As a profession, we have been quietly avoiding BIM. I know that CAD is nice, simple, and comfortable in its familiarity, but hand-drafting used to be that way too. Not convinced? Well, here are some reasons why you should be using BIM:
1. Do it once, not three, four, five, or more times.
Why would you draw plans in AutoCAD, create a 3D model in SketchUp, draw sections and elevations in AutoCAD… and then when the plans change (as they always do) change it several times across multiple programs and files? Working in BIM allows you to do it all simultaneously.
2. Everyone else has it!
Collaboration is 100x easier when you work in the same program. All other design disciplines use BIM: architects, structural engineers, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineers. Where I work, all of these professions are in Revit. By working in the same program, I can see when doors, walls, and downspouts move. They can see my grade change along the building to coordinate foundations and brick ledges.
3. The information.
There is so much information to be had in scheduling. Anything that is tediously (and often incorrectly) counted by hand is instead scheduled: plant schedules, parking counts, area takeoffs, sheet indexes. When they change, the schedules update.
Once you become accustomed to working in a BIM program, you start to rely on that information and you’ll start to wonder, “Why do we settle for less?”.
4. BIM is here; it is inevitable.
Refusing to accept BIM is like holding desperately onto your flip phone- not wanting a new smart phone. Yes, it’s more complicated and more expensive, but it can give you so much more. How we work in the profession is changing, and the sooner you accept that, the easier the transition will be.
Yet, if BIM is so great why do most landscape architects still use CAD? Well, there are all the typical reasons: people resist change, BIM has a steeper learning curve, the software is expensive, etc. But here are the top 3 reasons why landscape architecture (specifically) doesn't use BIM:
No. 3: The landscape is difficult to model.
This is a software developer issue that is quickly going away… have you seen Lumion? It makes some gorgeous looking landscapes.
No. 2: Landscape architecture is a relatively small profession.
There are less of us than architects, engineers, etc… aka: we’re a small market.
No. 1: We are not engaging it!
If we want better BIM software, we need to do something about it. We cannot sit back and wait for it to magically improve without engaging it.
Please don't tell me that "BIM software isn't ready for landscape, yet." Because if you have actively used BIM you know its benefits. You would be saying "BIM in the landscape has so much potential, and we can make it better." BIM software for architects didn't pop-up overnight with all of the features that it has today. We need to engage the software, so we can start a larger discussion: what does BIM in the landscape need?
So, get out there, use BIM. Engage your firm. Discuss your experience using BIM. Talk to software developers. Did you know that Landscape Institute (UK) already has BIM Protocol? BIM is here. Do something about it.
Lauren Schmidt is a Graduate Landscape Architect at Schmidt Associates. Interested in learning more about BIM in landscape architecture? Check out her blog at landarchBIM,Twitter and Facebook.