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Getting BIM Moving in A Large Firm

Anonymous
Not applicable
Bear with me on the long post the next to paragraphs in italics are a background on our firm and what we have done in the last two years (abridged) so feel free to skip them and go to the questions at the end:

Well, here we are two years later, and no update from Ben. I can say in his defense he has been inundated with the process of taking a firm of our size into the next evolution of the AEC industry. Before I begin with the update on the progress of BIM at CUH2A (we are allowed to say our name now) let me give you a background on who Ben and I are and where our roles fall. Ben is the BIM Operations Manager and I am the Architecture BIM Technology Coordinator, I also have an engineering counterpart named Brendan, the three of with a few others comprise the BIM Operations Team. (The team has really only been formed within the last 6 months.) CUH2A is an architecture firm with over 400 people working in offices from London to San Francisco. We specialize in Science and Technology buildings mean high-tech facilities with large complicated laboratories which means that the complexity of our designs lies not only in the architecture of our buildings but also the engineering. All that said, it seems like a no-brainer to us that BIM would be the direction we would go to move our firm into the future.

So, when Ben posted his first post here in hopes of gaining some information on which software would best suit the needs of our firm, we really gained more information about what BIM is and how it can affect our company. Thank you all for your responses to the posts by the way. Our firm has now made the commitment that every project we do will be on a BIM platform no matter how big or small and we are currently getting ready to complete projects whose sizes vary from 800,000 square feet to 10,000 square feet. The point in this post is to begin the conversation of the next phase of BIM. We have made our decision about software (ArchiCAD) and we are fully committed to the cause from the top down.

The Pace of the Process:

So, one of the first challenges that we are encountering in dealing with the number of users we have here is to get everyone up to the same level without hampering power users by restricting their efforts. We have users who are more than able to tackle some of the more intricate and complicated functions of ArchiCAD and really use it for a true BIM environment. However, most of our users are not ready for that step. Our goal is to move everyone into ArchiCAD, get them modeling and drafting and just using the software in an efficient manner. Then we can focus on the next steps. Unfortunately, that is a long process and at time we feel that we are holding people back from really excelling at the software and the process. How can we allow them to move at a pace to the point that we don’t lose the standardization of the process and create a large gap in our user base?

Who are the Right People?

The goal of our use of ArchiCAD and BIM is not to work faster but to work more efficiently. Basically because with efficiency inevitably comes speed. The increase in efficiency should allow us to do two things, work with few people on a project team and complete more work with the same amount of staff. In order to do this however you need “the right people.” Who are the right people and what makes them the right people? Now by right people we could care less about the skills on the computer, it is certainly a factor but now the deciding one. Everyone can be trained. We have found that there are people who are just more naturally adept at the BIM process. We have our theories on why, what would you guys say makes one person ready for this transition than the other?

The Future and the Next Step:

Lets make an assumption here and say that there are probably not many architecture firms in the world who do not use computer generated 3D modeling in one for or another, even if only SketchUp. That being the first phase and the next steps which we are beginning to take and will most likely be able to implement to the entire AEC industry within the next few years, what is the next step? Paperless job sites? Estimation of materials for recycling? Or perhaps we will begin to close the gap on our closely related cousins in the aeronautic and nautical design and manufacturing world and immerse ourselves in CAD/CAM manufacturing. Now, I am well aware that there are a few firms in the world who already make use of this type of technology, what I mean is that it becomes an industry standard practice. Where does everyone see the technology taking us in the next 3 years? 5 years? 10 years? I will not bore you all with elaboration on my interest in the CAD/CAM world, if you would like to discuss it with me please feel free to get in touch. However, I will ask does anyone else think that the design/build firms of the world will be on the forefront of the 4D revolution or will BIM possibly allow architects and engineers to take back some of the responsibilities we used to have as master builders?

So, thank you to everyone in advance for responding to these questions. I know they are probably not as thought provoking as Ben’s post of a few years ago, but I hope interesting none the less. Thanks again.
11 REPLIES 11
Anonymous
Not applicable
Matthew wrote:

Great work Tom. It looks like you've taken my recommendations farther than anyone else I've worked with. Of course I haven't seen James Murray's docs lately and Aaron Jobson is hot on your heals out here.
May I ask what these guys are doing? Will there be some extra resource material to help train new staff?

I hope so - I'd like to know of new training info.

Hunter.
TomWaltz
Participant
Hunter wrote:
Will there be some extra resource material to help train new staff?

I hope so - I'd like to know of new training info.
There will be soon 🙂
Tom Waltz

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