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.