Sean Olah insight DB8A8836Wyatt Design Group’s Facility Designer and resident BIM & Autodesk Revit expert, Sean Olah, Assoc. AIA, sat down with Tracy Balsz to provide his insight on the growing use of the Building Information Modeling (BIM) process being utilized in the design of attractions and themed environments.

It is a current trend to use the industry-changing software and 3D design tools on all forms of design, and one that WDG welcomes and is quickly learning how best to support.  BIM has been used in traditional architecture and structural mechanical engineering for the past decade.   The attractions industry is just now catching up and starting to use it internationally.

What is BIM?

Building Information Modeling is an intelligent model-based process that provides insight to help you plan, design, construct and manage buildings and infrastructure. The process uses specialized software to create a 3D model based on intelligence gathered from all parties involved.  Before, there would be 10 different sets of drawings, from 10 different suppliers/contributors.  With BIM all disciplines are consolidated in one drawing set.  Similar to Photoshop, individual drawings are layered to create one complete image, while allowing to review/update each individual layer as needed.   One of the most popular software applications for BIM is Revit (Autodesk), which is what is used in the office at WDG.

“BIM gets the right information to the right people at the right time.“  -Sean Olah, Assoc. AIA

What is the process?

The BIM Modeling process is very different from the traditional design process.  In a traditional process, time and effort ramp up and peak at the construction document level based on the necessary man hours needed to develop and properly record all details.  In a BIM Modeling process, this peak effort is shifted to early in the design process in order to better integrate all disciplines.

In the BIM process, the project architects are usually the holders of the model.  They send project-specific requirements to vendors and consultants, who provide feedback via the software’s programming.  Once the design information is collected, an easily sharable model is produced and disseminated back to the contributing teams.  The real time development of the BIM model allows for structural, HVAC, life and safety teams, etc., to be more active in the design process, which insures better results.

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What are the benefits?

The benefits of sharing in the BIM process are that intelligent and integrated design decisions can be more quickly reached.  Where as in a traditional design process, integration happens at a much later stage.  With BIM, design decisions happen as the design is taking shape, making a much more comprehensive product.  This helps not only in design, but with operations as well.  Everyone on the project is able to prepare a cohesive schedule and meet predetermined expectations.

However, the largest benefit of the BIM modeling process is the advantage it brings to the thematic or environmental designer.  Being able to access a completely accurate 3D model in the early stages of design provides designers the ability to catch misalignments and anomalies; these discrepancies can become costly changes if not addressed.  As a designer, the ability to alter a design due to cost or facility impact in the early stages of development is priceless.

Is there a difference in how BIM is used for the attractions industry?

The attractions industry doesn’t necessarily use BIM in a different manner than the Architect of Record, but rather in the way our industry supports the BIM process–which is to stay ahead of the design curve.  In other words, thematic or attraction-related design must be well advanced in the level of detail so that the 3D modeling process can fully respond to its requirements and integrate with other disciplines.

As designers, we are constantly exploring new mediums for design communication. BIM has aligned itself with the preferred design process and, as such, we need to restructure our method to better fit within its sequential approach, but it’s worth it.  When the BIM process incorporates the thematic and attraction-related design early in the modeling process, it’s more likely these important details can be executed as intended.  The key is to provide enough time to allow the process to work as it should, which is a challenge for today’s typical “fast-track”, “schedule-driven” projects.

What prompted you to learn BIM?

I have always been interested in what technology can do for our business.  If we learn to accept this technology as part of the creative design process, we can produce a better product.  The ultimate goal is to provide the best possible experience for our guests, and BIM is the tool to get us there.

Wyatt Design Group is currently fully embracing this integrated technology into the design process.  It has its challenges, but we believe it holds an undeniable value to the company’s workflow, and are eager to explore the possibilities it brings to the table.

Is it difficult to learn?

The software is not at all difficult to learn, and an 8-hour class can give you enough background of how to use the program at a basic level.  Best to just jump in the deep end!  The more of us who embrace this technology, the easier and more efficient our work flow will become.

Who should learn it?

All disciplines of design.  We hope to eventually use BIM for every project we collaborate on, large and small.