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Macro BIM, Big Data and New Workflows: Peter Beck Q&A

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What do you mean by "Macro BIM"?

That's something we developed internally. [By contrast], Micro BIM is what most people call BIM today. [BIM authoring tools] are wonderful for documenting what's going to be in the building, right down to the screws and the mullions, but it is not a very good tool for analyzing a building's behavior. Macro BIM works very well using algorithms to define a behavior within buildings. One example is what the [Macro BIM] software does when you pull two columns apart [in a design model]. The beam gets thicker, and it knows it needs to have more steel in it; it knows what its loads are and communicates those quantities to a database, which multiplies it against unit cost, which gives you the building cost.

So as you stretch that building, you can see the costs change or the energy usage of the building—whatever you're interested in. That's more of a [Macro BIM] building concept in that what is actually happening in the building is inferred.

In our case, we use it in parallel with conventional testing. If you're 5% off on option A, you're probably 5% off on option B, but your interest in is the Delta.

So, the industry will be seeing even more front-loading in the design process with BIM?

I think you already see it in the use of BIM as a documenting tool. The principal architect is far more involved in making decisions early on, because the principal typically has far more knowledge of putting that together. It's the production hours that are declining.

Because, once you have the digital model put together, you don't have to redraw the stairs or sections [five or six different times]. It just depends on how you want to slice the model. I think we're going to spend a lot of time programming more to meet the customer's needs. We're going to be defining the building envelope—and I don't mean just the physical envelope.

We think we're at an inflection point: The next 10 years will see more analytics software, driven by algorithms and rule sets, to find new solutions to building design and construction.

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