Bilal Succar’s BIM Excellence Dictionary is now available with 300 or more frequently-used BIM terms and their easy-to-understand definitions
NOTE: You will need to Register, in order to access all of the definitions and see much of the site’s content and tools.
Analogous to painting or hand drafting. The architect’s equivalent to word-processing. 2D computer graphics deal primarily with geometric entities (points, lines, planes, etc.). Blueprints, construction documents and anything output (or drawn on) paper are 2D.
Analogous to sculpture. Prior to computers, architects manually constructed perspectives and physical (cardboard, Foamcore, balsa) models to represent a project’s design concepts. Today computers have automated concept visualization. These 3D graphics can be exported to rapid prototyping systems to create physical models. 3D computer graphics rely on much of the same programming as 2D computer graphics.
3D with the addition of limited object technology (minimal object intelligence and not integrating NCS or IFCS) or, 3D with implied movement (Ken Burns effects, trees blown by wind, moving people, etc.). This is definitely not BIM, no matter what you are told.
Building Information Model with the addition of time (virtual building model with scheduling).
Building Information Model with time and construction information additions (virtual building model with cost and project management).
The addition of dimensions above 4D tend to be for marketing or BIM Washing and serve to communicate little real information. Adding dimensions for every additional feature or analysis type within a BIM framework is counterproductive, as there are thousands of such possibilities. 5D as used in the construction sector falls into this category and is only included as it is in common usage in the industry.
Adhocracy is a type of organization that operates in opposite fashion to a bureaucracy. The term was first popularized in 1970 by Alvin Toffler. Adhocracy is “any form of organization that cuts across normal bureaucratic lines to capture opportunities, solve problems, and get results” —Robert H. Waterman, Jr.
Architecture/Engineering/Construction-oriented Extensible Markup Language. Internet-oriented data structure for representing information used in BIM.
Delivery process where a construction professional organization is retained to exclusively support the owner, acting in the owner’s interests at every stage of the project. The owner, with the assistance of the construction manager retains separate entities for design and construction.
An application programming interface (API) is a set of rules that enable software programs to communicate with each other and to facilitate their interaction. An API can be seen as the means by which two software programs talk to each other and share information.
Beyond Information Models
Uses currently available technologies and couples them with proven business management techniques to achieve integrated practice results—today, efficiently, and economically. Beyond Information Models firms have changed their working practices, methods, and behaviors to better support their clients. They practice “small is the new big” and achieve significant practice improvements.
Big picture business process changes and the steps needed to integrate data from everywhere to understand what you are doing in a big world context. Business requirements, building industry data, geographical information and real-time operations intersect to support integrated decision-making using interfaces tailored to individual users and needs. Data and information are king. With BIG BIM, data is fed from distributed, shareable and interoperable repositories, interconnected to encompass everything about assets. You create or manipulate data using an almost unlimited set of tools in a sustainable process that is no longer in isolation from anything or anyone.
BIG BIM is like the personal computer once it is fully networked and fully integrated with the internet and has become a Web3.0 appliance. Using an accounting and tax software example, you access your tax information in a central database that someone else maintains. When Congress passes a new law, it is integrated immediately. You now have immediate access to the latest versions of everything. When you try to input illegal or illogical information you know it immediately. You add your information; standardized processes verify it and it is integrated with the central repository, where the system reacts in standardized ways, depending on the need.
In the design and construction context, you are working globally. You no longer work in isolation from anything or anyone. You integrate data from everywhere to understand what you are doing in a big world context. No longer is your context limited to the surrounding buildings or the neighborhood. Your client’s business requirements directly affect your design. Now you know how a decision affects the bottom lines of the designer, the fabricator and the owner, before that are memorialized. You know how the direction that you are taking impacts on the environment and other resources. When you analyze your design, your results are repeatable and much more accurate since you are working with real-world information—not assumptions, guesses or opinions. You set constraints to control your work. Unworkable options are eliminated before you spend time on unproductive tasks.
Data and information are king. With BIG BIM your data is fed from a central repository that archives everything. The repository links information that once could not be linked. The data in the repository is shareable, interoperable and grows over time to encompass everything about an asset (as opposed to a building or a road or any other individual thing.) The data is invaluable. You can create or manipulate the data using an almost unlimited set of tools. It is truly sustainable and makes our world a better, more efficient place to live, work and play. Everything from Google Earth™ to spreadsheets to modeling software can be used by anyone that wants to interact with our world.
BIMstorms demonstrate the power of faster and better communication, fuller stakeholder participation and, up-to-date…real-time information. Information models and Integrated Process data grows over time…allowing the management of facilities from beginning to end… without recreating the data at every step. The programs better align project needs, scope and budgets using BIM and Integrated Processes.
There are significant barriers to improving processes in the built environment. Some of the barriers are due to ignorance…people do not know what they do not know. Some are due to inertia…people have a hard time changing to new ways of doing things. Some are due to self-interest…people are looking out for “number one”. Some of the barriers are slowing the change and others are undermining the benefits to society. As people ‘paint’ the changes with their version of whitewash to confuse, confound and create personal advantage, BIM Washing takes place.
Describes building data (sites, buildings, floors, spaces, and equipment and their attributes) in a simplified spatial building model (extruded shapes and spaces) for BIM collaboration. This XML Schema was developed as an alternative to full scale IFC models to simplify data exchanges between various AEC applications and to connect Building Information Models through Web Services.
1. To manage project information including data creation and the iterative process of exchanging data through the built environment value network: BIM includes processes by which the right information is made available to the right person at the right time. BIM adds intelligence to project data to allow data to be interpreted correctly removing attribution errors and assumptions. Or…
2. To create or work with a single archive where every item is described once: Graphical representations drawings and non-graphical documents—specifications, schedules, and other data are included. Changes are made to any item in one place and changes flow through the system. Or…
3. To represent physical and functional characteristics of an asset digitally in a reliable archive of asset information, from conception onward: without open standards and a focus on shared data, it is proprietary, not interoperable and not BIM.
The acronym BIM (Building Information Modeling) was coined in early 2002 to describe virtual design, construction, and facilities management. BIM processes revolve around virtual models that make it possible to share information throughout the entire building industry. These virtual models are embedded with data which, when shared among design team members, greatly reduces errors and improves facilities. BIM offers owners the ability to become more efficient and effective by linking their business processes with their facilities. The federal government has predicted savings of over $15.8 billion annually from integrated processes. Projects today save 5-12% when BIM is properly used.
The mission of the buidingSMART Alliance (a council of the US National Institute of Building Sciences) is to – Improve all aspects of the facility and infrastructure lifecycle by promoting collaboration, technology, integrated practices and open standards.
Renamed from the International Alliance for Interoperability. Subset of the International Standards Organization (ISO), charged with developing standards for standardizing how software represents data.
Pre-formatted strategic management tool for developing and presenting new and existing business models based on nine building blocks of business conceptualization. Originally proposed by Alexander Osterwalder based on his work on the Business Model Ontology, the Canvas is a single, clearly understandable approach to business planning beyond the traditional business plan document. The Canvas includes descriptions of: Infrastructure broken down into Key Activities, Key Resources and Partner Networks; the Value Proposition; Customers broken down by Segments, Channels and Relationships and; Finances broken down into Cost Structure and Revenue Streams.
These objects are symbols and 3D representations that are static (line work with little or no intelligence). These objects are “instance-based,” i.e., each use requires a new “instance” of the object, tailored to the specific situation. This approach requires a significant library of objects (i.e., one object for each size of window, another for each type of window and another for window detail). This approach results in significant storage and file size requirements to store repetitive and unconnected information.
Cloud computing is Internet-based computing that enables users and systems to share resources, software, and information on demand, much like the electric grid. In a cloud-computing environment, users are not required to have complex, powerful or expensive local hardware, since many of the processor intensive tasks handled in the ‘cloud.’
Difficult to understand, but have an understood set of rules. If you follow the rules, step-by-step, you can solve complicated problems. Quadratic equations and building Boeing-747s are complicated tasks, but if you know the rules they can be completed successfully.
Do not follow the same pattern as complicated tasks. One does not know where things are heading until other things happen. Things are likely to happen, about which you have no knowledge or control over. The unknowns and uncertainties that characterize complex tasks make them difficult to solve with traditional tools. With real-world experience, you can prepare for the known, unknowns that happen in complex situations. Other things are outside of your control. It is the things you don’t know, that you don’t know that make complex tasks so difficult to resolve. Farming is an example of a complex task. Many things can be planned; the farmer can choose the right time to plant, can use the land properly, but weather, pests, and all of the other things that cannot be controlled make the difference between success and failure.
Delivery practice using a construction consultant that provides design and construction advice. The owner retains design and construction services separately.
Delivery process that delivers projects within a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) in most cases. The construction manager acts as consultant to the owner in early project phases and becomes the equivalent of a general contractor during the construction phase.
Delivery process where an owner hold separate contracts with separate entities for design and construction. In today’s environment, this is considered to be the “traditional” method for procuring design and construction services.
Design/Build—Integrated delivery process with a single source of accountability for both design and construction.
A construction method where the same company has contractual responsibility for design, construction and delivery of the project.
“Design fiction has emerged as a pre-eminent tool for designing, challenging and understanding speculative future realities. However, design fiction aims to make the extraordinary ordinary. It merges the elastic creativity of science fiction with everyday matter of fact reality. Furthermore, in using current media conventions as a way to express ideas about the future, design fiction is able to twist reality and trick us into accepting the fantastic as possibility.
This process seems to afford us a moment in which we can reframe our expectations of reality. Consequently, it alters our conditional assumptions and stories we are using to define our future”… —Dr. Stuart Candy
“Design Fiction is making things that tell stories. It’s like science-fiction in that the stories bring into focus certain matters-of-concern, such as how life is lived, questioning how technology is used and its implications, speculating bout the course of events; all of the unique abilities of science-fiction to incite imagination-filling conversations about alternative futures.” —Jullian Bleeker, Near Future Laboratory
First-Order tools and techniques
Simply follow the rules and focus on doing-things-the-right-way. They are the foundation for expertise and process compliance. Scheduling software is a first-order tool.
Basic principles include the assumptions and basic knowledge that are the foundation for any other undertaking or activity. Math first-principles are called axioms or postulates. First-principles ground the texts, arguments, ideas, and themes that underpin society and are fundamental to the design and implementation of tools, processes and solutions in the built environment. Without understanding the principles behind things, responsible and reflective action is difficult or impossible.
Geometric Description Language. A scriptable language for programming intelligent objects using a fraction of memory of other modeled objects. A GDL object can store 3D information (geometry, appearance, surface, material, quantity, construction, etc.), 2D information (plan representation, minimal space requirements, labels, etc.), and property information (serial numbers, price, dealer information, URL, and any other kind of database information). Multiple instances of the same object but with different appearance, material, size, etc. are kept together in one object. GDL is especially important as the Internet emerges as the best communication platform for the building industry.
Refers to exactly locating something in the virtual world, via coordinate systems. Georeferenced buildings are tied to established coordinate systems such that they can be rapidly located in their proper place and time. Latitude, longitude, and elevation are three of the possible coordinate systems for referencing a location. Georeferencing allows for high-level studies of relationships, causes, and effects in a real-world context.
Preference for a reward that comes first. The value of later rewards are discounted, often rapidly discounting value due to delay, no matter the time involved. A reflection of a “I want it now” bias and a strong tendency toward inconsistent choices when considering future situations.
Information Delivery Manual is a document-mapping building processes, identifying results and describing actions required within process.
Industry Foundation Classes. IFCs define how “things” such as structure, doors, walls, and fans (as well as abstract concepts such as space, organization, information exchange, and process) should be described so that different software packages can use the same information.
One of the hundreds of XML based textual data formats. Defined by ISO 10303-28 “STEP-XML”. Derived from the neutral and open Industry Foundation Class object-based file format. This format is suitable for interoperability with XML tools and exchanging partial building model
General term for shareable, organized models of things that represent the relationships, concepts, rules, operations and other parts of things. Can represent an individual component or highly complex systems. Can be focused on buildings (Building Information Models), business processes, software engineering, data, semantics and many other things.
Uses early contribution of knowledge through utilization of new technologies, allowing architects to realize their highest potentials as designers and collaborators while expanding the value they provide throughout the project life cycle
The introduction of working practices, methods and behaviors that create a culture in which individuals and organizations are able to work together efficiently and effectively.
A world in which real-world objects are networked and may locate, identify and interact with people and each other. The Internet of Things (also known as the Internet of Objects) refers to the networked interconnection of everyday objects in a self-configuring wireless network of sensors whose purpose would be to interconnect all things… Also called the Web Wide World.
These Building Components can behave smart, i.e., they can adapt to changing conditions. The user can easily customize them through an interface. These objects are “rules-based,” i.e., they incorporate rules that define how the object adapts to other objects, database calls, and user input parameters. Because of the “rules base,” each object can represent an entire subset of an entity, i.e., one window object can represent an manufacturer’s entire window line and can generate all 2D, 3D, details, finishes, shapes, and profiles. This results in significant decreases in the space required to store the equivalent information and results in very small files.
Application of advanced software and processes using files-based data exchanges via monolithic product lines, translators and import/export. Replaces ‘flat-CAD’ with BIM authoring and/or analysis tool(s) on networked computers. Work product and efficiency are leveraged, but improvements are internal to projects and can be viewed as computer-aided-drafting on steroids. Data is secondary to graphics. Advanced graphics, conflict checking, cost modeling and process simulation occur, but are project-by-project oriented exercises. Focus is on software products and current profitability, often ignoring or misunderstanding lifecycle benefits.
…little bim is like computing [circa 1987} before the internet. Networks [LANs] were not in widespread use. Using tax software as an example, you improve how you prepare your return and simplify the computations. You depend on software that you have loaded on your machine. You do not really know whether the databases included are up to date. You probably do not even know that there are databases behind what you see. You load new versions of the software as they are sent to you. You share files with your accountant via sneakernet or paper. You print out and mail your return.
In the design and construction context you replace AutoCad with Revit/Archicad/Bentley/etc… on your personal computer. You leverage your work product, but the improvements are largely internal to your office and your projects. In this mode, bim is really just regular computer-aided-drafting on steroids. You model your project. Perhaps you run simulation software, but you run it locally. You get all the benefits of real 3D CADD and then some. This is the mode where most people start to become virtual building proficient and what most people understand as BIM today. In this mode, people worry about what software they should use.
…little bim is also like computing [circa 1996] connected to a good local network and starting to transition to full internet connectivity. Taking the tax software example one step further, you now have centralized files from last year and you share the tax schedules with your accountant, so that more eyes are available to pick up mistakes. Your accountant takes your data and checks it for you. You either print out and mail your return or try e-filing.
In the design and construction context you are now beginning to do more collaboration. Now you can share information within a larger context. Data still comes to the network in a package, but more information is centralized and shared among your closely connected associates. You are closely linked to software and the data embedded in these tools. If you are the architect, ideally your engineers are on the same network. You begin to be able to do real conflict checking, cost modeling and process simulation. You have many of the benefits, but it is still mostly an internal, project-by-project oriented exercise that gives big benefits. This is the mode where most of the people talking about BIM right now are working toward. In this mode, people worry about what software they should use and are just beginning to figure out that they really need to change how they do business.
Mashable Software Fluency
Mashable fluency is the ability, skill or possibly, a self-perceived ability to interconnect software and hardware tools in order to solve problems in new ways. People that are mashable software fluent understand how software is built and deployed in the interconnected world of social networks, web services and APIs. They are seen as facile in the use of new of technology with a minimum of training and support. Those with a deep understanding of the open, malleable, interconnected application sets that make up today’s cloud computing environment, and can leverage functional components and data from many sources to add value and create whole new kinds of software and solutions.
Barcodes connect people with information, entertainment, and interactive experiences in the digital world. In mobile tagging, the barcode is what connects a physical object (a book) to a digital experience on a smartphone (a web link, video or detailed information). A 2D barcode like a Microsoft Tag adds a new dimension to books, making them more engaging and interactive. There are three types of barcodes:
Traditional barcodes provide basic product information using the linear barcodes such as you have seen on products for many years. Some services use mobile apps to scan these barcodes and display data such as prices, descriptions, and user reviews.
Quick Response (QR) codes are open-source with a variety of formats and reader apps. This old-style 2D barcode contains the entire message in the code, so online access isn’t needed to decode it, but the barcode size varies depending on the amount of encoded data.
Microsoft Tags takes mobile tagging to the next level, offering more flexibility both in the barcode design and content behind it. Because Tags are linked to data stored on a server, they deliver a more robust experience and update the content can happen at any time without having to change the Tag.
Model servers allow centralized storage of IFC information models allowing them to be accessed and modified via the Internet. Model servers are a critical element in the long-term management of building information that will be hosted, added to, and manipulated by a large audience over a building’s life cycle. The IFC-based model server is a virtual building archive, is possibly the most innovative technical approach to the future of BIM.
A mote is a sensor node in a wireless network that is capable of performing some processing, gathering sensory information and communicating with other connected nodes in the network.
Multi-file systems use loosely coupled collections of drawings, each representing a portion of the complete model. These drawings are connected through various mechanisms to generate additional views of the building, reports, and schedules. Issues include the complexity of managing this loosely coupled collection of drawings and the opportunity for errors if the user manipulates the individual files outside the drawing management capabilities.
National BIM Standard. Standard for how information is presented via BIM, currently under development with the cooperation of the AIA, CSI, and NIBS. The National CAD Standard will become a subset of NBIMS upon completion.
National CAD Standard. Graphic standard for how information is presented via CAD systems, developed with the cooperation of the AIA, CSI, and NIBS.
Things that are Net Zero are self-sustaining and require not outside energy source. A Net Zero Building, is a building with zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions annually.
National Institute of Building Sciences. Organization supporting NCS and the IAI in the United States.
A computer program may be seen as a collection of programs (objects) that act on each other. Each object can receive messages, process data, and send messages to other objects. Objects can be viewed as independent little machines or actors with a distinct role or responsibility.
Objects that reflect real-world behaviors and attributes. A parametric model is aware of the characteristics of components and the interactions between them. It maintains consistent relationships between elements as the model is manipulated. For example, in a parametric building model, if the pitch of the roof is changed, the walls automatically follow the revised roofline.
PaaS delivers hardware and software as a service without the cost and complexity of buying and managing and provisioning hosting capabilities. PaaS provides all of the facilities required to support the complete life cycle of building and delivering web applications and services entirely via the Internet. Model servers can be seen as PaaS or SaaS support.
A working model used to test design concepts, impacts, and ideas quickly prior, to physical implementation. Integral part of a system design process created to reduce risks and costs. Can be developed incrementally so that each prototype is influenced by previous prototypes to resolve deficiencies, refine the design or increase understanding. When a prototype is developed to a level that meets project goals, it is ready for construction.
SaaS provides software applications as a hosted service that is accessed via the internet. The Onuma System is a Software as a Service application.
Use first order tools and higher level skills to adapt, modify and improvise to focus on doing-the-right-thing. They are targeted on achieving the end-goal. Google+ and the Onuma System are second-order tools.
Single model approach
Revolves around a single, logical, consistent database for all information associated with the building. The building design is represented in a single virtual building that captures everything known about the asset. From this database, all project visualizations, analysis and management information can be extracted.
Wicked problems that include the added attributes of: 1) Time is running out, 2) No central authority has control or responsibility for the problem, 3) Those seeking to solve the problem are causing the problem and, 4) A strong tendency toward hyperbolic discounting of future costs and impacts.
Well defined with a straightforward problem statement. They can be complicated. You know when you have reached a solution. The solution is either right or wrong. You solve most tame problems using similar methods and the results can be tested to determine whether it works or not. Most of the project management tools that we use today are designed for tame problems. The ability to solve tame problems is a part of professional development and is a step toward mastery. Tools for managing tame problems can be called first-order tools.
The Value Network adds an extra dimension to the concept of Value Chains. Value networks represent the complexity, collaboration, and interrelationships of today’s organizations and environment. Value Chains are linear and Value Networks are three-dimensional.
A Web service is a method of communication between two electronic devices to support interoperable machine-to-machine interaction over a network, such as the Internet.
Traditional enterprises have popularized the use of web services via XML using Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) standards in many JAVA and .Net frameworks. An alternative approach, Web APIs have moved away from SOAP based services towards Representational State Transfer based communications (REST) services that do not require XML, SOAP, or other API definitions. Web APIs allow the combination of multiple Web services into new applications known as mashups.
Wicked problems usually involve significant numbers of people changing their behavior and mindsets. A wicked problem is a moving target. When you think you have solved a wicked problem, usually all that you have done is to identify a new problem. Even defining a wicked problem is in itself a wicked problem. Wicked problems do not have a stopping point. There is no test of solutions to wicked problems. Rather than “right or wrong,” a wicked problem can usually only be described by “better or worse.” Every wicked problem is essentially unique and can be considered a manifestation of another problem.
Collaborative Web-based text development system that allows for editing, version control and change comparisons.
Definitions are compiled from a variety of sources including: Wikipedia, technology vendors, NIST, NBIMS, and others.