorous, and implementable.
The success of the U.K. effort has spread across Europe, and EU government leaders have taken similar roles (at least until Brexit) in developing standards for the entire European Union, while also establishing footholds with other global networks, most notably in Latin America and Southeast Asia. Singapore, in collaboration with the U.K. team, has spurred a multiyear effort to create a standards collaboration there. As we approach the end of the second decade of BIM, one can see the slow emergence of a global network of BIM standards leading to a single market BIM, catalyzed by what may be the only cohering force in the building universe: the long arm of the law.
Now that the technology is mature and its use stable, global BIM standards are a good thing. The U.K. effort rightly became the basis of a worldwide standard created by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO; see ISO Standard 19650) and released in early 2019. Based on the now viral PAS 1192, ISO describes its work as “recommended concepts and principles for business processes across the built environment sector in support of the management and production of information during the life cycle of built assets (referred to as 'information management’) when using building information modelling (BIM).” Note the emphasis on business process driving the technology standard; precisely the right relationship for creating a stable platform for the otherwise disparate players in the global building industry.
And there’s an even larger idea here. What’s most powerful about the U.K.’s trailblazing work on BIM standards is the origin point: Rather than start with the prosaic, bottom-up question of lowest common denominator tech standards, they chose a broad organizing principle—improving building through technology is good for the economy and the environment, and doing this in a way that is agnostic to specific technologies or proprietary software drives competitive innovation that helps the entire market.
Driving BIM standards has further benefits to government, not the least of which is transactional transparency. State-run construction is rife with overbidding, conflicts of interest, and corruption. A bedrock principle of “collaborative 3-D BIM” is information clarity—all members of the building team can see and understand the physical and technical characteristics of the project in parametric three dimensions, along with the resulting arithmetic of cost projection—which makes it that much harder to manipulate a bid.
In the early days of the U.K. project there was an appointed Chief Government Construction Advisor with a direct line to high-level policy makers in the Cabinet. The United States’ construction market, roughly five times the size of the U.K.’s, could surely benefit from some policy-driven federal leadership, something that is certainly hard to imagine in today’s administration and go-go economy. But when the inevitable downturn does occur, we’ll know which way to look for inspiration for industry improvement.
Welcome to the Start TankBut shifts of this magnitude are precisely what’s needed to create waves for real market transformation. “These big waves may indeed be the proof that digital transformation of this industry has reached an inflection point—and that is the ideal time to invest for maximum return,” Devitte observed. To those willing to test the tech-infested waters, they’ll have the opportunity to dive in during Start Tank, shark tank-like feature for exhibiting start-ups to pitch their winning ideas to potential investors and customers at this year’s TECH+ expo in New York City on May 22nd. Led by Devitte and featuring special guest judges Dareen Salama (Lehrer) Justin Hendrix (NYC Media Lab), and Greg Schleusner (HOK), Start Tank will enable startups to get their stories out to the market. “For potential customers it is a unique opportunity to learn about solutions they can deploy to advance their businesses,” Devitte said. “To make sure we deliver on both of those fronts, the judges are industry professionals who are potential customers for the startups. And as we say in the venture business, we will see if the ‘dogs eat the food,’ all while having fun in a positive environment.”
Notable alumni include:
Defended thesis in November 2016 and is now an assistant professor in the School of Construction Management Technology and the Department of Computer Graphics Technology at Purdue University.
Graduated spring 2016 and is now an assistant professor in the department of architecture, Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María.
Defended thesis in November 2015 and is now an assistant professor at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, in the department of construction management.
Defended thesis in fall 2015 and is now an assistant professor at the School of Architecture, University of Kansas.
Defended thesis in December 2015 and is now the strategy lead and senior product line manager at Cisco.
Reaping the benefits of efficiencyThe shift was pivotal. As Salama built the case for BIM, it opened the door to participate in many significant infrastructure projects across the country, including LaGuardia Airport, where she guided the Port Authority in implementing BIM and cloud-based systems to modernize its processes. After landing at Lehrer last year, Salama discovered “the real strength lies with the [building] owners. The owners have that holistic view of the full life cycle,” she explained. “They would reap the benefits of efficiency through design, construction, and facility management and operation. So that’s what Lehrer focuses on,” she said. Lehrer’s primary function is to advise clients engaged in major construction projects, but the firm’s view of a project doesn’t just begin with design and end with TCO or construction completion, however. “Aiding in delivering a beautifully-designed project within budget and schedule is a given—we are thinking beyond that, thinking about the end user, whether it is the person using the building as a resident, or the person running the building as the operator,” said Elissa Conners, marketing manager at Lehrer. “And that’s really where the data piece of leveraging the efficiency that is slowly but surely becoming mainstream in the industry in design and construction [comes in] and utilizing it to help optimize facilities, operations and maintenance when running the building.” Salama is currently involved in one of New York City’s major infrastructure upgrade projects at the Jacob K. Javits Center expansion, focusing on design, construction, and facility management to realize efficiencies through technology and innovation. Implementing technology in projects like the Javits Center and across the industry boils down to three things: technology, people, and process. “I think the industry is really facing challenges with all of that,” she noted. While many may argue technology has “arrived,” Salama disagrees as far as the AEC industry is concerned. “The technology is out there in terms of concepts and algorithms and platforms that we use in anything else but construction,” she observed. While the industry continues to lag behind consumer electronics, for example, Salama sees growing interest from investors in startups that have emerged in the industry during the past year.
Cultural, process challenges are significantThe people variable presents an even more significant barrier to progress, not only from a hierarchical or cultural standpoint, but also in terms of attracting talent. Salama explains how on any given project, there may be 60 to 70 different companies involved, from the owner to the consultants and the subcontractors. As a result, “it’s quite difficult to change the culture throughout all these different companies and try to figure out technology that works for all of them given the duration that you have.” She notes that during the course of a three-year project, a third of that time may be spent attempting to get people on board with process and technology modifications. Additionally, she said, it’s rare to see young talent coming from computer science schools entering the AEC field. “It’s just not the go-to industry for top talent. They would definitely go in other directions,” she explained, adding that if technology graduates better understood the opportunity, the industry would be well-poised to attract them. Finally, altering construction practices requires much more than a surface-level application of new technologies—yet attempting to automate old processes is commonplace. Existing document standards, contracts, and specifications that function in the world of hard copies and standard contract delivery methods simply doesn’t translate well into cloud-based systems, BIM, and mobile apps, she noted. “It’s not an easy fix of, ‘Let’s just apply technology; let’s just buy this piece of software,’ which people are frankly looking for,” she said. “It’s not really about what you buy, but it has to be embedded in everything that you do: your people, your process, and then at the end, what you buy fits that world.”
An undulating aluminum panels rainscreen features around 9000 individual triangular panels, with 1000 high performance glass units.York University is a research-oriented public university in Toronto known for its arts, humanities & business programs. Nestled into the landscape on the edge of campus and overlooking a pond and arboretum, the Bergeron Center for Engineering Excellence is a 169,000 sq. ft., five-story LEED Gold facility housing classrooms, laboratory spaces, offices, and flexible informal learning and social spaces. Designed with the idea of a scaleless, dynamically changing cloud in mind, ZAS Architects + Interiors designed an ovoid-shaped building wrapped in a custom triangulated aluminum composite panel (ACP) cladding with structural silicone glazed (SSG) type windows. Costas Catsaros, Associate at ZAS, says the building will help to establish the emerging school by establishing a dynamic, ever-changing identity. There are two main generators of the Bergeron Centre’s cloud geometry: the building floor plate shape, and various forces manipulating the topology of the cladding surface. The floor plan is designed around 8 curves: a primary curve establishing north, south, east, and west orientations, along with a radius at each corner. Center points of the radii provide reference points for additional sets of geometry and field surveying benchmarks during the construction phase. The resulting ovoid-shaped floor plate, challenged the architects with developing an effective way to wrap the building. They focused on the work of Sir Roger Penrose, a mathematical physicist, mathematician and philosopher of science, whose tessellation patterns inspired an efficient way to generate repetitive patterns using a limited number of shapes. Through an intensive design process, the architects were able to clad 85% of the building using only three triangular shapes, scaled based on industry standard limitations for ACP panel sizes. The other panels were cropped by undulating edge geometry along the soffit and parapet edge curves of the surface. To achieve a dynamic effect, the panels inflect at up to 2” in depth, creating an individualized normal vector per panel. By canting the triangulated panels, subtle variation in color and reflectivity is achieved. Additionally, the architects scattered color-changing dichroic paneling throughout a field of reflective anodized panels, while dark colored panels casually cluster around window openings to blur the perceptual edge between solid and void. The building substrate framing is designed with the complex geometry of the rainscreen system in mind. A modular pre-framed structural unit was developed through a highly coordinated BIM information exchange process which resulted in custom support collar detailing at window openings, a unique two-piece girt system to provide concealed attachment for the ACP panels, and a method to allow for up to 1” of tolerance within the wall assembly through reveal gaps in the cladding. During this process, a design model was passed along from the architects to the structural engineer, who developed a construction model in a 3D CAD Design Software. This model was utilized to generate shop drawings, and shared with the steel fabricator, who shared the model with Flynn, a building envelope consultant, to coordinate the rainscreen panelization with respect to window openings in the building envelope. Catsaros says this was a very successful leverage of BIM technology: "It was a very intense process, but worth it in the end. Laing O’Rourke [general contractor] was able to close in the building a lot faster than if this had been done in a conventional process." Closing in the building early in the construction process was critical on this job, which required an opening date in time for the beginning of the school year in September. This required a peak in construction activity during the middle of winter, which would have presented difficulty on an open job site. The off site production and rapid assembly of the building envelope established a warm dry environment for the installation of sophisticated (and costly) laboratory equipment and building systems, none of which would have been possible with the threat of cold weather and moisture an open building invites.