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Canadian architects bring experience to Canada BIM Council

0 42 Technology

by Patricia Williams

While architects Paul Loreto and Allan Partridge live in different provinces, they have a lot in common: Both are pioneers when it comes to adoption of building information modeling (BIM) technology.

Building Information Modelling

While architects Paul Loreto and Allan Partridge live in different provinces, they have a lot in common: Both are pioneers when it comes to adoption of building information modeling (BIM) technology.

They’re also on the management team of the recently inaugurated Canada BIM Council.

Loreto, the London-based president of paul f. loreto architect inc. and Loreto Design Consultants, which provides BIM consulting services, uses BIM in the design of all of his firm’s projects.

So does Partridge, a principal in the 25-person Edmonton firm of HIP Architects, who also is acting as an adviser to Public Works and Government Services Canada on implementation of a BIM pilot project in Ottawa.

Both are convinced that BIM is set at some point to transform the design and construction industry.

“As a profession, our tools have not changed in thousands of years,” said Partridge, who has lectured on building information modeling at a number of conferences.

“CAD only took what we did manually and stuck it on a computer screen. It didn’t instrumentally change the nature of architecture. This does.”

Building information modeling is defined as a process that delivers construction projects using parametric modeling of the building in virtual space prior to construction.

Loreto, who has practised architecture in southern Ontario for more than 20 years and heads up a nine-person team of architects and technologists who also function as BIM consultants, was introduced to BIM by a colleague in 2000.

“Originally, it was a software choice,” he said.

“I chose Revit Technologies as my software platform. It really allowed me to carry out the functions of an architect without having to worry about being a software programmer.

“As I became more proficient, I began to understand that we were now developing buildings and construction documentation based on an asset management model. It ultimately became the only software that I used.”

Loreto, who said there have been significant refinements of the Revit software since 2000, now is venturing into the realm of virtual construction modeling.

“We are modeling mechanical piping, mechanical ductwork, electrical elements and structural systems as they are being built in the real world,” he said.

His company currently is working in conjunction with a major contractor on a hospital project in southern Ontario.

In addition to providing construction modeling services, Loreto is developing the model to be maintained over the facility’s 30-year life cycle.

Partridge, who likewise has practised for more than two decades and who leads the HIP.IT team, started looking at implementation of building information modeling in 2002.

“For a number of years, I had been following development of object-based parametric modeling,” he said.

“In 2002, we decided this was clearly the way of the future. So, three of us decided to test it out on a project. By 2005, we were fully deployed.”

While HIP uses a variety of pieces of software for solids modeling, Revit is the hub of its building information modeling regime.

“One of the biggest shifts we had to make was that we had to stop thinking about drawings and think about buildings,” Partridge said.

“Once we made that shift, it was no longer about drawings and documents. It was about putting buildings together.”

Data on BIM adoption by Canadian architects is scarce — the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, for example, does not track such activity.

But Partridge and Loreto are thought to be among a select group using BIM exclusively to design projects.

Loreto, an Autodesk-authorized contractor who has conducted 90 BIM training, mentoring and implementation sessions across North America, including 20 in Canada, said that on more than one occasion, architectural firms ended up putting BIM on the back burner because they weren’t prepared to commit the required time and resources.

Loreto acknowledges that BIM currently is a tough sell in the architecture, engineering and construction industry.

“It takes the right mind-set to try something new. BIM is not only a tool but part of a larger process which will change the way architects, engineers and contractors carry out their business,” he said.

“It is the focus of the Canada BIM Council to assist the industry in understanding the profound impact of BIM.”

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