T-Squares, Rulers, and Pencils (oh my!)
Paul Durand and Dana Weeder, another principal architect, showed me something that keeps Winter Street ahead of the rest in this tool department; Building Information Modeling (BIM). When I first heard BIM, I was confused… there was no “BIM” in my cliché vision of what I thought an architecture firm would look like; architects running around with t-squares, rulers, and pencils. Apparently t-squares are architecture of the past; BIM is the architecture of the future.
Like SecondLife™ or the Sims™ on steroids, “Building Information Modeling” is a tool that constructs 3D models in a virtual world. The design is embedded with valuable information, which can be manipulated and tested. Dana opened up the BIM software called Revit they use here at WSA, and at the risk of sounding completely unprofessional, this program is wicked crazy, and crazy is a good thing. Not only can you do everything you could do with the t-squares, rulers, and pencils, but you can also review the building in 3D, do a “walkthrough” of the building, spin it, peel the skin back, and test the systems all before the plans are finalized. Oh and did I mention, that there are new tools out there that can translate your BIM model into SecondLife™? Yea – here’s an example:
Naturally I wasn’t deterred from giving the program a go until… I opened the program for myself and realized that it was quite a bit over my head. To me, Revit was intimidating, but ridiculously cool. From a technically inclined, non-architect here are two observations about BIM and how WSA uses it. And in the meantime, Happy BIM-ing!
1. Improve Design Coordination. When the information is embedded in the design, the design becomes smart (I’m thinking Blade Runner, but that’s probably a bad analogy). When a design is “smart,” you give it a chance to minimize opportunities for mistakes, which saves time and money. Duh. This is a good thing.
2. Enhance Design Communication. Face it, not everyone can read a plan (umm, me). Seeing what a design will look and feel like before its built gives confidence and credibility. Not only that, but in BIM the 3D views can be done instantaneously…time saver.