Birmingham City University Project Phase 1

  • Client: Birmingham City University
  • Lead Contractor: Willmott Dixon Capital Works
  • BIM Tools: Autodesk Revit, Autodesk Navisworks and CADduct (now owned by Autodesk)


On a £48m project for a university that has teaching strengths in the built environment, it was clear that Willmott Dixon would be expected to operate close to BIM’s leading edge. ”Universities in general are good, well-informed clients and if they’re teaching the built environment, then BIM is on their radar,” says James Daniel MCIAT ICIOB, BIM development manager.

Birmingham City University had commissioned its three design consultants with the requirement that they would work in BIM, and Willmott Dixon then won the tender on the same basis. “We had access to the M&E, architectural and structural models in the tender process, then these were handed over to us and we created an integrated model using Autodesk Navisworks project review software. As far as we know, the project was the largest single-platform BIM project in the UK,” says Daniel.

Navisworks’ capabilities included clash analysis – a term Daniel prefers to clash detection. “You analyse the issues and deal with them, there’s no blame.”

The integrated model then acted as the main reference point for the design and construction team. A fourth design – from M&E subcontractor NG Bailey, created in CADduct – was added as a federated model. “Its role involved fabricating offsite elements, so it needed the onsite information.”

But Daniel acknowledges the model had limited impact on the construction phase: it was accessible in the site offices, and there was some linkage with Willmott Dixon’s programming and planning software. But for site-based personnel and processes, it was more or less business as usual.

However, BIM will have a considerable impact on the university estate department’s ongoing FM. “Delivering the data in a BIM format was a requirement, you have to understand what the client’s requirements are and structure your data properly. [FM data transfer] is the next big thing we’ll see the industry take forward.”

At a technical level, this will involve giving the client as-built data direct from the model. “A lot of FM tools use platforms such as Navisworks to view output information, adding tags and links allows data to be tracked back to the database within the model.”

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