"All buildings get built," said Steve Napier, Regional Healthcare Core Market Leader of DPR Construction. "We can look back at the Great Pyramids and the Roman Coliseum, and they didn’t have any of the technology we have today, but they made it happen."

Yes, all buildings do get built; but today’s technology is improving all the time, so why not take advantage of it to make your next project one that results in reduced costs and greater efficiency.
 
One of the latest concepts is Building Information Modeling, or BIM, which creates and manages three-dimensional, computer-generated models used to help design and construct buildings or projects. The model details such characteristics as spatial relationships, and quantities and properties of the components.
 
DPR Construction has been utilizing BIM for more than a decade, and Napier knows how valuable it is. "We found the most measurable savings come when it relates to using building modeling for coordination purposes and clash detection. We’re able to identify conflicts on the computer vs. in the field, where you can now minimize retrofit and rework, and you have the ability to pre-plan, pre-fabricate and reduce man-hours that are expended out in the field. Rework on paper in our industry is easier and much less costly than fixing it once the bricks and mortar are in place."
 
Napier said BIM originated when the architectural field moved from hand-drawing documents to utilizing a computer-assisted drawing, or CAD, system. "CAD is a two-dimensional drawing, a set of plans. But once we get into the building modeling, we now have the ability to take the building not only to a 3D dimension, but also to 4D and 5D—4D adding an element of time to the program, and 5D adding cost data to the model. We can incorporate a timeline to it and—when we use this in presentations—we can generate an actual model on a screen of the building being built, thus giving some of the users an understanding of what they can expect to see at a particular point in time. And obviously, the cost data answers one of the most important questions an owner would have. BIM is not just a model, but a database that is as smart as the user makes it.”
 
DPR realized the tremendous advantage of this concept and first started using it in 1998. "Within the past five years, we have modeled as many projects as we can," Napier said, "and the reason for that is the fact that all of our building modeling is done in-house. A lot of our competition uses BIM in some form; but at DPR—being different—we want to control the process, and not rely solely on our subcontractors. We currently have on staff more than 15 BIM engineers, including individuals in the organization who have advanced degrees in this area."
 
And to keep these engineers on top of BIM, they must work with it regularly. "It’s a tool that exists, but like anything else, if it’s not used, it’s worthless," Napier said, adding that courses in BIM weren’t offered when he was in college. "So we’ve found that for building construction management programs, computer science-type courses are a good starting point for individuals once they get into the field."
 
Based on the West Coast, DPR has worked with clients such as the University of California, Stanford University and Sutter Health. It has also done considerable work for Kaiser Permanente. Now, in getting established in South Florida, Napier pointed to the Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, a $190 million life science lab, as one of the company’s premier projects.
 
Napier said DPR likes to consider itself to be a pioneer and innovator in this field. "We are one of the first, if not the first, contractors of our size to implement the use of building modeling. It’s become part of our culture, it’s the way we do business." He admitted that considerable cost is involved to set up the infrastructure, and the software and hardware systems, as well as the personnel training, and not everyone is willing to do that. "Unless somebody is going to dive into it neck deep, a lot of companies will frown upon the investment. But at DPR, we are 120 percent committed."
 
And while DPR is committed, the firm is also doing its part to educate clients. As Napier explained, "(Clients) immediately thinks it’s going to cost more money to do this. There is in most cases an initial premium that is paid, but the amount of investment up-front has produced significant savings on the tail end."
 
He concluded, "This isn’t magic; it’s a tool that basically allows for three things: cost-savings, time-savings, and a faster revenue-generator."
 
The Egyptian slaves probably wish BIM had been designed a few thousand years earlier.