09.29.2014Architecture, Business Practice

6 Reasons Why Your Architect Should Use BIM


BIM stands for Building Information Modeling. It’s the smartphone of architectural drawing methods. BIM began to show up around 2002 and our production team has been using it solely since 2006. There are still a lot of architecture firms out there working in CAD, Computer Aided Drafting. To keep the smartphone analogy going, to us, working in CAD would feel like texting using the number keys.  Inefficient and annoying.


When you hear the term BIM, it’s referencing a method of modeling and documenting a design. It isn’t limited to one type of software. For our projects, we use Autodesk Revit. It has been and continues to be the leader in BIM programs. It works for small residential projects as well as massive commercial buildings. We could nerd out all day about why we love Revit and BIM; here are 6 reasons why your architect should use BIM.

#1: BIM Creates Drawings That Everyone Can Understand

Modeling the project in Revit, our BIM software of choice, means that we can see in 3D what the building looks like. We have the ability to create perspective views to show things like, walls, doors, windows, ceilings, floors, lighting and the list goes on and on. Early in the process, we take perspective snapshots of the model and use them as a base to generate renderings. It helps us develop the design in terms of materials, experience and site context. Reading 2 dimensional drawings, like floor plans and building sections, can take some time to get used to. Perspectives are easily understood immediately. Using 3D with Revit helps our clients understand what the final project will look like. 

This is a shot of a working model, with no post render effects beyond turning on the shadows:


Here are some other perspectives that began in Revit. We took the base model perspective view and elaborated on the design using Photoshop and Prisma Color Markers.

#2: Using BIM Saves All of Us Time

The term parametric sums it up. Put more simply, everything is integrated, connected and smart with BIM. Many tedious coordination tasks are now done behind the scenes. An example of this is numbering and tagging our doors. We always give doors a number so that the contractor can refer to a schedule (a table) to find out all the door. With Revit, door numbers are directly tied to door schedules. If the door number changes on the floor plan, it will automatically change in the schedule! This may not seem like a big deal, but back in AutoCad world, door schedule coordination could take days, weeks even. It’s not just doors. All modeled components are up to date in all drawing views. Floor plans, sections, elevations-all up to date and coordinated at all times.

All of this means faster production time. In our office, we see a huge amount of time saved during the Design Development phase. Our schematic designs can pretty quickly jump into construction documents phase. This is great when you have projects with short design timelines, such as Wildflower Bridal.

#3: Modeled Components Work Smarter For You Than 2D Lines

With basic 2D drafting programs, we are limited to drawing lines on a digital ‘field’ or paper. The lines are, for lack of a better term, not smart. With Revit, we are modeling 3D objects, such as walls, doors, windows, floors, ceilings, roofs and so much more. The modeled objects and components are inherently smart. Each object is tied to a menu of information. Let’s take a wall, for example. With 2D line drawing (like CAD), a wall is just that; 2 lines.

Working in Revit with a BIM method, a wall is drawn and consists of metal studs and gypsum wall board on either side and is of a certain height. This means we can quickly extrapolate information about that wall, such as the total square footage of gypsum wall board, with the click of a mouse.

#4: BIM Easily Addresses Phased Construction

A commercial or residential renovation comes with it’s own set of challenges. Revit allows us to model the existing building, and then easily develop what is to be demolished and what is going to be new construction. If a wall is demolished, the wall will appear demolished in floor plan view, in section views and elevation views. It’s all tied together which ensures a well coordinated drawing set.

We have also worked on several phased projects. If an owner has big ideas but a not-so-big budget, a phased approach is a great way to make progress. Revit allows us to archive models along the way, but keeps track of what is in the project, what has already been done on the project and what is to be taken out of the project. What would be a huge headache and time consuming effort in 2D CAD is very manageable thanks to phasing in BIM.

#5: Clash Detection Saves Money and Reduces Change Orders

BIM is not just used by architects. More and more in the southeast, consultants and contractors are also using Revit, or a similar program. As this continues to become the norm, this means that the entire project is modeled, in 3D, long before day 1 on the job site. As a result, any unintended design errors can be caught early and not be an unsightly mess, or costly fix.

A great example of how we use this in the office is everything above the ceiling. With Revit, it’s easy to model the ceiling, duct work and light fixtures. Revit gives us the ability to make sure that these things are existing happily near each other and not in conflicting or overlapping locations. If there is an error, it can be coordinated among the design team and fixed from our computers.

A program that really addresses issues like clash detection is Navisworks. Users of the program can stage entire construction sequences and animate to ensure no issues. Check out this great video by Autodesk:


#6: Energy Modeling Continues to Advance With BIM Models

Revit has integrated some great plug-in features that can provide intelligent energy analysis information.  We’ve done our homework on these features and admit that they are not as sophisticated as external energy analysis software. However, it is getting better with each edition and can certainly help guide the form, orientation and glazing options of your project. Currently the sun/shadow features can inform the design team of various season conditions with relatively little setup. This is good for clients because we can get a general sense of solar performance without having to add on major consulting fees.  We know this feature is just going to get more sophisticated and accurate, and you want to make sure your design team is well informed of all the features and benefits of their drafting software.



So there you have it! These are 6 reasons why you should consider BIM an asset on your next project.

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