Sunday, September 30, 2012

Analysis–The Implied BIM Use

One of the promises of BIM is the notion that Analysis comes pretty easily (cheaply) after you have a model.  For certain type of information this is definitely true.  Net Room/Space Area (Not Gross), Numbers of unique instances of items, Very basic 3D Coordination i.e. (yes things are indeed clashing).

While there are a few wins the vast majority of analysis you might want to do on a building is much harder to achieve.  The difficulty comes from software capabilities, standard work processes,  and other issues.  The biggest failing I see with the industry as a whole is the lack of Systems Thinking.  I want to build a virtual building and then ask it questions.  Right now there are a lot of uni-task features in software.

Just as a quick exercise here is the list of the types of analysis that came across my desk last week.   To be clear these are not unachievable, but given the current state of software they are far from automatic.

  • Gross Envelope Area to floor area of early building massing divided into Parapet, Below grade and other for a 900,000 sf new building
  • Gross/Net by department of a 300,000 sf new building
  • Quality Assurance across 3 different BIM based quantity takeoffs done by 3 different parties
  • Daylight and Electric Light analysis from BIM instead of purpose built model
  • Detailed program to actual analysis of hospital projects. “The rooms is supposed to have a ventilated door…is the door in the model ventilated?”
  • Across that last X number of hospital projects what is the average Net/Gross for Clinical what measure.
  • How to perform GIS like Network analysis of an Urban Design project for metrics such as walkability, connectedness, but working in a design software.
  • Then of course we have the eternal frustration of BIM to BEM (Building Energy Modeling)

So what is the solution?  Should we stop trying?  The answer is 1. Complicated and 2. No  

For me the challenge opportunity and frustration is that we have so far to go.  My point of view is that the current AEC market needs an outsider.  Not a new software company but a totally new point of view.   Their goal can’t be to sell more software, but should be the realization that a design = data and data has a value and a use.

I mean that in the most abstract sense possible. I could mean anything from the simplistic QTO type discussion, but could mean something as soft as…”How comfortable/productive will or could a person sitting in this particular seat be?'”  

This sort of question has 10s if not hundreds of interconnected relationships and would require a complete rethink of software based analysis, but imagine the day when this question could be answered. 

What AECO needs a BIG DATA provocateur, not “BIG BIM” but “BIG SIM”…maybe even  BIG BIM SIM…BBS .has a ring to it …gotta’ love acronyms made of other acronyms.

That’s my current view of the world on this Sunday….

Look forward to your thoughts and comments.


  1. Sounds like you need to call CASE ;)

  2. Great post.
    If you are gonna call someone, I agree with Don -- call CASE. Those people are awesome!

    I have actually been using GIS and Network Analyst to draw networks (hallways) in buildings in 2D and 3D to model shortest path out of a building and for assigning service areas of fire exits. Revit to GIS is simple if you have ArcMap and the Data Interoperability Extension.

    I was fought tooth and nail when I fought to add data to a model. If it didn't need to be in a construction document they didn't want it. I was connecting models to the web and iphones:

    With Revit in GIS you get a TON of analysis tools and the ability to query everything!

    The architects that use, create, and maintain data will be the winners. Those that draw construction documents and call it a day -- will see their world turned upside down. Architects have started to focus too narrowly. I had an architect tell me he doesn't get paid to enter a real world Long and Lat in a model. That's 1 point - takes 2 seconds. But not in his job description. He will import a jpg from google earth and manually scale it to fit his model instead of georeferencing a model and making it project correctly.

  3. are running a free online Q&A on BIM and Autodesk Revit.

    Come and have a look