Architectural Record BE - Building Enclosure

Diving Into BIM

For two firms now fully immersed in digital modeling, a group of community libraries proved the ideal medium for trying out new technology
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From Architectural Record
Joann Gonchar, AIA
Continuing Education

Learning Objectives - After this course, you should be able to:

  1. Define a building information model.
  2. Discuss the benefits of building information modeling (BIM).
  3. Explain how BIM can be used in the design and construction process.
  4. Discuss the benefits of deploying alternative project delivery methods with BIM.



Adoption of building information modeling (BIM) is gaining momentum as more and more architects, consultants, and builders discover the software's advantages. Because a building information model is a compilation of integrated and dynamic data, rather than just a collection of lines on a screen, design and construction teams are using the technology to perform tasks that were much more difficult with traditional CAD drawings. With BIM, they are readily creating 3D views to better understand complex geometries or present various options to a client, to perform energy simulations and other analyses early in the design process, and to uncover potential conflicts between a building's structure and its mechanical systems.

The technology is definitely taking hold, but estimates of just how deeply it has penetrated architectural practice vary. According to an American Institute of Architects (AIA) survey released this fall, The Business of Architecture, more than 34 percent of firms have acquired BIM software, and more than two thirds of those are using it for billable work. Another recent study, The Business Value of BIM, conducted by McGraw-Hill Construction (publisher of Architectural Record), included engineers, contractors, and owners, as well as architects. Just under half of all participants reported using BIM or BIM-related tools. The rate of adoption among architects was highest, with 6 out of 10 using the technology. Although the results of the two surveys differ, both demonstrate that the technology has been embraced by a significant chunk of the profession but is not yet a universal part of practice.

Black Diamond Library was bundled with four other libraries serving small communities outside Seattle into one design-build project.

Photo: © Yoram Bernet


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Originally published in Architectural Record