Building Information Modeling (BIM) is the current standard in architectural design deliverables.  There are many programs that can be used to create BIM, the most prevalent in Architecture is Revit by Autodesk.  Utilizing BIM for your project layout and design allows the design team, client, and any other interested parties (end user, investor, etc.) to see a three dimensional representation of the project in real time during any stage of the development.  This helps to minimize the chances of a change in one area of the drawing, such as moving a door in a plan view, being missed in a corresponding area of the project, such as in the elevations.  When an object is moved in one area, it moves in all areas.  The benefits of utilizing BIM in your design are many, but it does require a strong knowledge of how buildings are constructed.  Without a firm grasp of how to physically construct a building, BIM software is useless as a design tool.  The BIM software makes assumptions about how to make connections and construct a building, and needs to be properly guided to construct the building you are trying to design.

One of the more intriguing aspects of using BIM for your building design is its ability to relatively easily create three-dimensional rendered views of your project throughout the design process.  When using the Revit program from Autodesk, all portions of a building can be installed in the design, including finishes, lighting, and furniture.  Once these objects are input, 3d views can be created using cameras with-in the program.  These views can be printed in a variety of states, wireframe, hidden line, or realistic, all of which provide a graphically “cartoon” appearance.  To create a photo-realistic rendering of a view there are three options.  Revit has a built-in rendering engine that can be used to create renderings from the 3d-views.  Online rendering is also available through the Autodesk tab built into the Revit program.  Online rendering provides a more photo-realistic rendering, with better lighting properties and is a faster rendering option.  When using online rendering, all surface patterns must be present for the rendering to complete correctly.  The third option for rendering is to use a third party rendering program, such as 3DS Max from Autodesk, to import the views and create renderings.  Using a rendering program like 3DS Max allows the user to control many aspects of the view, such as sun location and intensity, light intensity, surface materials, etc.  Rendering with a third party program takes longer than online, because it uses available resources on the rendering PC; whereas, cloud rendering uses a server farm to facilitate faster imaging.  All three options provide a clean photo-realistic representation of the images created by the BIM software, and can provide for wonderful presentation material.

To summarize, Building Information Modeling technology is a wonderful tool for design and presentation.  However, as with all tools of any trade, it is only useful in the hands of a professional.  Regardless of how innovative new software is, without the knowledge of how to utilize that software, and the constraints of physical construction, the software is wasted.

-Andrew Jinks

AuthorJane Rohde