the bummer of BIM

I may have mentioned this before, but some of you know I’ve been working on taking my practice into the 21st Century and the wonderful world of BIM. It should also come as no surprise to many of you that I am not a huge fan of Autodesk, having been a Autocad user for the last 13+ years I’ve seen many ups and downs…mostly downs. But now that BIM is taking the world by storm I figure it’s time to at least get up to the curve, if not completely ahead of it.

In this quest to find the best BIM platform for my practice I’ve spent way more hours scouring the internet for web articles and comparison reviews than I care to admit to. The three giants of the BIM world, in my opinion are Revit, Archicad, and Vectorworks. The overwhelming consensus that I’ve found seems to be that there is no “right answer” when it comes to BIM software, but rather it comes down to several factors.

1. the types of projects you create – i.e. large commercial and institutional projects or single family residences or renovations and tenant improvements or government work, etc.

2. the size of your practice – i.e. 1-2 people versus multiple teams across multiple disciplines working in conjunction.

3. how you practice – do you plan to work 100% BIM or keep a large portion of your detailing and production work in 2D

While any software comes with its limitations and benefits, what I’m finding is that the majority of the big names out there are relatively uniform. Personally, from what I’ve gathered in my reading and my very limited experience, Archicad is the choice over Revit for those more interested in design and production in 3D. Revit, from what I can gather, can be rather clunky and is geared more towards larger projects that are more heavily engineered than designed (this is a gross generalization based solely on the opinions of others). This has really always been true of Autodesk, even with ADT, now Autocad Architecture – it’s more “BIM Production” rather than “BIM Design”. I’m sure my bias is showing *blushes*, but to me Archicad seems a more sexy design tool as well as a production powerhouse. Not to mention with new IFC exporting protocols you can share across almost any platform you want to. So, the idea of not being able to collaborate with other BIM platforms or other disciplines is out the window for any of the above mentioned platforms.

in-progress screen shot of a bungalow I’m designing in Archicad 14

At the end of the day the only real bummer of BIM is that it’s taken so long to be popular in the industry. When Graphisoft came out with their first release of Archicad nearly 30 years ago, it should have been the beginning of a new frontier for architectural design and production. Instead it was pushed out in favor of Autocad which was nothing more than fancy hand drafting on a computer.

So, lesson learned. BIM is here. It’s here to stay and if you think that it’s not for you or not for your practice…well, either you don’t plan on practicing much longer or….yeah, I got nothin else.

BIM. It’s what’s for dinner. Or something. 😉

4 thoughts on “the bummer of BIM

    • wow…that is FUNNY! I have never read your post…we really do think alike. 😛

      I’m slowly ramping up with BIM. If I can get a halfway decent set of documents put together with this house (competition entry from 2 years ago) then I’ll make the full switch. Takes time though, which is in very short supply these days.

  1. Hi Jeremiha,

    Interesting article. I’ll be upfront now that I am a big time BIM disciple as it has seemed an obvious move to me, but do understand that not all see it that way. Perhaps this is because I am a technician rather than full blown architect.

    I have worked for a couple of practices in the UK, which have used Vectorworks and Revit (never used Archicad so I can’t comment). BIM software was a key part of my desire to work for those companies.

    Unfortunately the one who used Vectorworks used it as a 2D drawing package, not utilising it’s power. So I tried to learn the BIM aspect on my own time, wow was that a shock. For me it was not intuitive but clunky and long winded. This was some years ago, so I hope it has improved, but the fundamental way it went around creating the building was much more difficult than it should have been.

    Revit, on the otherhand, was brilliant straight from the start. It worked how I imagined BIM should. Probably because Autodesk did not create it but bought it up after it was established!

    I have used Revit on projects ranging from complex commeercial/residentail mixed use to single one room extentions. So I don’t agree that it is mainly aimed at large projects as I am able to use as much of the feature set as I need. The problem I found early on was not trying to do everything just because you could – whilst fun for you not so good for the £-$/hr for the practice.

    Sure there are some aspects that need improving, but show me a drawing package that doesn’t but I agree with you that it is here to stay and will only become more common.

    • Andrew, thanks for your comments. I appreciate your view. The one constant that I’ve seen in my research and my own experience is that BIM platforms can be incredibly personal to a lot of architects and engineers. Perhaps it starts with just picking the one that is the cheapest or most readily available to them, but quickly becomes something they defend and promote.
      Ultimately, whichever BIM you choose, like I mentioned, they all essentially perform the same. Each one has its limits and specialties, but ultimately the end product is the same – a intelligent, data-based BIM model that can be shared across platforms, across disciplines that will ultimately help build better, stronger, more long lasting and sustainable buildings for our future.
      Thanks again!

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