Creating documentation using BIM gives you the added advantage of being able to visualize the project in 3D. Although this was initially conceived as one of the “low-hanging fruits” of a BIM workfl ow, this benefi t has led to an explosion of 3D graphics—perspectives, wire frames,
renderings, and animations—within the industry as a means to communicate design between stakeholders on a project.
This digital creation of the project has given us a variety of tools to communicate aspects of the project. It becomes “architecture in miniature,” and we can take the model and create a seemingly unlimited number of interior and exterior visualizations. The same model may be
imported into a gaming engine similar to an Xbox for an interactive virtual experience. Clients no longer need to rely on the designer’s preestablished paths in a fl y-through—they can virtually
“walk” through the building at their own pace, exploring an endless variety of directions.
The same model can then be turned into a physical manifestation either in part or in whole by the use of 3D printers (known as rapid prototyping), creating small models (Figure 1.4) in a fraction
of the time it would take to build one by hand. Many types of visualization are currently possible with BIM.
If we consider a complete spectrum of representations from tabular data to 2D documentation and then to 3D visualization, tremendous opportunities exist to transform the notion of traditional design deliverables. Schedules give you instantaneous reports on component quantities and space usage, whereas plans, sections, and elevations afford you the fl exibility to customize their display using the information embedded in the modeled elements. For example, the plan in Figure 1.5 shows how color fi lls can be automatically applied to illustrate space usage by department.
Expanding 2D documentation to include 3D imagery also gives you the ability to clearly
communicate the intent of more complex designs. It may even have a positive effect on construction
by transcending possible language barriers with illustrative documentation rather than
cryptic details and notations. Figure 1.6 shows a basic example of a drawing sheet composed of
both 2D and 3D views generated directly from the project model
The obvious benefi t to creating a complete digital model of your building project is the
ability to generate a wide variety of 3D images for presentation. These images are used to not
only describe design intent, but also to illustrate ideas about proportion, form, space, and functional
relationships. The ease at which these kinds of views can be mass-produced makes the
rendered perspective more of a commodity. In some instances, as shown in the left image of
Figure 1.7, materiality may be removed to focus on the building form and element adjacencies.
The same model is used again for a fi nal photo-realistic rendering, as shown in the right image
of Figure 1.7.
Two diff erent
By adding materiality to the BIM elements, you can begin to explore the space in color and
light, creating photo-realistic renderings of portions of the building design. These highly literal images convey information about both intent and content of the design. Iterations at this level are limited only by processing power. The photo-realism allows for an almost lifelike exploration of color and light qualities within a built space even to the extent of allowing analytic
brightness calculations to reveal the exact levels of light within a space.
The next logical step is taking these elements and adding movement. In Figure 1.8, you can see a still image taken from a phasing animation (commonly referred to as a 4D simulation) of a project. These simulations not only convey time and movement through space; they also have
the ability to demonstrate how the building will react or perform under real lighting and atmospheric conditions. All of this fosters a more complete understanding of the constructability and
performance of a project before it is realized.