Volume 48, Issue 3- March 2013


Model Development
Increased Use of BIM Brings Increased Opportunities
by Colin Blackford

As building information modeling (BIM) technology develops and matures, more members of the construction industry are adopting it. According to an October 2012 McGraw-Hill Construction SmartMarket Report, industry-wide adoption of BIM surged from 28 percent in 2007 to 49 percent in 2009 to 71 percent in 2012. For the first time in its usage history, the number of contractors using BIM—74 percent—surpassed the number of architects—67 percent—using the software, the report states.

Given the rapidly increasing usage of BIM, major glass and glazing companies are investigating the best way to incorporate glass color and performance utilizing BIM technology. Despite the increasingly wide use of the software in the architectural and engineering industry, BIM content for manufactured glass is typically only available for standard glass makeups, and accurate color rendering for the glass may still be only guessed at by the user.

Increasing Usage
Most government projects are now requiring the use of BIM. Subsequently, general contractors (GC) are creating their own models, which forces subcontractors to create their own models. The GCs are often replicating the architect’s model to allow for more accurate take-off, glass detection and constructability; while the architect’s model focuses on codes and spatial design to create the construction documents. The glaziers, on the other hand, are also designing their own models to a higher level of detail that can be used to create the needed shop drawings. These separate efforts by parties involved in the construction process suggest a more integrated project delivery (IDP) approach could open communication, streamline the process and promote sharing of information on specific projects.

It would be beneficial for glass and glazing companies to create BIM content that represents that extra level of detail. Recent software programs offer the ability to render accurately and also provide thermal and structural properties. This allows users to create content that benefits architects and lets them look at the details of the curtainwall and how they relate to the surrounding materials, while also providing glaziers, mechanical engineers and energy modelers with the performance data that is embedded into the BIM content.

Future Developments
While glass BIM content is currently available, it is typically representational, without sufficient details to be of significant use on a project design. Software is needed to analyze BIM models and help to generate specifications including manufacturer content. There can be a significant difference between manufacturer content and user-made content. Many times the user-made content cannot be integrated with third-party software. One additional advantage of a new approach is the higher level of confidence in the performance data provided within manufactured content.

To ensure that the glass content can be analyzed and used appropriately, the glass BIM information would have to be fully renderable, detailed and loaded with optical and thermal properties that aid in generating specifications. Due to the unique nature of glazing make-ups, there can be a distinct advantage to supplying project specific custom content. It should be more detailed and utilize the material analytics that are nested within software programs used by architects.

It is important to consider that the vast majority of accredited architectural schools in the country are teaching some form of BIM. The next generation of architects is likely to embrace this technology and accelerate its adoption and use in commercial building design. The glass and glazing industry has an opportunity to develop tools and software that truly caters to the needs of the architects. It is as clear as glass: the use of BIM is not a fad or a trend, but is rapidly becoming the way buildings are being designed.

© Copyright 2013 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.