Volume 48, Issue 3- March 2013
As building information modeling (BIM) technology develops and matures, more members of the construction industry are adopting it. According to an October 2012 McGraw-Hill Construction SmartMarket Report, industry-wide adoption of BIM surged from 28 percent in 2007 to 49 percent in 2009 to 71 percent in 2012. For the first time in its usage history, the number of contractors using BIM—74 percent—surpassed the number of architects—67 percent—using the software, the report states.
Given the rapidly increasing usage of BIM, major glass and glazing companies are investigating the best way to incorporate glass color and performance utilizing BIM technology. Despite the increasingly wide use of the software in the architectural and engineering industry, BIM content for manufactured glass is typically only available for standard glass makeups, and accurate color rendering for the glass may still be only guessed at by the user.
It would be beneficial for glass and glazing companies to create BIM content that represents that extra level of detail. Recent software programs offer the ability to render accurately and also provide thermal and structural properties. This allows users to create content that benefits architects and lets them look at the details of the curtainwall and how they relate to the surrounding materials, while also providing glaziers, mechanical engineers and energy modelers with the performance data that is embedded into the BIM content.
To ensure that the glass content can be analyzed and used appropriately, the glass BIM information would have to be fully renderable, detailed and loaded with optical and thermal properties that aid in generating specifications. Due to the unique nature of glazing make-ups, there can be a distinct advantage to supplying project specific custom content. It should be more detailed and utilize the material analytics that are nested within software programs used by architects.
It is important to consider that the vast majority of accredited architectural schools in the country are teaching some form of BIM. The next generation of architects is likely to embrace this technology and accelerate its adoption and use in commercial building design. The glass and glazing industry has an opportunity to develop tools and software that truly caters to the needs of the architects. It is as clear as glass: the use of BIM is not a fad or a trend, but is rapidly becoming the way buildings are being designed.