5 Broadgate. Photo: John Madden

Analysis

Make Architects: 2015 will be the year of BIM

7 April 2015 | By Tom Ravenscroft

For architects, adopting BIM is a similar transition to the one from the drawing board to CAD. It will simply take a while until everyone fully understands what BIM means for the entire profession.– Johannes Renner, project technology manager, Make Architects

Johannes Renner, project technology manager at Make Architects, on its plans to make BIM “business as usual”.

Why did Make first invest in BIM?

In 2010 we decided that we would use the 5 Broadgate scheme in the City of London (pictured above) – now almost complete – as a kind of BIM pathfinder. We wanted to use it as an experiment to find out the potential of BIM on a project of this size and importance. It was not just about being an early adopter, we were curious about the potential and wanted to find out if we could do it and what the implications were for designing with BIM.

It wasn’t really financially driven, as due to the investment needed the project cost more than if it had been designed traditionally. I think for any practice, the first five to 10 projects designed with BIM may not save money. It takes a while to get cost benefits.

Do you think that as a profession architects are embracing BIM?

I don’t really see architects as being behind others in the built environment on BIM. However, I think the process is far more complex for architects as BIM is only one part of a design tool kit and has to be used alongside traditional tools like physical models, sketches and drawing.

Of course, some architects are further ahead than others and those working with the government are moving forward quicker. For architects, adopting BIM is a similar transition to the one from the drawing board to CAD. It will simply take a while until everyone fully understands what BIM means for the entire profession.

Will Make be further investing in BIM in the future?

At Make we have decided that 2015 will be the year of BIM! Our aim is that all new projects will be designed in Level 2 BIM. We are trying to get clients to adopt BIM at the earliest stage as we are seeing more and more clients come back to us after the project has been live for one or two years and wanting a BIM model. If we create the original model we can tailor it to our needs and take ownership of the model at the earliest stage. This makes the whole process easier for us.

How has BIM changed the relationship with your main contractors?

BIM hasn’t massively changed our relationships but we talk more to our contractors and have more regular meetings with them due to BIM, which is a good thing. This improves communication and often means mistakes are found earlier. Over time we think BIM will improve communication between everyone involved in a project and hopefully lead to better coordinated buildings.

Is communicating with others involved easier or are you having the same conversations?

Of course there are still arguments – BIM hasn’t fundamentally changed the way of working. But the model does improve communications, though as it is a visual tool that is much less abstract than 2D drawings. In meetings we have something to talk about. Problems are still the same, but the model makes specifics easier to locate.

What practical issues have arisen from adopting BIM?

As we have always had a strong interest in 3D modelling the initial transition was a natural progression but there were still issues with people and technology. People need convincing to learn something new and do something different and the technology hasn’t moved as fast as the idea of BIM.

In the early stages models got very large and we had to split them up to reduce file size, otherwise we lose all the gained efficiency waiting for files to load. In the last couple of years there has been a massive improvement but it is still an issue and we are always looking to get new faster software and hardware.

The cost of adoption and the increasing complexity of the BIM process is a hindrance, but new technology comes with its own intricacies and over time the costs will be converted to efficiency savings.