Boffa Miskell delivers with BIM

Embracing innovative technologies is nothing new for Boffa Miskell – and the company initiative to advance its design team’s capability in Building Information Modelling (BIM) is moving at a rapid pace.

BIM technology is growing in the construction industry; and the key is in the “I” — all the information attached to each element in the 3D design model is what makes BIM so powerful. Boffa Miskell has delivered a variety of projects using Revit modelling software, and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive – both internally and externally.

Christchurch design leader Nik Kneale says, “The journey into BIM and Revit started with a review of our 2D drafting software, with nothing more than an eye to what we might be able to do in 3D, expecting this would be something for advanced users only.”

The company decided to test the AutoDesk suite of software, and a few licenses for Revit were included in the review package – fortuitously, as it turned out.

Over the review period, Boffa Miskell took on projects that required delivery of certain elements in BIM, and close collaboration with the project architects and engineers.

“QEII and the Metro Sports Facility were first, and Lincoln Hub followed not long after,” Nik recalls.

“In terms of getting on board with BIM, essentially our hand was forced by those projects. And the acceleration from that point has been incredible.”

3D modelling in Revit allows Boffa Miskell’s part of a project to slot more easily into the architectural and engineering models; and by attaching information to each element in the model, the project is essentially ‘built’ in the virtual world – and errors or omissions are discovered on the computer rather than in the field.

And that’s where 3D beats 2D, says Nik.

“With 2D drawings, you show what you want to show – and you see things from one angle.

“But when the 3D models are integrated, it’s easy for the team to spot potential problems and talk about them as facts, rather than subjectively interpreting what’s being shown in a drawing. Discussions become less about opinion, and more about problem-solving.”

Last year, Boffa Miskell hired a full-time BIM manager to lead the ongoing implementation of BIM methodology into the company’s workflows. Adrian Lobo’s background in architecture, project management, and as a Revit software specialist make him uniquely qualified for a continually evolving role.

“Revit was built for engineers and architects, so it doesn’t have specific tools for us,” says Adrian. “The first challenge was to build content and workflows in how to use Revit for landscape architecture. Now we have an extensive content library and a template that improves our efficiency and helps us standardize how we use the tool.

“We have completed very big projects and used Revit for different project phases (including detailed design). It helps us visualize and understand the project at preliminary stages to make early decisions and integrate information from other consultants to our designs.”

Both Nik and Adrian agree that the benefits of BIM methodology are immense, and there are applications across all size of projects. Nik says the efficiencies show themselves through the design process, and as consultants become more adept at using Revit it will allow for greater creative thinking.

“You might spend more time at the beginning modelling things; but at the tail end, when it’s time for revisions, you don’t have talented designers doing mundane drafting changes, allowing us more time to think critically about design, which is of course what our clients come to us for.”

Externally, the opportunity to put Revit’s 3D models into Virtual Reality software allows clients to truly ‘get inside’ design proposals.

“If a client can put on a headset and actually experience what you’re talking about – that’s incredibly powerful. A still image simply can’t do that,” says Nik. But there’s still a place for 2D drawing.

“In the very early stages, there’s little point jumping into time-intensive modelling. The thing that a sketch can do, that a model can’t, is that in less than five minutes or a few pen strokes you can communicate an idea.”

Boffa Miskell is committed to integrating BIM into the way it works. Early adopters in the Design and Technical Services teams are driving the process and their enthusiasm has been infectious.

Adrian says, “We now have an internal Revit training site and I work one-on-one with consultants as they learn. We have developed a lot of content and documented workflows, and we have been able to meet every challenge that has come our way.

“One of the benefits or strengths in BIM is the collaboration with the architect or other consultants. That’s how Boffa Miskell started this process and now we can respond to any client’s BIM request. This requirement for BIM collaboration will grow and evolve, so we want to be sure Boffa Miskell is one step ahead rather than being reactive to this new trend.”

“We’re delivering landscape projects using this tool, which I think is pretty impressive,” says Nik. “There’s still a perception that BIM is too hard, or that it’s not really for landscape architecture, but we need to be growing people who know what the next way of working is – and with our focus on BIM methodology, that’s what we’re doing.”

For further information please contact Nik Kneale or Michael Hawes

10 August 2018