So what is this BIM thing anyway?

(Note this was originally posted 11-19-2009)

I recently asked a local agency director if they had any plans for requiring the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) for their upcoming building program and he honestly responded that he did not even know what building information modeling was. What I realized is that while we as architects and designers are looking at and utilizing some of these newer technologies and processes to create better projects; the building owners and potential clients have no clue as to what these are and their added value. We need to do a better job at educating and making them aware of the advances within our industry and how these advances help them achieve better projects and their bottom line. Similar to how they now have a better understanding of sustainability/LEED and the impact that they have on the built environment. So what is this BIM thing anyway?

BIM – Building Information Modeling is a process that utilizes computer software and hardware technologies to not only document a building’s design, but also to simulate the construction and operation of a facility. The resultant virtual building model is a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a facility from which various forms of information can be extracted to assist an owner, contractor and design professional in making reliable decisions from design through the building’s life cycle.

Creating a virtual building model is very different from making the more traditional 2-D CAD (Computer Aided Drafting or Design) drawings which is nothing more than conventional hand drafting, only performed on a computer. The 2-D CAD drawings are made up of lines whereas BIM or virtual building models are made up of intelligent objects that not only represent the geometry of the building and the items within, but also can store multitudes of data and information about each of those objects that can be later extracted into schedules and reports.

A few examples of information/data that can be gleaned from building models include:

  • More accurate material quantity take-offs
  • Project scheduling
  • Energy analysis (Assists with LEED documentation)
  • Lighting analysis
  • Building Life Cycle analysis
  • Equipment/furniture schedules (this can be updated easily through the building’s life cycle)
  • Rendered 3-D models and virtual building walk-throughs
  • Live plan, section, and elevation views (move or add items in one view and the items are moved/added in all views)

Some BIM benefits are:

  • Reduced conflicts during construction
  • Improved collective understanding of the design intent
  • Improved overall project quality
  • Better designed and coordinated projects
  • Reduced changes during construction
  • Reduced numbers of RFIs (Requests for Information)
  • Better cost control/predictability
  • Increased collaboration between all design disciplines, contractors, and owners


City Shots – Reflections

1201 West Peachtree Street and 1180 Peachtree Street, Atlanta, Georgia

This one of my favorite photographs. What I like the best is the juxtaposition of 1201 West Peachtree, designed by architect Phillip Johnson in the foreground, it’s reflection, and 1180 Peachtree Street designed by the architectural firm of Pickard Chilton. This was taken in the fall of 2006.

This is the top of 1180 Peachtree Street

Looking up the side.


City Shots – Night Skyline


Atlanta’s midtown skyline at night from Piedmont Park.

Copyright © Craig D. VanDevere


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What is the Value of an Architect?

Last week was the inaugural #NOMAchat on Twitter. The topic was on, Path to Licensure and it raised many interesting comments and questions. Based on the comments, some questioned is there really any value in being an “Architect”. Keep in mind in most States, if not all, one can only use or be considered an “Architect” if they are licensed/registered to do so. Another comment stated being licensed was only good if you were in an Architectural firm.

I am not sure what has happened, but I recall when I was coming up in the profession unless one was registered there was a clear ceiling in how much one could be paid as well as many positions were unavailable unless they were licensed/registered to practice Architecture. While some of those positions were in Architectural firms others were in public and private sector employment as well.

While I understand here in the US, the public as a whole has a lack of understanding about Architects and what services we actually provide; but was a little surprised by those who have an architectural education questioning the value in obtaining a license to practice architecture. I guess how can we expect the public to respect us and our opinions as professionals, if we don’t respect ourselves. I don’t believe we would seek the advice and expertise from the medical, legal, or even engineering professions unless they were licensed in their fields why should ours be any different. Perhaps our professions devaluation is due to us relinquishing a number of our services to others who are not architects.

Is there value in being an Architect? By that I mean being licensed? What are your thoughts?


Fireworks over Marietta, GA


Here is my first YouTube video. This was made from a series of photographs that I took July 4th, 2009 in Marietta, Georgia. I used Google’s Picasa to create the video. The photos were taken with my Canon 50D on a tripod, manual exposure in bulb mode, shutter speed varied 1-12+ seconds, 200 ISO speed, and a 50mm f/1.4 lens.


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