BIM Brunch: Chris Smeaton

Credit: KEO
Credit: KEO

BIM Brunch is the perfect accompaniment to your dinner break. Featuring some major players from the #GlobalBIMCrew, BIM Brunch is an interview feature where industry specialists talk about their passion for Building Information Modelling amongst other topics of conversation.

Today’s interviewee is a champion for Building Information Modelling implementation for landscape projects, and his skillset has seen him enjoy 2015 as part of KEO International Consultants in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Chris Smeaton is the BIM Manager within KEO’s Planning & Landscape Architecture Division, recently rebranded as InSite. Get to know more about Chris’s architectural experiences and what he loves about the industry below.

What is your favourite career related website/blog?

Easy, landarchBIM. For landscape related information this blog has lots of information which saves you time researching and helps you overcome modelling related issues.

Do you have a favourite industry book, magazine or publication?

I have a particular landscape magazine that comes into the office that I really like, only because I cannot read any of it! The magazine is from China and even though it’s in Chinese, there are some phenomenal landscape projects to look at and take influences from. The website is here. Also, I read Landscape Middle East as it is relevant to my work here in the Gulf.

The top industry event you have recently been to is?

The last event I attended was Mission BIM Possible in September. There were a lot of industry leaders talking about their experiences and how we can more things forward in the UAE. Also, I am attending the AU 2015 conference in Las Vegas in December that I am looking forward to with great anticipation.

Favourite Twitter handles to follow?

Well, it would be rude not to say @BIMcrunch but here are some other that I love to follow;

@solamour: a great guy who’s always been happy to chat though problems with Dynamo and provide help and feedback.
@landarchBIM: the research and advice that she offers is amazing, and she is always pushing the limits of Revit.
@TheB1M: The videos they post are precise, easy to understand, and full of really great information. I love sharing these with my colleagues.

What is your all-time favourite building?

I am not really sure I have one, I like buildings that amaze you, I have photos from my visit to the Valencian City of Arts and Sciences on my desktop. The curves and angles mesmerise me, especially El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia building. Looking closer to home for me, the engineering and innovation of the Capital Gate Tower in Abu Dhabi is amazing.

What is your favourite project you have worked on?

My favourite in the UK was University Hospital of North Staffordshire with Colour Urban Design. I worked on this project for 8 years from commencing as a work placement student. This was an extremely complicated project with lots of constraints but allowed me to explore not only my technical ability but also use my bespoke design skills. Here within Insite it would have to be Doha Zoo a 75 hectare BIM project or my current project the Dubai EXPO2020 Village.

What is the best thing about the team at InSite?

Their friendly atmosphere and design flair. I have only been with the team for 10 months, but feel like I have been working with them for years. I have been impressed by the vast amount of knowledge and expertise within the InSite team which is second to none. Their willingness to embrace and adopt BIM technologies and implementation has impressed me also.

What was the first BIM related project you have been a part of and what did you learn from the experience?

It would have to be Nishkam Primary School (Colour Urban Design). This project had already reached detail design stage, but we were requested to provide a Building Information Model in Revit for the project. The biggest lesson I learnt from this project was that you should never attempt retrofit BIM, as there is always unnecessary rework and you lose most of the benefits from the process.

The most amazing thing I learned was the benefits that come from a coordinated model, the speed with which we were able to produce setting out and level drawings. Once the project was in construction we had very few RFIs from the site. When you have a good BIM model this in turn gives the contractors a lot more depth of understanding.

The most exciting possibilities Building Information Modelling can offer are?

Using one digital model to virtually complete and test every aspect of a project before going to site has great cost and time benefits plus, connecting all stakeholders throughout the lifecycle of a facility management is where we are going to see the biggest change and benefits.

Who or what made you want to work within the Architecture, Engineering and Construction sector?

I originally was a furniture designer but once qualified I carried on to do interior architecture. In my final year I was offered a 3 month work placement at a landscape architect’s practice which was the start of my journey.

What is your proudest career highlight?

I enjoyed working with the BIM Academy team during the Build Earth Live competitions when the team won a Constructing Excellence NE Special Innovation Award. Building on this experience has given me the skills that have taken me across the world.

What is the best part about your job?

The best part of my job is working with experienced specialists in different fields of expertise from around the world, developing new ways to leverage BIM throughout the industry and within the Planning and Landscape Architecture sector. I also enjoy passing on this knowledge to educate people within the InSite team.

For more from Chris, make sure to follow him on Twitter and connect with him via LinkedIn. Follow KEO on Twitter and visit their official website too.

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