Jacob D’Albora, lecturer of the Global BIM Management Master’s program, discusses the current state of BIM in the United States and a roadmap for the future of implementation.


Over the past two years, the United States has seen an increased boom of Building Information Modeling (BIM) in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry. If you are sitting in an architectural office and not using Revit, you may have already missed the boat. Engineers have begun to catch on and are progressively adapting quicker than architects ever did. While contractors seem to have the process figured out, they are maximizing the value of BIM by testing and introducing new technology and methods into the field. Key findings from a recent Dodge Data & Analytics survey show contractors are showing an increased ROI from BIM.

“A 5% reduction in the final construction costs, a 5% increase in the speed of completion, a 25% improvement in labor productivity, and a 25% reduction in labor.”

SmartMarket Brief: BIM Advancements No. 1

A Brief History of BIM in the United States

The use of BIM dates back to the 1970s, while actual BIM implementation and utilization began in the 1990s. A conscious arrival of BIM was shown in 1997 when Bentley created Navigator, Solibri Inc. formed, and the first version of IFC was released. In 2002 when Autodesk acquired Revit Technology Corporation, the adoption of BIM technologies began to spread across the United States. As early adopters, the process in the United States has been slow and sometimes painful, but the US continues to learn from these issues, creating better solutions in the long run. Countries that were slower to adopt BIM were able to avoid some of the issues the United States encountered and implement the BIM process quicker and more efficiently. This has also resulted in many other countries having either caught, or even surpassed, the United States in BIM utilization or standardization.

Government Mandate BIM

Government mandated BIM is one example of how other countries are surpassing the United States. The United Kingdom’s standard now requires a Level 2 BIM deliverable for all public work. Holding all projects to a national standard is something lacking with BIM in the United States. Without this standard, the deliverable is determined on a client-to-client basis or even a project-to-project basis.

Many government departments have created their own standards and published them to forums such as the National Institute of Building Sciences, but these standards are created independently with no relationship to one another. For example, a project for the Department of Veterans Affairs will have a different deliverable than a project for the GSA. While both departments reside under the same government, they act independently on projects. Some see this non-uniformed deliverable with BIM in the United States as a good thing, citing that it allows innovation in problem-solving as compared to areas of the world where government standards limit new ideas, such as Steve Jones, Senior Director of Dodge Data & Analytics who states:

“The innovation you are seeing is happening in the larger firms that work in multiple offices. They are now getting smart about picking up on what the other offices are doing and you are seeing these ideas go viral.  These ideas will get implemented on projects in those offices, which in turn helps them go viral in those markets. When the project finishes, others begin to copy it.  That’s kind of the viral method that happens here as opposed to the UK, where basically a program gets laid out per the standard and people primarily learn how to do it that way.” Steve Jones  

The Millennial Movement

A generational shift is happening throughout the world. This shift is not specific to BIM in the United States or even the AEC industry as a whole, but rather across all workplaces. The millennial generation is the newest group of employees to hit the workforce. Traditionally new employees are hired and forced to adapt to the workplace culture. This generation wants to change that, and they are changing it on their own terms.

While some industries, such as the technology and entertainment industries, have adapted to this movement quickly, the AEC industry has been slow to adopt the millennial ideals. The timing of this generational movement is in line with the evolution of BIM and the thought processes behind the two are very similar. Laura Guzman, Vice President of Marketing, Director of Business Development at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff explains it this way:

“BIM was truly envisioned as a means for everyone to collaborate in a digital environment seamlessly.  We are leveraging mobile tools in the field, we are leveraging social technologies. It’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy in a way that the proliferation of BIM is trending with the growth of the younger generation really desiring it and therefore also driving it.” Laura Guzman

Currently, the AEC industry in the United States has seen a strain on qualified and available employees. Finding talented, young visionaries has become a labor-intensive process. AEC companies must change their company cultures and their thought processes to become more attractive to this generation. Those companies that were slow to adopt BIM, will most likely be slow to change their ideals. This reluctance to change, in regards to both BIM and our changing culture, could inhibit the overall success of those companies.

Construction Modeling and Collaboration

Two trends over the past few years have seen the greatest increases in adoption and productivity: construction modeling and collaboration. Construction modeling has shown instant ROI returns for contractors and their subs, while the use of collaboration and cloud technology is the most rapidly adopted technology within the market.

The Dodge Data & Analytics SmartMarket Brief: BIM Advancements No. 1 states that construction modeling by trades has increased to include 93% of HVAC contractors, 91% of Plumbing/Piping Contractors and 88% of Structural Fabricators. With the amount of HVAC contractors modeling and the high quality of returns they are seeing, the SmartMarket Brief suggests that HVAC construction modeling can be considered a standard within the industry. The greatest hole in the market for construction modeling lies within the Interior and Building Envelope sub-contractors. As the demand for construction modeling continues to grow within the market, both trades have a high potential for return.

Join the most comprehensive BIM management program in the world and be at the forefront of advancing BIM in the United States!

Meanwhile, cloud services and collaboration have shown the most growth in recent years, particularly with online meetings, information/document management systems and shared storage locations. The most interesting cloud technology that has entered the market is instant messaging. Dodge Data reports that instant messaging has increased 30% across all company types. This growth is expected to continually increase as smartphones and mobile devices multiply among all parties.

As BIM in the United States has progressed with the influx of Millennials in the AEC industry, the use of technologies that appeal to this generation has also increased. This shift in operations will ultimately shape our way of doing business.

Future of BIM

The BIM ecosystem revolves around the collaboration of teams and the ability to solve the problems that arise. Soon BIM will become the standard in which the AEC industry exists. The term BIM will be phased out, and this future will be created by several solutions to unique problems and the ability to collaborate on these solutions.

For example, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are being used in new and innovative ways. Recently, a drywall subcontractor completed a proof of a concept that involved building a bathroom pod frame without construction documents. By using AR, the drywall contractor projected the model onto the top and bottom of the room and used Microsoft Hololens to complete their interior construction. (StrXur.com, by Bluebeam).

Looking further into the future, information collection will drive owners to create standards and implement BIM technologies on the operations side. BIM deliverables give owners a foundation for the Internet of Things (IoT) and data aggregation, all of which can be immediately incorporated into operations if standardized correctly. Increased communication between all systems and software platforms will continue to show increasing returns on investments, creating a market for helping owners obtain these returns through BIM in the United States.

John Messner, Professor of Architectural Engineering Penn State, likens BIM’s data collection capabilities to the manufacturing industry:

“On the data side, we need to move toward the methods used when designing an engine. They leverage digital models and simulations to optimize the performance prior to manufacturing. We need to get there with buildings.”



The United States’ ability to be innovative and create solutions has established a new world of plugins, add-ins, and third party software solving one problem at a time. BIM has revolutionized the industry. Companies have had to adopt it to stay relevant and must continue to be open about the future possibilities. Adam Thomas, Chief Operating Office at Read|Thomas, feels that:

“If we spent less time worrying about what’s next and more on mentoring, operations and management. Then we will be able to adapt to whatever is next.”

There may never be another revolution like BIM within the AEC industry, but BIM has set the foundation for all possibilities to become reality.


[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_text_separator title=”About the Author” color=”blue”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]Educated and trained as an architect, Jacob D’Albora throughout his career has embraced and sought to maximize the use of Building Information Management (BIM). Jacob is an integral part of the team of McVeigh & Mangum Engineering (MME), a full service, multi-office engineering firm.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”13825091″ img_size=”full”][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”12501288″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” style=”vc_box_circle_2″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Together Jacob and MME serve the AEC community with a passion to not only produce designs and drawings of superior quality in the BIM platform, but to also equip facilities professionals to more efficiently and effectively manage facilities once constructed. This is accomplished through the application of BIM-FM (facility management) strategy. Jacob has established himself as an industry leader in the BIM-FM arena and thru the use of BIM-FM has provided the resources and training to facilities personnel necessary to facilitate the efficient execution of building maintenance duties and record keeping. He is a lecturer of the Global BIM Management Master’s program.

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