Corde News

Taking BIM to the next level

Monday’s Government mandate for BIM adoption is just a moment in the evolution of ADP's BIM Journey.

Monday 4 April 2016, a date etched in our minds for so long, finally arrived. This, of course, was the deadline by which firms wishing to be appointed for public sector design or construction work had to be BIM level 2 compliant.

In practice, nothing changed on Monday: this is a process of evolution rather than revolution, and ADP has been changing our way of doing things for several years. Fundamentally, we recognised that, like the industry as a whole, we needed to change. Construction was inefficient, leading to waste and unnecessary cost, and something needed to be done. The industry is waking up to this, yet (according to a survey in Building Magazine, 1 April 16), “around half of the industry has yet to even start using BIM, let along get proficient at it”. There is also evidence that take up is levelling off: after a long gestation period, some organisations seem to have little intention of taking on the new technology.

ADP has embraced the change, and the opportunities it provides. We have invested in training and software, but more fundamentally we have sought to exploit the advantages of the technology to work in completely new ways. Most strikingly, we have created a new joint venture company with structural engineers AKS Ward and MEP engineers KJ Tait. This was to overcome the inefficiency of working in traditional “silos” with architects and engineers working in isolation, occasionally meeting in “Design Team Meetings” to review progress.

Corde works completely differently, with co-located teams collaborating closely throughout the process of design development. Architects and engineers sit together, looking at the same computer screen as the engineering and architectural BIM models emerge, resolving issues and developing increasing levels of detail as the project progresses. As we are heading to ever-closer integration we are delighted that George Osborne announced in last month’s budget further funding commitment to BIM level 3.

That reflects the fact that this is an ongoing process of development: 4 April was just a moment, not the ultimate destination. A proper appraisal would indicate that we have so far only scratched the surface of what BIM can achieve, and we know that huge improvements are still needed. For example, clients are still appointing design teams, which have never worked together before, and therefore have to start the project by setting up BIM protocols from scratch. Engineers are appointed late in the process or have truncated duties making a BIM level 2 model impossible. The input of design information from designing subcontractors and as-built information is unresolved. “Soft-landings” and comprehensive and coordinated information, documenting completed buildings, from which clients can operate their estates in the future, remains the exception rather than normal practice.

ADP has been around for fifty years. The environment in which the practice has worked has seen much change, including decimalisation and the introduction of computer-aided design. It is difficult to think of anything over that period that would surpass the speed of change and potential for further improvement that BIM creates. Paul Morrell, who acted as advisor to the government to instigate these changes, describes this as “simply the new way of doing business”. ADP and Corde embrace this with enthusiasm and no little excitement, believing this is the way to providing a better service to our clients, an improved end product, and the opportunity to better integrate architecture and engineering in innovative and environmentally responsible design.

Roger FitzGerald

Director, Corde