Achieving Quality Design with Quality BIM

Quality is integral to everything we do at Henderson Engineers, and our application of building Information Modeling (BIM) is no exception. To achieve quality design with BIM you must also have a quality model. But if you’re looking to cover up a bad design with a good model, you’ve missed the point.

As our Director of Engineering Jared Carlson explored in a recent article, quality in design – as it is in art – can be subjective. However, there are parts of design that are inherently objective. Building codes, for example, are an objective standard we must comply with.

At Henderson, we evaluate quality BIM both subjectively and objectively. While you can meet all technical requirements in a BIM execution plan (BEP) it’s still possible to end up with a terrible model. Quality BIM must meet client needs – it can’t just simply comply with document specifications. And because BIM is integral to our deliverables, we approach it with the same quality mindset as we do our design process.

THE PROCESS

Technical integrity of BIM boils down to data. Data + context = information, and information is key to BIM. A good BEP stems from active participant collaboration, and BEP data requirements should be understood by all parties. Everyone on the project team should be able to articulate why data is being added to a model, and what’s the added value to the 2D derivative.

Our design team asks three questions to better understand BEP requirements:

    1. Who’s asking for the data?
    2. How are they going to use it?
    3. How are they going to maintain it?

This process – identifying a person, goal, and plan – allows us to tie added BIM requirements to added value of the model, which helps us more effectively meet those requirements. This helps us achieve quality BIM.

At Henderson a BIM lead is assigned to every BIM project; acting as the primary knowledge resource, they are responsible for the health of the model. BEP data requirements drive us to check those requirements, thus driving a BIM quality review. The BIM lead runs automated model checks for quality BIM and shares results with the design team.

Constructible design intent is our primary goal at Henderson (and has been for 50+ years). Even though our project deliverables are 2D construction documents derived from 3D models, we’re able to enhance project coordination by modeling elements at the correct location. The 3D model is often a byproduct of the design process because the primary focus is construction of the project – but it can be so much more than that.

THE OUTCOME

The value of a good model with good design extends beyond a single project. We’re able to view design data from the BIM database and visualize it in the context of other designs. Ensuring we have accurate, real data from a real design is critical when we view this information for analysis. Therefore, we intentionally tie quality BIM to quality design.

Quality BIM results in quality design, and vice versa. But most importantly, the process is less about standards-based checking and more about the engineering itself. Stay tuned for additional insights into how Henderson has integrated quality control views, schedules, and reports into our quality review workflow. And in a future post, I’ll cover our clash detection vs. clash avoidance approach using Interference Check in Autodesk Revit.

 

Written By
Adam Roth

BIM/VDC Director | Principal

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