BIM, technology and trailblazing: What I do here at SHP

Vern Hendrickson

Is detail 7/A530 invaluable?  Can a 3d Isometric View be used to replace those three 2d-details? Have you thought of using Fuzor or a 3d printed model to communicate with your client? These are just a few of the questions I get to ask on a daily basis as SHP’s BIM Manager.  Driving efficiency and effective communication of our designs to the client, contractor, consultants, architects, and anyone else who is involved with our projects is what I really enjoy doing.  Technology informs some of those questions, but at the core is the desire to be better.

Much of my job revolves around the world of Building Information Modeling (BIM).  BIM is truly a shift in the way building design and construction can be realized.  I say ‘can’ because as an industry we are still not realizing the full value of BIM.  At SHP we push to do more with our projects, to innovate based on the model that we put so much time and effort into.

I often ask our project teams what can we do to add greater value to the process?  How can we take perceived risk and turn it into an asset?  As fees get squeezed and competition continues to increase, we must look for ways to maximize the value and efficiency of everything we do.

This can start with something as seemingly insignificant as using Keyboard Shortcuts.  For the folks in our office using Revit on a daily basis, Great efficiency is achieved through typing in commands, instead of finding them with your mouse.

Efficiency can also be achieved through different delivery processes.  When presented with a project that included 13 new facilities, (bid in three separate phases, each being designed from a Kit-of-Parts methodology for equality across the buildings), a system needed to be developed to maximize our efficiency and accuracy of producing documents.  How do we make sure that the buildings designed in phase 3 have captured all of the changes that came up during construction on phase 1 and 2?  How do we document a parapet detail once, and have it print 13 different times under different titleblocks through multiple years?  The only way we were going to deliver such high value and efficiency on a project of this scale was to spend time setting up a very robust method of documenting and designing the different portions of each building.  The result was phenomenal:  Huge gain in production efficiency, significant reduction in contractor questions which speaks to the quality of the documents, and a very satisfied client with their 13 similar buildings.

Value can be added simply by challenging the norms.  If you were to look at almost any set of commercial construction documents in the country you will find a Room Finish Schedule.  This is not found in an SHP set of documents.  Since we are already populating our model with finishes for visualization, we just reference the information that is already in the model. In addition to saving time, the quality of our documents has also improved.  This is just one example of challenging the Status Quo in our office – and I strive to challenge it on every project.

Until the time is right to deliver a 3d Digital model of our building design that goes straight to fabrication, I will continue to examine our process of documenting the 3d Model file – including re-examining the lack of a room finish schedule – because evolution and innovation are never “Done”.  I know that if we go into the next project with the attitude of ‘This is what we are going to do because we have always done it this way’ then we will not reach our firm goals.

Seth Godin probably said it best when he referred to how much time and effort can be spent trying to keep things the way they are, versus the time spent inventing the future.  Personally I want to spend time experimenting with the future.  If we simply wanted to follow the trail that was blazed by others, then we would not have rebranded ourselves in 2008 as SHP Leading Design, and for me personally, leading the pack and blazing trails is what attracted me to SHP in the first place.

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