AEC Tech News (#234)

27 Aug, 2008

Brave New BIM

Transitioning to building information modeling requires much more than a change in software.

By Pete Zyskowski

By now, most everyone in the AEC industry has heard about building information modeling, or BIM. However, some confusion persists about the concept and its practical applications. This article aims to shed some light on BIM and prepare you to take the first steps toward implementation.

The concept of BIM actually has roots in other industries, primarily manufacturing and industrial design. The need to control information and grow it through iterative design processes -- all the way to the manufacture of the item -- was recognized by these industries years ago. What came out of this need were programs designed to parametrically control, modify, and test manufactured pieces before they were even produced, a practice known as digital prototyping. This idea fit well into manufacturing because the items being created are mass produced and therefore no longer one-off designs. The time spent modeling and testing digitally was, and still is, more cost-effective than manual modeling and absorbs just a fraction of the overall profit to be earned by making thousands of the item in question.

BIM is this same concept but on a much grander scale. When the idea of digital prototyping originally moved into the AEC community, the same needs were recognized but were still out of reach because of several factors.

First, the scale of what was needed to be modeled was out of the realm of the existing programs. No existing tools could efficiently model buildings (which are unique designs each time) nor was there an ability to recover the cost of modeling the building through mass production. Additionally, even if you could model an entire building, affordable computers at the time weren't powerful enough to run the program. So the AEC industry fell short of actual implementation, although the ideas were still there hovering in the ether. Read more »

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Pete Zyskowski has been an architectural designer, project manager, and CAD manager and is currently a senior building information modeling (BIM) application consultant at Applied Software. In his current role, he provides architectural project planning and implementation services and trains architects, engineers, interior designers, and construction managers to use building information modeling software including Revit Architecture, Revit Structure, and NavisWorks.

BonZai 3D Takes Root at SIGGRAPH

By Kenneth Wong

The new technology offshoot from AutoDesSys, shown at the company's booth at SIGGRAPH, is dubbed BonZai 3D. As the name suggests, the software is a lighter, simpler variation of the company's flagship solid and surface modeler, form.Z.

"We're very excited about it," said David Kropp, AutoDesSys cofounder and senior vice-president of development. "A lot of people are telling us they think this is going to address their needs."

In the announcement, AutoDesSys wrote, "You can think of form.Z as the Swiss army knife of 3D modeling and BonZai as a penknife you carry around to depend on for quick solutions to all kinds of immediate needs." Read more »


Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events

AUGI One-Day CAD Camps
Various U.S. Cities
September 18 - November 5, 2008
AUGI CAD Camps offer a full day of training, expert advice from top instructors, networking opportunities, technology updates, and more. Read more »

Ecobuild Fall and AEC-ST Fall
December 8-11, 2008
Washington, DC
Ecobuild Fall and AEC-ST Fall covers green building, sustainable design, renewable energy, environmental planning processes, and more. Attendees include AEC professionals, owners, developers, and facility managers. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on