Tag Archives: BIM


The VDC Cycle: Leveraging the “I” in BIM

For quite a while now, I’ve been considering having some guest posts on the blog to help liven up the conversation and add some new perspectives. I was contacted by Elijah recently and after reading other examples of his work on The Iterative, I thought it would be great to give this aspiring student a chance to share his voice. I’m pleased to present the first in what I hope to be a new collaborative approach to sharing insights on technology trends and advances in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry. Please, give us your feedback. We’d love to hear from you. – Sean

Elijah Gregory is a high school senior who’s interest in architecture software and BIM has lead to him becoming a fount of knowledge in this evolving field.

I recently had the opportunity to attend an industry review on a relatively new Trimble product, Vico. Vico is a VDC, or Virtual Design and Construction, software which bridges the gap between the BIM guys and decision makers in a company. In the two-day introduction to the product and the product’s capabilities, a common construction cycle became clear to me: receive concept of a proposed structure, design, estimate, schedule, and deliver.

A Brief History

Initially, BIM and VDC originated from CAD software. The original goal of CAD was to increase productivity and accuracy hand-drawing lacked. From there, simple 3D models arose to display a more comprehensible visual to both designers and clients. And following simple 3D models, BIM was created to derive information from drawings and models. Finally, VDC has been created to leverage the information created by BIM software to make accurate estimates and schedules as well as do statistical analysis on various aspects of the structure.


VDC essentially takes a project from the design to delivery checkpoints in the construction cycle and by doing so, quickly breaks down projects so decisions can be made quickly and appropriately. The VDC cycle follows the same steps as the construction cycle by reaping the information produced by BIM software, provided BIM managers follow best practices during design–a key issue not so uniformly answered, but that’s for another article. Provided best practices have been used, when a model is loaded into VDC software–Navisworks or Vico or whatever your preference may be–a tremendous bank of values should be at the tips of your fingers and the click of a mouse. Who said being a computer nerd wasn’t cool?

VDC in Practice

Today, the amount of information which can be leveraged from this initial model is up to three variables: the quality of the model, the level of skill of the VDC software user, and the desired amount of information to be leveraged. From the initial design, material and quantity takeoffs are created, which can be used with known labor rates, overhead, and profit to generate an estimate. From the estimate, budgets are established. On the same work plane level as estimating and in collaboration with the model, schedules are created, which can be projected from inception to delivery of the structure. These three parts allow the decision makers of a company to look at accurate information graphically, via modeling, and by hard numbers which act as a facilitator to the most important element in construction: decision making. But wait–there’s more: The VDC cycle takes the construction cycle a step further by integrating actual values produced into future projects for an incredibly accurate projection of costs and scheduling. In other words, the company can analyze decisions made in the past to add curves in the road to making decisions in the future. BIM-ception? Diving into the current BIM and VDC software lineup from front-runners offer a promising glimpse into the future: collaboration with all stakeholders from inception to delivery.

Elijah can be found on Twitter – @ElijahGregory97

~ More of his recent writing can be found here:

Go ahead, Boost my BIM!

For those of you who have not yet read Harry Mattison’s Boost your BIM blog, and you want to find new and creative ways to be more productive using Revit through the API (application programming interface), get going! The blog started in December and has a lot of really juicy stuff, if your interested in this aspect of BIM – I know I am. There’s plenty of coding samples to get your ideas churning.

Harry is a ‘The Factory’ veteran, having been with the Charles River Software company, the original name of Revit Technology Corporation in the late 90’s. Now that’s street cred. This one’s going in the blogroll.

The Future of the Building Industry: What comes after BIM?

I must say, no one can drive a point home through a graph quite like Patrick MacLeamy, FAIA – the CEO of HOK. This one below will surely join his other greatest hit – the MacLeamy Curve, which although completely overused in every presentation today on BIM, was authored way back in the early days of BIM, 2004.

Comments are welcome.

Source: The Future of the Building Industry (5/5): BIM, BAM, BOOM! – YouTube.

Digital Vision Automation Blog

My “BIM rant”, on adoption and setting expectations “Thoughts on a Train”, or “Mind the BIM Gap” was picked up by the blog All Roads Lead to BIM. I feel honored to be alongside such a cast of excellent authors whose work is collected on that site. Check them out on the information super highway, otherwise known as the inter-tubes: Digital Vision Automation Blog

CADLearning Revit Architecture 2011 Tutorials Published

Why so quiet? What’s going on with the blog? I’ve heard lot’s of this in the more than six months since I last posted. It’s nice to know faithful readers care. Besides being very busy at NBBJ, I’ve been a part of a team working on a project that was in the works since December of 2009.

With great fanfare…I’m pleased to announce that the big project is finally published. Over 700 pages of scripted material were written, then recorded to produce these tutorial lessons. But you don’t have to read them. Narrated by yours truly, I hope you enjoy and learn something new.

Revit Architecture 2011

CADLearning Revit Architecture 2011 Tutorials

  • Over 29 hours of training
  • 421 video tutorials
  • Exercise files included

    Go check them out here, or login in with a free membership to view samples: http://www.member.cadlearning.com/

    These projects are truly collaborative efforts. Many thanks to Dan Dolan, David Cohn, David Harrington, Matt Murphy, David Redding, Michael Bass, Temesgen, and the entire production team at 4D Technologies. A special shout out to Phil Read for putting me back in touch the team after having worked with them on ADT videos way back in the day – was it really 2004?

    Most importantly, thanks to Betsy, my sweet and understanding wife, for putting up with those long nights and weekends and me forgetting to take out the garbage.

    And now… some final work to polish up the more advanced content, and back to my day job (and more blogging). Autodesk University is around the corner, don’t you know.

    Read the press release here: CADLearning Revit Architecture 2011 Tutorials Published

    The BIM Deployment Plan, FTW

    You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.
     – Zig Zigler

    Every once in a while we need some inspiration to take action. Plan, Prepare, Expect. A simple formula. Unfortunately, most people who begin using Revit expect success, while simultaneously skipping those first two steps. The outcome is invariably failure. Persistence sometimes prevails, but you end up with a headache when it’s all said and done. Planning costs time and preparation costs money. Since most architects have an inversely proportional abundance of the former, rather than the later these days, it seems appropriate to plan for your future success.

    I’m a big advocate of planning. Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a complex process, consisting of many things. The right tools can help you adopt this process, and Revit at its soul has the ability to be a transformative technology in the architectural and engineering communities. Ultimately, when used to it’s potential Revit can affect the way buildings are designed and built. That scares non-technical architects, because “tried and true” methods have always worked for them. Have they really though?

    The landscape out there is shifting. the design, technology and communication paradigms are shifting. So, if you haven’t bought a ticket on the BIM train yet, or you there, but feel you are simply along for the ride, you need a plan to upgrade to business class. Incorporating BIM into your firm, or from an owner’s perspective mandating BIM on projects is not simply a technology solution. More importantly, it is a cultural, and management issue. Players at all levels of your organization need to be involved in the decision-making process. Additionally, when starting a new project, you need to understand the potential of a BIM workflow by creating an execution plan. The Penn State BIM Project Execution Planning Guide version 1.05 was released last month, and there are some excellent organizational documents there to help you capture critical path information about the project. But this isn’t your only source for this type of information to allow you to develop organizational and project strategies for using BIM.

    Autodesk has just this week publicly released a plan to aid in the successful delivery of BIM projects. Titled the BIM Deployment Plan, it is a great framework for starting to have the conversation with your firm project delivery and technical staff. The process is well documented, and incorporates many best practices and experience from my former colleagues in Autodesk Consulting. Read more, and download your copy here. Give it a try and maybe, just maybe, everybody wins.

    The official press release can be found here, for those who are interested in the marketing spin.

    Good to Great – “First Who… Then What” – Adaptive Practice by Jason Grant

    Jason you hit the nail on the head with this statement: “People are not your most important asset.  The right people are.”  So true when it comes to transforming a business. Especially when adopting BIM. What a great observation, and an invaluable tool the book “Good to Great” is in our current challenging business climate.  With the profession experiencing the single highest unemployment rate, and good firms closing their doors forever, there is an army of eager talent out there waiting for the right opportunity.

    Revit is a disruptive technology, which makes it frightening for some, but exciting to others. Revit and the BIM workflow it fosters has the power to transform the practice of architecture, in conjunction with IPD (Integrated Project Delivery) and sustainable design. With these tools, we need to figure out as a collective industry how to go from good to great. Read on for more of Jason’s insight, which is the first in a series of drawing parallels to the lessons from this excellent book:

    Good to Great – “First Who… Then What” – Jason Grant Blog – Adaptive Practice by Jason Grant.