Project Structure - Tetralogy of BIM

The buildingSMART alliance®, a council of the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) has been coordinating the efforts of the facilities industry to implement open BIM standards for the industry over the past several years. The "United States National BIM Standard Version 1, Part 1: Overview, Principles, and Methodologies" was released in December 2007 and laid the foundation and provided templates for our future open BIM standards efforts.

A structure is needed in order to scope the inter-relationship of projects as well as define the overall range of projects to define a Building Information Model. Without such a structure, there is no end to the effort and no understanding of what we are collectively developing.

Based on the work to date we have been able to generate a map of the scope and structure of BIM. BuildingSMART International has long had a logo of four interlocking squares symbolizing the interoperability needed throughout the facilities industry. We have identified each of those four squares as life cycle aspects of the industry and the basis for our vision.

buildingSMART Internations interlocking four square logo with each identified as: Design, Procure, Operate, Assemble

While there are currently many ways to describe the life cycle of a facility, all link back to this universal structure. The attached table demonstrates how this structure has emerged as we have fully developed the first three levels of the structure aligned to current industry data tables:

Design Procure Assemble Operate
Requirements Suppliers Quality Commission
Program Qualifications Testing Startup
Schedule Availability Validation Testing
Quality Stability Inspection Balance
Cost Capacity Acceptance Training
Site Material Safety Occupy
Zoning Submittal Requirements Leasing
Physical Selection Logistics Building Management
Utilities Purchase Training Security
Environmental Certification Inspection Tenant Services
Form Contracting Schedule Modify
Architecture RFQ Fabrication Assessment
Structure RFP Deliveries Refurbish
Enclosure Selection Resources Renovate
Systems Agreement Installation Demolish
Estimate Price Cost Maintain
Quantity Quantity Productivity Prevention
System Price Unit Price Solicit Scheduled
Comparison Labor Pricing Warranty
Escalation Equipment Selection Contracted

The four sections above divide into sixteen sub-elements and those divide into four for a total of sixty-four elements. We are recommending that there be a maximum of sixty-four use cases developed around the elements identified. We are calling this overall structure the "Tetralogy of BIM" providing us an additional education and marketing slogan.

Tetralogy of BIM = ToBIM

So as not to simply develop information silos we encourage the use cases to span over multiple elements and phases of the chart hence we have developed a portion of the next two levels of the chart to help define the sixty-four elements. An example of this approach is the Construction Operations Building information exchange or COBie. Another would be the use cases presented in the BIM Execution Planning Guide. Yet another example the Architectural Precast project which rolled up to the Precast Concrete project. Those projects provide the details of the Structural Project and that package neatly fits into the "Structure" element at the third level of the framework, which is under "Form", which is located under the level 1 "Design" element.

From this exercise, we can now begin to estimate the cost of completing the use cases necessary to describe a BIM:

Approximate cost of COBie $300,000
Approximate cost of Structure + Precast $450,000
Approximate cost of the BIM Execution Guide $284,999 Pankow
$  60,000 Penn State
$  20,000 PACE
$364,000 Total
Avg. cost of use case plus Model View Definition    $400,000 each x 64

We are therefore estimating that it will cost approximately $25M to complete the definition of the standard model views for BIM as defined by the matrix created. We will also need resources to support central efforts for the task of approximately $250k per year. This will be resourced from many sources leveraged by the anticipated continued support of the Charles Pankow Foundation. The Return on Investment (ROI) of these resources will be significant to the industry although the actual metrics are yet to be determined. While at first blush it appears to be a large number, we are starting to see returns on individual projects of over $5M so one could quickly realize the investment. Of course, over time additional use cases will be developed for which we may not even be able to conceive of today because of the opportunities that will be created by having facility information readily available for decision-making. It is further expected that organizations will start with the standard use cases and then customize them for their own use within their organizations. If they stay true to the standard data structures defined in NBIMS, then compatibility will be maintained.

We have looked at all the Model Views developed to date and they fit within the structure defined above. It is expected that now that the structure exists we will develop model views in a more organized way and ensure that information collected in one will be able to be used in others and that information will flow throughout the facility life cycle. This will be supported by other work being accomplished in defining the Stakeholder Activity Model, under goal #2 of the Alliances' strategic plan.

We would expect that this entire effort would take a couple more iterations before we make the connections necessary to optimize the information flow throughout the facilities industry; however, because of the pioneering efforts of the Charles Pankow Foundation we have been able to build an achievable roadmap for expanding the successes thus far achieved.

The concept presented above has been coordinated with the buildingSMART alliance® Board of Direction, buildingSMART International, and the National Institute of Building Sciences Board of Directors and have received very positive responses from all involved. The industry has been long looking for this leadership and has embraced this significant step forward.