Following the construction industry and related legal topics in the United States.


Friday, October 13, 2006

Very Confusing Acronyms (VCA)

Two recent articles explore new developments in the evolving world of digital modeling. One in Engineering-News Rocord (ENR), Digital Virtuosos, and the other by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), BIM Update. I read the articles and was awash in acronyms. Here is a quick cheat sheet so you can nod your head intelligently when a computer savvy designer or contractor half your age talks with you about digital modeling.

We'll start off easy - Computer-Aided Design (CAD). A few decades ago, design firms transitioned from paper to CAD. National CAD Standard (NCS) - Here an acronym gets absorbed into another acronym. With the introduction of CAD, there was a need for information standards and support from CAD companies which was slow coming. NCS was born.

Now things get more sophisticated. International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI) is an organization dedicated to the development of a standard universal framework to enable and encourage information sharing and interoperability throughout all phases of the whole building life cycle. IAI developed Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs), which are defined by the design, construction and facility management industry to provide a foundation for the shared project model which specify classes of things in an agreed-upon manner enabling the development of a common language for construction.

While CAD just mimicked drafting, Building Information Modeling (BIM) can harness the power of computers to add real value for designers, contractors, owners, subcontractors and suppliers. According to the new Contractors' Guide to BIM published by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), BIM "is a data-rich, object-oriented, intelligent parametric digital representation of the facility, from which views and data appropriate to various user needs can be extracted and analyzed to generate information that can be used to make decisions and improve the process of delivering the facility." Going further, Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) builds upon BIM, incorporating the organization of the project and processes of the design and construction team. Going further still, Program Information Management (PIM) incorporates relative project content into a single relational database.

Since I think you have had enough, I will save further discussion on International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI), National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), and the Industry Standards Organization (ISO) for another blog entry...

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