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BIM finally starting to pay off for AEC firms

BIM finally starting to pay off for AEC firms

In surveying Giants 300 firms about BIM, we went right for the jugular: Is BIM paying off—through cost savings, higher quality, or client satisfaction? Here’s what they told us.

By By Robert Cassidy and Tim Gregorski | July 19, 2012
BIM model by the Walter P Moore firm showing the coordination of civil and struc
BIM model by the Walter P Moore firm showing the coordination of civil and structural elements of a suspended bridge structure a
This article first appeared in the July 2012 issue of BD+C.

BIM has been paying off for AE firm NELSON. “Once a team becomes proficient in the BIM process, we see better margins for projects completed in Revit,” says John “Ozzie” Nelson, Jr., President/CEO. “We see more RFPs that require Revit.” Creating Revit models opens up doors in analysis, data integration, facilities management, and advanced visualization, he says.

Perkins Eastman is starting to see results from its investment in BIM. “Our most recent in-house analysis of project labor costs on comparable CAD/BIM projects is showing an increase in BIM projects over CAD projects,” says Chair/CEO Bradford Perkins, FAIA, MRAIC, AICP. “Many of the other benefits of a BIM workflow are not so easily quantified, but they are real enough to give us confidence that BIM is paying off.”


Alex Ivanikiw, AIA, LEED AP, Senior Vice President at Barton Malow: “The real benefit is how the use of BIM enables collaboration, which in turn builds a real sense of trust and teamwork.” When subcontractors had trouble using the BIM model for submittal approval and materials fabrication, Barton Malow created a BIM 101 seminar to educate them in these processes, says Ivanikiw.

BIM projects have been profitable for Syska Hennessy Group, but there’s always room for improvement, says Co-president Gary Brennen, PE, LEED AP. SHG was “committed and fully invested in the early adoption of BIM,” but the MEP software still lags behind the architectural and structural components. “We were aware of that going into the process,” he says.

Structural engineering firm Magnusson Klemencic Associates is producing 100% of its projects as BIM models. “After many years of investment, we are finally turning the corner on implementing BIM in an efficient and thoughtful manner,” says MKA President Ron Klemencic, PE, SE.

The key to successful BIM implementation: “A project team with the experience and knowledge of what to model and how to model it,” says Klemencic.

“Allowing owners to better visualize the project has become an influencing factor during the presentation process,” says Doug Davidson, President, New South Construction. In 2011, over 45% of New South’s projects used BIM.

“There’s no question that BIM has paid off in our role as engineer of record producing construction drawings and as detailing engineer,” says Robert Otani, PE, LEED AP, Vice President of Thornton Tomasetti. The firm’s Construction Support Services practice uses BIM to produce digital fabrication drawings, connection engineering, and erection engineering for steel contractors. “The technology is constantly changing, and the engineers need to stay ahead of the curve,” says Otani.

KJWW Engineering recently standardized on Revit BIM in all 11 offices. President Paul VanDuyne, PE, says it was much more difficult to develop the MEP and technology components of the firm’s BIM platform than it was for structural engineering and medical equipment planning. “Now we are completing projects in close to the same time frame as previously with 3D, and in some cases faster,” he says.

EwingCole now uses an internal “cloud” for team members, who are now able to work on BIM through higher-end processors and central servers, says President Mark Hebden, AIA, LEED AP.

 EYP Architecture & Engineering adopted BIM in 2006, and it has become a core competency. One unexpected benefit: “BIM integration has created more opportunities for younger tech-savvy staff to collaborate with senior technical team members,” says John Pocorobba, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, Chief Operations Officer.

“It becomes apparent which market sectors are embracing BIM,” said Greg Lyon, Vice President and Director of Business Development at Nadel Architects, whose BIM work focuses on hospitality and retail clients.

“BIM implementation has been a long-term effort and a considerable one,” says Phil Harrison, FAIA, LEED AP, CEO of Perkins+Will. The firm has overcome the technical and training issues and is now “focusing on innovations and efficiencies,” he says.

Shepley Bulfinch has been using BIM since 2009 and now uses it for all projects. President Carole Wedge, FAIA, LEED AP, says BIM implementation has led to a “deeper exploration about how we approach our work, including how we draw and how we schedule our projects.”

According to Graef CEO John Kissinger,  “We were early adopters. It was more difficult than we thought, but it is ingrained in all areas of our practice now.”

SmithGroupJJR began transitioning to Revit in 2005, and is now demonstrating a return on its BIM investment. On a daily basis, the firm peaks at around 310 concurrent users on Revit Architecture, Revit MEP, and Revit Structure.

President Steven Straus says Glumac made “an enormous investment” in BIM training and software development. “BIM is a new technology that is improving coordination,” he says, “but the software is not ready for prime time.”

“Not all contractors we work with are leveraging BIM. This means we have to spend more time preparing drawings in BIM than we normally would,” says BRPH President/CEO Brad Harmsen, AIA.

The chief conclusion from this survey: BIM is here to stay, but be prepared to invest staff time and money to perfect it. +


Rank Company 2011 BIM Revenue ($)
1 HOK 398,217,301
2 HDR Architecture 327,690,000
3 Perkins+Will 274,336,000
4 Skidmore, Owings & Merrill 204,000,000
5 HKS 200,000,000
6 Cannon Design 173,000,000
7 SmithGroupJJR 150,540,000
8 RTKL Associates 140,000,000
9 Hammel, Green and Abrahamson 76,740,000
10 EYP Architecture & Engineering 72,681,105
11 Corgan Associates 67,575,000
12 Flad Architects 65,100,000
13 HNTB Architecture 63,244,852
14 Fentress Architects 58,824,000
15 DLR Group 49,500,000
16 BSA LifeStructures 45,316,495
17 PageSoutherlandPage 44,918,630
18 ZGF Architects 40,352,152
19 Ennead Architects 39,341,000
20 KMD Architects 35,143,453
21 Cooper Carry 34,000,000
22 Perkins Eastman 32,500,000
23 LS3P Associates 32,211,134
24 FKP Architects 30,000,000
25 Harley Ellis Devereaux 28,740,000



Rank Company 2011 BIM Revenue ($)
1 Jacobs 355,021,036
2 URS Corp. 275,000,000
3 Stantec 181,300,000
4 SSOE Group 103,506,950
5 Science Applications International Corp. 92,695,000
6 Thornton Tomasetti 83,314,632
7 KPFF Consulting Engineers 60,000,000
8 Burns & McDonnell 50,000,000
9 KJWW Engineering Consultants 43,784,892
10 Bard, Rao + Athanas Consulting Engineers 32,000,000
11 H&A Architects & Engineers 29,883,975
12 TLC Engineering for Architecture 27,290,274
13 STV 26,646,000
14 Glumac 26,408,740
15 Magnusson Klemencic Associates 25,845,578
16 Middough 25,000,000
17 R.G. Vanderweil Engineers 24,912,000
18 Michael Baker Jr., Inc 24,000,000
19 Syska Hennessy Group 23,500,000
20 Smith Seckman Reid 21,360,000
21 Bergmann Associates 18,420,000
22 ccrd partners 16,700,000
23 Rutherford & Chekene 16,568,000
24 Paulus, Sokolowski and Sartor 15,500,000
25 L.R. Kimball 14,200,000



Rank Company 2011 BIM Revenue ($)
1 Turner Corporation, The 5,458,100,812
2 URS Corp. 4,150,000,000
3 Hensel Phelps Construction 2,230,890,000
4 Mortenson 2,220,000,000
5 Balfour Beatty US 2,070,776,637
6 McCarthy Holdings 1,897,000,000
7 Holder Construction 1,651,000,000
8 Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., The 1,282,424,019
9 Lend Lease 1,264,115,151
10 Hoffman Corp. 1,165,887,387
11 Walsh Group, The 1,128,436,530
12 PCL Construction Enterprises 1,100,346,901
13 JE Dunn Construction 1,097,865,953
14 Clayco 820,000,000
15 DPR Construction 691,319,178
16 Swinerton 653,859,000
17 Gilbane Building Co. 622,414,000
18 Suffolk Construction 621,498,214
19 Structure Tone 606,850,000
20 Pepper Construction Group 566,300,000
21 Weitz Co., The 560,000,000
22 Manhattan Construction Group 549,029,000
23 Austin Industries 547,065,203
24 Power Construction 530,000,000
25 Brasfield & Gorrie 504,676,926

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