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18.06.

2017 ArchtectureResearchLabArchveHstoryofBIM

AboutARL News
ArchtectureResearchLabDesgnAlgorthmResearchProjects 12.03.2014DgtalFabrcatonWorkflowsatAutodesk
Unversty
02.13.2014ThessatUCBerkeley
07.24.2013WorkshopandKeynoteatAIASConferencen
DC

HISTORYOFBIM

AbrefhstoryofBuldngInformatonModelng,thesoftwarethathasdsruptedtradtonalmethodsofrepresentatonandcollaboratonn
archtecture.

BuldngInformatonModelng(BIM)satermthathasbecomeubqutousnthedesgnandconstructonfeldsoverthepast20years,butwhere
ddtcomefrom?ThestorysrchandcomplexwthplayersfromtheUntedStates,WesternEuropeandtheSovetBlockcompetngtocreatethe
perfectarchtecturalsoftwaresolutontodsrupt2DmensonalCADworkflows.Thebeneftsofanarchtecturaldesgnmodeltedtoarelatonal
databasehaveproventobencredblyvaluable,wthcontractorsbecomngtheprmarydrversofBIMtechnologyforthefrsttmen2012.

WhatexactlysBIM?
Thequestonoftenarses,forthepurposesofthsartcle,BIMsoftwaremustbecapableofrepresentngboththephyscalandntrnscpropertes
ofabuldngasanobjectorentedmodeltedtoadatabase.InaddtonmostBIMsoftwarenowfeaturesrenderngengnes,anoptmzedfeature
specfctaxonomyandaprogrammngenvronmenttocreatemodelcomponents.Theusercanvewandnteractwththemodelnthree
dmensonalvewsaswellasorthographctwodmensonalplan,sectonsandelevatonvewsofthemodel.Asthemodelsdeveloped,allother
drawngswthntheprojectwllbecorrespondnglyadjusted.ABuldngInformatonModelcouldbedesgnednasoftwarethatsnotstrctly
speakng,parametrcandwhereallnformatonandgeometrysexplctlydefnedbutthswouldbecumbersome.

Aparametrcbuldngmodelerwllallowtheusertocreateconstrantssuchastheheghtofahorzontallevel,whchcanbetedtotheheghtof
specfedsetofwallsandadjustedparametrcally,creatngadynamcdatabasemodelwhchstedtogeometry.Thsdevelopmentanswereda
neednthearchtecturalndustrytobeabletochangedrawngsatmultplescalesandacrossfragmenteddrawngsheets.Theamountofhoursthat
arenecessaryfortheproductonofdrawngshasdecreasedsteadlyovertmewththegeneraltrendofnonfarmlaborntheUntedStatessnce
1964.Themprovementnproductvtyhasrsennconcertwthcomputertechnologywhchhasautomatedtedoustasksnalldscplnes.
AlthoughsomeoftheearlestprogramsforarchtecturalrepresentatonusedaBIMmetaphor,lmtatonsncomputerpowerandawkwarduser
nterfacesforBIMplatformscontrbutedtoagrowthntwodmensonallnedrawngprogramssuchasAutoCADandBentleyMcrostaton.

TheBegnnngs
TheconceptualunderpnnngsoftheBIMsystemgobacktotheearlestdaysofcomputng.Asearlyas1962,DouglasC.Englebartgvesusan
uncannyvsonofthefuturearchtectnhspaperAugmentngHumanIntellect.

thearchtectnextbegnstoenteraseresofspecfcatonsanddataasxnchslabfloor,twelvenchconcretewallseghtfeethghwthn
theexcavaton,andsoon.Whenhehasfnshed,therevsedsceneappearsonthescreen.Astructurestakngshape.Heexamnest,

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adjuststTheselstsgrowntoanevermoredetaled,nterlnkedstructure,whchrepresentsthematurngthoughtbehndtheactual
desgn.

Englebartsuggestsobjectbaseddesgn,parametrcmanpulatonandarelatonaldatabasedreamsthatwouldbecomerealtyseveralyearslater.
TheresalonglstofdesgnresearcherswhosenfluencesconsderablencludngHerbertSmon,NcholasNegroponteandIanMcHargwho
wasdevelopngaparalleltrackwthGeographcInformatonSystems(GIS).TheworkofChrstopherAlexanderwouldcertanlyhavehadan
mpactastnfluencedanearlyschoolofobjectorentedprogrammngcomputerscentstswthNotesontheSynthessofForm.Asthoughtfuland
robustasthesesystemswere,theconceptualframeworkscouldnotberealzedwthoutagraphcalnterfacethroughwhchtonteractwthsucha
BuldngModel.

VsualzngtheModel
FromtherootsoftheSAGEgraphcalnterfaceandIvanSutherlandsSketchpadprogramn1963,soldmodelngprogramsbegantoappear
buldngondevelopmentsnthecomputatonalrepresentatonofgeometry.Thetwomanmethodsofdsplayngandrecordngshapenformaton
thatbegantoappearnthe1970sand1980swereconstructvesoldgeometry(CSG)andboundaryrepresentaton(brep).TheCSGsystemusesa
seresofprmtveshapesthatcanbeethersoldsorvods,sothattheshapescancombneandntersect,subtractorcombnetocreatethe
appearanceofmorecomplexshapes.Thsdevelopmentsespecallymportantnrepresentngarchtectureaspenetratonsandsubtractonsare
commonproceduresndesgn,(wndows,doors).
Theprocessofdesgnrequresavsceralconnectontothemedumthatthedesgnersworkngn.Thsposedanotherchallengeasarchtects
requredawaytotellthecomputerwhattodothatwaslesstedousthanthepunchcardsthatwereusedonearlycomputers.Thedevelopmentof
lghtpens,headmounteddsplaysandvarouscontraptonsntheearlydaysofhumancomputernteracton(HCI)arewell
documentedelsewhere.ArgoroushstoryofHCIfromanarchtecturalperspectvecanbefoundnNcholasDeMonchauxsbook,Spacesut:
FashonngApollo.ThetextcarvesanarratveoftheprecursorstoBIMandCADtechnologyastheywereentwnedntheSpaceRaceandCold
War.

DatabaseBuldngDesgn
Seengbuldngsthroughthelensofthedatabasecontrbutedtothebreakdownofarchtecturentotsconsttuentcomponents,necesstatnga
lteraltaxonomyofabuldngsconsttuentparts.OneofthefrstprojectstosuccessfullycreateabuldngdatabasewastheBuldngDescrpton
System(BDS)whchwasthefrstsoftwaretodescrbendvduallbraryelementswhchcanberetrevedandaddedtoamodel.Thsprogram
usesagraphcalusernterface,orthographcandperspectvevewsandasortabledatabasethatallowstheusertoretrevenformaton
categorcallybyattrbutesncludngmateraltypeandsuppler.TheprojectwasdesgnedbyCharlesEastmanwhowastranedasanarchtectat
BerkeleyandwentontoworkncomputerscenceatCarnegeMelonUnversty.EastmancontnuesasexpertnBIMtechnologyandProfessorat
theGeorgaTechSchoolofArchtecture.

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Eastmanclamsthatdrawngsforconstructonareneffcentandcauseredundancesofoneobjectthatsrepresentedatseveralscales.Healso
crtczeshardcopydrawngsforthertendencytodecayovertmeandfaltorepresentthebuldngasrenovatonsoccuranddrawngsarenot
updated.Inamomentofprophecy,thenotonofautomatedmodelrevewemergestocheckfordesgnregulartyna1974paper.

EastmanconcludedthatBDSwouldreducethecostofdesgn,throughdraftngandanalysseffcencesbymorethanfftypercent.Eastmans
projectwasfundedbyDARPA,theAdvancedResearchProjectsAgencyandwaswrttenbeforetheageofpersonalcomputers,onaPDP10
computer.VeryfewarchtectswereeverabletoworkontheBDSsystemandtsunclearwhetheranyprojectswererealzedusngthesoftware.
BDSwasanexpermentthatwoulddentfysomeofthemostfundamentalproblemstobetacklednarchtecturaldesgnoverthenextfftyyears.
Eastmansnextproject,GLIDE(GraphcalLanguageforInteractveDesgn)createdn1977atCMU,exhbtedmostofthecharacterstcsofa
modernBIMplatform.

Intheearly1980stherewereseveralsystemsdevelopednEnglandthatganedtractonandwereappledtoconstructedprojects.Thesenclude
GDS,EdCAAD,Cedar,RUCAPS,SonataandReflex.TheRUCAPSsoftwareSystemdevelopedbyGMWComputersn1986wasthefrst
programtousetheconceptoftemporalphasngofconstructonprocessesandwasusedtoassstnthephasedconstructonofHeathrowArports
Termnalthree(LasernHstoryofBIM).ThefoundngoftheCenterforIntegratedFacltyEngneerng(CIFE)atStanfordn1988byPaul
TecholzmarksanotherlandmarknthedevelopmentofBIMasthscreatedawellsprngofPhDstudentsandndustrycollaboratonstofurtherthe
developmentoffourdmensonalbuldngmodelswthtmeattrbutesforconstructon.Thsmarksanmportantpontwheretwotrendsnthe
developmentofBIMtechnologywouldspltanddevelopoverthenexttwodecades.Ononesde,thedevelopmentofspecalzedtoolsfor
multpledscplnestoservetheconstructonndustryandmproveeffcencynconstructon.OntheothersdesthetreatmentoftheBIMmodel
asaprototypethatcouldbetestedandsmulatedaganstperformancecrtera.

AlaterbutpromnentexampleofasmulatontoolthatgavefeedbackandsuggestedsolutonsbasedonamodelstheBuldngDesgnAdvsor,
developedatLawrenceBerkeleyNatonalLabbegnnngn1993.Thssoftwareutlzesanobjectmodelofabuldngandtscontexttoperform
smulatons.Thsprogramwasoneofthefrsttontegrategraphcalanalyssandsmulatonstoprovdenformatonabouthowtheprojectmght
performgvenalternatvecondtonsregardngtheprojectsorentaton,geometry,materalpropertesandbuldngsystems.Theprogramalso
ncludesbascoptmzatonassstantstomakedecsonsbasedonarangeofcrterawhcharestorednsetscalledSolutons.

VrtualBuldng
WhlethedevelopmentswerehappenngrapdlyntheUntedStates,theSovetBlockhadtwoprogrammnggenuseswhowouldendupdefnng
theBIMmarketastsknowntoday.LeondRazandGborBojrwouldgoontobetherespectvecofounderandfounderofRevtand
ArchCAD.ArchCADdevelopedn1982nBudapest,HungarybyGborBojr,aphyscstwhorebelledaganstthecommunstgovernmentand
beganaprvatecompany.GborwrotethentallnesofcodebypawnnghswfesjewelryandsmugglngAppleComputersthroughtheIron
Curtan(Story).UsngsmlartechnologyastheBuldngDescrptonSystem,thesoftwareRadarCHwasreleasedn1984fortheAppleLsa
OperatngSystem.ThslaterbecameArchCAD,whchmakesArchCADthefrstBIMsoftwarethatwasmadeavalableonapersonalcomputer.

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ThesoftwarewasslowtostartasBojrhadtostrugglewthaunfrendlybusnessclmateandthelmtatonsofpersonalcomputersoftware,so
ArchCADwasnotusedonlargescaleprojectsuntlmuchlater.ArchCADhasmadesubstantalgansnuserbasefrom20072011,manlyasa
toolfordevelopngresdentalandsmallcommercalprojectsnEurope.RecentmprovementshavemadeArchCADamajorplayernthemarket
thoughfundamentalssuessuchasalackofaphasngcomponentandacomplcated(butflexble)programmngenvronmentfortsfamly
componentsusngGDL(GeometrcDescrptonLanguage)reman.Todate,Graphsoftclamsthatmorethan1,000,000projectsworldwdehave
beendesgnedusngArchCAD.

NotlongafterGraphsoftbegantosellthefrstseatsofRadarCH,ParametrcTechnologyCorporaton(PTC)wasfoundedn1985andreleased
thefrstversonofPro/ENGINEERn1988.ThssamechancalCADprogramthatutlzesaconstrantbasedparametrcmodelngengne.
EquppedwththeknowledgeofworkngonPro/ENGINEER,IrwnJungresandLeondRazspltfromPTCandstartedtherownsoftware
companycalledCharlesRverSoftwarenCambrdge,MA.

ThetwowantedtocreateanarchtecturalversonofthesoftwarethatcouldhandlemorecomplexprojectsthanArchCAD.TheyhredDavd
Conantastherfrstemployee,whosatranedarchtectanddesgnedthentalnterfacewhchlastedfornnereleases.By2000thecompany
haddevelopedaprogramcalledRevt,amadeupwordthatsmeanttomplyrevsonandspeed,whchwaswrttennC++andutlzeda
parametrcchangeengne,madepossblethroughobjectorentedprogrammng.In2002,Autodeskpurchasedthecompanyandbegantoheavly
promotethesoftwarencompettonwthtsownobjectbasedsoftwareArchtecturalDesktop.

RevtrevolutonzedtheworldofBuldngInformatonModelngbycreatngaplatformthatutlzedavsualprogrammngenvronmentfor
creatngparametrcfamlesandallowngforatmeattrbutetobeaddedtoacomponenttoallowafourthdmensonoftmetobeassocatedwth
thebuldngmodel.ThsenablescontractorstogenerateconstructonschedulesbasedontheBIMmodelsandsmulatetheconstructonprocess.
OneoftheearlestprojectstouseRevtfordesgnandconstructonschedulngwastheFreedomTowerprojectnManhattan.Thsprojectwas
completednaseresofseparatedbutlnkedBIMmodelswhchweretedtoschedulestoprovderealtmecostestmatonandmateral
quanttes.ThoughtheconstructonscheduleoftheFreedomTowerhasbeenrackedwthpoltcalssues,mprovementsncoordnatonand
effcencyontheconstructonstecatalyzedthedevelopmentofntegratedsoftwarethatcouldbeusedtovewandnteractwtharchtects,
engneersandcontractorsmodelsnoverlaysmultaneously.

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TowardsaCollaboratveArchtecture
Therehasbeenatrendtowardsthecompostngofarchtecturalfleswththoseofengneerswhocreatethesystemstosupportthemwhchhas
becomemoreprevalentwthnthepastsevenyearsasAutodeskhasreleasedversonsofRevtspecfcallyforStructuralandMechancal
engneers.Thsncreasedcollaboratonhashadmpactsonthelargerndustryncludngamovementawayfromdesgnbdbuldcontracts
towardsntegratedprojectdelverywheremanydscplnestypcallyworkonamutuallyaccessblesetofBIMmodelsthatareupdatednvaryng
degreesoffrequency.Acentralfletakesanobjectandapplesanattrbuteofownershpsothatauserwhosworkngonagvenprojectcanvew
allobjectsbutcanonlychangethosethattheyhavecheckedoutofaworkset.ThsfeaturereleasednRevt6n2004,enableslargeteamsof
archtectsandengneerstoworkononentegratedmodel,aformofcollaboratvesoftware.Therearenowseveralfrmsworkngtowards
vsualzatonofBIMmodelsnthefeldusngaugmentedrealty

Abroadvaretyofprogramsusedbyarchtectsandengneersmakescollaboratondffcult.Varyngfleformatslosefdeltyastheymoveacross
platforms,especallyBIMmodelsasthenformatonsherarchcalandspecfc.TocombatthsneffcencytheInternatonalFoundatonClass
(IFC)fleformatwasdevelopedn1995andhascontnuedtoadapttoallowtheexchangeofdatafromoneBIMprogramtoanother.Thseffort
hasbeenaugmentedbythedevelopmentofvewngsoftwaresuchasNavsworkswhchssolelydesgnedtocoordnateacrossvaryngfle
formats.Navsworksallowsfordatacollecton,constructonsmulatonandclashdetectonandsusedbymostmajorcontractorsntheUStoday.

FollowngnthefootstepsoftheBuldngDesgnAdvsor,smulatonprogramssuchasEcotect,EnergyPlus,IESandGreenBuldngStudo
allowtheBIMmodeltobemporteddrectlyandresultstobegatheredfromsmulatons.Insomecasestherearesmulatonsthatarebultdrectly
ntothebasesoftware,thsmethodofvsualzatonfordesgnteratonhasbeenntroducedtoAutodesksVasar,astandalonebetaprogram
smlartotheRevtConceptualModelngEnvronmentwheresolarstudesandnsolatonlevelscanbecalculatedusngweatherdatasmlarto
theEcotectpackage.Autodesk,throughthergrowthandacqustonofabroadvaretyofsoftwarerelatedtoBIMhavecontrbutedtothe
expansonofwhatspossblefromanalyssofamodel.InlateNovember2012,thedevelopmentofformt,anapplcatonthatallowsthe
conceptualbegnnngsofaBIMmodeltobestartedonamobledevcesaleapforthecompany.

ContemporaryPractceandDesgnAcademcs
SomehavetakenanegatvestanceonBIMandparametrcsastheyassumesomuchaboutthedesgnprocessandlmtanyworkproducedtothe
usersknowledgeoftheprogram.Thscanenableanovcedesgnerwhohaslearnedhowtoperformbasccommandstobecomeanncredbly
prolfcproducerwhleahghlyeducatedandexperencedarchtectcanbecrppledfromnexperencewthaprogramsnterfaceorunderlyng
concepts.Thscreatesapotentalforageneratonalbreaklnethatbecomesmoreharshasanewtechnologygansmarketparty.

SomeBIMplatformsthathaveasmallmarketsharebuthavemadebgmpactsontheworldofdesgnncludeGeneratveComponents(GC),
developedbyBentleySystemsn2003,andDgtalProject(DP).TheGCsystemsfocusedonparametrcflexbltyandsculptnggeometryand
supportsNURBSsurfaces.ThenterfacehngesonanodebasedscrptngenvronmentthatssmlartoGrasshoppertogenerateforms.Dgtal
ProjectsasmlarprogramwasdevelopedbyGehryTechnologesaround2006basedonCATIA,adesgnprogram(andoneofthefrstCAD
programs)thatwasdevelopedasannhouseprojectbyDessaultsystems,aFrencharplanemanufacturer.Thesetwoplatformshavespawned
somethngofarevolutonndesgnasthepowertoterateandtransformhasresultednespecallycomplexandprovocatvearchtecturalforms.

PatrckSchumacherhasconedthemovementofparametrcbuldngmodelsnarchtecture,specfcallythosewhchallowforNURBSsurfaces
andscrptngenvronmentsasparametrcsmnhs2008ParametrcstManfesto.

Thecurrentstageofadvancementwthnparametrcsmrelatesasmuchtothecontnuousadvancementoftheattendantcomputatonal
desgntechnologesastsduetothedesgnersrealzatonoftheunqueformalandorganzatonalopportuntesthatareafforded.
Parametrcsmcanonlyexstvasophstcatedparametrctechnques.Fnally,computatonallyadvanceddesgntechnqueslkescrptng
(nMelscrptorRhnoscrpt)andparametrcmodelng(wthtoolslkeGCorDP)arebecomngapervasverealty.Todayts
mpossbletocompetewthnthecontemporaryavantgardescenewthoutmasterngthesetechnques.

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Sncethesetechnqueshavebecomencreasnglycomplextherehasbecomeacomponentofarchtecturalschoolswhchsspecfedtotrann
specfcsoftware.Astudentwthknowledgeofonlyonetypeofsoftwareplatformmaywellbetranedtodesgnaccordngtothebasesofthe
programsthattheyareusngtorepresenttherdeas.Softwareperformsusefultasksbybreakngdownaprocedurentoasetofactonsthathave
beenexplctlydesgnedbyaprogrammer.Theprogrammertakesandeaofwhatscommonsense(Sack14)andsmulatesaworkflowusngtools
avalabletothemtocreateandealzedgoal.InthecaseofBIMtools,thebuldngsrepresentedascomponentsncludngwalls,roofs,floors,
wndows,columns,etc.Thesecomponentshavepredefnedrulesorconstrantswhchhelpthemperformtherrespectvetasks.

BIMplatformstypcallyrepresentwallsasobjectswthlayers,theselayersaredefnedntermsofthedepthandheghtofawallandareextruded
alongthelengthofalne.Theprogramthenhastheabltytocalculatethevolumeofmateralcontanedwthnthewallassemblyandtocreate
wallsectonsanddetalseasly.Thstypeofworkflowsbasedontheexstngbuldngstockandcommonndustrystandardsandthereforea
projectwhchsproducednaBIMplatformwhchemphaszesthesetoolsslkelytorenforceexstngparadgmsratherthandevelopnewones.
Addtonally,theprogrammerswhoworkedontheearlyBIMplatformsoftenddnothaveabackgroundnarchtecturebutemployedhybrd
archtect/programmerswhocontrbutedtothedevelopmentoftheprograms.OnenotableexceptonIhavefoundtothsstheworkofCharles
EastmanwhorecevedaMastersofArchtecturefromBerkeleybeforeworkngontheBuldngDescrptonSystem.TherootsofthemajorBIM
platformsthatarenusetodayhavebeendevelopedbyprogrammerswththeperpheralnputofhybrdprogrammer/archtectsandaglobaluser
basewhocontrbutestothedevelopmentofthesoftwarevawshlstsoronlneforumswheregrevancescanbearedaboutaproductworkflow.
Thegrevancestypcallyresultnnewfeaturesandbuldupontheexstngnterface.

ThoughthegeneralconceptandtechnologybehndBIMsapproachngtsthrtethannversary,thendustryhasonlybeguntorealzethe
potentalbeneftsofBuldngInformatonModels.Aswereachapontwhereamajortyofbuldngsarebengcrafteddgtally,anexstng
buldngmarketplacewherebuldngmateralsandstructuralcomponentscanbeboughtandsoldlocallywllemerge.Sustanabledesgnpractces
renforceanatttudeofdesgnngfordsassemblyandamarketplaceofthesepartssessental.TrendsnHumanComputerInteracton,
AugmentedRealty,CloudComputng,GeneratveDesgnandVrtualDesgnandConstructoncontnuetorapdlynfluencethedevelopmentof
BIM.Lookngbackatthepasttseasertorealzethatthepresentmomentsanexctngtmefordesgnersandprogrammersnthsevolvng
ndustry.

MchaelSBergnsaResearcheratArchtectureResearchLab.

*Thspapersnprogress.Checkbackforupdatesandpleaseleaveacommentfhaveasource,prmarynformatonorfactualdspute.

References
ChuckEastman,PaulTecholz,RafaelSacks,KathleenLstonTheBIMHandbook
MalekS.CAD/BIMTmelne
CharlesEastmanWhatsBIM?
VarousatAUGITheOrgnsofRevt
LachmKhemlanAECBytes/Revt6
MaranBozdocTheHstoryofCAD
JeremyTammkTheHstoryofRevtandtsAPI

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