Implementing BIM in Old Construction

19 Nov, 2008 By: Melanie Stone

Brigham Young University's Clyne Curtis talks with Cadalyst about using Revit in the management of a historic campus.

As more firms across the country embrace BIM during the design and construction of new buildings, we can’t help recognizing the potential benefits of using these models during the entire lifecycle of the facility. But the majority of facilities have been operating with paper documents and 2D CAD files for so long that, for them, making the transition isn’t quick or easy.

I recently interviewed one facilities planner who has been embracing the use of Revit for Brigham Young University’s space and asset management. I met Clyne Curtis while taking his classes at Autodesk University, where he shared his experiences and exchanged ideas with other facility managers. I was pleased when he agreed to chat with me about how his facility is approaching the challenge of implementing BIM long after construction has been completed.

Melanie Perry (MP): Can you tell us a little bit about your campus?

Clyne Curtis (CC): Brigham Young University, a private institution, is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is part of the Church Educational System. The original school, Brigham Young Academy, was established October 16, 1875, on a little over one acre of land in what is now downtown Provo, Utah. The university's nearly nine-million square feet of facilities are located on the 560-acre main campus, which includes 311 buildings: 95 for academic programs, 59 for administrative and auxiliary services, and 157 for housing.

MP: What is your role at the university?

CC: I have been at BYU for nine years as the CAD manager. I am based in the facilities planning department, which is part of physical facilities for campus. My primary responsibility is the maintaining of an accurate, up-to-date database of all the building floor plans and their gross and net areas. These floor plans are used by numerous departments on campus including our space management folks, our cost needs analysis office, and our Office of Information Technology.

In order to keep the plans and areas current, I typically take the drawings generated by our architectural designers (if it’s a larger project, we outsource it to an architectural firm), and cut and paste their changes into my CAD database drawings. I then update a second set of drawings, which contain polyline boundaries of the building footprint for gross area, and the room boundaries, which define the net areas.

This process is very tedious and not one of my favorites. I do realize, though, that the accuracy of this database is of primary importance, as many users downstream rely on this data for their reporting needs. I am also involved in special projects and use Revit to provide presentation renderings of potential projects for campus planning.

MP: Why did you choose Revit as your platform for this initiative?

CC: I had my first glimpse of Revit at AU following Autodesk’s acquisition of Revit. My interest was definitely piqued! When I returned to my office, I downloaded Revit 4.5, went through the online tutorials, and have never looked back! Revit’s parametric change engine and area tools had my head spinning with the possibilities. Areas that updated as soon as any change is made to the floor plan -- how could it get any better than that? But then, I learned how powerful the ability to create formula-driven schedules is, and about the great presentation tools and much more, and I was completely sold.

MP: What are your main goals in developing these models?

CC: Ultimately, our goal is to have every square foot of our campus modeled in Revit. Not only does Revit facilitate the management and accuracy of gross and net square footage, we are also planning on using shared parameters and custom schedules to track property lifecycles. We can already generate color mapping or reports of all properties such as carpet, wallpaper, paint, furniture, computers, etc., and when they will need to be replaced. Eventually, we would like to be far enough along that we can provide information to campus scheduling for more streamlined move management between departments and colleges. College and department areas are already being tracked and scheduled, and online maps and reports will be made available for all users on campus. Our utilities department [staff] is also looking into Revit MEP for their new projects and is impressed with its capabilities. They plan on linking our architectural models as a base to overlay their mechanical designs.

MP: Setting goals is easy, but the big question is, how does a facility actually go about modeling a campus? Of course, I understand you’ve got some good resources available that you’re able to put to the task.

CC: I currently have one student dedicated to converting our database CAD drawings into Revit models, but will be ramping that up with at least four or five more students after the first of the year. We are fortunate that our construction management program includes Revit in its curriculum so we have a pretty good user base to hire from. We are also starting to require that all of our outside architectural firms provide future deliverables in the Revit format. Surprisingly, this is not causing too much angst out there, as most of the firms are already migrating to Revit.

We have a goal to have all of our academic buildings in Revit by the end of 2009. That should keep us pretty busy!

About the Author: Melanie Stone

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