TOLEDO, Ohio, April 30, 2007 – Project managers at leading architectural and engineering firm SSOE, Inc. are taking their customers through future stores – changing paint colors, displays, signage, lighting and entrances – without taking one step inside the facility or creating a costly mock-up.
By 2009, according to SSOE CEO Tony Damon, the company plans to employ the Building Information Modeling (BIM) methodology for all projects, thereby constructing a cost-saving virtual model for its clients that stretches far beyond the practices of conventional architectural and engineering firms.
“For nearly 60 years, SSOE has been a pioneer in commercial and industrial architecture, and we are committed to staying ahead of the curve by designing and developing projects completely with BIM,” Damon said. “Our clients will benefit from reduced construction costs, shortened project schedules, improved accuracy and enhanced collaboration.”
BIM allows designers to use CAD-style 3D software to create complete, detailed models of buildings on a computer screen enabling facility owners to “walk through” their building to examine details as never before, while eliminating the comment “I didn’t know it was going to look like that.”
“SSOE is definitely leading the way in finding new uses for BIM,” said Huw Roberts, global marketing director, Building & Structural, for Bentley Systems, Inc., the leading provider of integrated BIM software to architecture, engineering and construction firms. “SSOE’s innovations have always shied away from bells and whistles and, instead, revolve around practical ways to help make its clients’ businesses more successful. SSOE’s utilization of BIM in the retail industry is a great example of that.”
In the automotive industry the use of BIM has become standard, but only recently are retailers realizing the benefits that BIM brings to this specialized industry. For example, BIM is ideally suited for stores in which the interior design is critical to influencing customer behavior and generating sales. In the world of BIM, retailers can stroll through the virtual facility to observe and determine if changes are desired for colors and finishes, rearrange furnishings and alter architectural elements. The retail industry is also particularly well-suited to utilize BIM due to its heavy reliance on prototypes. With BIM, architects can design separate modules that easily can be deployed, for example, for facility entrances when retailers need to adapt their store design to meet local appearance review requirements.
In addition to its visual capabilities, BIM methodology assists with storing a comprehensive index of graphical and non-graphical information related to a building project ranging from finishes, furnishings and equipment to specifications, budgetary costs schedules, contracts, warranties and maintenance information. While taking a virtual tour, builders and owners can click on any object to see all the documentation relating to it. In an industry in which the speed with which a store can be opened often has a dramatic impact on revenue, this automated process reduces chances of human error and expedites completion of documentation. This can lead to dramatically reduced construction costs while at the same time providing an avenue for unprecedented collaboration among architects, engineers, contractors, project managers, owners and facility managers throughout the design and construction.
These benefits derived largely from BIM’s ability to integrate all the data relating to a project, so a change made to one aspect of the project automatically updates all the other data, from costs to scheduling. For instance, switching a masonry entrance to wood construction in a virtual design automatically changes the documentation as well, so that the proper amount and type of materials are ordered, finish schedules are adjusted and cost figures are recalculated. Ordering takes place earlier in the process than it does with traditional methods, allowing owners to avoid potential subsequent price increases. Years later, maintenance staff can call up a model number or warranty information for a water heater or an elevator simply by clicking on that object in the BIM model.
Among the projects that SSOE has designed using the BIM methodology are stores for several leading retailers, paint shops for a major automaker and a production facility for Greater Ohio (GO) Ethanol. SSOE is recognized as a thought leader in the adoption of BIM and has developed a white paper on the methodology, cost-savings aspects and its potential. The paper is available at SSOE_BIM_White_Paper.pdf.