In Defense of BIM


I recently read an article titled, How BIM is Crushing the Art from Architecture and How to Stop It. In it, the authors, Louis Smith and Lisa Stacholy, make the argument that Building Information Modeling (BIM) is killing the ‘art’ of architecture.

Their argument? Building something in BIM requires more time and resources up front in the schematic deign phase than in a more conventional projects that don’t utilize BIM software.  This shift of resources up front minimizes design time and results in a less of artistic flare.

in defense of bim

While I agree from experience that more time and resources do get shifted to the front of a project, that doesn’t have to correlate to a static design.

At the end of the day, BIM is a tool, just like a pen and paper, and it can do as much or as little as you allow it to.   The article states,

[More time shifted to the schematic phase of the project places] intense pressure on the architect to create a quick vision and an accompanying BIM model so that the other team members can begin their design and optimization processes. This sometimes begins not long after the program has been generated and sometimes before even spatial analysis is done. In some firms — perhaps even most firms — this results in whichever intern is most effective at using BIM software tools being assigned to generate a rectangular design that meets the program and adjacency requirements. This model is intended to be a placeholder while the design architect comes up with a vision.

If an firms direction for an intern is ‘put it in a box’.  There’s something wrong.

We see the issue more along the lines that the profession is trying to use a conventional design process that is no longer relevant given our current technologies.  Simply put, if more time is required in schematic design to come up with a design then more time and resources need to be allocated there.  Hold design charettes to sift through all the ideas and come to something that makes sense.  Schematic design is meant to be where artistic expression is explored is it not?  A design architect shouldn’t be coming up with their artistic expression along the way.  The design should be set, and agreed upon with the owner and then it should be refined through the later phases.


Look at Frank Ghery, SHoP, and Zaha Hadid. All three of those firms utilize BIM software in one form or another to aid in turning their designs into reality. You’d find it hard pressing to define any of their buildings as box-like (although I see nothing wrong with a well designed box just look at Mies van der Rohe). Why have they been successful? Because they have talented people who understand the technology and intent of BIM and know how to use it.  They don’t direct interns to ‘put it in a box’, and it shows.

Berlin 27 Sept 2012 Neue Nationalgalerie,  designed by Mies van der Rohe 1968.

Lastly, this article brought to my attention 3 perspectives on BIM I’ve seen time and time again (the authors of this article falling into Tryers, Not buyers). I think it’s important to identify them so you’re not lead down the wrong path.

Blind Supporters

BIM marketers have done a great job at pushing their products. I’ve met countless people who are totally on board and think BIM is god’s saving grace to the Architecture and Engineering (A&E) industry.

What they look like: These tend to be upper management who only ever see BIM from a macro point of view.

What to be careful of: These are the people making decisions and talking to clients.  Make sure their expectations are realistic and that they know what time is required to go into the project.  Make sure they define a LOD in the contract (see below for more information on that)

For these people we’ve developed a post called Revit Essentials: For Project Managers and Owners that puts everything into perspective for them.

Tryers, Not Buyers

I’ve seen a lot of people try out BIM and quickly get frustrated that they can’t do what they want to do. Or they can… Just not as quickly as they can in their favorite CAD program. These people air on the side of, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”.

What they look like: People who have been in the profession for awhile or just people set in their ways.

What to be careful of: These people can be pretty convincing to turn your back on BIM because of their knowledge and experience.  I think in the long run that BIM is better for the industry and it’s the future so don’t give up on it or you might risk being left behind.

BIM Experts

Experts are people who have taken the time to learn BIM and try to use thee software for its full potential. When an issue arises, an expert will spend the time trying to figure out a solution to the problem instead of a work around.  If you find an expert who dislikes BIM, you let me know.

What they look like: Since BIM is fairly new, experts tend to be fairly young, often teachers, or people dedicated to training employees in BIM or managing digital BIM libraries or projects.

What to be careful of:  Experts are invested in BIM software to earn their living so they’re likely to support it.  In 10 years if there’s a new technology out, experts may be the new ‘Tryers, Not Buyers’

Hope this helps! Model that information!

This is a bit of a touchy topic. Have your own thoughts? Leave a comment below!


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  2. hamzakhan17826 May 19, 2019 at 7:16 am #

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  5. mikemoreno September 5, 2018 at 3:48 am #

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  6. jogesh12345 August 14, 2018 at 1:55 am #

    Very effective and informative article.Thanks for sharing such an important tutorial.

  7. FLMIMA August 11, 2018 at 9:20 pm #

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  8. Rumi July 15, 2018 at 7:16 am #

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  9. RJennings April 28, 2018 at 6:12 pm #

    Thank you for this website. The practice questions are helpful.

  10. Scott March 22, 2018 at 1:50 pm #

    Taking this test on Saturday. Last 4.0 exam to complete for the trio, then on to 5.0. This site is my go-to place when organizing what materials I’ll be studying

  11. shozab January 30, 2018 at 2:22 pm #

    Hi , very good article.

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  12. dyba January 27, 2018 at 1:08 am #

    Good advice. Best of luck to all!

  13. KendraShirley January 16, 2018 at 4:04 pm #

    This is my favorite site for practicing for my tests! Great advise and super helpful.

  14. reximagetrim January 16, 2018 at 10:37 am #

    Nice post to read. A complete guide that can help all of us.

  15. tylerstockholm December 17, 2017 at 9:37 pm #

    Nice one… very helpful! Thanks!!!

  16. Aartiwalvekar November 21, 2017 at 8:56 am #

    Nice post

  17. Aartiwalvekar October 9, 2017 at 9:45 pm #

    Great post!

  18. Tony August 30, 2017 at 7:07 am #

    In the NCARB ARE 5.0 handbook they reference Fundamentals of Building Construction: Materials and Methods in both of their example questions for cost estimating. Unfortunately there isn’t a specific chapter on cost estimating, it’s woven throughout the content.

  19. Spencer August 30, 2017 at 1:15 am #

    What is the best reference for cost estimating for PDD.

  20. Amy July 26, 2017 at 3:24 pm #

    Thanks! Great advice

  21. Tony June 29, 2017 at 7:23 am #

    Deciduous trees should only be used for shade (especially in temperate climates). Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall and will have little protection against wind in the winter when it is most needed. Likewise, the leafless trees allow solar heat gain in the winter when it is desired, and shade in the summer.

    Coniferous trees are only to be used to block wind and views. Since they don’t lose their needles, they work great for these two items year-round.

  22. Shahid Logan June 28, 2017 at 4:50 pm #

    Hello. My name is Shahid. This comment is for anyone who would like to reply. On the Siteplanning test. To block the wind, can you use a Deciduous tree or must you use a Coniferous tree?

  23. Mike January 4, 2017 at 11:04 am #

    Hi Tony,

    I need to take 5.0 PPD & PDD. Do you plan on posting notes such as “Caroline’s Notes” that you had posted for the various 4.0 exams for either of those sections? I found those notes to be some of the best resources in studying for the 4.0 sections. If so any idea when? Thanks

  24. Stephen October 17, 2016 at 9:30 pm #

    Hi Tony,
    Any updates on the SS exam ? If there’s an expected release date ? Thanks

  25. DesignerHacks October 4, 2016 at 12:11 pm #


    We are releasing practice exams for the SS exam later this fall.


  26. Paige October 4, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    Will you have SS questions on here at some point?

  27. Daniel September 9, 2016 at 8:47 am #

    Great post, very helpful with the lists of suggested materials, I just passed CDs in July and am taking PPP in November so I definitely needed the list.

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