The outsized, compounded benefits of BIM and related technologies for landscape architecture
More than 20 years after BIM changed the face of the AEC industry, we landscape professionals now have the tools and motivation to use BIM to create our designs. At present, as many of us are happily BIMing away, we are realizing that BIM, especially as brought to bear by the pioneering landscape architecture software, Environment for Revit®, and its widespread adoption, is much more than a tool of the trade. It is a transformative process and technology that is changing the very way we go about our work, and subsequently, the way our surroundings, our cities, and our lives look and feel.
One of the most powerful and commonly used BIM platforms, Revit® promises to revolutionize landscape architecture for years to come, as we become more attune with the nuances of BIM processes and technologies, and uncover the endless possibilities hidden in the mounds of valuable data that exist in our models and are accumulating around the globe We invite you to join us as we explore past the well-known advantages of BIM, that is already being used by landscape professionals to generate more accurate, more cost-effective, and more innovative landscapes.
As with most other technologies, the medium changes the message in the case of BIM, as well. This means that BIM is not only a tool for representing and presenting designs (the medium), as is the case with paper and CAD, but it is the tool in which architects actually develop their designs (the message).
When you model your design in Revit®, you do so with true-to-life elements that embody data that matches reality. From an existing topography to retaining walls containing material layers and product specifications, all data is accessible to you and other members of your design team very early on, providing design flexibility and options that you wouldn’t otherwise have. This allows you to begin performing analyses and derive values without delay. For example, we can observe and evaluate many design alternatives in the very early stages of the design process, which, in turn, help us understand a project’s overall footprint and easily assess future project costs. Essentially, with BIM, you have at your fingertips the means to generate schedules and quantities as you design.
It is not happenstance that “Information” sits in the middle of BIM, as it is the beating heart of the methodology and of technologies that implement BIM, such as Revit®.
Data driven design – our dream design approach
As we learn to design with 3D models that include masses of data, reflecting the real-world terrain and objects being modeled, the breadth of analyses that open before us is mind-staggering. Examples include performing, with just a few simple clicks, elevation and slope analyses that, amongst others, provide mean values for our proposed site, and easily analyzing and visualizing the sun’s movements throughout the year. And these are only a couple of Revit’s and Environment’s most basic tools.
BIM models provide us with the opportunity to share and visualize information, or even include data from other related systems. This allows us to better mold our designs, and to bare the underlying data to depict what we see in our mind’s eye. Using data to make design decisions also helps us to establish solid agendas which manifest in outdoor spaces that are more comely, environmentally friendly, and functional.
Generally speaking, since this data is available to us at an early stage, it has a profound impact on our work as designers. We incorporate it into our thinking, changing the way we approach and execute our designs, i.e., the data begins to drive our design work.
And now, for the icing on the cake, the 3rd edge of the BIM triangle – modeling. As humans who see our world in 3D, it makes sense that it would be most natural and intuitive for us to design in 3D. With Revit®, we can do just that.
Putting things in proportion
Elementary to landscape design is the faculty to understand proportions and years of landscape architecture experience have honed our ability to visualize proportions from 2D models. BIM’s 3D models greatly simplify our lives in this respect, re-focusing our imaginations on how to optimize proportions rather than on how to see them.
Visual impact assessment
Since Revit® models are 3D, the data behind them is, of course, the data required to illustrate the different views of existing and proposed sites in 3D. Therefore, by using a 3D Revit model, we unlick the possibility of using this information with other systems, as well. For example, we can connect Revit® to a GIS system, which can use the data to overlay our 3D design on existing terrain, allowing us to assess views and potential user experiences as if the design were already built!
Last but not least, having a 3D model means not only more effective collaboration with team members, but that we can package our models into virtual tours for our clients. One of the pillars of architecture is to be able to successfully communicate our ideas to our clients, and a BIM model allows us to do so in a superior manner, helping us bring our clients into the feedback loop before and throughout the project life-cycle.
What the future has in store
As BIM adoption in site design is spreading, we expect to see a steady stream of improvements and new applications that will build upon BIM data. We are already seeing such ideas coming to life, such as using a BIM model for maintenance of the built project or to predict the growth of vegetation over time. It is not cliché to say that BIM technologies are paving the way for a new era of landscape architecture tech for which the sky is the limit, and with Environment for Revit, space itself is in our grasp…
We invite you to find out more about BIM for landscape with the Environment for Revit® team.
Published on October 29, 2021