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The Other BIM : Business Improvement Model


Another optimistic view of how Owners, Architects, Contractors, Manufacturers and Facility Management might work together. Our profession has always enjoyed a very clear separation and understanding of what Architects do vs that which Contractors do. Perhaps it’s time to find better ways to all work together.

I see more and more papers and blogs trying to re-define our liabilities, limit our responsibilities, protect our ‘ownership’ rights, define the concept of BIM, explain what a ‘model’ is, and clarify the level of detail (LOD) for liability and contractual limitations. Instead, maybe we could start working as a team throughout the life of the bulding, with the Owner, Contractors, Manufacturers, Fabricators and Installers. Perhaps by providing the fully developed Architectural Level 300 model to the Owner, everybody responsible for constructing and maintaining the building will benefit from our early work while ensuring that the ‘design intent’ stays intact throughout the entire building process. This would provide a more effective and cost efficient work flow rather than the current practice where others re-model the building from scratch in order to create a new model for her or his specific needs.



I realize that this new BIM (Business Improvement Model) process will require all of us to change our way of thinking and how we do business. We should move towards the future rather than clinging on to the past.

Maybe this example from my own experience will help convince you that it is time to embrace a new business model. When I was in college in the late 70’s, I had the amazing good fortune to have been taught design and graphic communication by some of the most amazing professors, most of whom were practicing Architects. Our college was a ‘design school’. But, out of five years of classes, how many were devoted to the ‘business side’ of our profession. Answer: Exactly two! “Construction Documents” and “Ethics & Practice”. And, what were we taught in our “Ethics & Practice” class? How to create a firm, how to edit the A.I.A. forms and “Game Theory” where we were instructed on how to keep score against the Contractor and hold ‘markers’ in our pockets for every time the Contractor didn’t do what was on the drawings so that, if needed, we could use them to negotiate our way out of paying for our mistakes.

This type of teaching goes against my basic principles and work ethic, and how I have learned to practice Architecture. In this new business model, we should adopt the ‘spirit of cooperation and team work’ vs the normally practiced ‘spirit of negotiation and competition’.

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