Building Information Modeling (BIM) is rapidly becoming the mainstream design tool in the AEC industry. BIM architecture, though, is not just a tool, but a process, and the very basic, paradigmatic changes this process demands has been slower to be incorporated than the computer-based modeling at the heart of it all.
BIM architecture design as a technology is a fundamental change from the past. CAD-based design is a 2D affair, which necessitated multiple views to depict the 3D building in the detail necessary for construction. Not only that, but CAD drawings in the first iteration are essentially legal, contract documents. The shop drawings, which come next and detail the actual building pieces, are fundamentally redundant. The inherent limitations of this process were several: duplication of work needed to translate 2D to 3D, the increased opportunity for mistakes and errors because of this translation and multiplicity of drawings, and the limited manner in which all these lines, curves and annotations could be aided by computer technology.
BIM architecture design, however, is a 3D, object-based technology. Windows, walls and beams are graphically displayed, but more importantly, embedded with information: parameters, material descriptions, detailing and much more. This information is dynamically linked to all the other objects in the building model, so that changing one piece of a design makes adjustments in all the other connected pieces, allowing for rapid design changes that encourage a more thorough and extensive design process, which, in the end, provides more value to the client.
The embedding of material descriptions and other information in the models makes the documents much more valuable in both the construction and in the life-cycle management phase. The BIM architecture reduction in redundant drawings sharply reduces the possibility of errors in the construction phase and tremendously reduces the time spent on clash detection. It also reduces the incidence of change orders in the construction phase, a huge benefit. The object-based character of BIM architecture allows the design process to include energy, lighting and acoustical analysis in tandem with the structural and spatial design, a radical departure from the traditional post-design analysis that these systems usually get, limiting their effectiveness and possibility. BIM architecture brings changes and efficiencies to every step of the building process, impacting designers, engineers, contractors, fabricators, facility operators, and owners.