“In the short term, we are little bimmers. In the long term, we are Big Bimmers.”
-David “Joshua” Plager, AIA
The comment above was posted on LinkedIN in response to my blog post “Why you failed at BIM“. What a great sentiment. In all the back and forth discussions of what BIM means, we all pretty much agree on the concept of little bim, BIG BIM. I’m not sure if Finith Jernigan was the first to coin those terms, but his book pretty much defines the situation. I HIGHLY suggest you read BIG BIM, little bim by Finith Jernigan.
In discussions about learning BIM, and even just defining BIM, there is a lot of heated debate about what does and doesn’t qualify as BIM. Is little bim really BIM? Or just BIG BIM? If you work in isolation, never sharing your data, is that BIM? Or does it have to be exchanged with others to count? From that debate we get the terms lonely BIM and social BIM. Some think only social BIM counts.
I personally think all these flavors of BIM count. All provide huge benefits over the old ways of doing things. And each is a step towards the next, more advanced level of BIM. In the transition from CAD to BIM, we encounter all these variants because CAD to BIM isn’t a one step process of “I used to do A, now I do B”. It’s “I used to do A, now I’m on the path to Z”.
The transition to BIM starts with lonely little bim. Here is some more explanation of the different quadrants (ei, Flavors of BIM).
lonely little bim – ArchiCAD, Revit, or another BIM authoring tool used to create 3D models that are then sliced and diced to create a traditional printed set of documents.
social little bim – Sharing the little bim data with collaborators via basic 3D data exchange to other authoring tools (Revit to Revit, ArchiCAD to Tekla, Tekla to Vectorworks, etc.) and to clients via BIMx and other dynamic visualization platforms.
lonely BIG BIM – Going beyond 3D, but still sharing the data with basic 2D backgrounds and printed sets. Using energy analysis, costing, etc. for internal design purposes would be examples of lonely BIG BIM. Note that this means that a firm could be doing both social little bim and lonely BIG BIM on the same project.
social BIG BIM – Many people consider anything less than this to be unworthy of the name BIM. Social BIG BIM involves nD models that are shared with collaborators and clients, especially for life-cycle purposes.
In my mind, all 4 paradigms count. Each is part of the path to the next. CAD to BIM is not a one step process. CAD was a simple thing, essentially a digitization of hand drafting. BIM is complex and multi-tiered. Not understanding that results in the impatience that leads to the failure to transition to BIM. Each level offers benefits and advantages over the myriad of old ways that are categorized under CAD. Mastery of each level will result in a more profitable firm, and in better design. But the ultimate goal of using BIM is to be in the 4th quadrant. Social BIG BIM offers the largest benefits. That is where we will all need to be to survive. That is where we’ll all need to be when the industry shifts again and whatever replaces BIM appears. That will happen. And going from CAD to whatever replaces BIM will be insanely harder than going from just CAD to BIM.
The benefits of each quadrant and further exploration of what social BIG BIM means are discussed in the follow up post: Primary Benefits of BIM.