Interview with David Philp

We spoke to Professor David Philp, Head of BIM Implementation for the HM Government BIM Task Group and asked him our ‘Interview With…’ questions. Read on to see what he had to say.

David graduated in the early nineties and straight away joined Balfour Beatty as a Graduate Engineer; he advanced through the company becoming Director of Technical Services and latterly BIM Programme Director. David is now Head of BIM at Mace.

An early adopter of practical change and purposeful collaboration, David is currently seconded to the Cabinet Office’s Efficiency and Reform Group where is “Head of BIM Implementation”. He is also chair of the BIM2050 and various BIM4 working groups.


BIM Crunch: Interview with…


Name: David Philp

Company & role: Mace, Head of BIM BIM2050, Group Chair

Employee numbers: 4048 (Mace) + 18number BIM2050 members



How did your company make the transition in adopting BIM practices – have you had to change any internal processes or culture?

For Mace it is not just about BIM workflows in isolation but creating a model that allows us to integrate the entire asset lifecycle, our unique offering at Mace is our ALi360 solution (asset lifecycle integration) powered by digitally integrated working. A big part of this is culture, bringing teams together early on in the process, for us for one of the early wins has been ensuring Macro, our FM business are involved right from the outset of a BIM project to help ensure that operational objectives are clearly established. We are also focused on injecting BIM into functional business processes rather than bolting on.


Can you identify some key projects the business has executed with BIM so far?

We have some fantastic BIM projects on the go both in the UK and internationally all demonstrating different value propositions. Key UK projects currently include 240 Blackfriars, Hendon Met Police, W5 and Three Quays. Internationally our project in Russia for property company St Petersburg Renovation, involves creating a new district for the city, including 15,600 apartments and is arguably the biggest true level 2 BIM enabled project anywhere in the world using the very best of UK standards – BIM for growth; not just more for less!


What benefits are coming out of using BIM on these projects?

Benefits are at the moment falling into three distinct categories, either: de-risking (model based validation and optioneering), improved efficiency and value adding.


Who do you think should be the primary driver in the BIM implementation process?

Ideally the Client should instigate the process at Stage 0 (Strategy), developing an information management strategy for their project and determining a suitable procurement route that will accompany. Switching BIM on late in a project lifecycle will not liberate its full potential.


What do you feel are the critical factors in successful implementation of BIM?

Firstly purpose, there should always be clear objectives and goals for implementing BIM, secondly defining supporting BIM EIRs and a corresponding BIM Execution Plan. That said it always comes back to people and establishing the right culture, one that fosters a collaborative environment where project teams can effectively create, manage and use data is pivotal.


Has the adoption of BIM changed the design process and, if so, in what way?

BIM does not disavow the need for good design management practices, what it does do is make the whole process more transparent and faster. BIM is allowing designers to be more outcome driven through data foresight and have better understanding on whole-life impact. We are also witnessing more rapid design cycles on BIM enabled projects where data is computer readable.



Have you any future trend predictions for BIM?

With my BIM2050 hat on and crystal ball I would go for:

Level 2 BIM becomes business as usual in the UK.

We begin to explore fully integrated digital working once we move into the foothills if Level 3 BIM and develop the technical and commercial formats that are needed.

Semantic data and web 3.0 will drive BIM to new level with more focus on using external relational data systems.

Contour and 3D printing supported by BIM will become commercialised.

History books will remember 2011-2016 a time when the UK construction sector switched to a digital! The first #UKBIMCREW retirement home opens for elderly BIMmers.


Biggest BIM-related challenge to date?

The baggage stuck in the door! Breaking a heuristic bias of we have always done it this way! And there is always the demonstrating the value of COBie trial (industry needs structured verifiable data, trust me on this and COBie is a good start)!


Biggest business lesson learned to date?

Have a sense of purpose that you are committed to and surround yourself with people that will inspire you to cultivate it! Also enjoy it, this is the most exciting time to be part of our great industry


Your house is on fire – which three material items do you grab?

Twenty year old fountain pen – the nib has been worn over two decades to suit my writing style My monogrammed smoking jacket so I look decent in front of the neighbours The house insurance policy.


Where do you see BIM in ten years time?

I don’t think there will be BIM as such in ten years it will be the default way of working and well will be wondering what all the fuss was about!


In another life, which career path would you have pursued?

Clearly an international rodeo star!


Follow David Philp on Twitter @ThePhilpster