BIM has revolutionized the Building Design, Construction and Operations industries through the power of 3D visualizations and embedded information. This evolution has allowed AEC professionals to become more productive and efficient in their processes.
Traditionally, the building design and construction process has been largely conducted via two-dimensional drawings (plans, elevations, sections, etc.). Building information modeling (BIM) extends beyond 2D and 3D drawing based design, augmenting the three primary spatial dimensions (width, height and depth) with time as the fourth dimension (4D) and cost as the fifth (5D), etc. Essentially, the building information modeling process builds a building virtually, complete with a 3D geometric representation and in-depth product and building material data, before it is physically built. This helps design and construction challenges be more likely to arise during digital design rather than in the field during construction.
A building information model is built as a compilation of "objects” that carry their geometry, relations and data attributes. Instead of creating a set of drawings to produce pages of a construction document set, with BIM, drawing views are extracted (think of digital snapshots) from the 3D model. Construction drawings are simply a bi-product of creating a digital building information model. These different drawing views are automatically consistent with each other, being based on a single definition of each object instance. BIM also defines objects parametrically; that is, the objects are defined as parameters and relationships to other objects, so that if a related object changes, dependent ones will automatically change as well.
For project teams, BIM enables a digital model to be handed from the design team (architects, civil, structural and building services engineers, etc.) to the general contractor and subcontractors and then on to the owner/operator; each professional adds discipline-specific data to the shared model(s). This reduces information losses that traditionally occurs when a new team takes 'ownership' of the project, and provides a very valuable and extensive wealth of information to owners of complex structures.