BIM: next gen 3D
80 years ago, architects used pen & ink on linen to document their design work.
40 years ago, they used plastic pencil leads on mylar film.
20 years ago, we used primitive CAD systems (computer-aided drafting).
10 years ago, advances in computer technology made 3D modeling feasible.
These days the next big thing is called 'building information modeling', or BIM. It's the future of architectural documentation: we start with a 3D model, which then becomes the basis for 2D working drawings. This has huge benefits, beginning with 3D flythroughs and massing images which clients (and architects, builders, planners) can understand easily.
Just as quickly, we can study solar paths, shadows, effects on solar PV arrays, and so on, which help our analysis of sustainable design elements. We can also generate material quantity takeoffs for contractor use in cost estimating. And remember, we can do all this at the outset of the project, rather than waiting til the end of working drawings, as has been the case with 2D CAD products.
The real payoff comes with modifications as the design progresses. These are inevitable, and often cause confusion when windows are changed in plan, not in section, for example. With the BIM model, we move the window once, in 3D, and then future 2D drawings will all reflect the change, and will be integrated with one another. Window and door schedules? Same story. Fully integrated.
On larger projects we can share the model with structural, mechanical, lighting consultants who can then use it as a platform for their work, which would then be integrated into the overall model.
MSA uses AutoDESK REVIT for buildings, and has used the slower economy in 2009 to fully transition to BIM as our core working platform. Check the links below for more details.
[AutoDESK REVIT link to follow]