Questioning the Consultants

Question: why are consultants fighting the use of a BIM Process that can save them time and coordination headaches?

 

I frequently work with my colleagues to coordinate consultants, and it’s part of my job to make sure that our consultants know what we expect from them. Although our office works exclusively in Revit and requires our consultants to do so as well, I find that Revit gets used as a drafting tool instead of a BIM Tool. Consultants complain that using Revit to capture information such as slab slopes, ramps, stairs and wood framing is ‘not part of the fee’. They may be willing to model the major elements but they do not want to provide a model for coordination with the architect or to the client.

The struggle is real: working with smaller consultant firms is a big problem when trying to facilitate interoffice BIM goals. If BIM is not required by the client most smaller firms would prefer to charge more for using a BIM workflow. I think that the use of Revit implies a start to the BIM workflow. After all, if you use the software as intended to incorporate information 3D coordination will occur.  There is an amazing advantage to all parties involved in the project.

Struggle

My response is always the same. Although our clients may not have explicit BIM goals, my office has an expectation that all consultants will collaborate on the project. We strive to deliver the best project possible to the client, and we need efficient collaboration to make this happen. Each project utilizing the BIM Tool Revit gets some sort of BIM Execution Plan (BIMeX) and I expect consultants on our projects to build models to a level that is documented in the BIMex and discussed at the project Kick-off meeting with all parties involved.

I am always confused by the consultant approach of using Revit as a 2D drafting tool. Revit is a BIM tool and it draws in 3D and is not a 2D drafting tool. Accurate modelling that all team members can use for coordination is the entire point of the software! Is this where BIM sputters? Is this the first edition of the software? Absolutely not: this is 2017 and we have been using this process for several years.

Understanding client requirements can allow the Architect to dictate the need for BIM Goals and create an in-house BIM Execution Plan. These requirements should be written into the consultant agreement and all consultants should agree to abide by the BIMeX. These meetings are meant to outline the use of software during the project timeline, the Level of Development within the model, what is modeled, how models are exchanged and who owns what elements in the 3D environment.

Once the BIMeX is created and agreed upon by the Architectural team it’s time to have a Project Kick-off meeting to go over the BIMeX and requirements of the projects modeling needs. It’s always best to sit down in person to discuss these requirements to make sure there is no confusion and everyone can agree upon the BIM Goals and deliverable. This documentation is used throughout the lifecycle of the project for a record of modeling responsibilities and requirements that all parties agreed on.

As Henry Ford said:   “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

A Year Later…

one-year

It has been a year and the journey has been rough at times, but I am optimistic the future is bright.

A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new – Albert Einstein

A year ago I wrote about a New adventure I was starting at ZGF Cotter Architects: http://wp.me/p4aYOX-2j. A lot has happened in that year; we dropped the Cotter and are now fully established as ZGF, the Canadian branch of the Number One Architectural firm in America.

As a design firm, ZGF believes in utilizing technology research to help better the design. As the year has progressed I’ve discovered what that phrase actually means to the firm. I’ve heard people say “don’t get in the designer’s way.” I didn’t really understand this phrase from my perspective of process and support. I am not an architect and I do not design amazing buildings or come up with incredible solutions for a client’s building; I do not want to. My job is to support those that do.

What I love is to work with process. I believe that technology can be leveraged to give designers more time to focus on what *they* really want to do and do well. I believe creating standards for content and materials enables users to focus on design and forget about the technology behind the output. When I hear the phrase “stay out of the way”, I now understand it’s about streamlining the process so you can keep the technology out of the way.

This past year has been a period of learning and growth to discover the best ways to help my designer-colleagues use BIM technology. To date my job as Design Technology Manager has followed these three phases:

Phase One: Understand what currently is used to help the designer tell a story for the project.

  • Are there specific types of software that are used?
  • What is the workflow during the design process?
  • How does that differ from project to project?
  • When is the design process at a point for documentation?
  • Does design ever stop?

Phase two:

  • Learn how to link software together so the design intent and work remains intact.
  • Work with colleagues to identify where information management can be automated and streamline workflow.
  • Review different project types to make sure that universally applied processes still apply.
  • Create templates to assist team with process documentation
  • Ensure that technology process allows for updates and changes along the project timeline.

Phase three: Setup a BIM Implementation plan for the Vancouver office and focus on making it succeed.