BIM, the new CAD

I think its absolutely amazing that my generation is living in the technological revolution. Twenty years ago most people knew nothing of computers, and today almost everyone in every industry can say it interacts with computers in some fashion. More importantly we are now at the point where the computer is only the wheels to the future, and the software we are developing is the actual car. Take for instance the cell phone… just a computer, but add the software of blackberries or iPhones and its way more than just a phone… another example is the Banking institution… ATM’s were the start… now millions of people using online banking. Architecture is another industry that was transformed by computer tech with the introduction of CADD drawings, and now it is about to be transformed again. I assume most people have heard of the acronym CAD (or CADD depending on how you spell) in the architecture profession… it stands for Computer Aided Drafting and/or Drawing. Although CAD has transformed the industry ten fold in terms of construction documents for buildings and structure, it is about to be replaced by something more complex, but way more efficient software system… something called BIM, or Building Information Modeling. click the pic to read more…


Before I get into what BIM does let me explain how architects work with basic cad system principals now. Refer to the graphic below… basically when an architect draws a building in a conventional CAD system they draw the floor plans. Then they project wall lines of those plans down to draw the walls of the elevations. In sense they draw the same way you would by hand, but in the computer… by that I mean they draw one line after another, similar to if you had a pencil in your hand and drew one line at a time. The main advantage CAD has over hand drawing is the ease of manipulation once its in the computer. If you had to move a wall or room over in a hand drawing you had to erase every thing that needed to be moved, and then redraw it… with CADD you can simply pick up the things you wanted to move and move it with less to no redrawing. The problem with CAD is if there are major changes in a drawing, like the graphic of the house shows below, then you still had to modify more than one drawing (plans and elevations) like you would have to if you were drawing by hand… for instance if the plan changes you have to update and modify the plan drawing, and then follow the ripples thru to update the elevations as well.


This is the main advantage of BIM software. With BIM you are not drawing in the computer like you would by hand, but rather drawing more like you would build it. In sense you are manipulating the software to draw a 3d model… and then you tell the software that you want it to print out a view of the plan, and the view of the elevations. Its like having 10 identical twins of you that know what you are thinking, that each have a pencil and are drawing various elevations and plans while you draw. Basically, this makes things way more efficent because you are drawing one thing.. the model, rather than a bunch of things like the plans and the elevations. When you slide over a wall in a BIM model, it slides it over in plan and elevations and any where else it is referenced.

BIM software does way more than this, but this is the basic jist of differences between old hand drawing, CAD drawing, and BIM drawing. I’m excited because after my firm did some research we decided to purchase a single seat (for now) of Vector Works 2009, which a BIM software package. Since I am the network administrator as well as an unlicensed architect I get to be the ginny pig and work on a few projects utilizing this new BIM technology. I know I will have fun knowing I am exploring the fore front of the architectural industry… Having seen some older architects go out of business or put into hard times because they did not embrace CAD soon enough, I am that much further willing to become the office expert in BIM technology not only as a professional goal, but a personal one as well. I thought I would share with every the new CAD… so now when you talk about computer drawings… think before you say CAD, because perhaps the drawings you are talking about where generated by a BIM software package.

3 Replies to “BIM, the new CAD”

  1. Sure, I found the first image on the net under fair use for the purposes of this article, but the hand drawn rough diagrammatic sketches are mine. Feel free to use them in your presentation, but it would be nice if you cited this website somewhere as their source.

  2. Thank you! Of course, I’m gonna cite this website as the source on my board. And, I’m looking forward to reading your next articles, especially about BIM from Japan. Thank you again.

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