How Building Information Modeling (BIM) Improves the Design and Construction Process
Princeton’s adoption of Building Information Modeling, or “BIM,” has streamlined the construction process and changed how we think about building management. It has created new ways to view building designs in three dimensions, long before they are completed. The 3-D spatial qualities of BIM make visualizing the building far easier than reviewing 2-D plans, resulting in a deeper understanding of the eventual building design, and fewer changes after the design is complete.
BIM is a process used by architects and engineers to design and document buildings in three dimensions and depict each building component with better tolerances than traditional methods. Unlike traditional 2-D computer aided drafting, each object is linked to data that can track it as a specific building element such as a wall, ceiling, ductwork or piping. BIM also enables building information, such as electrical voltage, air velocity, and system performance documents, to be linked to the BIM model for use by the project team.
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During the construction phase, when contractors typically document and submit detailed shop drawings, BIM is used by each building trade to create a virtual 3-D model of their work, potentially avoiding the traditional field changes necessary when “clashes” occur and building components must be rearranged. Building trades can prefabricate piping and other building assemblies off site with greater confidence, resulting in a higher quality installation.
As a project nears completion, a virtual “as-built” BIM model is turned over to Princeton. This model, with its inherently rich intelligence of building systems, can be utilized by our Facilities managers to maintain, manage, and renovate the building during its lifetime. Pilot projects using BIM for facilities management are now underway.
Princeton has implemented BIM on many recent projects, including Frick Chemistry Laboratory, the Neuroscience and Psychology Buildings, the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, and The Lewis Center for the Arts. Major renovations, including Firestone Library, 20 Washington Road, and Hoyt Laboratory, are also benefiting from the technology. As early adopters of BIM (starting in 2008), we have increased our understanding of this tool’s value and versatility in building design, construction, and facility management.
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