1-2-3 Revit: Building Information Modeling in India

14 Sep, 2005 By: AIA ,Rick Rundell Cadalyst

BIM gives architects in India the quick delivery they need to compete

Last year I described BIM's adoption by South African and Australian architectural firms. This month I'll explore how India - a country experiencing a construction boom fueled by its own swelling technology sector - is using technology that supports and accelerates building design processes.

India's Construction Boom
India's stable legal and commercial environment, combined with its government's economic liberalization policies, has led to strong economic growth, low inflation and significant increases in foreign investment. The growth of its technology sector -- drawing on an abundant, well-educated labor pool -- is renowned. IT hubs are quickly being established in the suburbs of most major Indian cities, often likened to Indian Silicon Valleys.

This strong economic performance has resulted in a building frenzy, particularly in metropolitan areas. All types of construction -- residential, infrastructure, industrial and, of course, commercial -- are booming. In its 2004 third quarter review of commercial property in India, Knight Frank Research reported that it's not unusual for developers to deliver fully fitted-out, built-to-suit space at a rate of more than 1,000 sq. ft. per day -- or a 120,000 sq. ft. call center in less than four months, for example.

Local architectural firms profiting from this building boom are racing to keep up with demand, but at the same time looking over their shoulders at foreign firms who are poised to swoop in and claim the profits for themselves if the local firms can't deliver.

BIM's Benefits for Indian Architectural Firms
India's large, relatively inexpensive labor pool decreases the value of productivity improvements that BIM solutions offer. More important is BIM's ability to reduce the size of a project team. Firms benefit from this in two ways: It lowers their IT infrastructure costs (fewer computers, software licenses and so forth), and it reduces the amount of office space required for staff. In a place that has extraordinarily expensive real estate -- rents in Mumbai, for example, are comparable to those in Manhattan -- is a major consideration.

But BIM's overriding benefit is the substantial time savings and competitive advantage it can produce. In an environment of intense time pressure and increased global competition, BIM gives local firms the quick turnaround on projects that they need to match international competitors and stay on top.

The key issues challenging BIM adoption in India revolve around cost: software, additional hardware and training. With labor a relatively smaller part of the cost equation, firms need to see very concrete benefits to justify the move to BIM. On the other hand, because most firms are still using 2D drafting solutions (predominantly AutoCAD) instead of intermediate object CAD-based modelers, they are starting with a clean slate -- no intermediate technology investments to deal with and no legacy data issues.

Let's look at three architectural firms of varying size that have deployed Autodesk Revit Building and examine how BIM has affected their businesses. These firms already use AutoCAD, so like their brethren profiled in my article on BIM's rollout in South Africa, integrating Revit with AutoCAD on a working project was viewed as low risk. All these firms have gone straight into production using Revit Building.

PMK Architects
PMK Architects, located in Bangalore, is a firm with a staff of 10. Established in 1980, its landmark projects include the Bangalore Stock Exchange and a variety of projects for Wipro. PMK is currently using Revit Building on two large mixed-use commercial projects: a 75,000 sq. ft. commercial center (including four stories of retail space, a two-story parking garage and a 450-person auditorium); and a four-story, 25,000 sq. ft. medical clinic.

PMK has been using Revit Building for less than a year, but the company already has found it particularly useful for visualizations and walkthroughs (figure 1). According to PMK partner Prabhakar Kulkarni, "The visualization capabilities of Revit allow our clients to quickly see their building projects early in the design stage -- speeding up approval processes and saving us all time and money."

Figure 1. PMK Architects use Revit Building to produce high-quality visualizations for client and building committee approvals.

Ajit Bhuta & Associates
Ajit Bhuta & Associates, established in 1976 and headquartered in Mumbai, is a medium-sized firm with a staff of 20 architects, planners and interior designers. It has delivered an array of projects of various types and sizes throughout India, and the company currently focuses on building projects exceeding 10 million sq. ft.

Principal Ajit Bhuta considers himself first and foremost an artist. In fact, most of his building designs are inspired and take their shape from his paintings. He has used technology (including AutoCAD and 3ds max) since his early days in practice and relied on both his paintings and traditional CAD for conceptual designs. But traditional CAD technology didn't offer him the flexibility and versatility he needed for his designs.

Bhuta's introduction to Revit Building early this year changed his opinion of the suitability of technology for expressive design, and his firm is now using a combination of Revit and AutoCAD as its primary design toolkit (figure 2). According to Bhuta, "Revit is an excellent design tool, allowing us to quickly generate very creative designs, complete with supporting visualizations and coordinated documentation."

Figure 2. Ajit Bhuta & Associates uses Revit Building to design expressive structures such as this futuristic conceptual design for a mixed-use project in the United Arab Emirates.

Larsen & Toubro Limited
Larsen & Toubro Limited is India's largest engineering and construction conglomerate. Founded in 1944, its construction division has experienced the astonishing changes in the Indian building industry. Its landmark projects in India include Bahai Temple in Delhi and Cyber Towers at Hitec City, Hyderabad.

The firm's architectural group, located in Chennai, implemented Revit in 2003 and is currently using Revit on a variety of projects including a five-story, 250,000 sq. ft. call center (designed and built in just 9 months) and a facilities complex, just more than 100,000 sq. ft, which includes a factory and cafeteria (designed and built in a little less than a year). Both projects involved Revit in the initial stages of design for making conceptual views and a variety of elevation facade treatments. The firm's architectural team members found the software to be versatile as they could produce more alternatives in less time.

Figure 3. Larsen & Toubro are using Revit Building on large commercial and industrial projects, including this 250,000 sq. ft. call center.

Indian architects are discovering that BIM helps them deliver high-quality projects quickly -- providing them with the competitive finesse they need to vie with firms across the country and around the world. As PMK's Kulkarni puts it, "Time is of the essence, and Revit is the answer."

About the Author: AIA

About the Author: Rick Rundell

Rick Rundell

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