I live in a rural area near Washington, DC. Few local architects use the tools, and when they do they can usually be accused of ‘bimwashing.’ They fight the change at every pass, and are now losing municipal projects because of their mindsets. At a Scout dinner the other night, I had a discussion with a mechanical contractor, who when asked, knew what BIM is and obviously understood how it was starting to affect his business. His organization is not using BIM, but they realize that they must, soon.
I spend a significant amount of time across the US speaking about the change. Many do not ‘get it.” Interestingly, Owners understand immediately and want it NOW.
Contractors understand after a bit of research and thought. Clash detection and other construction support tools give them a verifiable return, very quickly. The returns for architects and engineers are more difficult to quantify, but come just as fast.
Unless design professionals become fully engaged and adapt to new ways of working, they will be left behind. Some are now feeling this pain. They must learn the difference between cooperating and collaborating.
A cooperative process can be done by one person or organization. Others only to pick up the slack. For generations, we have worked cooperatively, and it’s not working so well any more.
A collaborative process requires the active engagement of others. Leadership moves around, expertise takes center stage and shared risk and reward govern. That is what happens when you use a BIM based process.
The change is coming, because BIM is a better, more efficient and less problematic approach to the built environment. It smooths relationships and gets work done on-time and under-budget. But, it is not about software. It is about people and working practices. Those that focus on software do not ‘get it.’
Returning to first-principles and assessing how we work and how the process could and should occur is the first step. As a worldwide industry, we must begin to first become strategic thinkers and view the world from a system’s perspective. There must be an end-game vision, backed up by a holistic understanding of where things stand today. Only then should we think about tactics to meet the goals.
The US is a very diverse place. In the US, few government agencies mandate any level of BIM. Most still opt for CAD processes and deliverables. Some federal agencies (most notably the US Coast Guard and GSA); some universities and one or two state governments have formal requirements. It is much improved from five years ago, but is definitely a work in progress. Those of us that have been on the BIM track for a long time, see improvements daily.
There is no reason to fear BIM. My firm (and others I know) have profitably done 3.5×3.5 meter screened porch additions with BIM.
After nearly 25 years of virtual building/BIM based practice, I can say with confidence that there is no project that BIM will not make better. The alternative view has always been due to lack of knowledge, fear of change or someone working at counter-purpose to the group, IMHO.