Article Date: 05/16/2014

Digital Practice Manager Advises BIMForum Attendees to Avoid ‘Going Too Deep’ into Their Data

By Steve Rizer


There are times when abiding by the credo “the devil is in the detail” makes sense for getting a job done, but when embarking upon a building information modeling (BIM) project, perhaps a better motto would be: “Don’t let the devil con you into inputting too many details.” This was essentially the theme of a BIMForum presentation that took place late last month in Boston.


During the early stages of a BIM project, “it is tempting for design teams to start putting in information that is either completely unnecessary or does not meet any goal at the time they’re putting it in,” Matt Petermann, digital practice manager at Perkins + Will, told professionals attending the event. “Quite often, I see too many teams going too deep into their data.”


Throughout his presentation, entitled “Using Analysis to Inform -- Not Validate -- With BIM,” Petermann stressed the need for teams to define their goals early when working with the technology. “The tools are creating efficiency in our process, but [the more important factor for improving efficiency is] the setting of goals. Teams that don’t set the goals often flounder around because they’re trying to study something and trying to answer a question they haven’t really asked yet. They haven’t defined that question they need to ask.”


Petermann urged teams to “treat digital data just like we treated sketch paper. You sketched something out [and if] you didn’t like it, you crumpled it up and threw it on the floor. Pretty soon, you have a pile there, but eventually you have one that you want to keep. We need to know which one we want to keep so that we’re not carrying all this baggage around because that also happens. We go through a lot of design iteration, and eventually we try to carry all this data forward, and it carries forward, and more data is just as bad as not enough data. Wrong information that’s being provided is just as bad as no information.”


The key at the start of a BIM project is “making sure you know what a macro-level goal is versus a micro” goal, Petermann added. “The big-picture things of a building need to be determined first. Quite often, I see teams getting well into the detail only to find out that the whole building is going to change shape, which means most of their effort needs to be restarted.”


The ConstructionPro Network member version of this article contains additional comments that Petermann made and some of the advice offered in other BIMForum sessions.



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