Building Information Modeling — or BIM as it is more commonly known — is a series of powerful tools used in the architectural industry to combine digital design with the information needed to complete a project, such as cost, siting, and materials. It allows both designers and their clients to visualize a design in Schematic Design long before it is built and fosters collaboration among architects, consultants, and builders.
Since taking the leap from 2D to 3D, our studio has leveraged this new technology to provide beautiful architecture in an increasingly complex building environment.
“It is a joyful experience to imagine our buildings fully-formed before they are built. It is also one of our most serious responsibilities,” explains principal Tim Barber. “As building science grows, new materials are developed, new technologies are explored, and our climate changes, keeping everything in mind is a challenge. We recognized that challenge several years ago and made the decision to use BIM software and hire an expert to develop it.”
One essential way BIM helps us to meet this challenge is its ability to simulate a project site and the surrounding environment at the onset of the design process. This allows our team to understand a project’s location and plan a response to many given forces, including the way shadows cast across the property and how site boundaries implemented by the city might constrain the buildable area and lot use. Establishing this critical information early on helps us meet project timelines and provides both us and our clients with an understanding of their building in their settings as it develops in design.
A 3D model helps our clients understand their home long before it is built. Before BIM, we typically produced hand-drawn renderings at clients’ requests to help guide them through critical design decisions. These presentation renderings took many hours to complete. With these new tools, our imaging is faster and more advanced, allowing us to create rough-yet-realistic images throughout every design phase.
The most advantageous feature of using BIM is more than just 3D imagery. It helps our team be more comprehensive and efficient in our work than previously possible. Sharing a central model of information directly with our consultants and builders helps us create a more transparent and collaborative working process. Now when we bring on contractors and consultants who also use BIM, we can seamlessly integrate their models into our own. This enables us to significantly reduce the probability of errors, condense coordination time across all trades, and spend more time working with our clients to design homes they’ll love.
What’s next for BIM in our studio?
Looking forward with this powerful new array of tools, we are constantly thinking of ways to improve our architecture for our clients. One capability we hope to have soon will be integrating our client’s needs and requirements directly into the 3D information model. By linking our model with clients’ lifestyle information, we can ensure that our architecture accurately reflects the decisions of the homeowners.
Sustainability has also always been very important to us, and some of the analytical tools that are becoming available are making it easier to understand passive systems such as daylighting, heat gain and reflectance, and positioning our buildings for the best use of wind and other natural climate factors.
Since acquiring these tools we have already begun to enhance both the beauty and clarity of our drawings and documents. One thing we look forward to in the near future is providing real-time walk-throughs of our homes and sharing virtual reality models with our clients that can be viewed remotely at any time.
All of these tools increase efficiency and our visual understanding, and are just the tip of the iceberg for BIM. We’re excited to show you what comes next.