I’m encouraged to see progress being made to make BIM more useable and reliable downstream. These are all good steps in the right direction, but how can we leverage this additional clarity today? Does it require us to have all stakeholders and team members in the model to collaborate and share information? It appears as if this is the ultimate goal.
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Earlier this month, BD+C posted an article entitled, Level of Development: Will a new standard bring Clarity to BIM model detail?  To summarize, the article touched on the work being done by the BIMForum, in conjunction with the AIA, to standardize the level of development (LOD) produced by way of BIM. With these new standards, the BIMForum hopes to provide more clarity to building teams through context and graphical data to supplement the AIA G202-2013 level definitions.
I’m encouraged to see progress being made to make BIM more useable and reliable downstream. This is one of the core objectives of the group, to give more information to those downstream and encourage collaboration through reliability of the BIM data. One quote states that “It is a stepping stone to get from document deliverables to model deliverables.” It goes on to say that “This particular stepping stone is the tool that levels expectations between different stakeholders and provides an apples-to-apples comparison.”
These are all good steps in the right direction, but how can we leverage this additional clarity today? Does it require us to have all stakeholders and team members in the model to collaborate and share information? It appears as if this is the ultimate goal. Indeed, I don’t doubt it one day will be. I’ve spoken with many BIM Managers who say that this is not just a goal but a reality they are pushing for on current projects. But as we’ve touched on before in past blog posts, getting everyone in the model isn’t always as easy as some would like it be. Nor is everyone comfortable collaborating in the model at this point. But does that mean we shouldn’t look for ways to make good use of advancements like the ones the BIMForum has made?
As standards like this are creating stepping stones from “document deliverables to model deliverables,” so are other advancements in technology. One such stepping stone or (as I’ve heard it called before) bridge to BIM data are 3D PDFs. I’ve spoken with many Architects who are unaware that 3D PDFs have become a powerful method for communicating and collaborating on BIM data outside of the model. You can rotate and view 3D elements, pull them apart, create assembly animations, see entire slices of a building, comment back and forth—all within a PDF. Especially for those downstream, the ability to see, interact with and comment on 3D information from the model with a PDF viewer or editor means they have a voice… today.
So much of what we talk about in regards to BIM and those downstream is “future” talk. What value does this truly have for those working on projects, today? Sharing 3D PDFs outside of the model allows conversations currently going on in email threads or on paper to be brought into the BIM realm. It gives the downstream project team members a bridge to cross to gain a tangible benefit from BIM. Not in the future but today. You know, the older I get, the more I understand that saying, “A bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush.” And in this industry, we need all the birds in the hand we can get.