Architects must win bim race, warns Reed
Architects are in a race with contractors to harness the enormous potential of building information modelling (bim).
Leading figures have warned as a new survey revealed that nearly half of those in the industry still know nothing about the technology.
The study by the National Building Specification arm of RIBA Enterprises showed that 43% of architects and others in the industry had still not heard of bim, let alone started using it. It also found that of the 13% of respondents who were using bim only a third thought they would be using it for most of their projects in a year’s time.
RIBA president Ruth Reed said architects had to move fast on bim – which enables the creation and sharing of electronic data models of buildings – in order to secure their position in the industry: “This has the power to put architects in the driving seat,” she added.
She was joined by Rob Firth, director of practice building at HOK, one of the few firms now using bim on every project. He said architects should start using bim to make sure they weren’t being left behind.
“We can’t remain just designers,” he said. “We need to regain some of the ground architects have lost to others in the construction industry.”
He said major contractors were already gearing up to use bim, and predicted that building firms would only work with bim-compatible practices.
“If we don’t do it now, major contractors will pick up on the technology and start to squeeze architects considerably,” he said. “They are becoming our rivals. Bim brings architects back to being master builders. We hold everything together and everyone else feeds in through us. It’s very exciting.”
Bim can be used to create fully costed versions of alternative scenarios to projects. Every time an occupier wants to make changes – whether relocating a shop or wholescale redevelopment – they might potentially pay an architect to run different options through the software.
“By doing scenarios they can model revenue and try it without building it,” said Firth. “For example, there are BBC buildings everywhere. Put the whole estate into bim. It saves the BBC a lot of money but we still get fees.”