Friday 16 September 2011

NBS-NLA BIM Conference - A quick summary

My after-the-event thoughts on our NBS-NLA BIM Conference. The presentations will be available soon on and available to watch at NBS TV.

James Brown from Asda gave a presentation from the viewpoint of a large private client. The opinion that consultants will become more efficient and be able to reduce their fees led to some interesting questions from the largely architectural audience.
The counter viewpoint raised from the floor was that clients should pay more for the delivery of quality information that the construction and operating team can reuse to enable greater efficiencies. James also called for the whole supply chain to engage in BIM and not just the design and construction teams. In particular, Manufacturers need to start supplying their products as BIM objects. This was the challenge laid down to them.

The best case study of the day was the from Turner and Townsend's London Bridge Place. Truly amazing animated visuals presented by John Stretch. The ability to schedule the programme from the model and view how the construction develop was beautifully demonstrated.

Michael Beaven from Arup gave an interesting view from an engineer's perspective. His slide eluding to the fact that adopting BIM, although very rewarding, would be hard work was a good one...

David Philp who is the chosen "Head of BIM implementation" for the Cabinet Office delivered a "Paul-Morrell-style" rapid fire presentation of many inspirational slides. How can we reduce capital costs by 20% and bring carbon down to zero? David compared the current economic situation to the bibical Joseph story with 7 years of feasting being followed by 7 years of famine.

RIBA BIM thought leader Paul Fletcher delivered an energetic and inspirational presentation that produced "Tweet-of-the-day", "Paul Fletcher on fire! Very cool presentation at #nbsbim conference" from @davewlight. Paul shook things up a little by questioning (a) if the right sort of information was getting put into BIM (40% of your efforts are wasted!) and (b) whether people were too focused on "output" and whether it was time to focus on the "outcome".

David Light (aka @davewlight) gave a view from a world-wide architectural practice who have been using BIM for years (HOK). David's past experience working on small projects and also as a re-seller of a major BIM software package (beginning with "R") also made for a well rounded presentation. However, the slide below makes it clear that you cannot just buy a certain software package and find "BIM in a box".

My presentation may be downloaded from
In short, the message from NBS, is that to adopt BIM all of the dumb information on paper that currently describes buildings needs to be converted into rich digital objects.

The final presentation of the day was from BIM Academy and the need for a BIM Revolution in the universities, but an BIM Evolution in the industry. Prof Steve Lockley called universities to stop teaching 2D CAD - this was compared to how schools stopped teaching slide rules and log tables in favour of calculators. Peter Barker called for greater collaboration and left the delegates with a picture from Ryders in the 1960s and the professionals from different disciplines that formed the practice.

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