Sunday, May 15, 2016

Announcing Q-BIM

During the past year there has been a gradual increase in the maturity of Building Information Modeling and related technologies in Qatar and the region.

Qatar is very unique in that the value of having projects delivered in BIM is widely recognized. BIM delivery is required for the 2022 FIFA World Cup venues, for the Doha Metro projects, for the developments currently underway in Lusail City and Katara, and virtually every major new project.

Where in the past the RFPs for new work included vague references such as “delivery of the project must be in BIM” we are beginning to see more explicit definitions of client and owner expectations. Not all are realistic, but many have followed the protocols defined by the American Institute of Architects (USA) or the British Standards Institute publication of PAS 1192-2 (UK).

In the UK, BIM adoption has been driven by the “2016 BIM Level 2 Mandate” which requires the technology to be used for all centrally procured public sector projects. In addition, centrally funded government departments will be required to provide “clear and complete” Employer Information Requirements with all contracts. The mandate supports the UK’s 2025 Construction Strategy, which has four main goals: a 33% reduction in the initial cost of construction; a 50% reduction in the overall time; a 50% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions; and a 50% reduction in the trade gap between total exports and total imports for construction products and materials.

In the much broader USA market, where the term ‘BIM’ was coined, several government agencies and private owners have driven development forward, and builders have recently surpassed designers and architects in the rate of BIM adoption, achieving a 70% adoption rate in 2012.

A 2014 McGraw Hill report, The Business Value of BIM for Construction Major Global Markets, reports that “BIM usage is accelerating powerfully, driven by major private and government owners who want to institutionalize its benefits of faster, more certain projects delivery, and more reliable quality and cost.” It is further reported that “three-quarters of all contractors surveyed report a positive ROI on their investment in BIM.”

BIM diffusion in Qatar, as defined by Dr. Bilal Succar on his BIM ThinkSpace blog ( seems to be a blend of “Top-Down” pressure by clients and owners coupled with “Middle-Out” encouragement by global and multi-national designers and constructors. In conjunction with a recent tender for multiple stations required for the new Doha Metro system, Qatar Rail issued a comprehensive set of guidance documents that advances the requirements for BIM delivery.

Virtually every major global design and engineering consultancy is doing business in Qatar. Familiar acronyms such as AECOM, HOK, WSP and well-known brands Jacobs, Atkins, Parsons, Arup, Gensler. These firms bring their technology advocacy to the region, along with many experienced professional staff.

Reviewing Dr. Succar’s “Eight Components of Market Maturity” there appears to be improvement in the definition of objectives, in the presence of champions and drivers as well as the availability of noteworthy publications (guides, protocols and mandates). There is also some improvement in the technological infrastructure available in the MENA region. Conversely, there has been little change in the regulatory framework, or in the presence of market-wide metrics for measurement of BIM diffusion. The development of market-specific BIM object libraries is not apparent, and the availability of education and training programs is limited.

BIM User Day 5, which was held in November 2015 at Qatar University, demonstrated a significant increase in the interest and demand for BIM knowledge. The conference was attended by 263 delegates from 16 countries including the MENA region, USA, Europe and China.

Following the inaugural Future BIM Implementation conference in May of last year, the awareness of the need for common and unified effort toward BIM development and delivery was recognized. An ad hoc organization, the Qatar BIM Guidelines Focus Group, was formed, and several meetings of the group have been held. The focus group eventually was joined by Professor Nashwan Dawood and other researchers affiliated with Qatar University, and whose research into Building Information Modeling is supported by the Qatar Foundation.

The group has adopted the name “Q-BIM”. Its mission is “to promote opportunities to support, connect and grow BIM standards, through lobbying, mentoring, networking, strategic alliances, and developing and recognizing excellence in BIM.”

A constitution has been adopted by its executive committee. Our new website,, has been launched. Individual, Corporate and Group memberships will be granted to anyone who is actively involved in any aspect of Building Information Modeling in Qatar.

I encourage everyone in those categories to join Q-BIM. Please visit

~Allen Jay Holland

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Paths to BIM Nirvana

"A Building Information Model is a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. As such it serves as a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its lifecycle from inception onward."

BIM is an intelligent model-based process that provides insight to help you plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure

I have a confession.

Before I came to practice BIM Management in Qatar, I had never authored a BIM Execution Plan. I am really “old school” – I began doing 3D architectural modeling before it was called BIM. Among a fraternity of soon to be geriatric colleagues (you know who you are) we were drawn to the technology in search of a better way to create the instruments of service known as drawings. A coordinated set of drawings without errors and inconsistencies that always crept in to the multiple file methodology of CAD. Sure it was cool that the process also yielded three-dimensional images, but 2D quality improvement was the primary driver.

Flash forward 25-30 years. The stakes involved in BIM delivery are much higher. Primarily because of improvements in computing technology (processing power, speed, memory) we have loaded up BIM with many more facets of building design technology. Visualization and analysis were once separate processes – now they are integrated. Facility data management was a manual process; now that too is expected to be delivered by BIM.

In 2003, the United States General Services Administration (GSA), through its Public Buildings Service (PBS) established its National 3D-4D-BIM Program. Agencies of the U.S. military (NAVFAC, USACE, USCG) were among the first official bodies to recognize and institutionalize BIM for design, construction and facility operations. The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) published its first Guide to Building Information Modeling in 2006.

The American Institute of Architects’ Integrated Project Delivery Guide, which sets forth the principles of collaboration which have become synonymous with BIM Nirvana – the simultaneous involvement of all project stakeholders in the planning, design and execution of buildings and other built assets – was published in 2007. The AIA’s BIM Protocol Exhibit E202 was published in 2008, incorporating groundwork laid by VICO and Webcor Builders regarding the concepts of Level of Development and Model Element Authorship.

BIM project execution planning began in 2007 with the Penn State CIC research program. BIM then was typically just architectural modeling. “Information Exchange” was mostly theoretical. It was difficult to convince structural engineers of the benefits, and MEP BIM was virtually non-existent. In 2011, the Penn State CIC began the development of the Owner's Guide to Building Information Modeling. The group determined there was a need to develop “a guide for facility owners and operators that includes a procedure to develop a strategy for integrating BIM throughout their organization.”

In May 2011 the UK’s Government Construction Strategy was published, announcing the intention to require collaborative 3D BIM (with all project and asset information, documentation and data being electronic) on its projects by 2016. The “Level 2 Mandate” resulted in the creation of PAS 1192 by the British Standards Institute, which many consider to be the “Holy Grail” of BIM implementation strategies. The UK’s Construction Project Information Committee (CPIc) is a consortium of construction industry organizations. CPIc provides templates which support the PAS 1192 BIM strategy, and is the author of the new Uniclass2 classification system.

PAS 1192 presupposes that Employers Information Requirements precede the development of any BIM planning process. The plain language questions that must be asked and answered may overlook the possibility that, especially in the MENA region, an employer (client, owner) may just respond to some of those questions (i.e. “How will BIM be managed and exploited in this project?) with an “I don’t know.” This should not be a barrier to BIM delivery. Designers especially must be proactive and become advocates for BIM development if progress is to be made.

In the U.S. there is not a government mandate for BIM. The buildingSMARTalliance, a council of the National Institute of Building Sciences, employs a consensus approach to the development of its National BIM Standard (NBIMS-US). BIM development in the U.S. is driven by designers, builders and owners who believe in its benefits and its ROI. Indeed, a study by Autodesk strategist Erin Rae Hoffer indicates that the most heavily invested firms have stopped measuring ROI because they simply “believe”.

The uses for BIM span across three main categories – Design, Construction, and Operations. 22 BIM uses were identified in the original Penn State Guide. On his BIM Excellence website Dr. Bilal Succar has identified 125 model uses (so far).

As the well-known MacLeamy Curve illustrates, BIM shifts design and construction project decision-making to an earlier project phase, when the cost of changes is less, and the ability to impact design outcome is greater. It is generally agreed that the major beneficiary of BIM is the owner, with lower construction costs, fewer construction RFIs, and a more efficient building or facility.

So what are the immediate benefits for designers?
  • Reduction in waste and risk
  • Improved design quality
  • Reduction in errors
  • Increased client, design, and construction team understanding and communication
  • Improved project delivery through efficient use of resources, improved safety, and accurate timelines
  • Accelerated regulatory approval and permitting
There is a vision of the future for building design and construction professionals in which BIM is no longer considered to be an alternative. It will be mainstream. BIM is the natural outcome of technology applied to the process of creating buildings. The previous methods of design delivery will eventually be seen as archaic, outmoded, and no longer relevant.


Computer Integrated Co. (2016). BIM Execution Planning. Retrieved from Pennsylvania State University:
Computer Integrated Construction Research Program. (2013). BIM Planning Guide for Facility Owners. University Park, PA, USA: The Pennsylvania State University.
The American Institute of Architects. (2007). Integrated Project Delivery: A Guide.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Levi's Stadium - Santa Clara, California

In honor of the 50th Super Bowl football contest - the other futbol, if you are reading this anywhere but in the USA - I am sharing these images of Levi's stadium, which was designed using Revit.

During 2008 I worked as a consultant in the Los Angeles office of HNTB, on several sports venues and aviation projects. This was the project for which I was noticed by recruiters for KEO International Consultants, leading to my current position in Qatar.

Most of the design work was performed in the main office in Kansas City, Missouri. At the time the Forty-Niners football team was still negotiating with the City of Santa Clara on the location of the complex. The rendered illustrations exhibited here were created by Mike Amaya of MXA Illustration.

I will be rooting for the Carolina Panthers, the team of Michael Oher, made famous by the Sandra Bullock film "The Blind Side", and against the Denver Broncos, the team of Peyton Manning, who was a nemesis of my favorite college football team, the Florida Gators.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Project Delivery Methods & IPD

Project Delivery Methods

True Integrated Project Delivery requires early involvement of the Constructor. Multi-Party Agreements, in the contractual forms of a Project Alliance, Single Purpose Entity, and Relational Contracts, define the process, decision-making procedure, sequencing of tasks, compensation, risk management, etcetera to be followed.

In a multi-party agreement (MPA), the primary project participants execute a single contract specifying their respective roles, rights, obligations, and liabilities. In effect, the multi-party agreement creates a temporary virtual, and in some instances formal, organization to realize a specific project. Despite the custom nature of multi-party agreements, three general forms have emerged: Project Alliances; Relational Contracts; and Single Purpose Entities.

In a Project Alliance, the owner guarantees the direct costs of non-owner parties, but payment of profit, overhead and bonuses depend on project outcome. Significant decisions are made by facilitated consensus and the parties waive liability, except in the case of willful default.

A Single Purpose Entity (SPE) is a temporary, but formal, legal structure created to realize a specific project. In an integrated SPE, key participants have an equity interest based on their individual skill, creativity, experience, services, access to capital or financial contribution. Equity owners are paid for the services they provide, with additional compensation tied to overall project success.

In Relational Contracts, the parties agree to limit their liability to each other, but it is not completely waived. Compensation structures have project-based incentives. Decisions are developed on a team basis, with the owner retaining final decision rights in the absence of team consensus.

In some instances, participants may be required to use a delivery model that does not allow a constructor to be involved early in conceptualization (i.e. Design-Bid-Build). Other models, however, rely on earlier constructor involvement and would be more amenable to utilizing IPD methods (i.e. Construction Manager at Risk and Design-Build). Each of these traditional delivery methods present unique challenges to integration.


Multi-Prime is commonly utilized within a Design-Bid-Build process. In this form of project delivery, the owner contracts directly with multiple contractors or trades. The owner acts as the general contractor on its own project. Multi-Prime project delivery requires that the owner provide substantial management services, and accordingly must have extensive experience and internal resources to perform the tasks which are typically managed by a general contractor or construction manager. When Multi-Prime is used for Design-Bid-Build, it offers few opportunities for IPD.

Construction Manager at Risk

CM at Risk
In CM at Risk the construction manager is hired early in the design process to deliver an early cost commitment and to manage issues of schedule, cost, construction and building technology. Design remains the responsibility of an architect, who is independently contracted with the owner. A fully integrated CMc project might see the architect and constructor working with the owner to establish project goals, utilize BIM, and adopt other principles of integration and implementation techniques. Because work performed by trade contractors is typically bid, CMc satisfies the bidding requirements of most public procurement codes.


Design-Build is characterized by a single point of responsibility for design and construction. Many owners choose Design-Build in order to reduce project-based risk. This risk is borne by the design-builder, in exchange for retaining any cost savings that are realized. Costing in the traditional Design-Build agreement is usually fixed early in the form of a Guaranteed Maximum (GMP) or lump sum. Project success is measured by improved delivery time or cost savings as compared to the agreed-upon Guaranteed Maximum Price. Linking compensation to project goals such as building performance, sustainability, and accelerated delivery can be used to promote greater collaboration and better outcomes.

Design Bid Build

Design Bid Build is the most prevalent construction project delivery model in the U.S. and also here in the Middle East. DBB offers the owner the market advantage of a regimented design phase followed by separate bidding and construction phases. The project is designed with little input from the parties actually constructing the project. In many markets, and especially those with goverment mandated BIM, publically procured contacting requirements interfere with or prohibit early involvement by the Constructor. A Design-Bid-Build delivery model is somewhat antithetic to the goals of BIM and IPD.

To alleviate these restrictions, owners may choose to tender the project at an earlier stage. The consequence of early bids is a loss in their accuracy and the necessity to accept bids with large contingencies. This strategy may also result in added amounts of redesign, requiring an adjustment to the designer's compensation.


It has been eight years since the National AIA and its California Council published the guide to Integrated Project Delivery. Its introduction states, "Integrated projects are uniquely distinguished by highly effective collaboration among the owner, the prime designer, and the prime constructor, commencing at early design and continuing through to project handover."

The MacLeamy Curve
The 2007 document was the impetus for development of LOD definitions and for the current AIA Digital Practice documents including Building Information Modeling and Digital Data Exhibit (E203).

The guide contains reference to the now well-known MacLeamy Curve, which was first debuted in 2004. This graphic is famous to BIM users because it depicts the shift of effort which we know as "front end loading". The justification for the shift is the fact that effort is moved to an earlier stage, when the cost impact (risk) of making changes is less.

In addition to shifting design decision making forward, redefinition of phases is driven by two key concepts: the integration of early input from constructors, installers, fabricators and suppliers as well as designers; and the ability to model and simulate the project accurately using BIM tools.

Integrated Project Delivery does not require BIM. The 2007 guide states that "BIM is an evolving technology and is not used consistently in the industry at the present time." In the near decade that has passed since its publication, these statements about IPD have become the framework within which BIM users have strived to bring about change within the AECO industry.

Integrated delivery strengthens the project team’s understanding of the owner’s desired outcomes. IPD allows constructors to contribute their expertise early in the design process resulting in improved quality and financial performance. It allows the designer to benefit from early contribution of the constructor’s expertise, increasing the likelihood that project goals will be achieved.

Integrated Project Delivery is built on collaboration, which in turn is built on trust. Trust-based collaboration encourages parties to focus on project outcomes rather than their individual goals. Innovation is stimulated when ideas are freely exchanged among all participants. In an integrated project, ideas are judged on their merits, not on the author’s role or status.

Key participants are involved from the earliest practical moment. Combined knowledge and expertise is most powerful during the project’s early stages where informed decisions have the greatest effect. The thrust of IPD is not to reduce design effort, but rather to greatly improve design results, streamlining the much more expensive construction effort.

IPD represents a behavioral sea change in the industry by breaking down the silos of responsibility, requiring close cooperation among all participants. The focus is on collectively achieving shared goals rather than meeting individual expectations. Success is measured by the degree to which common goals are achieved.

Traditional contracting contemplates project participants operating within their own separate silos of responsibility. IPD seeks to break down these barriers by having all major participants focus on achieving shared goals. Most traditional construction contracts seek to limit the parties to whom duties are owed. In direct contrast, IPD proceeds under the theory that projects run more smoothly where all parties formally recognize what exists in practice – that every construction projects is a network of inter-linked roles, commitments and mutual promises.

Source: "Integrated Project Delivery: A Guide" published by the American Institute of Architects, National and California Councils, 2007.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Case Study

Greetings to All.

I am trying to arrive at consensus with my colleagues regarding some aspects of our Standards and Procedures for Revit.

Many Revit users follow the practice of customizing content with a "company" acronym to signify that the content is vetted to conform to office standards. My personal preference is to precede each family type name with an acronym derived from the family category, and I have now expanded the list to include content in all disciplines. I maintain that the presence of the acronym provides ample significance.

However, in the Project Browser, I contended that OOTB naming of standard content was desirable. My view was countered with the argument that confusion may result if other parties with whom we might collaborate used modified content with OOTB naming.

One well-respected colleague has developed a naming strategy that includes the prefix ‘AN’ for most annotations. I’m inclined to concede, but I happen to disagree on the practice of ALL CAPS in the browser.

Again, most users follow the tradition of capitalization of sheet names, however I would even question that practice. I believe it is a remnant of old-fashioned CAD thinking, where the practice originated because of the extension from hand drafting. (I was there.) ALL CAPS is generally avoided in graphic design and web design because it is harder (slower) to comprehend. There is some fairly consistent information available to back this point of view.

I’d like to know what other Revit users have to say about these options:

Thursday, December 25, 2014


Happy Holidays to all of my friends and associates around the globe.

Christmas is not an official working holiday in the Middle East, but most of my coworkers have already departed, and I'm still here because I will be joining a few of my colleagues for dinner near the office.

I recently returned to Qatar after a three week vacation in the U.S., encompassing Thanksgiving, Autodesk University, and an early Christmas celebration with my family. I was pleased to have met with several friends at the Las Vegas event, and the time spent at home was precious indeed.

Future Rail Station
I have moved on from my role as BIM Manager of the Al Wakra FIFA 2022 World Cup stadium, having been promoted to BIM Manager of KEO's Architecture and Engineering Services division. I now occupy a nice corner cubicle in our Doha office with this view of one of the country's underground rail stations under construction.

KEO has several BIM projects underway in our three main offices in Qatar, UAE, and Kuwait. I was invited to the BIM Leadership Forum at AUx Dubai, and will be presenting on BIM at the Future Interiors Conference January 20-21 in Dubai. We have recently organized the Doha BIM User's Group (D-BUG), Qatar's first ever BIM group, for which I will serve as chairman.

Hopefully this change will facilitate my return to blogging, and I intend to focus on the unique situation which now confronts everyone involved in BIM and construction in the MENA region.

I wish everyone a peaceful, happy and prosperous New Year.

Fortune Passes Everywhere

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Global BIM Acceptance

In the U.S., after two decades of development, Building Information Modeling has gained a fairly broad acceptance in most sectors of the AECO industry.There are many organizations involved in promoting and advancing BIM. Building Information Modeling is typical for large and complex buildings - airports, hospital & medical facilities, laboratories, schools.

In the beginning, BIM adoption was driven by professionals who quite simply wanted to improve quality, performance, and profit. In 2007 BIM adoption was boosted by the GSA National 3D-4D-BIM Program. Transition has not always been easy, and the level of implementation as well as methodologies vary widely, but today the top design firms in the U.S. are BIM firms: Gensler, HOK, HDR, Perkins+Will, SOM, HKS. Not coincidentally, the top construction firms have also invested in BIM: Turner, Clark, DPR, Hoffman, Hensel-Phelps.*

Similarly, in the U.K., BIM adoption is being driven by the government sponsored Building Information Modeling Task Group. The 2011 Government Construction Strategy will require collaborative 3D BIM (with all project and asset information, documentation and data being electronic) on its projects by 2016.

The story in the MENA (Middle East & North Africa) region is not the same. Doha, the capital and largest city in Qatar, did not exist just fifty years ago, and it seems unlikely that many of the towers that have seemingly erupted from the desert were conceived using BIM. Even today, the new buildings currently being constructed are not exactly high tech, in terms of construction. They are reinforced concrete with block infill structures clad with aluminum and glass. They are massively built and labor-intensive and fantastic, but any evidence of BIM use is difficult to identify.

Qatar does have a National BIM initiative, which is an aspect of its 2030 National Vision for growth and development following the FIFA World Cup in 2022. All of the major infrastructure projects and all of the 2022 stadiums are BIM driven projects. Familiar names like Atkins, AECOM, Jacobs Parsons and Turner are among those involved. Overall, however, the progress and development of BIM is far behind what we take for granted in the West. Why?

In his LinkedIn article "10 Barriers to a Full BIM deployment in the Middle EastHamzeh Nawar, BIM Coordinator at Arabtec Construction LLC, explains:

Software companies took the lead in introducing BIM to Middle East, as a set of software and tools in the form of modeling, clash detection, quantity take-offs, and drawing extraction. This has resulted in a huge misunderstanding of BIM as a collaborative business process and limited the deployment of BIM in industry to the usage of BIM tools.
  • As BIM is new to the region, qualified BIM specialists are rare. Accordingly firms tend to hire and train people on using BIM tools without educating them on BIM process.
  • BIM requires significant sharing of data and information through the project life cycle between internal and external parties involved in the project; however companies in this region tend to be conservative and not so open to the sharing of information
  • BIM is a collaborative process that requires a major change in the internal work process and culture.
  • BIM (as it is meant to be!) is struggling to float to surface in this part of the world. A conservative and limited form of BIM is starting to form in the Middle East, a version of BIM limited to technology and capabilities of BIM software and tools.
Hamzeh concludes, “Benefits are still realized with this version of BIM, but the major benefits of a full BIM deployment are still a long-shot. Apparently BIM-ers still have a really long journey to go before they start realizing the actual benefits of BIM in Middle East.

*Source: 2013 rankings by Building Design + Construction