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BIM: It's a Mindset

The Life Cycle Approach to a BIM environment is first and foremost – a mindset.

Many design teams across all types of projects are doing the front-end leg work, saying the “right” things in client interviews – yet when it comes to working, designing and integrating with a BIM project environment, I believe it would be safe to say – less than 30% of commercial design & construction teams are working and succeeding in a BIM.

If the team around you, from Partner down to Production, do not believe in the benefits of a BIM, at this point in time in the AEC industry, I question whether they ever will. They are plodding along in the same mindset they have been for the past 5, 10, 20 years. They are producing designs which are being built and once their CA portion of the contract is complete, they walk away, looking for the next opportunity to plant in the ground. Ultimately, they will say, “Look what we did” or “Look at our history, our breadth of projects, aren’t we amazing?”

It is incumbent upon those of us who have seen this mindset repeatedly shun our approach to BIM and the collaborative team project environment, and change this outdated approach.

I take great pride in knowing the benefits of BIM while continuing my journey to learn each day about new applications for better BIM implementation, successful projects and firms using it to the full potential. I continue to “preach” and educate the benefits to those around me. Knowing full well, they aren’t truly listening. They ‘hear’ my words but have already moved onto the next deadline.

Perhaps we cannot blame them. After all, we are at a tipping point of information overload and the IoT. How do we deliver projects? What platform do you use? Will the design platform talk to my Engineers? How will the Contractor use the model? Will they build their own? Will the model be consumed by the Owner/Facility? How will it be used?

Throughout all the front-end design decisions, the designers continue to work in their own little bubble. When drawings are completed, they are submitted for construction and handed off to the contractor – done. Furthermore, when the building is completed in the field, the keys are handed to the owner; a walk-through was provided – done.

Thankfully this mindset began to shift a few years back- and we began to think a little more “smartly” as to this entire process, clients have started to ask better “why” and “why not” questions about their projects. The term Building Information Model seeped into our consciousness, contracts and processes. The proverbial lightbulb was blinking across some of the greatest minds, ie; Patrick Macleamy and his “curve” takes hold.

The shift in mindset and approach to a design problem has aligned to the BIM environment and if you have not been paying attention, then you’re already behind.

For the naysayers, BIM is not going anywhere and in all actuality, it is becoming the norm. As an example, I was recently asked the following from an Architect:

What level of BIM completeness do we require from our plumbing engineers? They are assuming Level 300. I would like to say I know what that means, but I have to confess – I don’t really care.

I was floored to say the least on so many levels. I had to take a deep breath and set aside every sarcastic comment that flew into my head and simply answer the LOD question as basic and simple as possible, using small and few words in my reply.

Bottom line: Get on the bus people – BIM is the norm. Want to keep your clients happy and not only coming back, but recommending you at their next fundraising gala? Know the BIM fundamentals and adjust your MINDSET.

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