• At the Strategic Development Forums 35th Technology Forum, Charles Eastman, professor and director, Digital Building Laboratory, Georgia Institute of Technology, explained the status of BIM. While progressing well, there is still much work ahead to achieve interoperability in concrete construction.
    At the Strategic Development Forum’s 35th Technology Forum, Charles Eastman, professor and director, Digital Building Laboratory, Georgia Institute of Technology, explained the status of BIM. While progressing well, there is still much work ahead to achieve interoperability in concrete construction.

About two decades ago, I made a decision that has greatly affected my children’s lives. It was my duty to purchase the family computer Christmas gift. I chose Sim City rather than Flight Simulator.

I now realize Sim City’s impact on their generation. Teachers, lawyers, and accountants become entranced with the idea of designing their utopia, be it a room, home, or city. So it’s no wonder that computer-enhanced design is becoming so important in the construction industry.

Early last year, the buildingSMART Alliance called on key construction professionals to predict what building construction will be like in 20 years. They created the NBIMS-US 2021 Vision Task Force (VTF). They wanted a highly strategic effort with which to develop a comprehensive road map for the entire capital facility industry. The initial effort of the VTF was to request subject matter experts from every corner of our industry to provide short essays about the nature of their role, profession, or industry as it will be in eight to 10 years.

The VFT used these essays to create a “compelling, and tangible vision of how a construction project may be built in the future, including the technologies and processes that would be in common use.” The report is crafted into a story about the construction of a six-story children’s medical care facility that opens on May 22, 2021. You can read this future look at construction here.

Incorporating BIM

Fortunately, our industry has recognized this important trend. The Charles Pankow Foundation has been very supportive in helping our industry incorporate building information modeling (BIM) into concrete construction. It has funded 13 separate grants valued at $2.2 million. These grants are for all industry segments: precast concrete, cast-in-place concrete, masonry, structural domain, and execution guides.

In this issue of TCP, we are helping you visualize what BIM can do for the concrete industry.

BIM’s real impact on the concrete industry is not yet fully understood. With BIM, material engineers may be more willing to adopt performance-based concrete mix designs, encouraging the increased use of nontraditional materials such as portland limestone cement. Design engineers will be able to stretch the limits on elements, beams, and columns to allow concrete structures to yield the same amount of usable space as steel structures, with better insulating factors. And with BIM, modular construction techniques will allow contractors to create resilient concrete structures in remote areas.

As the economic conditions for our industry improve, managers will be asked to resurrect their strategic plans. To be a significant player in the next decade, you must consider how BIM will affect your customer’s business, and yours.