Best BIM Bad BIM: Claire Thirlwall

Best BIM Bad BIM - Claire Thirlwall

Best BIM Bad BIM is back! Answered from either a personal or industry-viewpoint perspective, BBBB sees a member of the #GlobalBIMCrew divulge their best and worst BIM experiences and what they learned from each. This week, we welcome Claire Thirlwall, Director of landscape architecture firm, Thirlwall Associates. Claire discusses the moment she realised the potential of implementing Building Information Modelling processes within her business and issues regarding BIM adoption in the landscape architecture field.

Claire’s Best BIM Experience?

My best BIM experience was the moment when I realised that working in BIM would be simpler, more efficient and more rewarding than the way we’d all worked up to now. I know the focus is often on the impressive 3D visuals and the epic spreadsheets but the fact that following the BIM process gives us a common standard to work to that allows for true collaboration is just as important to me.

The introduction to PAS 1192-2:2013 says “It was envisaged that the advent of Computer Aided Design solutions had the potential to improve the consistency of information, but at best it has only served to perpetuate the problem.” I think this is absolutely true – we moved into digital media but stuck with processes that related to paper, resulting in an inefficient hybrid. BIM is our chance to set up a standardised process that we all understand and that leaves no gaps for assumptions.

Claire’s Worst BIM Experience?

My worst BIM experience is the limbo I’m in as a landscape architect wanting to work in BIM. The terminology does not always correlate with that in my sector and as yet some processes and items are hard to define in a format very much designed for manufactured products rather than plant material.

Our professional body the Landscape Institute is working hard to help us resolve the outstanding issues, but I’m not sure that other professions realise that we can already work in BIM. I think that the potential for our sector is phenomenal. If we collect the right data we can do exciting things like model the carbon sequestration of a site or show the micro-climatic benefits of tree planting, all measurements that really demonstrate the value of our work.

What lessons has Claire learned from both?

From the realisation that BIM is as much about the process as the eye catching visuals I’ve made sure I focus on setting up appropriate systems, even for work not related to BIM. Edward Demming, the engineer and management consultant who was instrumental in the post-war transformation of the Japanese manufacturing industry, said “Put a good person in a bad system and the bad system wins, no contest.” I think that the lack of a systematic approach was what hampered some aspects of the construction sector and tarnished our reputation with the wider public.

From my frustrations trying to match BIM to landscape architecture I’ve learnt that it is a struggle worth pursuing and also that those in the BIM community are incredibly generous with their help and support.

Learn more about Thirlwall Associates by clicking here. Follow Claire on Twitter via this handle: @ThirlwallAssoc

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