Building design and construction technologies have taken a major leap forward with state-of-the-art Building Information Modeling (BIM), a relatively new software for designing buildings that incorporates 3D digital tools to model buildings. Back in 2005, KMA was one of the early adopters of BIM technology for design and has since developed all new projects using the advanced software.
“The technology is still fairly new and is just beginning to become widely adopted in the design and construction industries,” said Robb Walker of KMA. “KMA has been actively using BIM technology for more than five years and has developed a comprehensive understanding of how using BIM changes the design process itself in order to create a more collaborative and efficient building process.”
Use of BIM software for building design fundamentally changes the design process. It allows the design team to finalize design decisions earlier in the process -- when the positive impact of changes to the building design can be much greater -- and the cost of design changes is significantly less than later in the process (see illustration).
BIM is a particularly powerful method of designing buildings because the digital model is “built” in the same way that the actual project will be constructed, and becomes a virtually identical building. Any changes made to the 3D design, which occurs often in the planning process, are automatically reflected on all drawing views and other affected plans, schedules and details.
Not only does the BIM model allow the design team to effectively control and manage all of the information that goes into a complex building, but it also serves as a common software platform for all the engineering and design disciplines, including: architecture, HVAC engineering, electrical, plumbing and others.
“Perhaps the most significant benefit of using BIM software for architectural design is that it significantly changes the traditional communication process between design and construction teams,” continued Walker. “BIM optimizes the efficiency of the design in the drawing phase rather than in the field during construction. We are able to share and communicate information quickly and avoid costly mistakes throughout the entire building process, allowing project completion to often be under budget and one time.”
KMA is currently using Revit Architecture 2011 BIM software by AutoDesk for architectural design, and has produced all new projects using Revit for the past five years. The firm works with engineering consultants who also utilize Revit Building Systems software for HVAC, plumbing and electrical design, which allows the design team to accurately coordinate all building systems early in the design process.
Revit Architecture 2011 can quickly generate detailed sections or plan cuts through the digital building model at any point or orientation, and can generate 3D views from detailed studies to fully rendered images of the completed building for use by the design and construction team.
KMA generally designs projects in conjunction with structural engineers who also work with Revit. This has allowed both the architect and the engineer to share and work from a common BIM model of the building rather than exchanging static drawing files, streamlining the design process, enabling better drawing coordination and enhancing the design and construction team’s ability to identify conflicts.