Architects Poised to Take Industry Leadership

With the advent of BIM Level 2 and data driving the industry’s future, there are not only changes to the technology, process and delivery, but also to the leadership playing field.

The BIM process requires that data is brought together (federated). This enables interrogation to take place in a more controlled and visible environment. Consequently, architects find themselves able to take more control of the whole design process.

BIM magnifies architects’ role

Working in BIM dictates its own workflows, with studios having to detach their historic ways of doing business. For a design studio, it is not a question of learning software, but more a question of becoming familiar with the whole process. And with all the information at their fingertips, architects are in the right position to lead this process.

Scott Berry, Managing Director of Applecore Designs Limited, says, “Architects have the best understanding of the design and direct communication with the client – both verbally and graphically – ultimately acting as the champions for the project vision.”

So, how can architects take on this leadership role most effectively?

Provide value to clients

There are five key roles the architect plays in the client-architect relationship:

1. Championing the project vision
2. Listening and understanding client needs
3. Actively engaging in and generating connections with clients
4. Providing technically outstanding work
5. Striving to learn and improve on existing skills

It is clear that architects need to look beyond traditional deliverables at how they can offer much more information to the client. Applying standards, using open workflows and validating data can provide significant value especially in the ‘technical design’, ‘construction’ and ‘in use’ phases of the project. N.B. This enhanced role for the architect could even be aligned with that of the Information Manager: handling data, project information, collaborative working and information exchange.

RIBA plan of work for architects

Account for data from their digital models

Architects must be able to simultaneously account for data and information derived from their digital models. BIM data can be used to illustrate the entire building life-cycle, from inception and design to demolition and reuse of material. It allows architects to truly present a complete, coordinated design that does not require interpretation. Open, structured data will provide long-term, future-proofed value. Studios that derive value from their data will have a distinct advantage over their competitors.

Use open collaboration tools

When it comes to technology and workflow, architects and other members of the supply chain should look at key tools that use ‘open’ common standards. BIM is about collaboration, and IFC is the open format to allow that collaboration. The federated model (shown below) is not only platform independent, but is the preferred method of collaboration in the UK. This workflow ensures that each discipline is responsible for the creation, development and change management of their model, and clearly defines responsibilities and ownership.

Federated model for architect collaboration

Check designs and correct issues

As the author of the architectural model, the architect can check designs prior to delivery to the construction company and/or building owner. Identifying and correcting issues, even at early stages of the design, would avoid using resources to re-work, ultimately providing a more cost effective delivery.

Scott says, ‘It is clear that architects will ultimately be the leaders of the BIM process, as their pivotal role makes them best suited to leadership. And, as we have seen, the key to leadership is BIM data’.

Applecore Designs specialises in the implementation of design software solutions (BIM authoring and validation) and services (training and coaching) for architecture and the building industry. For software enquiries, contact us here or call us on 0121 447 7747.