Other voices: BIM is the Canoe, Construction is the River

Environment at a construction site that doesn't match the artificially pristine environment of the BIM model. (Source: ytimg.com)

Noted CAD writer Ralph Grabowski challenges conventional wisdom about Building Information Modeling. “In the end, BIM cannot be in charge of construction; construction is in charge of BIM.”

[Editor’s Note: The following article originally appeared in UpFront.eZine, the weekly email newsletter by CAD industry journalist and critic Ralph Grabowski.]

By Ralph Grabowski

To the great puzzlement of BIM enthusiasts, the construction industry has largely not latched on to BIM. It’s been two decades, so what’s the holdup?

BIM enthusiasts have their favorite solution: get government to force BIM on everyone, starting with architects and going all the way through to building operators. (It’s already been done in England.) That BIM might not be optimal for certain phases of a building’s life is left unexamined. It’s technology, so adapt already.

The MCAD industry has taken to CAM, but the AEC industry has few equivalents. CAM [computer-aided manufacturing] works well in architectural projects that are predictably uniform, such as kitchen cabinets (my new ones were cut that way) and prefab houses being built inside warm, dry warehouses. But for most buildings, the construction conditions are non-pristine.

I use the analogy of building a Boeing 747 aircraft out in a muddy field, with each aircraft designed to be different, and being built in different cities. The inefficiencies in building construction (that some say can be driven out)  can, in fact, not be driven out.

White-watering with canoes

Lucy Suchman uses a different analogy. She describes whitewater canoeists coming upon rapids. As they look over the conditions, they plan their paths around boulders, through fast water, and past eddy currents. “A great deal of deliberation, discussion, simulation, and reconstruction may go into such a plan,” she writes.

Then they set off.

Being in the rapids that don’t match the plans made before the rapids. (Source: Gameplanmedia.co.za)

Read the rest of the article at upFront.eZine: http://www.upfrontezine.com/2017/10/bim-is-the-canoe-construction-is-the-river.html 


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