BIM - Design In The Next Dimension

Change is inevitable. You’ve heard it millions of times. In the world of design, changes take place about that many times...a day. Throw into the mix technology, and the options are immeasurable. Gone are the days of drafting tables and slide rules. Even CAD (Computer Aided Design), has been replaced with the newest, best practice known as BIM, or Building Information Model.

“BIM is the catalyst that is really changing the way the design process is done today,” said Matt Birk, GBBN Principal in charge of technology. “But BIM is just one piece of the puzzle,” added Birk. “Put all the pieces together and you get Integrated Practice.” What that means is the design team (Owner, architect, mechanical and electrical engineers, plumbing, structural engineers and construction manager) is working together with a live building model. This results in a collaborate environment which produces a more coordinated project.

“Currently we’re working with Turner Construction Company on Northern Kentucky University’s Bank of Kentucky Center,” said Birk. “At project team meetings, 3D models are projected on SmartBoards to highlight coordination issues and offer solutions. Errors are easily detected, and notes are written on the board regarding how the error will be fixed. “BIM technology is causing the evolution of design and construction to progress at a faster pace,” said Birk.

BIM is an integral part of the NKU Bank of Kentucky’s 10,000-seat arena where 3D modeling is required of all members of the design and construction team. The design and construction team imports the building models together in a software called Navisworks. Navisworks automatically detects collisions, such as a sprinkler pipe running through a mechanical duct, and flags those collisions graphically as well as documenting them in collision reports.

This 3D coordination effort allows the project to have less RFI’s and change orders, which translates into time and money.

According to Tim Walsh, Turner’s project manager on the NKU project, the 3D coordination process being used has been a great success. “We’re approximately 65% complete with the above-ceiling mechanical, electrical, plumbing and sprinkler work to date,” said Walsh. “We’ve had no RFI’s or change orders since the installation started.” This means that there has been absolutely no costly rework required. “We’re seeing measurable reductions in some schedule durations,” added Walsh. “The teamwork between Turner, GBBN and the subcontractors in using this new technology is certainly impressive and key to our success."