Report from BIM CON!FAB

by John Stebbins

The BIM CON!FAB conference was held at USC on July 30 and 31, co-sponsored by the Viterbi School of Engineering and the School of Architecture. The focus of this years’ event was BIM in construction and fabrication.

Over 200 people were in attendance at this free event. My presentation was a “tag-team” with Chad Conrad of Diffenbaugh Construction. The topic of our presentation was “Constructability Modeling.” A Constructability Model is the kind of BIM model the contractor needs to receive (or have created in-house or via third parties) to enable processes like MEP Spatial Coordination, take-offs, construction sequencing (4D) and estimating (5D). We compared the Constructability Model to the Design Intent Model that the architect could provide. I discussed how to organize a BIM model that can be “handed off” to the contractor. I stressed the importance of Level of Detail (LOD) and how to know what level of detail is appropriate at each “hand-off” from design to construction to sub-contractors to owners. To see our entire presentation, check out the PDF here.

The first day venders had the podium showing off their latest BIM solutions featuring projects recently accomplished, including Onuma, Bentley, ArchiCAD (Graphisoft), Revit (Autodesk), and VectorWorks (Nemetshcek North America), Gehry Technologies, Solibri, and Synchro.

Day two was all about case studies, especially the relationship between the architect and contractor, teaming up to share the BIM process. Presenters included Gensler, Morphosis Architects, Zimmer Gunsal Frasca Architects, Morley Builders, ARUP and MATT Construction.

It was good to see a lot of Digital Vision clients at BIM CON!FAB; thank you for coming. During my presentation, I did a quick show of hands to find out who was in the audience; 75 percent were architects, 20 percent contractors, and the remaining 5 percent were engineers and specialty sub-contractors. Over three quarters of the audience had completed at least one BIM project and only a handful had completed five or more. The most telling question I asked was: “How many have shared their models with contractors?” Only three people raised their hands. This indicates that we have a lot to do to assist architects feel comfortable and confident in sharing their models for “down-stream” use in the BIM process.

The most eye-opening presentation was from my friend Mitch Boryslawaki (the guy who first exposed me to 3D architectural CAD 21 years ago) of View-by-View in San Francisco. He made us aware of how important the BIM model will be for building operations and management. He told us about a new technology for Cisco that enables building managers to monitor and manage a building from anywhere in the world using the 3D model as an interface, that is linked to a database controlled by building sensors. Check out the full article here.

The recent project View-by-View worked on using this technology, with over 6,000 sensors, is the George Lucas/Steven Spielberg School for Cinematic Arts at USC, where the BIM model was used for all systems spatial coordination and steel fabrication. The most serendipitous experience of the conference was to walk the just-opened School for Cinematic Arts building with Mitch, the architect (Urban Design Group) and structural engineer (Gregory Luth & Associates), in my humble opinion, the most beautiful building on campus.

We will inform you about next years’ event. And we encourage you to sign up for it – you will not be disappointed. Congratulations to Karen Kensek, Burcin Becerik Gerber, and Doug Noble of USC for organizing a successful event and for their dedication to keeping Southern California on the cutting edge of the BIM revolution.

Categories: General | 1 comment

One Comment

  1. [comments migrated from our old blog at]

    Name: Tony Ruiz

    Hi John, I see you’re busy as usual even in this killer economy. But are you making any money? I’m not but working on it as usual

    Name: Mike Bordenaro

    John, Thanks for the great overview of BIM!CON FAB.

    I had walked with Mitch and you through the LucasFilms Letterman Center in San Francisco and wish I could have been at this walk through. Please keep the reports coming. Mike Bordenaro

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