Event Report: DBIA Conference and Expo

30 Oct, 2006 By: AIA ,H. Edward Goldberg

Design-Build Institute of America program showcases BIM for first time ever

DBIA (Design-Build Institute of America) convened its 2006 Professional Design-Build Conference and Expo at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 18-20. I was there to make a presentation as well as check on the progress of the design-build approach to architecture and construction and check out some new software products.

DBIA is a professional organization founded in 1993 to advocate and advance single-source project delivery within the design and construction community. Design-build, as defined by DBIA, is a method of project delivery that embraces architecture, engineering and construction services under a single contract, integrating the roles of designer and constructor. DBIA members include practitioners from all project phases, as well as public- and private-sector project owners. Among DBIA's directors are prominent executives within the architecture and construction fields.

This year's 14th annual event brought together more than 1,300 participants for a three-day conference. In my presentation, I partnered with Robert Smedley, AIA, of the Onyx Group. Our seminar, part of the BIM (building information modeling) track, discussed the use of Autodesk Revit, and I described my interpretation of BIM, where we are, where we are going, and what jobs will be available in the future.

Each year DBIA determines its conference tracks based on input from members and the industry at large, industry trends and data, and best practices. Planning committee members this year included industry leaders such as William J. Smith, manager of preconstruction for Turner, the second largest U.S. construction company. The conference committee was chaired by Rex Huffman, president of Gibbs and Register.

This year was the first time a BIM track was included in the DBIA national conference program -- evidence that the design-build industry has recognized the productivity benefit of this new technology and its applicability to effective project delivery. Attendees' reception to this track was so great that DBIA reports it is considering a separate BIM conference in the near future.

Don Evans, 2007 DBIA chairman as well as president of CH2M HILL's Civil Infrastructure Division was very excited by a seminar given by Jack Hallman, director of the Worldwide Facilities Group Capitol Projects Infrastructure division of General Motors, Mike Neville of Ghafari Associates, and Alex Ivanikiw of Ideal/ Barton Mallow Construction Company. Evans is very aware of the benefits of BIM and has been a moving force within DBIA to educate its members about the technology. CH2M HILL, which is mostly involved with civil engineering projects, uses Bentley and Autodesk products. General Motors, which won a Bentley Systems BE 2005 award of excellence for its Delta Township Assembly Complex, was awarded the DBIA Design Leadership award for its V6 engine plant project in Flint, Michigan. Using Bentley products and working in 3D, GM was able to complete this 445,000-square-foot project on a 27% faster schedule, with no change orders brought about by interference conditions in the field.

On the Exhibit Floor
During a break at DBIA, I stopped by the exposition hall, which showcased the wares of about 200 vendors. There I found both Bentley Systems and Autodesk. This was not surprising given that DBIA attracts many design-build firms that service the federal government and large design build firms.

Primavera was represented by reseller Evans Tech. Evans featured Primavera's new Contractor program. This value-priced project management program comes in two versions to meet the specific needs of contractors and subcontractors. The standard edition ($495) simplifies schedules for projects that comprise as many as 750 activities. The deluxe edition ($995) manages scheduling more complex projects -- up to 2,000 activities.

It was not surprising to see Tekla's big booth at DBIA. The company is one of the originators of 3D structural modeling and positions its Tekla Structures as the first BIM system to cover the structural design process from conceptual design to detailing, fabrication and construction. Tekla Structures was also the first structural BIM solution to become IFC Certified by the International Alliance for Interoperability. The system can share model and drawing information with all major architectural modeling programs, including Graphisoft Archicad, Autodesk Architectural Desktop and Revit Building, and Bentley Architectural.

Bluebeam showed its Revu PDF product. Revu comes in the standard edition ($149) for AutoCAD LT, Revit, MicroStation and VectorWorks; AutoCAD edition ($199); and SolidWorks edition ($199). A Split View capability lets users display two PDFs (different files or different views of the same file) for comparison purposes -- a very useful feature.

Building Systems Design, or BSD, offers software for cost management, cost engineering, value analysis and specifications development. BSD SpecLink is a software tool to produce detailed construction specifications for commercial, institutional and industrial buildings. BSD CostLink/AE is an estimating program for architects and engineers. It includes RS Means Commercial Cost Models for 75 different building types. These models make possible the generation of detailed cost estimates very early in a project. BSD CostLink/CM is a full-featured estimating program with control over labor and materials costs, subcontractor markups and more.

I'm already looking forward to next year's DBIA conference and expo. Take a look at the group's Web site -- it's well worth your time -- and consider becoming a member.

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