Coming to Canada: A BIM Consultant’s Journey
Captivated by the concept of Building Information Modeling (BIM), my fascination with this innovative methodology goes way back before my arrival in Canada. Years before embarking on my journey to a new country, I poked around the intricacies of BIM, fascinated by its potential to revolutionize the Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Operations, and Owner (AECOO) industry. The attraction lay in the promise of a streamlined process, ensuring efficiency, adherence to budgets, and timely project completion.
Prior to, and during my initial years as an architect, my professional landscape was within a General Contractor (GC) company. Here, I witnessed firsthand the inefficiencies prevalent in the traditional processes. Budgets seemed like mere guesswork, collaboration between disciplines was minimal, and the ones leading the way clung to outdated practices. The realization of being caught in a static and ineffective system left me feeling powerless.
Yearning for a change, I sought a career that embraced innovation and looked towards the future. Learning outdated methodologies felt counterproductive, and I craved the opportunity to contribute to a more progressive approach. That’s when I first encountered BIM, and its transformative potential resonated deeply with my professional aspirations. The idea of moving away from old ways and building a career focused on doing things better and planning for the future was too appealing to resist.
Expectations Before Arriving:
Before coming to Canada, my journey with BIM began in Uruguay. I eagerly attended every seminar, conference, and webinar about BIM, growing ever more determined to make it my career path. However, in 2018, Uruguay was just starting to discuss BIM, lagging behind its implementation by many years.
One memorable conference was by a company called ARCHSOURCING (now Slantis), where two inspiring female entrepreneurs shared their experience of creating a BIM service company in Uruguay. They mentioned the challenges of being taken seriously in an industry led by older men, prompting them to take their services to the more advanced BIM market in the United States.
Feeling a similar struggle, and with a perfect opportunity presenting itself a year later, I didn’t hesitate to accept the chance to live and work in Canada. It was the ideal opportunity to broaden my experience and knowledge in the field of BIM.
Back then, my understanding of what a BIM Consultant/Manager does was quite different. People mainly associated BIM with Revit, emphasizing how to use it to speed up the creation of 2D PDF sets of drawings as deliverables.
The First Job Experience:
My initial job experience in Canada brought me to another General Contractor, this time specializing in modular construction. I was excited, thinking it was a great chance to gain hands-on experience in a company that claimed to implement BIM, especially in the realm of prefabrication, a seemingly perfect match.
However, as time passed, I realized their vision of BIM was synonymous with Revit. The designated BIM Manager was essentially a Revit Manager, focused on simplifying tasks for designers with the ultimate goal of speeding up the creation of PDF deliverables. Unfortunately, there was no actual change in the underlying processes, mirroring my previous experience in Uruguay. Those in charge were resistant to altering their established ways of working.
While I did acquire valuable skills in using Revit during this role, I began to sense that merely excelling in Revit wasn’t the comprehensive solution. I felt that true BIM adoption wouldn’t happen unless the leadership embraced it wholeheartedly. Seeking a change, I found my second job in Canada as a BIM Consultant/Manager with Summit BIM.
While securing my first job in Canada, I was already halfway through my Master’s Degree in Building Information Modeling and Integrated Design. This academic pursuit equipped me with the indispensable skillset required to effectively contribute to a BIM process. Moreover, it offered a holistic understanding of various disciplines and the diverse applications of BIM. This broader perspective encouraged me to think beyond the confines of my architecture background, enabling me to devise solutions that would benefit not only myself but also my colleagues.
My Master’s Degree not only provided the necessary skills but also a certification that significantly boosted my employability in Canada.
Furthermore, in my quest to deepen my understanding of BIM, next year, I will be diving into a Postgraduate program with a special focus on Energy and Environmental Certifications. This is driven by the goal of delving into strategies that effortlessly incorporate energy certification and analysis into the BIM workflow, strengthening their ties to the design process. My aim is to keep gaining insights that will not only broaden my BIM knowledge but also contribute to a more comprehensive and sustainable approach in the field.
Working as a BIM Consultant/Manager in Canada:
Upon joining Summit BIM as a BIM Consultant/Manager, I quickly realized the contrast between the roles of a BIM Manager/Consultant and a Revit Manager. From my perspective, the Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Operations, and Owner (AECOO) industry is undergoing a transformative shift from a paper-based process to a data-driven paradigm. While most of the Canadian design and construction companies embrace BIM, it is often confined to fulfilling traditional paper-based goals.
The industry has yet to fully grasp the expansive potential of BIM, viewing it beyond a mere tool for their internal benefit. Silos persist among project stakeholders, hindering seamless collaboration. Although there is progress in virtual coordination, consultants, design companies, and General Contractors (GCs) typically employ BIM solely for their internal purposes, reluctant to share critical information.
Being a BIM Consultant/Manager extends far beyond being a Revit superhero. It involves strategic planning from the project’s inception, collaborating with Owners to understand their information needs, and aligning BIM Requirements with future Request for Proposals (RFPs). We emphasize proactive planning, granting designers the flexibility to choose strategies while overseeing and auditing the process to ensure simultaneous development of geometry and information.
The primary lesson learned in this role is that software becomes inconsequential without a comprehensive plan. A clear outcome-focused plan guides every stakeholder towards a common goal. However, the predominant challenge lies in the human factor. Despite the inherent collaborative nature of BIM, reluctance to share information persists, particularly regarding the information/data aspect of a project, which is often overlooked and left behind.
As the AECOO industry evolves, we find ourselves at the forefront of change. In the future, projects will focus more on using data, moving away from asking for PDF documents and shifting to information models as the new industry standard.
In conclusion, my journey into the Canadian realm of Building Information Modeling (BIM) has been a rollercoaster of experiences, revealing both challenges and opportunities. As the BIM landscape continues to transform, it’s clear that embracing change is not just a necessity but a powerful catalyst for progress. We stand at the forefront of an industry shift, where collaboration, proactive planning, and a broader understanding of BIM’s potential are the keys to success. Despite the hurdles we face, the promise of a future where information models replace traditional PDF deliverables is both exciting and inevitable. Let this journey be a reminder that, as BIM professionals, our role extends beyond software proficiency; it’s about shaping a collaborative, data-driven future for the entire AECOO industry. Embrace the change, and let’s collectively build a future where innovation knows no bounds.
If you are interested in learning more about our process, please reach out. We would love to help you.