Building Information Modeling, typically shortened to BIM, is a method of keeping track of many of the tasks and components of a construction process. My professor described BIM software as a way to create a visual 3D array of all the relevant information for the parts of a building or project. While many people in industry are familiar with the capabilities of software such as Revit, this was my first experience with Revit. I had previous experience with modeling software such as AutoCAD and Civil-3D, but the in class exercise on Wednesday was my time using a program with as much information pre installed as Revit.

When I compare engineering and construction procedures that are used today to the methods of the past, I can not help but to think we are leaving the past and entering the future. For example, when the pharos built the pyramids at Giza, the designers and engineers may have had a good idea how the entire structure would fit together, but how confident were they that it would actually work? The one solution I can think of, is that because they were built by hand, there was time to make changes and adaptations as needed. Even the farm-house that my family lives in, in Virginia, feels like it was just cobbled together without a master plan, – and it’s only 100 years old!

The structures built-in the last century certainly have sufficient detail for accurate construction, but it is all in paper format. I can only imagine what happened when the architect and engineer  presented the plans for the Empire State Building to an investor: “So this is how the building will look from the front of 5th Avenue” “Good, but show me where the lamps will be in my new office” – shuffling of a massive stack of paper- “oh, here it is, sir”. Now days, shifting focus simply involves zooming to a new point of the 3D model.

Flying around the sample Revit structures in class, reminded me of Star Wars: A New Hope, when the rebels go through the plans they have captured to find a weak spot. Luckily, they have access to the BIM files and identify the reactor heating vent as a target. The franchise would be completely different, if Luke only had access to the architectural drawings…

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