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Birmingham City University City Centre Campus Development

Building Information Modelling for the optimisation of Facilities Management: A Case Study Review

Authors Victoria Fillingham Technologies for Sustainable Built Environments Centre, University of Reading, UK Adrian Malone Faithful+Gould Stephen R. Gulliver Henley Business School, University of Reading, UK

CONTENTS About the Projects Projects stages Design Construction Operation Learning and Insights Recommendations for the Future

05 06 08 10 12 14 18


Case Study The Birmingham City University Parkside Development is an innovative project that pushed the boundaries of known construction methods and practices, by mandating Building Information Modelling (BIM) with the desire of achieving optimal performance for the complete life of the asset. A strategy for whole-life thinking that was wholeheartedly decided upon and governed by the operational requirements of the user; starting with the end in mind. This lessons learned case study has been compiled through the analysis of a series of interviews, jointly undertaken by members


of Faithful+Gould and the Technologies for Sustainable Built Environment Centre (TSBE), at the University of Reading. The research is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and aims to progressively analyse the use of Building Information Modelling as a tool for the ongoing Operation and Maintenance of our Built Assets. This lesson learned documentation is a summary of a larger research paper, to be published at a later date.

About the Project Birmingham City University is one of the UK’s largest universities, serving around 25,000 students, situated in Britain’s second largest city. As a part of the University’s legacy strategy their £180million investment is helping them to consolidate their assets, by adding two brand new facilities within the heart of the city centre campus. The two-phased project sees the construction of the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (BIAD), and a new Student Centre, with additional teaching and administrative facilities.

Utilising BIM for Facilities Management presented the Estates team with a solution to the common problem of missing archives and incomplete asset information, long associated with the traditional methods of management. It was their ambition of developing a single database of both 3-dimensional, graphical model data, and the associated document information; which could then be used to manage all activities run within the University – including administration processes such as room bookings and timetabling.

A significant goal of the client team was for a solution that enabled better management throughout the operational life of the building, post completion and hand-over.

A fully-coordinated, ‘clash-resolved’ BIM model was a key output, with this being the core deliverable that will be used to continually manage the ‘forward planning’ and ‘reactive’ maintenance schedules of the facilities.

For Birmingham City University, the use of Building Information Modelling gave them the appropriate leverage to enhance their process for managing and maintaining their new facilities, and the wider estate, for future years to come. The University’s Estates team has worked with structured information for many years, yet BIM offered them an opportunity for developing their method of collection, whilst consolidating their existing relational databases.

The Birmingham City University project, was one of the first of its kind in the UK; making BIM for FM a key aspect of the complete decision making process for design, construction and operation. Phase 1 – completed in June 2013 – has delivered a complex building incorporating challenging service loads to support specialist media and teaching equipment. Despite this, Phase 1 has successfully achieved a BREEAM rating of Excellent, and an EPC rating of B; a gallant achievement by all involved.


Project Initiation Originally first conceived back in 2008, the aspirations to adopt Building Information Modelling for the Parkside Project were some three years in advance of the publication of the UK Government’s BIM Strategy, which subsequently acted as a catalyst for the wider adoption of BIM in the construction sector. Inspiration came from the need to enhance the existing, generic approach to document storage and information sharing. BIM provided the client with an opportunity to test out the grey areas of how best to store and manage their operational documentation,

“It was more about the end product, as opposed to how the contractor used BIM through the design and construction stages.” “The project was truly pioneering; well ahead of its time!” Richard Draper Birmingham City University Estates Department

The use of digital technologies and information modelling were not seen to hinder the project, with the team simply considering them as ‘project unknowns’; a means for altering the mindset and the environment within which the project would be developed. However, even through the enthusiasm and excitement for getting to grips with new techniques, there was still a level of scepticism about the use of BIM. Some of the team members had prior experience of using BIM software, but none had worked with shared data across a project team, using Information Modelling to deliver a co-ordinated approach to design. Additional support and a level of persuasion were required for some, allowing them to reach the technical demand necessary for the project, and truly feel comfortable committing to BIM.


Training was an essential undertaking. Running group sessions gave the team the opportunity for each member to familiarise themselves with each other’s software - comparatively understanding the strengths and difficulties that will be combated through the project programme. Training in this manner was fundamental in giving the project team the correct perspective for ongoing collaborative working, delivering the project as a unit and not as an individual discipline. Yet the point must be made that however detailed and successful the training sessions were in preparing the team, they were run at a time of early BIM-adoption. Those that were claiming they were experts in BIM, did not necessarily have all of the answers. There was still awareness from everyone involved, that there would be persistent development of understanding, evolving progressively throughout the entire five years of the project. Some of the additional costs for initial implementation of BIM were then reflected in the fee levels, mirroring the client’s belief that savings would be realised further downstream. The project had been procured in the traditional OJEU manner; with the original design team being novated at Stage E, and the main contractor appointed subject to a competitive three-stage tender procedure – a decision to minimise inherent risks. The University’s priorities for BIM were an integral part of the initial appraisal; yet when it came to defining the exact requirements for BIM as a deliverable, support was necessary to clarify the specific parameters for the software and the model. “What to hand-over” was a question that, at this stage, did not have a definitive answer. Specifications were written with space to be further developed at later stages of the project.As a document, the BIM Protocol had to take account of the differing views of the companies forming the supply chain team, and the differing requirements of each discipline. Lack of experience of the BIM-process resulted in numerous misunderstandings from all parties, which then lead to complications and information coordination issues. In the absence of any precedents to follow, creation of the document was therefore an iterative process of continual testing, implementation and subsequent refinement.

A single comprehensive document was compiled to contain elements of the Employers Information Requirements (EIR) and the BIM Execution Plan (BEP), both now set out within PAS 1192 “Specification for information management for the capital/delivery phase of construction projects using building information modelling”, which was published towards the end of Phase 1. Soft Landings was also considered at this stage, with the traditional BSRIA documentation taken for guidance. This was used to inform the appropriate level of support for the period of aftercare; detailed and tendered for within the initial tender documentation. Design software was specified by the client, with the project team instructed to use Autodesk Revit for all design-based tasks; a decision that was initially based on an understanding of the software from members of the Services Engineers, and an overriding awareness of the state of the BIM-software market at the time of project initiation. Mandating a single authoring software for all to use, meant that issues of interoperability and exchange of information were significantly reduced.

In 2010, when design development truly began, Industry Foundation Classes and the COBie derivative were far from faultless; they were seen to add unnecessary complications and were therefore avoided, a decision that is still maintained by the client and lead designers. From an early stage in the project, the client team made it clear it was their intention to have a BIM Management role in place, for the entirety of the project. Initially this responsibility was undertaking by the lead designer, with the role later passing to an external party during the construction phase. Associated Architects worked with BCU to establish an ownership matrix, so that every model element was plotted out, with details of who owned it and at what stage that element would be ‘complete’ and live within the project. Strategically mapping out the process in such a manner meant that co-ordinating the individual discipline models within a single model space was run smoothly and successfully. It was decided that throughout the design phase, BIW and Navisworks would both be used for exchanging and co-ordinating model data; a decision that would later change at handover to the contractors.


Design Design development followed the traditional route set out in the guidelines of the – now superseded - RIBA Plan of Work. Throughout stages A to E the developing model was used to inform and consult stakeholders, a process that Lead Architect James Hall described as “probably the biggest exercise in stakeholder engagement that we’ve ever done as a practice!” The model files were used to create rendered images and animated walk-through’s, providing the client’s stakeholder team with a combined representation of the structural, architectural, mechanical and electrical, and landscaping solutions for the proposed design. Allowing the users to provide direct feedback on the design prior to any works commencing on site, consequently meant that additional construction costs, typically experienced with a traditional (nonBIM) process, could be avoided. End-of-stage review meetings meant that lessons learnt from both University teaching staff and facilities management operatives could be captured and feed into further developments. Having 3-dimensional visuals of the space gave the users greater awareness of the proposal, a process that was perceived by all to be highly successful and of great value. However, with such a detailed model at their disposal, it was questioned by some, whether the model could be better utilised during this process? BCU’s Estates team plan to explore the possible ways in which they could use of the live model for stakeholder engagement, throughout the development of Phase 2 of the project.

Prior to the appointment of the main contractor, responsibility for information management was contractually held by the lead designer; however, the University maintained a project management role throughout. At each key stage of the project a detailed report was generated, which was then given to the client team to sign-off. The 3-dimensional model files were themselves not used significantly during this process, instead basing the signoff criteria on model status reports and key design deliverables.

Utilising BIM throughout the development of the design allowed the Quantity Surveyors greater predictability; with clarity of the intended finishes, structural composition and design intent being given at an early point in the development. At stages where elevations and sections are not permitted, the simple action of rotating and manipulating the model meant that early-stage assumptions and measurements were reasonable and justified.

Discussions regularly took place to progressively re-evaluate the protocol parameters, developing them at each stage. A lack of discipline within the modelling itself often caused unnecessary confusion; elements weren’t as robust as they necessarily needed to be, which then caused inherent issues during later stages.

Initially, the surveying team would use BIM as an aid of confirming their traditional methods of measurement. Yet as the project progressed, capability within the team developed, enhancing their ability to interrogate measurements more freely through the manipulation of model views. Turning elements and layers off once a quantification was completed, for example the furniture, fixtures and equipment, allowed the consultants to access other areas of the design much more rapidly. Cost-significant items were easily quantified within the 3-dimensional space by quick interrogation of the model. The utilisation of BIM as a primary tool for analysis consequently lead to a far more robust planning of project costs.


During the design phase, an extranet system was used to facilitate a Common Data Environment. All modelling data was stored in the same raw format and then held within the common structure, allowing for clarity of understanding when it came to discussing and resolving issues. It was agreed in project initiation that by Stage C of development, a comprehensive Revit model would be in place, co-ordinating all disciplines into a single federated model. This would then be used to continually co-ordinate further developments, reducing the repetition and recreation of ‘drawn’ elements. Design review meetings were held on a monthly cycle, attended by all relevant members of the project team. Co-ordinated model files were issued in advance of the meetings, with the model then actively being used during the review and discussion – a valuable addition to the process. For Phase 2 of the development, the frequency for the co-ordinated review of the models has been increased to a fortnightly cycle, enhancing the level of collaboration further.

Clear confidence in the content of the model was essential for the team’s willingness to work collaboratively to continue. Model accuracy is still a challenge for the industry to achieve the necessary confidence in the modelling itself. By capturing knowledge and experiences from each discipline and feeding them back into the structure, the robustness of the document ensured that a ‘single truth’ was kept to by all.

With regards to the actual level of detail of the models, the design teams followed the guidelines set out at each project stage. Due to the fact that the old version of the Plan of Work was written in advance of the BIM Strategy being published, there was little consideration given to the detailing of BIM models. The team found that there was too much detail at points where it wasn’t required, overloading the size of the models and slowing down the process of manipulation; the models were often too developed. Allowances were therefore made to try and combat this issue. For example, it was deemed sufficient to record location, routing and attachment of the ducting, whilst only cable trays and sockets were modelled for the electrical installations, with the fine grain detailing of the wires being selectively omitted. There was a process of stripping out all of the excess data not necessary for either visualisation or facility management purposes; removing 60% of the information, leaving a more manageable set of models. Clash detection was perceived by the project team as both useful and problematic. Too great an emphasis has often been placed on the process by the industry, yet the team found that it often caused inane hold-ups and drawn-out reviews. They were advised by external consultants to change their priorities from a ‘clash-free’ model to one that is ‘clash-resolved’. Making this simple change meant that the number of clashes that were appearing and re-appearing, were significantly reduced.

For example, representation of pedestals in the model presented challenges from the way in which the software was rendering the curved surface. By eliminating the curvature and simplifying each of these elements, the model size was significantly reduced resulting in a more useable model size in terms of software performance. Prioritising a clear definitive list of elements essential for decisionmaking at specific stages of the project, is a way of preparing against this issue of overloading models, and meant the client team were delivered a model suited to their operational needs. One of the main flaws of BIM, discovered during this project, was the inability to integrate the thermal modelling analysis within the progressive model. This links back to the discipline within the modelling itself, where certain drawn information was not translatable from the Autodesk Revit platform, into the relevant thermal analysis software. The team found it quite disappointing that after spending such time and effort on enhancing the detail of the model, they were then required to go away and remodel an element, just to enable a different type of software to read and manipulate it. A solution is needed from the industry to answer the question of how best to integrate the technical modelling with the specialist strategies for environmental and performance analysis.

The Architects also made a point of running analysis into which component-parts of the model file not only created clashes, but amplified the memory requirement of the model. Graphical representation of some design elements required consideration.


construction Upon appointment of the Main Contractor (Willmott Dixon), responsibility for model management and information coordination was passed to them from the Lead Designer. Initially they were aided in this process by an external BIM consultant, however in time, the contractor assumed this role directly. At Stage E of the project, a decision was made for an internal BIM Manager to be appointed within the University’s Estates team. The University saw the appointment as crucial for the ongoing management of the project, responsible for ensuring the required BIM deliverables were being provided by the design team, pushing the supply chain towards the required level of adoption. The BIM Manager was influential in the management of both the models and documentation, working closely with the contractor team to ensure the emerging BIM database would meet the initial requirements for ongoing utilising in operation. The contractors mandated the use of extranet software for the remainder of the programme. Moving away from the original platform halfway through development caused some frustration for the existing members of the project team. Earlier involvement by the contractor was not permitted by the procurement route selected for this project, however would have potentially avoided this issue. The decision to mandate the Autodesk suite of tools had been successful throughout the early stages of design development; however it now presented certain challenges. The Autodesk Revit package provided tools for detailing structure, space and aesthetics; however Revit MEP did not – in the view of the contractor team – provide all the functionality required for the creation of the MEP design deliverable. External tools were used to complete the comprehensive Services model, which was then fed back into Autodesk software; a tiresome task for the Services Contractor team that has now since been part-solved through changes to the available software. Even though the core measurement work had at this stage of the project, now been completed, the Quantity Surveyors continually utilised the model as a ‘sense-check’. Monitoring


the developments made by the contractors, to ensure that the original design objectives and overriding budget were maintained. The project team did find that throughout the entire process of construction, there were very few co-ordination issues leading to consultations with the design team; unusual when comparing a project of this size and complexity with traditional routes. Utilisation of the model for the construction programming was not done for Phase 1 of this project. At the time of commencing on site, there was not an overriding need from the construction operatives to use digital technologies or information management in the manner that BIM offered, for the programming of events on site. However for Phase 2; Autodesk’s BIM 360 Field is being used as a commissioning, snagging and permit issuing system. The hope being that all of the relevant information collected during construction will be held within the single environment of 360 Field, integrating with the models much easier than was achieved during Phase 1. If the model provided at handover were to be fully usable for operational management and maintenance of the facilities, it is essential that it should accurately represent the as-built conditions. For the client, ensuring they had the confidence in the model itself was imperative, before they then could then take it forward and sell the concept for potential other uses of the model within the University. Validation of the model was an area where the project team had most concern. As this was such a pioneering project, there was little, if any, guidance from previous projects to draw upon. There were portions of the BIM Protocol that lacked specific definition and were therefore interpreted differently across the supply chain. Being one of the first fully co-ordinated BIM projects in the UK also meant that choosing the right words to define an ‘as-built’ model as a contractual requirement proved to be challenging. There will always be tolerances that govern the accuracy of the built asset, but in terms of validating the model, the question is when and

how is it updated to mirror the as-built conditions?! Who takes ultimate responsibility for validating the content and its accuracy? Maintaining emphasis on the accuracy of the collated record data for use post-handover, the University included a requirement for photographs to be taken above ceilings and below floors throughout construction. These digital photographs have subsequently been referenced into the model, now in use by the Estates team. Use of Laser Scanning surveying is a secondary method currently being trialled by the Client on Phase 2 of the University redevelopment, with the intention to further validate the ‘as-built’ model against the constructed building; ensuring tolerances of the 3-dimensional geometry were as originally intended. Co-ordination of this process presented a new challenge for the Main Contractor, who was required to manage both the process of photography and the scanning of the facility, alongside the construction sequence. Difficulties were found when more than one service was on-site at one time. Work was unable to stop for the required time for scanning a space, as this would negatively affect the programme, yet as it was

a contractual obligation, sacrifices had to be made. Laser scanning presented some challenges for the contractor, with it being at times quite difficult to co-ordinate the scanning process so as to not disrupt works on site. Use of BIM for 4D scheduling could have potentially resolved this issue. Validating the models for such a complicated structure, during the tightly restricted programme of construction, demanded all three co-ordination parties to work closely together, to get the desired end result. Referencing and structuring the models was achieved through a collaborative approach by the Contractor’s BIM Co-ordinator, the Lead Designer’s BIM Co-ordinator and the University’s BIM Manager. Together they rectified anomalies and differences between the models and the constructed facility, collating the associated documentation into a manner aligned with the Estates team’s FM database; a process that happened right at the very last moment of construction. Still the question remains of how they’re going to successfully ensure that not only is the geometric data correct, but also the exact referencing documentation is held within the system; a question that will only be answered through greater exploration from the industry.


Operation Birmingham City University had made it clear their main objective was to have workable data that could be transferrable, and utilised for the operational maintenance and management of the asset post-handover, it was vital that the project team found a solution that could support all the client’s desires. Upon first conception, there was not a single software solution that delivered the complete package. A number of solutions were discussed. Initially a solution was selected to support the operational phase. BIM-software was rapidly evolving at the time, leading to alternative solutions being discussed throughout the design and construction stages of the project. A package was identified, which offered the client sufficient advantages to justify switching to the new tool part way through the project. The new tool was a product called ‘Vela’, which provided a solution to combine the 3D model and all of the asset data, with a relational database of associated documentation. Tablet-based functionality was an important priority for the Estates team, allowing for adaptability and freedom of transportation, giving an extra level of ‘understanding’ across campus, rather than being restricted by location via a desktop-based solution. Ease of functionality was another vital element. With the work force within Estates having been a part of the team for a number of years, the client was aware there would be hesitation if the suggestion for change was too complex, or different! Illustrative of the rapid pace of change in BIM software, having switched to Vela as the chosen solution, Vela was acquired by Autodesk and further developed into what is now BIM 360 Field. Birmingham City University was one of the very first projects to utilise the solution. Exporting the relevant information into a ready format, suited to the ongoing programme maintenance was enabled by the interoperability between the modelling software, and BIM 360 Field. With the potential for being quite a testing task, the fact that the raw formats were from a similar family derivative, ensured that all the data could be transferred simply and quickly.


Configuration of the data was a continual process throughout the end period of construction and into the post-handover phase of the project. In the beginning, there were several lists of information holding all the possible data required by a Facilities Management team. They were initially developed by an external BIM consultant – Excitech – working with Willmott Dixon in the preparation of tender documents; then further developed and refined by the Client and Project Team during the course of the construction phase. As the team gained experience of BIM, they were able to simplify and reduce the amount of data required at handover, by selecting out data which would be superfluous post handover. Further refinement was iteratively completed during the lead up to hand-over, with the University’s BIM Manager continuing to optimise the model specification up to and beyond completion. Preparing the models for operation was a process of trial and error. The Estates team was challenged to successfully export and transfer a single operative model, in the correct format, at a reduced memory capacity. The end solution was to link both models and the associated database of information within the model space, and not to combine the raw-format models as originally thought. It has also drawn to light the question of whether traditional methods for presenting Operation & Maintenance documentation are still the correct form when applied to BIM. For O&M manuals to truly work with a BIM model, should they not be re-configured and prepared in a completely different manner? These questions are something that the Estates team are continually testing and developing. Soft Landings was procured at the same time as the main contractors were tendered for and appointed. At such an early stage in the project, the University’s approach to contracting for a set amount of after-care service was very general with a certain lack of detail, which lead to interpretations of what was required being quite varied across the supply chain. The support system – even though it was mixed – was, on a whole

successful; involving the end-users from Day 1 in structured sessions that were then fed back into the design, has been in the opinion of the client, a very worthwhile process. The awareness gained from going through the Soft Landings process on Phase 1 was then transferred across to Phase 2. Instead of linking the structure and contractual requirements back to the principle first introduced by BSRIA, the client team have had physical deliverables to use as a precedent and the main basis for the Soft Landing Specification. The University’s aim for Phase 2 is to maintain a resource on site, not just from the contractors, but for the designers to also have a presence if necessary; all contracted from the off-set of the project.

and train their technicians to gain the most from everyday operational maintenance and management. The presence of the services contractors on-site has enabled the team to focus less on the physical workings of the building – snagging those areas that aren’t meeting expected performance rates – and concentrate more on developing their use of BIM for FM. As an extension of the University’s priorities for BIM, the Estates team is also considering the application of 3-dimensional laser scanning to holistically map the remainder of the University’s estate. The map will then form the basis onto which further construction works will be created or updated within the model, creating an estate wide over time.

This initial period of aftercare is being utilised by the Estates team to test the limitations of the BIM 360 Field software, continually discovering how best they may utilise the interface,


Learning and Insights The Birmingham City University Parkside project has given an invaluable insight into the demands of working with BIM; the struggles and triumphs, the pain and the rewards that the process of Building Information Modelling can bring.

Forthcoming clients can have a large influence in the success of a project – in terms of the ongoing management of information – but it is the ultimate goal of an information model that allows for an open method of working, demanding collaboration.

BIM Protocols

The greatest benefit from working with BIM “is when you’re involved earlier, for a longer period of time, taking full advantage of the experience continually throughout the project, rather than for a restricted time period.” (Richard Pearce).

Learning from Phase 1 has been drawn upon for the specification of the Phase 2 BIM deliverables, the methods of data exchange and overall approach to project development. Understanding the everyday and long-term functions of the team, will help to create a clearly defined set of limitations that aim to improve productivity through the manipulation of project data; and not over-complicating processes just because BIM offers over and above what is normally expected. Try and be as certain as you can about what you want the final product to be, from the outset. Mapping out the process and the outcomes – even if it’s a really crude structure – will help to define how each member of the team approaches the project; using BIM as a stepping stone to reach beyond construction to the desired end product.

Collaboration BIM provides an evolution of working strategies and approaches to project delivery. As the development of software and theories continues to enhance the practicalities of a construction project, there is still a requirement for people to work together as a team, and be prepared to adapt to the changes that BIM can bring. “You’ve got to get your heads together a lot more often than you probably more traditionally would; and be open to just working together.” (Richard Draper)


Common Data Environment Developing precise methods for exchanging project data in the initial stages eases the transition of information throughout the project. By providing each member of the design team the means to access the same set of shared modelling data, held within the same raw format, allowed for clarity of understanding when it came to discussions and the resolving of issues. Collaboration was enabled and made much simpler, because a single standard of exchange was mandated from the very beginning of the project. Yet you must also be “open and honest about the possibility of change in the future”. Having an awareness of the limitations of software; knowing that the chosen authoring software may be the correct solution during the time of set up and initiation doesn’t mean that it will be the most efficient solution in years to come. Making decisions that will allow for easy conversion into alternative solutions will make for smooth transition and extended longevity of deliverables.

Stakeholder Engagement

Model Validation

Utilising the model for the engagement of consultants and supply chain collaborators aided co-ordination and enhanced greater overall awareness of the project. Knowing how to present the model, illustrating spatial relationships and expected finishes through rendered images and walkthrough illustrations, to give a clear explanation of the final product. Offering stakeholders the opportunity to easily interpret the planned solution; project strength enhanced through BIM.

Having highly intelligent software that allows greater exploration of space and ideas is fantastic for more efficient modelling of information, however there is still a necessity to do some additional hand calculations and overall checks, to make sure the model is doing exactly what you want it to be doing, and that there aren’t any areas that may have been overlooked. Aligning the review process with the RIBA Stage gateways, further supported by strategic reviews part-way through a stage, ensured the design was continuing in the right direction and the standard of information was being maintained. It was necessary for the entire project team to have an understanding of what was expected from the Stage models. Instead of assuming the entirety of the data was complete and co-ordinated, reviewing the model in terms of what it is for, and what it is trying to illustrate at that particular point in the project will reduce inconsistencies. Although there is a further necessity to have guidelines in place that will support the overriding process of validating the model, and all data held within it. In order to have complete confidence in the model, the information must be accurate.

However there are further opportunities to be had from taking the model beyond the extents of the project team, and engaging with clients and the users. Developing a method for the simplification of the model so that it may be used as a live tool for the engagement of stakeholders is learning that is still to be achieved, yet when done, will expand the potentials of BIM to another dimension. A missed opportunity from the BCU project!

Quantifying Cost BIM has allowed Faithful+Gould to provide a greater appreciation of costs at an earlier stage in the project; to take very quick views of initial figures and feedback directly to the designers with comments and improvements. Having the opportunity to challenge elements of the design not only saves on abortive work, but provides a commercial outlook to the project. Conversations about quantities and costs were more insightful from the simplification of the process within the modelling interface, with each project team member taking greater ownership of improving project outcomes. Frustrations were felt, however, when automatic extraction of certain layers, levels and elements was not available, without supplementary interpretation. Further work is needed to reduce file sizes without extracting the ability to manipulate the model during quantification, in a similar manner to that of design.

Thermal Modelling From a design point of view, huge project benefits would come from successfully linking calculation software to that of design development. Large sections of time were spent on this project, attempting to adapt design models into a form readable by the IES software. Figures were then manually imputed back into the models so that the editing capability could be used to convey environmental impacts and areas of concern. Incorporating thermal modelling and better integrating with standardised modelling practices would be a development for the future; a seen advantage from all members of the project team.

Designing for Facilities Management The project enabled the clients to re-evaluate their whole system for managing their portfolio of assets into a more intelligent solution, moving away from a repository of information. Having a willingness to test the possibilities of Information Management and BIM for the potential optimisation of Facilities Management; understanding the base level metrics required for maintenance and management and developing a strategy and a set of outputs based on those will result in the greatest success. “It’s pushing the envelope beyond possibly a crude model that sits on a that you can get information all types of user level, and then physically use it as a tool to help you navigate your way around buildings. It’s just about exploring the possibilities.” (Peter Cochrane) ‘Soft Landings’ was a key part of comprehensively preparing for handover and the facilities’ operational life. “We wouldn’t have the building we’ve got now for Phase 1 if we hadn’t have been involved during that process.” (Richard Draper) Bringing the expertise and insider knowledge from the University’s Estates team into the process of developing the design, altered certain perspectives and enabled the designers to critique with a slightly heightened set of priorities. It will be when the Soft Landings period is over, and the facilities are managed by the University’s team, that the true interpretation of BIM from an operational point of view, will become apparent. 


project team City Centre Development Project Team



Birmingham City University

Employers Agent & Cost Consultant



Associated Architects

Structural Engineers


Services Engineers



Willmott Dixon


Recommendations for the Future From the Client Try and be as certain as you can about what you want that final product to be; try and have that road mapped from day one, even if it’s a very crude structure!

Validation of the information; in order to get total buy-in at all levels the information has got to be right. Peter Cochrane Birmingham City University Estates Department

From the Architects I think as a topic it’s established itself as though we’ve reinvented the wheel. We’ve gone from a normal tyre to one with a bit of Kevlar in it so you get fewer punctures. You’re doing the same processes you always did, just in a more consolidated fashion; you still get a finished building, but you’ve used software better. The bottom line – just don’t panic! James Hall Associated Architects

From the Contractors

You’ve got to get your heads together a lot more often than you probably more traditionally would; be open to just working together. Richard Draper Birmingham City University Estates Department


Don’t be afraid of it, it can look quite daunting...but once you get into it, it’s surprisingly easy! Chris Kinman Willmott Dixon

From the Services Engineers The more you can talk to your client, the more ‘energy efficient’ your design solutions can be. Don’t wait for the perfect project to start, chose your next project to get up and running to begin your journey of discovery. Get onboard and start as soon as you can! Richard Pearce Arup

From the Structural Engineers From a structural engineering point of view...the key is that your CAD software and your analysis software are compatible. Roger Shaw Ramboll

From the Quantity Surveyors The model is a fantastic tool to assist you and not replace your core function. We found that we could spend our time more productively challenging design solutions and issues to drive greater value for the Client. Being able to review the design in a 3D environment has undoubtedly helped mitigate cost increases during the design and construction phases. Mark Brain Faithful+Gould

I think the team environment on this was the big positive, getting good co-ordination between each design team member is great. The one thing I’d take forward...and push to have on all of our projects are the co-ordination meetings. Matthew Revel Ramboll


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Images Š M Hamilton-Knight

BCU BIM Case Study  

This lessons learned case study has been compiled through the analysis of a series of interviews, jointly undertaken by members of Faithful+...

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