There is no question, good design has value. And yes, BIM is incredibly disruptive, but isn’t that exactly what we need? To be shaken awake again, to take the opportunity to examine where our process can improve? The use of BIM has effectively placed the design process under a microscope, revealing imperfections that previously went unseen and were thought to be embedded deep in the magic of the “Design”. Demystifying design does not devalue it, but it does demand improvements. In and of itself, this is nothing short of disruptive.
Personally, I welcome the disruption. Without movement or shifting, things tend to get stale. Things that are stale will eventually disintegrate and disappear. When I talk to people in the industry especially designers, I encourage the use of BIM to amplify our value, to help us minimize the imperfections, and to make design better. We can and should always seek to improve on good design.
Good design does not come easily, not even with the help of a microscope. It is rigorous and demanding, but above all, when realized, it is infinitely rewarding. The earmark of good design is elegance. At its core, elegance is beauty that is defined by unusual effectiveness and simplicity. Good design is honest, can be validated, and is based on exploration.
If you in fact, BIM like you give a damn, you can use the tools to iterate, evaluate, and synthesize the most elegant of solutions. As designers, we train our entire careers, and in some cases our entire lives to be able to optimize form, function, economy and time (the four primary tenets of design). This skill is not to be underestimated, but when paired with intentional data collection and analysis, we can exponentially increase our ability to do what we do better.
The top four things to remember in using BIM to our advantage:
The first step is to prioritize the information. Too much results in a management nightmare, too little and you've left a gaping hole exposed by the microscope; an optimized solution is unlikely if not impossible. Understand what information is important when and use that to feed the BIM. Nothing more, nothing less.
Once the information has been prioritized, it’s all about garbage in garbage out (GIGO). When building the BIM, information must be populated by the person or persons who know the most about that aspect. They must be able to take responsibility for its existence and integrity.
Now that we have prioritized the key aspects, and we are building the model on good input, we can iterate. The more possibilities we consider, the better our chances of coming up with a thoughtful, defendable and elegant solution.
Demand Truth in BIM
The bottom line with BIM is this: if you cannot rely on the information in the model, then you would be better off getting out from under the microscope and sticking to the BIM-less process of the past. If we cannot rely on the information that we are going to evaluate against, then we may as well have nothing.
I challenge each and every one of you who take a moment to read this to share what you think BIM offers design. Even if you think BIM does nothing for design, share that too, I’d be happy to try and convince you otherwise.
Until next time, if you want your design to improve, I advise you to BIM Like you Give a Damn.