NextGen Standard of Care

OMG Finith has done it again! His first book BIG BIM–little bim was a seminal book for the facilities industry. This time in a 400-page book with 29 case studies and hands-on exercises and tools he has combined the next book I would have written, along with documenting what is in the incredible mind of Kimon Onuma, along with about every other great thinker in the industry. For those of you who may be thinking that we have milked all we can out of BIM, this book is a must read and will set you straight in understanding that we have not even scratched the surface. For those of you still trying to figure out what BIM is and think it is a piece of software or just an expansion on CAD if you don’t read this book you will have missed an enormous opportunity. This book truly documents what the standard of care will become in the facilities industry over the next decade. Thank you Finith for all your efforts in the transformation of the facilities industry.

—Dana Kennish “Deke” Smith, FAIA, father of the U.S. National CAD Standard and, the first executive director of the buildingSMART alliance, where he worked to establish the US National BIM Standard to help improve international adoption of the powerful BIM toolset.



I have not attempted to cite all the authorities and sources consulted in preparation of this workbook and the companion book BIG BIM 4.1. To do so would require more space than is available. The list would include federal government agencies, AIA chapters, customers, libraries, institutions, and many individuals.

My most special thanks and all my love to Beth. Without her support, none of this would be possible.

My thanks to my friend and colleague Kimon Onuma, FAIA, president of Onuma Inc. of Pasadena, CA for his insight and support with examples and concepts throughout this book. Mr. Onuma has long been a thought leader in the BIM world. His conception of the Object Genome, organizing the objects that underpin BIM technology, helped many understand the complexity and power of the process. Mr. Onuma won the 2007 American Institute of Architects BIM award for the US Coast Guard Web-Enabled BIM Projects and the 2007 FIATECH CETI Award for the Sector Command Planning System for the US Coast Guard. Design Atlantic Ltd worked on both projects with Onuma. Mr. Onuma’s groundbreaking contributions to the future of information in the built world will affect us all for many years to come.

My thanks and sincere appreciation to the group of national and international experts that took their time to review and comment on the material in BIG BIM 4.1, and this workbook—In Ireland: Professor Alan Hore, Alan Redmond, Paul Sexton, Ralph Montague, and Shawn O’Keeffe; In Germany: Professor Alexander Malkwitz, Oliver Lindner, and Volker Krieger; In the USA: Chip Veise, Deke Smith, Devin Jernigan, Josh Plager, Kevin Connolly, Michael Chipley, Michael Scarmack, Paul Adams, Peter Cholakis, Thomas Dalbert, Yong Ku Kim, Forrest Huff, Hugh Livingston, Jared Banks, and John Roach; In the UK: David Churcher; In Spain: Professor Farid Mokhtar Noriega, and; In the Netherlands: Joost Wijnen. Be assured that they contributed to this being a great book and that I am fully to blame for any errors.


This BIG-BIM 4.0 Proofs of Concept site is packed with activities and guidance designed to educate and expose you to proven projects and processes that others have completed. These are the current best-practices in BIG-BIM. They point you to next-practices, guide your discovery process and allow you to experience and learn from the mistakes and successes of others. Understanding how others have used the tools and processes will help you calculate your potential benefits from the use of BIG Building Information.

Critical Capabilities

For many, BIG-BIM requires a leap of logic. One crosses the chasm by becoming educating in the principles of connected systems. With education, you find answers to questions, such as: How can something so complex and all-encompassing be easier to use than the familiar tools? How is BIG-BIM even possible? Especially when some technology experts tell me it’s a pipe dream? Or, something that will happen at some undefined future date?

BIG-BIM 4.1 gives you the field proven information you need to answer such questions, and to decide for yourself. The BIG-BIM ecosystem needs a central hub to manage the data coming and going to, and from tools of many types—a BIG-BIM Server. The hub for BIG-BIM ecosystems must address two critical issues:

  1. BIG-BIM should not impose hardware or software restrictions on users. Nor should BIG-BIM be limited to those with advanced training. Work takes place and is moderated using Internet-accessible, non-dedicated virtual servers, or cloud computing. Users access the system using any device capable of accessing the Internet. Desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones using any operating system are options.
  2. BIG-BIM should foster rules-based planning, connecting authoritative data of all kinds in new and unexpected ways. Smart costing systems, finding connections among disparate datasets, analysis of Big Data, and simulations to find optimal solutions take place quickly. The system must transparently provide access to the core data, and allow everyone that needs to use the data to visualize, manipulate, and maintain the information to achieve benefit in each use case without relying on the help of experts.

Without such critical capabilities, BIM will not deliver the things that people need in a BIG-BIM ecosystem. 

These issues are addressed at length in BIG BIM 4.1 | Building Information Ecosystems. The book is recommended reading for anyone learning about BIG-BIM.


Most of the projects and processes included in this site began with some type of process mapping exercise such as the Flying Logic Diagram above. Learning how to effectively consider the end need and deeply analyzing the process to achieve the necessary results is a hallmark of BIG BIM in practice.

The best way to understand what BIG-BIM is about is to delve into a BIG-BIM ecosystem to explore BIG-BIM as it exists today. This site contains workflows designed to help you in your exploration. Many of the case studies included on this site and the material in the companion book, BIG BIM 4.1, | Building Information Ecosystems highlight the workflows used in the reviews and projects presented.

The concepts and workflows (in BIG BIM 4.1, | Building Information Ecosystems) and examples included here focus on using the I of BIM to manage the data generated from many different sources. By exploring both, one can experience BIG-BIM for oneself. Use the concepts, workflows, and case studies to understand how one might create dependable, decision-making information, when and where needed.

Theory and conjecture are immutable parts of any discussion of BIM, for the possibilities are endless. It is hard to separate the real from the fiction, especially when BIG-BIM enters the picture. BIG-BIM seems elusive and aspirational. It is only natural to ask, Does BIG-BIM even exist? Some vendors and self-proclaimed gurus make it sound like BIG-BIM will happen at some undefined future date.

They would have one believe that today, only little-bim is possible. Other vendors and gurus proclaim that they have the one-and-only way to BIG-BIM. The same crowd too often equates BIG-BIM with big projects. Usually, these misconceptions occur because someone’s entire income stream comes from selling you some form of little-bim. Until one delves into the details and looks closely, it’s hard to dispute such claims. Study the issue and come to your decision about this topic.

To use the BIG-BIM workflows one needs access to a BIG-BIM Ecosystem. Go to the Recipe for Real-World BIG-BIM in the Special Supplement at the end of BIG BIM 4.1, | Building Information Ecosystems for the detailed recipe to get started. The workflows throughout the book and in this site address topics such as:

  • Creating BIG-BIM from spreadsheets.
  • Generating COBie spreadsheets from a BIG-BIM model… in one step.
  • Moving information and graphics from models created from spreadsheets to Revit for further development.
  • Moving information and graphics from models created from Google Earth to ArchiCad or Revit for further development.
  • Building data-rich lifecycle models on the web, with furniture, fixtures, and equipment, ready to use in the desktop tool of your choice.

Case Studies

Many of the projects that follow involve existing facilities, as such projects represent a much larger share of our world than does new construction. The Case Studies, Design Fictions, and Workflows detail both the possibilities and results that come from real-world projects completed by BIG-BIM practitioners as they work to achieve better managed assets in the built environment. 

Much has been learned as owners, designers, planners and constructors have worked to achieve the results that BIG-BIM promises. Much has been learned as enterprise owners work to incorporate their existing facilities, or add new facilities within established campuses or distributed networks of buildings. Across the board, these three lessons hold to be at the heart of the process:

  1. Start little-bim installations one building at a time. A phased approach to as-built models is often the only solution when there is a requirement to deliver standalone little-bim, because funding to document existing conditions is often limited, even for the largest owners. 
  2. Start BIG-BIM installations so that all facilities within a campus or portfolio are modeled in a quick, low level of detail manner to act as the data buckets to hold owner information that will be attached to the ecosystem. The contextual and decision support benefits of BIG-BIM take much too long to emerge when you use a traditional process of fully developing one building at a time at a high level of graphical detail.
  3. Get immediate benefit by creating Current Condition Models in BIG-BIM to hold legacy information (areas, coordinates, program data, and planning rules). These models can be upgraded to include geometry and detailed facility data over time, as budgets allow.

Models are ideal candidates for rules-based systems. Start by modeling the first project. Each additional project should take the same course. As the owner renovates or replaces facilities, the models become ever more precise. They build up the institution’s storehouse of information. Connect these models to other asset data using BIG-BIM as middleware.

Portfolio owners within multiple facilities can have any building or use type. They can have new projects or renovations. They can involve infrastructure assets, or not. In this environment, the capital improvement plan is king. BIG-BIM of the entire portfolio is an ideal way to manage this complexity.

The management and elimination of deferred maintenance are a constant in extensive facilities and multi-building campuses. Budget restraints often force managers to focus on one capital improvement project at a time. Owners face a dilemma of where to apply limited funds. The ability to manage deferred maintenance is one of the major benefits of a BIG-BIM ecosystem.

For enterprise owners, the best solution is to develop a BIG-BIM ecosystem that includes models containing site information and massing models for facility assets. Projects within the model can take many forms, depending on the available information. Existing installations may start as little more than boxes to hold legacy data. As projects are developed the BIG-BIM ecosystem captures the results and becomes richer.

Information moves from conception to planning, design, and construction into operations and maintenance. At each step, the BIG-BIM ecosystem becomes more resilient, sustainable, and economical. Value builds as the owner learns how to connect to capital budgets and facility processes. Those able to plug into the process become valuable. In fact, they may be indispensable.

Design Fictions

Design fiction, isn’t fiction but a technique for thinking ahead, predicting future technologies, potentially influencing policy, but most importantly creating a debate by asking what-if? In this way, fiction can become a tool to help design future societies and technologies, giving the public a say on it too.

— Imagination Lancaster

The design fictions that follow are designed to highlight the possibilities and opportunities that BIG-BIM provides in situations that require early stage analysis and planning for resilience. The materials have four goals:

1. At the community level, the they involve everyone.

2. At the organization level, they connect business needs with state-of-the-art mission delivery and sustainability to better support the community.

3. At the system level, they promote resilience and comprehensive strategies for the future of the system and the community.

4. At the facility level, they help stakeholders make design decisions in a way that connects people with business needs.

At all levels, they supplement and enhance other material earlier in this book.