BIM and why we should focus on the ‘why’… | Harriet Eldred

BIM and why we should focus on the ‘why’…

A short time ago I was fortunate enough to attend the second annual CASE Retreat in San Francisco (you can read about what we got up to here: CASE takes SF). We came from all corners of the globe and descended on San Francisco for four days packed with fun, ideas and an exceptional amount of inspiration. However before we all left the comfort of our home offices, we were encouraged to watch this TED talk by Simon Sinek, and I would encourage everyone to make time to watch this too. Do it soon.

You might be wondering why this is relevant to engineering, or structures, or BIM, or… well… anything, but this is the whole point. Remember those days of blissful peace before clients were writing BIM requirements into your scope and you didn’t care what BIM was, in fact you’d probably never heard of it?

If I had come up to you and said something like this:

I believe that there is huge potential to streamline the design process to allow us to build better, more efficient buildings.

I’m pretty sure you would have agreed with me and immediately jumped on my bandwagon.

Instead of doing that, the powers that be said things like this:

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a collaborative way of working, underpinned by the digital technologies which unlock more efficient methods of designing, creating and maintaining our assets. BIM embeds key product and asset data and a 3 dimensional computer model that can be used for effective management of information throughout a project lifecycle – from earliest concept through to operation.

It’s not that I disagree with this statement, I just think that it is frightening. It makes me apprehensive. It makes me nervous about this new technology which I’ve never heard of. But most of all it makes me wonder how much it’s all going to cost.

People think of BIM as an extra service. People talk about BIM meetings, BIM deliverables, BIM training and BIM manuals. We’re frightened of BIM because it’s putting pressure on us to change and we don’t really know what it is or what to do about it.

I don’t believe we should think like this and I would like to put a stop to it now.

I like to think of BIM as an opportunity, as a vehicle for change. Yes, there are things to be apprehensive about when agreeing to work in a shared model with an architect. And yes, there are probably extra things in your scope that are new, but it’s OK. Think about the possibilities. Think about the ‘why’ rather than the ‘what’.

Engineers (and architects) exist because they want to design better buildings. We want to produce an elegant solution to the problem at hand – that is our raison d’être – and this is the driving force for taking advantage of new technologies and methods.

I guess my point is simple: I wish people had listened to that TED talk before they decided to push BIM into the wild. Because the reality is simple – all building professionals are trying to work smarter not harder, produce designs which have form as well as function and most of all, we all like to be able to go home at a reasonable time every day. So let’s all hop on the BIM train and never get off. I promise that if you focus on the ‘why’ rather than the ‘what’ you will never look back…

16. March 2015 by harriet
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