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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Revit 2008 - Building Information Modeling

Building Information Modeling
Fast-forward to the present context and the advent of Building Information Modeling: In this landscape,
complexity is still very high, but the production of drawings is now the by-product of building
a virtual 3D model composed of constructive elements. These elements are loaded with data that
describe not only geometry, but also cost, manufacturer, count, and just about any other metadata
you can imagine. With an integrated parametric 3D model, it’s possible to detect spatial clashes
between the multitudes of systems in the building. You can know with confidence whether duct
work will interfere with the structural steel long before construction starts.
The goal of reducing errors and smoothing out the construction process is driving firms to be
more efficient, effective, and productive. In this reality plans, sections, and elevations are all
derivative representations—producing them isn’t a set of isolated, discontinuous tasks. A datarich
model means that more analysis and iterative searching for optimal solutions can occur early
in the design process. As detail is added, the model becomes an increasingly accurate representation
of what will actually be built. The model itself can be used to generate part lists, shop drawings,
and instructions for industrially produced elements. If you can send a digital file that can
instruct machines to produce components, the need for traditional annotated drawings disappears.
Of course, that day has yet to arrive; but the idea can get you thinking about future directions
and possibilities. The ultimate benefits of BIM are still emerging in a market primed to
radically change the way buildings are designed and built. A shift in process and expectation is
happening in the Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) world, with private and public
sector owners beginning to demand BIM models as part of the delivery package.
The shift from traditional 2D abstractions to on-demand simulations of building performance,
usage, and cost is no longer a futuristic fantasy but a reality. In the age of information-rich digital
models, all disciplines involved with a project can share a single database. Architecture, structure,
mechanical, infrastructure, and construction can be coordinated in ways never before possible.
Models can now be sent directly to fabrication machines, bypassing the need for traditional shop
drawings. Energy analysis can be done at the outset of design, and construction costs are becoming
increasingly predictable. These are just a few of the exciting opportunities that a BIM approach
offers. Designers and contractors can begin to look at the entire building process, from preliminary
design through construction documentation into construction, and rethink how buildings come
together. The whole notion of paper-based delivery may become obsolete as more players adopt
up-to-date, accurate, digital models.
As we’ve mentioned, with a Revit Building Information Model, a parametric 3D model is used to
generate traditional building abstractions such as plans, sections, elevations, details, and schedules.
The drawings produced aren’t discrete collections of manually coordinated lines, but interactive representations
of a model. Working in a model-based framework such as Revit guarantees that a change
in one view will propagate to all other views of the model. As you shift elements in plan, they change in
elevation and section. If you move a level height, all the walls and floors associated with that level
update automatically. If you remove a door from your model, it’s simultaneously removed from all
other views, and your door schedule is updated. This unprecedented level of coordination allows
designers and builders to better control and display information, ensuring higher quality and a leaner
The immediate 3D design visualization of the building and its spaces improves understanding
of the building and gives you the ability to show a variety of design options to all members of a
project, at any moment. Integrated design and documentation keeps the data centralized and coordinated.
This in turn leads to live and up-to-date schedules and quantity take-offs. That information
can then be used to make decisions earlier in the design process, reducing risk and cost overruns. Not
only that, but with the coordinated BIM model, you can start running energy analysis, solar studies,
daylighting simulations, and egress analysis much earlier in the process, allowing you to iterate
through design decisions earlier, not later.
Coordination with BIM is now required for many buildings to come into existence. Consider
Daniel Libeskind’s recently completed Denver Art Museum and its extreme geometric configuration Integrating the mechanical and structural systems into a 3D model was essential to the
building’s successful completion. Exact spatial organization of structural members could be modeled,
which in turn led to fewer field errors and fewer requests for information. In addition, parts
could be sent directly to fabrication from the model, eliminating the need for 2D drawings entirely.

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