Seeing the Future with 5D Macro BIM

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It’s not often that a technique or technology comes along that gets total buy-in from general contractors and permanently changes an industry for the better.

But such a change is in progress with the evolution of Fifth Dimensional Macro Building Information Modeling (5D Macro BIM), construction design software that incorporates detailed cost and timeline information into digital project designs.

Designers at The Korte Co., a member of Las Vegas Chapter AGC and AGC of Missouri, first thought 5D BIM was too good to be true. But when its value became apparent, they bought into the technology that they say brings concepts to life and boosts owners’ confidence in contractors, ultimately streamlining the construction process.

5D BIM is construction-design software that calculates the costs of structures as they’re drawn by an operator. Construction material and cost information loaded into the software’s database allow for accurate cost projections. The technology can be broken down into two categories:
  • 5D Macro BIM develops big-picture designs of entire structures. These designs include costs and timelines down to the individual room level of a structure based on materials selected to be used. It’s best used during initial planning phases to allow owners to make design decisions based on a building’s intended function. Designers can make changes on the fly, giving owners and contractors a better idea about how project costs and timelines shift due to changes in design or material.
  • 5D Micro BIM programs are far more detailed, allowing for the design of hardware and materials used in every nook and cranny of a structure. If you’re looking at a project based on the type, number and location of individual screws, for instance, 5D Micro BIM does the trick. While such granular detail is great for contractors, it’s not as useful for building owners who prefer the bird’s-eye view of a construction project.
During the planning phase of a hospital addition in Texas, designers from The Korte Co. used 5D Macro BIM to provide an unparalleled view of what the expanded facility would look like — and what the project would cost — long before work began.

Big-picture capabilities of the technology include pinning a rendering to satellite maps to show how it would sit on a property. Operators can easily shift the rendering to show owners layouts that work well with the surroundings and ones that don’t.

On the Texas project, several buildings needed to be demolished to make way for the two-story addition and a parking lot. Korte designers color coded these buildings in their designs to illustrate how the facility addition would occupy space made available following demolition.

5D Macro BIM allows for greater participation in the design process by those who use a building. These individuals use on-the-ground knowledge about how floor plans are utilized to help owners shape the new spaces in which they’ll work.

For example, designs for the hospital in Texas called for three different departments on the ground floor. Designers could easily click and drag color-coded sections of the design that denoted each department, shrinking or enlarging them based on suggestions. These changes produced real-time shifts in projected cost.

In another example, Korte designers helped the owner of a new health-care facility in North Carolina decide how to maximize finite resources by isolating individual floors in the design to examine their varying costs. This allowed owners to minimize expenses in some places to allow more investment in others.

5D Macro BIM has proved especially useful in health-care construction settings because it delivers more nuanced insights to owners who must balance a facility’s function, cost and ease of use for patients and visitors.

That’s cliché, but it’s true. And when it comes to designing multi-million dollar medical facilities, foresight might be the most important tool in the toolbox for both designers and owners.

According to designers from The Korte Co., 5D Macro BIM has improved design and planning on every single project for which it’s been used. They say the technology adds value in the following ways:
  • It brings concepts to life, and it does so more quickly and with more information owners can use to make better design decisions.
  • It automatically estimates cost, an obvious advantage for decision makers who ultimately are responsible for the use of construction funds.
  • It increases project predictability. Projects always come with variables, but knowing in greater detail how a project and its costs will progress over time gives owners more certainty than ever.
  • It may improve decision response times. This is potentially a two-way street, as owners could waffle endlessly between alternative designs because 5D Macro BIM designs are so easily changed. But the benefit of this capability is that owners can hit on winning designs sooner in the planning process, speeding up projects and reducing costs.
  • It’s transparent. Since 5D Macro BIM software objectively calculates project costs in real time as designs are drawn, owners will know their contractors are dealing with them fairly.
  • It boosts owner confidence. Owners responsible for new facilities need to trust both their contractors and themselves. When designers use 5D Macro BIM technology, owners get the best sense of how their decisions will play out. This boosts confidence in their decision making and builds trust with their contractor.
Owners and designers alike are always asking "what if?" in the construction planning process. What if we adjusted the cladding materials? What if we use structural steel instead of concrete? What if we changed the roofing systems?

5D Macro BIM indulges these questions and provides instant answers, fostering enhanced collaboration between owners and contractors who create designs that best serve a structure’s intended purpose.

Each new building completed by contractors who use 5D Macro BIM is proof that the technology is critical to the industry. The Korte Co. uses 5D Macro BIM on a wide variety of projects, from churches and aircraft hangars to hospitals and warehouses. As the technology’s use increases, so will the number of well-designed buildings that do what they’re designed to do — and do it well — for a lifetime.

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