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MKSD Takes on BIM Technology

MKSD architects has boldly embraced the latest in architectural design technology—Building Information Modeling (BIM). BIM is an integrated building design process that utilizes three-dimensional, real-time, dynamic building modeling software to increase productivity in building design and construction. This process produces a Building Information Model that encompasses building geometry, spatial relationships, geographic information, and quantities and properties of building components, which helps architects and engineers analyze early conceptual designs and better maintain designs through documentation and construction.

“While everyone was lamenting the economy last spring and summer, we decided to be proactive and advance our architectural practice by taking on our industry’s new technology—BIM,” explained MKSD Partner Silvia Hoffman, AIA, LEED AP. “Besides green building methods, BIM is the buzz in the architectural and engineering industry. It is the future of our business and some federal clients are requiring its use in building design. As its popularity and use increases, it will become the mainstay for design in the future. We decided that taking on this technology while things were a little slow in the office would well position our firm for the future.”

Besides being poised for a possible future where BIM is used in all building design, MKSD architects believes that BIM will substantially benefit our clients. The process provides for closer coordination and better communications with clients/owners, more streamlined architectural and engineering calculations, and automated consistency among all construction documents. Having the entire project team understand the consequences of building form and mass early in the design process provides huge opportunities for cost savings. Since BIM covers geometry, spatial relationships, light analysis, geographic information, and building component quantities and properties, it can be used to demonstrate the entire building’s life cycle, including the construction process and facility operations. Quantities and shared properties of materials can be extracted easily. Scopes of work can be isolated and defined. Systems, assemblies, and sequences can be shown in a relative scale with the entire facility or group of facilities. One of BIM’s benefits is the ability to virtually create a building, clarify expectations, resolve issues, and reduce requests for information (RFIs) and change orders during construction.

BIM achieves modeling representations of the actual parts and pieces used to construct a building. This is a substantial shift from the traditional computer aided drafting (CAD) method of drawing with vector file-based lines that combine to represent building objects. So, moving to BIM goes far beyond switching software. It requires changes to traditional architectural phases and more data sharing than most architects and engineers are accustomed to.

“I believe we may be the only architecture firm in the Lehigh Valley utilizing BIM,” commented Silvia. “When we went to training in Philadelphia, our trainer said MKSD was the first group of architects that they had seen from the Valley. So, we are extremely excited to offer this new technology to our clients and are even designing the new Monroe Campus of Northampton Community College with BIM.”

Information is the key difference between BIM and traditional CAD drawing. Given that the BIM virtual construct of the building is embedded with information about the location, material properties, and different spaces’ functional requirements, it is only a matter of processing that information to evaluate the ecological impact, building loads, and the relative energy performance of multiple design options.

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