An article in Construction Dive stated that Design Build (DB) is on the rise and compared it with Design Bid Build (DBB), currently the most commonly-used project delivery method in the country, according to the Lean Construction Institute of America. From a Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) perspective, the rise in popularity of Design Build makes complete sense. If you’re not familiar with BIM or VDC; BIM is an integrated design and construction process where all project participants contribute to an intelligent central 3D model of the asset. VDC is the analysis and evaluation of BIM data for items including coordination (clash detection), construct-ability, logistics, scheduling, cost, and other aspects of the project’s delivery.
BIM can enhance DBB and DB’s standings as two of the most frequently-utilized contracting methods. When BIM is used in Design-Build projects, it really showcases its ability to decrease costs, shrink schedules, and improve overall project quality. It also expands project teams’ capacity to take into account aspects like sustainability in the design and construction process. This is based on Design Build’s ability to increase the collaboration between the design and construction teams. At its core, BIM is a collaborative process, providing the DB team with the perfect platform to evaluate, present, and document ideas. In addition, it gives the combined design and construction team the ability to build much greater detail into the model earlier in the process. This enables better decision making and increased capability to evaluate different design options against cost, schedule, quality, and sustainability without the need for the back and forth that typically happens in the Design Bid Build environment.
McGraw Hill’s Smart Market Report Green BIM looked at the Shanghai Tower as an example. BIM enabled the design of the most efficient structural frame for the super-tall tower. Running simulations and gauging the impact of the taper and rotation of the tower, lead to new design configurations, which reduced the wind load by about 24%. This reduction made it possible to keep the building stiff using less steel, saving energy and materials. An added bonus was the cost savings as each 5% reduction equated to roughly USD $12M in savings on this particular project.
The growth in Design-Build coupled with BIM couldn’t come at a more important time for the industry and the world. Consider the United Nations has stated it is expected that more than 2.5 billion people will move into urban centers over the next 30 years. To support this growth and double the number of buildings on the planet, it is clear that we need to adopt more efficient, faster, and sustainable ways to construct buildings and infrastructure to support the demand.
Other advancements like the connected BIM environment are driving DB teams to more project efficiencies and increased collaboration. Connected BIM consists of integrating Cloud-based design and data management applications such as Autodesk’s BIM 360 Docs Design and Construction software. It enables geographically disparate teams to work as if they were co-located.
By maximizing the blending of contracting methods, BIM processes and Cloud-based technologies, the construction industry is poised for massive increases in productivity while simultaneously improving quality, decreasing risk, and ultimately delivering the best project outcomes. Leading a firm that has for the past 25 years focused on integrating process and technology into the design, construction, and operations industry, I’m optimistic and excited to participate in where the future takes us.