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BIM 2.0: AEC firms share their vision for the great leap forward in BIM/VDC implementation [2013 Giants 300 Report]

BIM 2.0: AEC firms share their vision for the great leap forward in BIM/VDC implementation [2013 Giants 300 Report]

We reached out to dozens of AEC firms that made our annual BIM Giants lists and asked one simple question: What does BIM 2.0 look like to you? Here’s what they had to offer.

By David Barista, Editor-in-Chief | July 19, 2013
SmithGroupJJR used BIM with its design of the 230,000-sf Facility for Rare Isoto
SmithGroupJJR used BIM with its design of the 230,000-sf Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) at Michigan State University. The level of detail and coordination required from each of the firms disciplines was unprecedented. FRIB will be a new national user facility for nuclear science, funded by the Department of Energy Office of Science, Michigan State University, and the state of Michigan. PHOTO: SMITHGROUPJJR

Automated clash detection. Been there, done that. Quantity takeoffs. Mastered it. Virtual construction coordination. Old news.

More than 25 years after the first BIM software tools came to market, the U.S. construction industry has largely mastered the BIM/VDC learning curve and is implementing 3D BIM coordination on a regular basis. According to Building Design+Construction’s 2013 Giants 300 survey, 80% of the nation’s largest architecture, engineering, and construction firms have adopted BIM/VDC tools and report having earned revenue working on BIM-driven projects.

Let’s face it: Most of what’s discussed in the BIM/VDC arena today is yesterday’s news. So BD+C set out to identify the next big developments in BIM/VDC technology and implementation. We reached out to dozens of AEC firms that made our annual BIM Giants lists and asked one simple question: What does BIM 2.0 look like to you? Here’s what they had to offer:


Precise field-placing using robotic total stations

Structural steel items embedded in cast-in-place concrete are often misaligned or omitted in the field due to poor coordination between the structural engineer, concrete subcontractor, and steel erector. In a broader sense, the use of meta data in a building model promises great benefits, but it has not found a place in general practice because of questions of accuracy, responsibility, and liability for use of the data.


2012 BIM Revenue ($)
1 Gensler $484,286,130
2 HOK $385,700,000
3 HDR Architecture $299,828,000
4 Perkins+Will $270,225,000
5 Skidmore, Owings & Merrill $267,601,700
6 HKS $216,000,000
7 Stantec $197,000,000
8 Cannon Design $165,000,000
9 RTKL $131,834,9509
10 SmithGroupJJR $105,598,000
11 EYP $85,381,169


2012 BIM Revenue ($)
1 Jacobs Engineering Group $4,465,746,000
2 URS Corp. $292,864,749
3 Science Applications International Corp. $131,066,235
4 Arup $123,364,028
5 Merrick & Co. $106,000,000
6 SSOE Group $99,560,561
7 Thornton Tomasetti $93,431,545
8 Buro Happold Consulting Engineers $78,006,000
9 Middough $60,000,000
9 KPFF Consulting Engineers $60,000,000


2012 BIM Revenue ($)
1 Turner Corporation, The $5,924,000,000
2 Clark Group $2,224,508,127
3 DPR Construction $2,175,000,000
4 Hoffman Construction $2,155,377,276
5 Hensel Phelps $2,089,180,000
6 Mortenson Construction $1,992,450,000
7 Balfour Beatty $1,902,988,332
8 McCarthy Holdings $1,879,000,000
9 JE Dunn Construction $1,513,283,005
10 Walsh Group, The $1,313,656,333
Sophisticated field placement methods exist using equipment such as robotic total stations. In conjunction with geospatial data incorporated into the BIM model, these tools can be used to accurately place items and record their as-built condition to high precision.

Even though hardware and software are available today, we lack a standard practice outlining the responsibilities of each stakeholder to create, verify, and utilize geospatial data in the BIM model.

—Steve Wilkerson, Associate Vice President, Haynes Whaley Associates


Extracting data for FM operations

The next “big trend” in BIM is the set-up, coordination, and extraction of data in COBie (Construction Operations Building Information Exchange) format so that more information can be pulled from the BIM model for use in client-based FM software, such as Maximo and AiM. The primary obstacle is figuring out how to do this when so much information for a project resides in multiple models. Programs such as BIMLink will be developed to help with the management of these “data buckets” and with the flow of that data out of and back into BIM models.

This trend will also push the AEC industry closer together, and new ways of collaborating—such as IPD multiple-party, single-contract delivery methods—will continue to evolve to help remove the obstacles to integrating data from all of the necessary parties involved.

—Sam Boyd, Quality Assurance Director, Cooper Carry


BIM on the go

Mobility is becoming more important. Multi-disciplinary teams in multiple locations collaborating on one model will require faster data networks and the use of cloud computing. Take that to the next step and design teams will be expected to instantly communicate with the construction and fabrication in the field through the model in the cloud.

We’re also going to see teams untethered from their desktops using more mobile tools (tablets, smartphones, etc.) to modify, navigate, and display the model. We are starting to work with tools that allow us to open BIM models on an iPad or iPhone to share with clients on the go.

—Don Ghent, Principal and Global Technical Leader, Gensler


Creating a common BIM language

The Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) being developed by buildingSmart International will eventually define actual data elements of a building model and standardize them industrywide. The group is working to develop and promote a standard data format that can be used across all platforms (Revit, Tekla, Bentley, etc.) so that data can be transferred and read across all model authoring and audit software programs. The walls of proprietary software will be broken down by IFC. All models will soon be able to interact with each other in ways not possible before.

—Aleisha Jaeger, LEED AP, Operations Manager-Construction, Epstein


The rise of virtual reality

The integration of BIM with virtual reality technologies is a promising development. For example, use of augmented reality—where both graphical and contextual information are overlaid onto building systems in the real world to produce the effect of x-ray vision—will allow the operator to see the utilities installed in a wall cavity, ceiling space, and even underground. The possibility of cost savings using these applications is fascinating, and the execution and user experience are quite simple (e.g., Google Glass viewer or mobile device such as an iPad).

—Andre Zoldan, Chief Information Officer, Albert Kahn Associates


Other ideas offered by the group include:

• Use of early phase database programs, such as Trelligence’s Affinity, to do programming and planning in a database-rich environment that can be directly imported into BIM programs.

• Automating code compliance review with the BIM model. The International Code Council is leading and funding the buildingSMART initiative to develop SMARTcodes, which could allow teams to automate the entire code review process.

• Establishing central project control. Building models, along with the use of RFID, barcode technology, and GPS will soon facilitate “smart” job sites. For example, materials arriving on site will automatically be sensed and recorded by the model as delivered. No paperwork will be required.

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