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How BIM helps architects make better design decisions

Published on June 20, 2022
How BIM helps architects make better design decisions

BIM helps architects to meet client expectations and get quick approvals by enabling design collaboration. With 3D BIM, architects can swiftly create bespoke design prototypes, offer clients a 360-degree view of spaces and make revisions on the go.

For architects, offering a wide range of customized designs is decisive for winning clients. BIM holds the key here due to its capability of permuting and reiterating an endless number of design prototypes at speed. BIM helps to create execution proposals fully in line with budget and deadlines.

The risks of things going awry during project execution are reduced as plans are derived directly from designs within the BIM system itself. 360-degree visualization of interior and exterior spaces using BIM tools like Revit also reduces ambiguities. Thus, BIM for architects offers a level of speed and accuracy in design decisions and ability to gain quicker client approvals – unreachable by legacy methods.

With BIM, architects gain insights into complex construction projects early in the design stage and can thus plan accordingly for conflict-free execution. BIM also ensures meticulous cross-discipline coordination and construction documentation.

According to a study of The Connecting Teams “70% of surveyed US architects believe that BIM has made an impact on reducing their risk of project error”.

Potential BIM capabilities for Architects. Potential BIM capabilities for Architects

The current need to work from remote workspaces has increased the pressure on architects to adopt digital methods. Using cloud platforms like BIM 360 helps them to easily bring stakeholders on the same page, as everyone can view the designs in real time through web and app interfaces.

To get things in perspective, we will look at the challenges faced by architects stuck with legacy methods of designing, and how BIM can help all architects make better design decisions.

Challenges faced by architects using traditional methods of designing

Traditional designing processes, tools, and standards rarely support present-day design and construction.

traditional methods of designing
  • Designing based solely on CAD lacks the space planning and visualizations of complex spatial relationships
  • Shortcomings in traditional architectural tools and design processes lead to design conflicts
  • Conventional 2D architectural drawings cannot calculate accurately the quantities and costs of building materials
  • Errors in energy analysis and calculations lead to greater environmental impact and compliance issues
  • Lack of accurate and complete information transfer during handover creates difficulties during facilities operations

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How BIM helps architects to make better design decisions

360-degree view provides better project clarity, leading to faster client approvals

With BIM, architects can rapidly create design prototypes with 3D Revit models and make concurrent design competitions and revisions. With a 360-degree view of designs and models, clients can visualize areas and spaces more realistically before actual construction. This results in quicker client approvals.

BIM also provides better 3D architectural visualization of projects in the context of neighborhoods and overall site connectivity.

56% of US architects in a survey claimed BIM collaboration solutions improved client satisfaction

Parametric and computational designing improves space planning

The haste of meeting deadlines multiplies the chances of design errors in every construction project where legacy methods are used. With 3D modeling and tools like Revit Architecture, architects can do parametric designing and execute projects faster with greater accuracy.

Parametric designs coupled with automation tools like Dynamo provide improved generative design through their ease of producing and managing multiple prototypes. Design uniformity, model validation, customized scripting, reduction in repetitive tasks, etc. enrich parametric capabilities with agile workflows. Spatial planning improvements are achieved through modeling simulations for generative design. Preemptive 3D visualization capabilities pinpoint every architectural aspect in the 3D space.

An architectural firm needed coordinated designs with visualization for a mixed-use building in Australia. The 3D parametric architectural models created by TrueCADD with accurate spatial planning enabled the client to smoothly communicate design intent to the end client and gain quick approvals.

3d-modeling-of-rail-yard

Coordinated architectural drawings address conflicts in the early design stage

Designing in preconstruction phase is crucial for setting a strong base for construction, operations, and renovation. The use of BIM from early stages helps architects to reduce design conflicts and create accurately detailed layouts. Effective BIM clash detection means fewer RFIs and change orders in the construction stage. Coordinated drawings extracted from 3D models and instant clash reports reduce review and approval times.

With a significant reduction in design errors brought by BIM, architects can commit to tighter timelines. Higher transparency, and ease of meeting client expectations coupled with less rework, makes BIM indispensable in construction design. Also, BIM can easily automate documentation output and parts of design cycles, thus leading to greater productivity.

An architectural firm needed a coordinated model for a commercial building in India. The team at TrueCADD created a clash-free 3D Revit model along with detailed sheet setup, proper schedule, joint details, etc. The coordinated and clash-free detailed documentation enabled the client to make informed decisions and complete the project within the proposed time and budget.

3d-drawings-in-revit

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Architectural visualization in 3D geometry helps to estimate accurate material quantities and costs

Information-rich 3D BIM models referenced with real-life building objects can help architects keep an accurate count of material quantity and costs. BIM makes it simpler for architectural firms to understand a project’s scope from start to end.

Changes or modifications are easily integrated into the model for higher accuracy and visibility of information. Identifying spatial clashes, checking feasibility, running error corrections, etc. can take up a significant amount of an architects’ time. But with relevant and action-based data in 3D geometry, and supported by collaboration, higher accuracy is reached in estimates of costs and materials.

A UK –based architectural firm approached TrueCADD for a mixed-use building. 2D drawings were provided as input to achieve 4D BIM modeling. The team at TrueCADD used Revit, Navisworks, and 3Ds Max to build a coordinated 4D BIM model with construction sequencing and project video. The accurate material quantity takeoffs and deliverables helped the client save costs, reduce rework, and improve design intent.

Precise energy analysis in the 3D model calls for greater building sustainability

Accurate energy calculations within a Revit model help architects save on additional resources, costs, and time, and in getting LEED certifications. Architectural rendering with running walkthroughs and simulations in real-time with VR capabilities also help architects achieve improved sustainability. Energy calculations for a sustainable design using Revit APIs, Dynamo, or other tools can significantly reduce negative environmental impact.

energy calculations

Sustainable design has become mandatory and also crucial for the AEC industry. And BIM is regularly used for building performance analysis, optimizing building equipment, and plan for healthy and green buildings. With tools like Revit, architects can leverage daylighting capabilities, passive heating, PV energy generation, natural ventilation, etc. BIM-based sensitive designs make use of modern lighting technologies for various areas of a building such as walls, roof, windows, etc.

Panning the 3D model in real time allow architects to visualize every architectural component with pinpoint accuracy. Environmental performance becomes more predictable through multiple 3D views and accurate data integration.

Precise and complete datasets help seamless handover of facilities

Reliable and complete datasets derived from each stage of the building process are used to run operations easily after a handover. 3D models, BIM-based drawings, and other documentation can help to manage operational costs and save on maintenance.

Facility management systems like COBie integrated with BIM deliverables also provide non-geometric data that includes name, specifications, number, warranty, dimensions, manufacturer, etc.

ROI on project collaboration
ROI on project collaboration with BIM.
ROI on project collaboration with BIM

Next stage of BIM use in architectural design: internal optimization and interoperability

The future of BIM for architectural design points at more of ‘connected BIM’ that involves higher 3D model usability through cloud platforms. BIM will continue to streamline the design process and other stages of the project lifecycle. Designers and engineers will have the capability to create, transform, and document data, regardless of the software platforms used to build geometries.

Integration and interoperability to drive automation will compel BIM to integrate better with other tools including IoT, robotics, 3D printing, etc. Feeding a set of BIM tasks to high-end processing systems will result in independent and improved generative designs. Building Information Modeling will in the next step evolve to Building Information Optimization wherein parametricism and algorithmic presence will fuel the creation of prototypes and reduce the need to remodel.

AI-based BIM reinforced with task automation, including that of publishing, printing, building datasets, etc. will gain traction. Quick and easy modeling in the cloud with datasets of PDF files updated in real-time will enhance design performance and ROI.

Conclusion

With the new mandated BIM standards, architectural firms are increasingly moving from BIM level 2 to the realm of BIM level 3. BIM is positively influencing multiple stages of building design, construction, and management. Innovative and advanced BIM tools are helping to meet the needs of occupants through exceptional building design.

The far-reaching benefits of BIM for architects will continue in the reduction of project risks, encouragement of collaboration, raising accountability, enhancing transparency, and optimizing future designs. Improvisation in building proposals through environment-friendly designs, performance simulations, benchmarks, etc. will also grow, making BIM the core of design planning.

Author Kaushik Gajjar

About Author: , a licensed architect and a “Best Young Architect” awardee, Kaushik Gajjar has a proven track record of successfully navigating complex projects to meet client expectations. Kaushik brings to the table extensive international experience in architectural planning, designing and BIM. He commands a strong knowledge of architectural design principles, techniques and tools.

Author Harika Singh

About Author: is an academician and published writer. Her passion for engineering and technology reflects in the in-depth coverage she provides on technology trends. 20 years of work association with institutes of repute across India and the US positions her to provide valuable insights to business stakeholders on achieving scalability and operational efficiencies through digitalization.

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