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March 19, 2007
The Use of BIM
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on AECcafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
Each AEC Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the AEC industry, AEC product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by AECCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

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AECWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Acquisitions/Agreements/Alliances, Awards, New Offices, New Products, Around the Web and Upcoming Events.

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Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News
The Use of BIM
by Susan Smith

The term “building information modeling (BIM)” defines a technology that contains information about a building from concept, design and construction through operations and management. The use of BIM spans the entire AEC process. Some projects will use BIM in very early schematic design and others will wait until construction. There are no hard and fast rules.

At BDP, all team members are in house, so architects and engineers, structural engineers, and mechanical engineers use the same software and BIM model which is available to them at all times. In some cases, the BIM model is led by structural engineers under the direction of the architects, according to architect director Keith Papa.

Because there can be so many decision makers involved in the creation and use of a BIM, there is a need to strengthen relationships between owners, architects, engineers and contractors on projects. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has been spearheading the development of a new BIM standard—the new buildingSMART Alliance which will operate within the independent nonprofit National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS). We will hear more about this later, but basically the new public/private initiative expands on goals of the North American Chapter of the International Alliance for Interoperability (IAINA), whose Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs) have initiated open standards for national and international links among industry players, and will serve developers and users of BIM in helping to form a more cooperative relationship between players.

A real challenge is, does BIM get the job done? Does it meet the needs of users? Many vendors would have the public believe that BIM is used in an enormous number of occasions (Revit, for example, has grown to 190,000 seats. There are 500,000 AutoCAD Architecture seats (formerly Architectural Desktop), also considered a BIM, although it could easily be used solely for 2D CAD). It is difficult for vendors to qualify where BIM is being used and where it isn’t, except on the bigger projects that win awards and gain a lot of attention. Part of the reason for this is that A/E firms already have numerous seats of a 2D CAD software in place, with users who have upgraded to 3D but are not necessarily using BIM.

One colleague said that of all the architectural projects he consults on, only a very small percentage use a BIM, but many are interested in it.

Some AEC firms say the definition of BIM is a “little slippery.” Many firms create models, but not necessarily BIM models. HOK, which has hundreds of projects going on at the same time, estimates that perhaps 10% of their projects are full BIM projects.

Some of the confusion lies in the fact that 3D is a big part of a BIM model, but not the only factor in a BIM model. “BIM is about ¾ 3D model, and the other ¼ is additional information,” Mario Guttman, firmware CAD director, HOK, pointed out. “We’re tracking more detailed identification of things that are in the BIM model such as what they are and what they cost, etc.”

Certainly, reading the new product feature list from one of the vendors can get you thinking that it’s all very simple. Those toiling away in the trenches know that it’s not all easy, no matter what the marketing literature says. “Some people would give you the impression that you would build a BIM model, push a button and get an energy analysis. That’s not really true. Architecture is a complicated art that doesn’t necessarily lend itself to simple answers,” said Guttman.

BIM and Sustainable Design

Although it was not originally intended for sustainable design, BIM is now being seen as a useful tool to analyze energy use and resource consumption. The idea is, that if firms can understand energy use and resource consumption early on in the design process they have a better chance to change them before the construction phase.

The growing awareness of sustainable design has generated both economic and social pressure in the building industry, in which BIM can be a worthy participant. Granted, excellent examples of sustainable designs were created before BIM was invented, so it will take some time to quantify how much time is saved by using BIM, how much more accurate the model is than those models relied on in the past, and in what ways BIM might be superior to past methods. It will also take some time to gather in the data on how many projects are using a full BIM model for the execution of their projects, as opposed to using only a part of a BIM model, and how well any of these processes are working for them. Many vendors are working on this research right now.

Over the next few weeks, look forward to more on this topic. Readers are also invited to contribute their opinions and experiences.


BDP and its French partner Groupe6 are together launching a new international healthcare brand BDP Groupe6 in order to offer their unique combined knowledge of best practice in international healthcare design.

BDP Groupe6 represents Europe’s largest collaboration of health care building designers with projects valued at over �3000m currently in design and construction. They intend within a five year period to extend their already significant operations building on the success of domestic markets which are unlikely to maintain their current levels of activity.


Created to spearhead technical, political, and financial support for advanced digital technology in the real property industry—from concept, design and construction through operations and management—the new buildingSMART Alliance will operate within the independent nonprofit National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS). The new public/private initiative expands on goals of the North American Chapter of the International Alliance for Interoperability (IAINA), whose Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs) have initiated open standards for national and international links among industry players, and will serve developers and users of Building Information Models (BIMs), the digital tools that are increasingly helping to share highly accurate information throughout a facility’s life cycle.


AVEVA Group plc has been voted 'Company of The Year' at the 'PLC Awards' in London. The awards, created 21 years ago by PricewaterhouseCoopers, are designed to reward excellence. Entrants must be listed on the London Stock Exchange, but not be constituents of the FTSE 100 index. AVEVA was nominated by an expert panel of fund managers and research analysts from many of the UK's most respected financial institutions. Management, strategy, growth prospects, financing and shareholder returns were assessed by the panel in making nominations. AVEVA was voted winner by readers of The Financial Times from across the globe and by the panel.

New Offices

BST Global, the leading global provider of enterprise business performance management solutions for architectural, engineering and environmental consulting firms and other project driven organizations, today announced the opening of a new office in the United Kingdom. The UK office will act as BST Global's base of operations for serving clients in the region. BST Global's diverse list of leading European architecture and engineering clients includes ENVIRON, ERM Group, Foster + Partners, and Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo.

New Products

Mindscape Asia Pacific  has released TurboSketch, an innovative plug-in of modeling software for Macintosh and PC.

TurboSketch is used with the award-winning Google SketchUp conceptual modeling application as well as tightly integrated lighting and photorealistic rendering controls from IMSI/Design.

An easy one click approach controls the same sophisticated lighting and rending technology that powers CAD packages costing thousands of dollars.

Mechdyne Corporation today announced that its VRCO software division has expanded the compatibility of its immersive visualization solution to support native display of both Autodesk ® Maya ® and Autodesk ® 3ds Max ® applications in a wide range of large scale virtual reality environments. With the enhanced Conduit™ package, designers may now display native Maya and 3ds Max models, in stereoscopic viewing modes, on large PowerWall™ and in walk-in immersive CAVE ® rooms driven by Windows ® and Linux ® PC clusters.

ESRI announced today the availability of ArcGIS for AutoCAD, a free AutoCAD application that allows CAD users to visualize and query geographic information system (GIS) data within the CAD environment without conversion. ArcGIS for AutoCAD accesses dynamic georeferenced ArcGIS Server map services and displays them in the AutoCAD drafting environment.

“For the first time, CAD users will have a simple way to connect to GIS enterprise data,” said Don Kuehne, ESRI product manager. “These users will benefit from the results of GIS analysis through georeferenced cartographic products inside AutoCAD's editing environment for context and reference without the complexities of conversion and translation.”

Cimmetry Systems, an Agile Software company and global leader in collaborative visualization solutions, today announced the immediate availability of AutoVue 3D Pro - SME, the latest addition to Cimmetry's AutoVue family of visualization solutions, targeting the small and medium sized enterprise (SME) market.

Strong demand for Cimmetry's native viewing technology has created the need to recognize the special requirements of small and medium sized enterprises and their tendency to work with the lower priced, mid-range 3D CAD packages. Cimmetry's new AutoVue 3D Pro - SME provides users of mid-range 3D CAD packages, such as SolidWorks, Autodesk Inventor, AutoCAD Mechanical and Solid Edge, with the freedom to choose their authoring tools and still work with different mid-range 3D formats from partners, customers or suppliers. Customers that require the ability to view the higher-end 3D CAD packages, such as CATIA, NX or Pro/Engineer, may upgrade to the AutoVue SolidModel Pro product.

Oce, a global leader in digital document management and delivery solutions, today announced the introduction of two new production-color printers for corporate print rooms and commercial printers. The Oce(R) Color System 620 (CS620) and Oce Color System 650 Pro (CS650 Pro) provide printing and copying at 65 pages per minute with a low cost of ownership maximizing budgets and productivity.

Matrox Graphics Inc., manufacturer of graphics solutions for professionals, unveils the TripleHead2Go Digital Edition, the latest addition to the Graphics eXpansion Module (GXM) line. This new external graphics upgrade device allows users to convert a dual-link DVI output into three standard DVI outputs. TripleHead2Go Digital Edition supports a stretched desktop of up to 3840x1024 (triple 1280x1024)1 across three monitors, allowing an easy multi-display upgrade path for compatible notebook, desktop or workstation systems. Users of the TripleHead2Go Digital Edition can also choose to operate in DualHead® mode with a combined resolution of up to 3840x1200 (dual 1920x1200)1.

Intergraph Corporation today announced the release of version 5.1 of the ImageStation® suite which drives higher productivity and throughput, and introduces ImageStation XE.

The ImageStation suite serves government, commercial photogrammetry and mapping agencies worldwide by enabling users to process digital photogrammetry workflows from project creation to orientation and triangulation, 3D feature collection and editing, Digital Terrain Model collection and editing, and orthophoto production using aerial and satellite sensors. This release makes orthophoto production more reliable and efficient, and several enhancements have been implemented to make the photogrammetric workflow more productive.

Around the Web

IN THE REGION/New Jersey; The Hanging Tower of Jersey City  , by Antoinette Martin, March 4, 2007, The New York Times (registration required) -- AFTER a wild development saga involving a dozen legal actions and the hiring of a mega-star architect, the design for a new tower to anchor this city's arts district emerged last week as, well, kind of wild.

Autodesk MyFeedback Web Portal Re-Design Project  (Between the Lines blog)

New Autodesk Public Discussion Groups for 2008 Products  (Between the Lines blog)

Study Says Computers Give Big Boosts to Productivity  by Steve Lohr, March 13, 2007, The New York Times (registration required) - Money spent on computing technology delivers gains in worker productivity that are three to five times those of other investments, according to a study being published today. But the study also concluded that the information technology industry itself was unlikely to be a big source of new jobs.

Upcoming Events
Deltek Insight 2007
Date: March 15 - 18, 2007
Place: Venetian Resort Hotel
Las Vegas, NV USA
The name Deltek Insight conveys what this conference is all about – providing you with Insight into industry trends, best practices, what Deltek has planned for the future and how you can further leverage your investment in Deltek products to streamline operations, improve business performance and win new business.
World of Asphalt 2007 Show & Conference
Date: March 19 - 22, 2007
Place: Georgia International Convention Center
Atlanta, GA USA
North America’s leading international exposition and education resource for the asphalt, highway maintenance and traffic safety industries.
LMS Conference 2007
Date: March 20 - 21, 2007
Place: Somerset Inn
Troy, MI USA
The conference presents the work of technology leaders from the Test, CAE and CAD industries and is open to the entire engineering community. It offers an opportunity for attendees to gain additional knowledge and technical skill with the use of LMS systems and to discover new groundbreaking LMS products such as LMS Virtual.Lab and LMS Test.Lab.
88th Annual Convention & Constructor Exposition
Date: March 21 - 24, 2007
Place: San Antonio, TX USA
The convention is designed for anyone interested in the construction industry and is interested in improving their bottom line and expanding their markets. If you are serious about ‘Understanding the Owner’s Advantage,’ you can’t afford to miss this convention.
PORTS 2007
Date: March 25 - 28, 2007
Place: San Diego, CA USA
Port and harbor facilities development is undergoing exciting and significant challenges in response to the world's everchanging trade, economic, and political conditions. PORTS 2007 will offer an all-encompassing array of professional/technical papers pertinent to the progress of port and harbor facilities development. These papers are expected to address the complex, innovative, and state-of-the-art technical aspects associated with the planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operations of worldwide port and harbor facilities. A diverse group of attendees involved in the successful development and operations of port and harbor facilities will attend this conference and hear presentations of these papers. Attendees will exchange ideas; debate points of view; discuss case studies, methods, procedures, standards, and techniques; and share experiences, innovative solutions, knowledge, and lessons learned.

In the PORTS Conference traditions, special emphasis will be placed on providing a practical international and national forum for issues and ideas related to ports and harbors, inland waterways, and navigational improvements.

SPAR 2007
Date: March 26 - 27, 2007
Place: Sugar Land Marriott Town Square
Sugar Land (Houston), TX USA
Please join COADE at booth # 5 for Spar Point Research's 4th annual conference on 3D laser scanning and active dimensional control. Discover the business case for using advanced dimensional control work processes enabled by new laser technologies such as COADE’s CADWorx fieldPipe for Leica fieldPro employing Direct-To-Model (DToM) Technology. Learn how laser precision technologies can help achieve significant safety, cost, schedule and quality values for capital projects


You can find the full AECCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, AECCafe.com Managing Editor.