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A Brief Look into the History of BIM Technology

Building information modeling (BIM) made its debut in the AEC industry in 1987 in software company Graphisoft’s ArchiCAD program under a different name – virtual building. Building industry strategist Phil Bernstein was the first to use the actual term “BIM” while working for Autodesk, an American multinational corporation that focuses on 3D design software.

AEC industry analyst Jerry Laiserin helped popularize and standardize the term BIM as a common name for the digital representation of the building process. Laiserin argued, “‘building information modeling,’ as a description of the next generation of design software, seems to me to come closer to the winning characteristics evidenced by ‘CAD’ for its generation of tools—specific enough to evoke reasonably clear, common meanings, yet broad enough to encompass a diversity of commercial and technological approaches. The only fly in the ointment is that Autodesk has been using the term for the last few months to describe their building industry strategy.” Before deciding upon the name “BIM,” other possibilities included: single building model, virtual building model, integrated project modeling, and project lifecycle management.

Today, BIM technology can be found in the AEC industry across the world. In Canada, the Institute for BIM in Canada (IBC) is responsible for leading and facilitating all of the coordinated use of BIM technology in the Canadian construction environment. In the UK, the Construction Project Information Committee is, “responsible for providing best practice guidance on the content, form and preparation of construction production information, and making sure this best practice is disseminated throughout the UK construction industry.” As a committee, they proposed a definition of Building Information Modeling for adoption throughout the UK construction industry. Several groups – including the FFB ((Fédération française du bâtiment) and the French branch of buildingSMART – are pushing for a more integrated adoption of BIM standards in France.

BIM is still relatively new technology in an industry typically slow to adopt change. Early adopters of the technology, though, are confident in BIM’s growth potential.

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