Sam Collard

By Sam Collard, BIM Academy

6 November 2013 — BIM Academy is a building information modelling consultancy practice established in the United Kingdom in 2010 as a joint venture between Northumbria University and Ryder Architecture. It combines industry experience and academic knowledge in an award-winning centre of excellence for BIM and integrated project delivery. The BIM Academy is based in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, a known “hot bed” for BIM adoption.

The BIM Academy operates internationally and undertakes consultancy, education, and research and development to support industry in BIM adoption. It has unrivalled experience embedded within the BIM management team who each have practical experience in deploying BIM on projects for the last seven years – the formative years of architecture engineering construction (AEC) BIM as we now know it.

Northumbria University, the research development and training element of the BIM Academy, has established a number of training courses to meet the burgeoning industry needs and has global links with a number of academic institutions worldwide.

The Academy work closely with the UK Government to shape the UK objective to achieve Level 2 BIM by 2016.

I recently joined BIM Academy and have watched with keen interest the debate around the increased adoption of BIM, and market ability to provide BIM solutions on projects.

I believe the BIM uptake is following the trend of BIM adoption over the last 2-3 years in the UK, but Australia is operating from a higher initial platform, albeit without the sample level of government support the UK industry has received.

I also believe a nation that thinks nothing about getting on a glass fibre board and sharing the surf with sharks should have nothing to fear taking those early adoption steps in to BIM.

The Build Live competition

Build Sydney Live was an event sponsored and run by Asite between October 28–30, with headline sponsors Laing O’Rourke, Graphisoft and Nemetschek Vectorworks.

Build Live is the world’s premier collaborative openBIM event, bringing together design professionals and experts across the globe to create the most elegant solutions based on a design brief for an internationally recognised site. Teams were invited to showcase the best use of BIM for 48 hours and were free to use any interoperable technology, which would be published online to a public cloud collaboration site. Winning teams were awarded a Build Live award for the best use of BIM.

The result

The competition was the closest fought Build Live event so far and meant that for the first time ever the judges needed to work overnight (like the teams!) to come to an agreement.

By a knife’s edge the winner was the BIM Academy.

The process

BIM Academy collaborated with a wide range of BIM specialists to produce this award winning design during the gruelling 48-hour competition. With team members scattered across the globe, collaborative technologies played a key role in the success. The Design Team were BIM Academy, AECOM ANZ, Ryder Architecture, Northumbria University, Colour UDL, dRofus and KyKloud.

Team BIM Academy comprised seven companies and 63 people working in eight cities around the world.

Team BIM Academy “teamies” descended on offices in Newcastle, London, Oslo, Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra and Auckland, with the UK guys and gals battling through the midnight darkness of a gathering severe storm, and the Australians waking up to a beautiful morning.

After team photos and various technical hurdles, the video conferencing was fired up and after an brief “teamie” introduction the team waited expectantly for the competition brief and documents to be dropped onto the Asite common data environment at noon. Frantic reading, digesting and analysing of the brief followed.

The first hurdles to be overcome were giving more depth to the brief in terms of room and space definition – the architects from Ryder in the UK working with Rolf from dRofus in Oslo.

Also in the first hour the 4D team from Northumbria University started exploring the demolitions and the landscape team looked at the Bayside links down to the water.

Conversations also started via video conference between the structural and mechanical engineers in Australia and the architects in Newcastle and London.

The design review then started led by Ryder.

The early hours of Monday morning brought a few frustrations using the common data environment for the first time to upload and download, until the team ironed out its procedures. The BIM execution plan was uploaded and distributed to the team members along with a test industry foundation class round trip of the site model through Revit.

The design team used the Asite platform to make some more formal requests for information once the video conference with Australia was over and also collaborated using Google Hangouts with screen sharing, video and voice, as well as traditional emails and telephone calls.

The Google Hangouts worked particularly well so the teamies decided to use it more during the remaining days.

The main aim of the first six hours was to produce an architectural massing model together with some first stabs at a workable structural grid, taking account of the major limitations of the highway flyovers above and needs of car parking required. It was hoped that after the next design review the disciplines would be able to agree on a final concept and then move into some early stage engineering and sustainability analysis.

The BIM management team from BIM Academy developed a schedule of deliverables and checked progress against the program, which although dropping behind for some time in the early hours, quickly caught up.

Colour UDL continued to develop the landscape and urban design including a huge roof terrace that overlooked the harbour.

The team in Australia woke up to a facade design freeze in Newcastle upon Tyne UK to enable them to develop their engineering designs to a higher level of detail and to allow the costing and visualisation teams to kick off their work.

All day the various teams worked well. Structural and architectural teams beavered away, their designs and models increased in detail, becoming more resolved. Structural and architectural models were federated around early afternoon and “white card” renders produced off the scheme for conceptual visualisation.

Working alongside the architectural team were dRofus in Olso. Using video conferencing and Google Hangouts to collaborate with Newcastle, Rolf and his dRofus team developed the detailed room data structure and helped plan and schedule the rooms and spaces, integrated with the Revit model. This enabled automated comparison with the client’s original brief. The next step was to populate the rooms with furniture fixtures and equipment.

The last two hours was a constant upload of final submissions from team BIM Academy to the Asite common data environment and the final pieces in the way of IFCs, COBie files, room data sheets and movies being finished off by dRofus and the AECOM viz team. Coopers (Newcastle) was very calm and even found time to tidy up the detritus caused by “teamies” living in a couple of conference rooms for two days.

The results were published at 7am UK time and the judges apparently gathered on a boat in Sydney Harbour awaiting the deadline.

BIM Academy collaborated with a wide range of BIM specialists to produce this award-winning design during the gruelling 48-hour competition. With team members scattered across the globe, collaborative technologies played a key role in the success.

Well done to AECOM, Ryder Architecture, Northumbria University, Colour UDL and KyKloud.

The reality of finishing Build Sydney Live was a little bit of an anticlimax… a feeling of relief when understanding the last IFC that was stubbornly refusing to upload was actually already there the whole time; the quick clean-up of wrappers, bottles and mugs so the cleaners in the morning don’t walk into a complete mess of detritus made by 20 people more or less living in a couple of conference rooms; and of course that feeling of cold fresh air on the face as the building was locked up in the early hours after being cooped up inside for so long.

Sam Collard recently joined BIM Academy. He has been involved in the management and implementation of BIM on over 50 projects with a construction value of over $3 billion. His journey in BIM has seen him working as an early adopter in the USA, Canada, Scandinavia, United Kingdom, India and more recently Australia.