1-2-3 Revit: BIM Goes to School

13 Oct, 2005 By: AIA ,Rick Rundell Cadalyst

BIM helps students to go beyond design by considering the whole building.

As BIM (building information model) adoption grows in the building industry, so does the use of the BIM in educational curricula. This month's article describes how university students around the world are learning BIM -- accelerating their design thinking and their studio work as well as laying the foundation for advancing their industry in the future.

BIM in the Architectural Curriculum
Technology has become inexorably integrated into the practice of architecture, from creation of design information with digital tools to collaboration through the Internet. In response, architecture schools have incorporated technology in their core curricula, equipping students to contribute more effectively and more quickly once they move into practice. The use of technology in the architectural curriculum serves a dual purpose: students are able to better design, document and present their course work; and they gain familiarity with tools that will give them an advantage in the working world.

Students can apply a purpose-built BIM solution like Autodesk Revit Building across the spectrum of building design and documentation: conceptual design, detailed design, building analysis, construction documentation, visualization, etc. As such, using BIM as an educational tool helps students learn about the whole building -- from idea to materiality. It encourages students to think beyond design -- to consider cost, constructability, environmental impact and so forth. It gives students a solid grounding in building technology, not just the manipulation of form in software.

Let's examine four different universities on four different continents using BIM and Autodesk Revit Building.

Savannah College of Art and Design, United States
The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is the largest art school in the United States. Its main campus is in Savannah, Georgia. The School of Building Arts has approximately 1,100 students spread among architecture, interior design and historic preservation, and it offers a fully accredited five-year Master of Architecture program. SCAD places a strong emphasis on state-of-the-art computer technology, especially in the Master of Architecture program.

"Our curriculum is designed to mimic the real world of design," says Huy Sinh Ngo, director of electronic design at SCAD, explaining their reasoning for including BIM in their program. "For young architects just starting their training, it's especially important to understand how to design at the whole-building level." Traditionally, their architect students designed in 2D first and then moved to 3D. "Using Revit, our students think in 3D, design in 3D, work in 3D," reports Ngo. "Then, from the 3D model, they can easily extrapolate all the necessary 2D information."

And whenever a student changes anything, Revit Building automatically updates all the 2D information such as floor plans, elevations and detail drawings. Everything is connected. "Students appreciate that a lot," says Huy. "It saves them a tremendous amount of time and lets them focus on design instead of on tedious manual tasks." A sentiment echoed loudly by their professional counterparts!

Figure 1. BIM helps architecture students at SCAD to design at the whole-building level. Image supplied by Kyle Benedict, 5th year architecture student.

Figure 2. Students use BIM at SCAD much in the same way professionals use it in the industry. Image supplied by Michelle Deer, 4th year architecture student.

Northumbria University, United Kingdom
At Northumbria University's School of the Built Environment, more than 1,600 students learn a wide variety of disciplines, including architecture, architectural technology, building, building services engineering, building surveying, estate management, housing, project management and quantity surveying. Located in Newcastle, the school introduced a bachelor's degree in architectural technology in 1998 in response to a growing need for specialists to bridge the gap between design and construction with the skills to resolve design and technical issues and ensure optimum building performance and efficiency.

In 2004, the architectural technology degree program was extended to include BIM. To give students practical experience, the school purchased Revit Building. According to Margaret Horne, senior lecturer, "The software works the way the students should think -- in terms of the entire building, rather than individual sections and floor plans. It provides more accurate and complete information, giving them a clear overall vision of a project and better design insight, which helps them to work faster and more thoroughly." Horne reports that students begin to design with Revit much more quickly than with traditional CAD software. "The interface is very logical, and the software is easy to learn." Similar to the experience at SCAD, the Northumbria students have more time to focus on the building design instead of learning the software.

Revit Building also helps the students learn to design greener buildings using BIM to investigate the thermal characteristics of building elements and the effect of fa

About the Author: AIA

About the Author: Rick Rundell

Rick Rundell

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