Interview with MODUS
How BIM is driving change
10 June 2019
Allister Lewis, ACG’s Head of Technology, was recently interviewed by Brendon Hooper, Editor at MODUS.
“Head of technology” is an unusual title for an architect. What does this involve?
My title encompasses my role as BIM manager for the company, which means thinking about BIM’s relationship to architecture, as well as keeping at the forefront of all the hardware, software, processes, training requirements and research and development involved with BIM. All of this put together makes for a role that has really never been available to architects.
Is technology making old job titles redundant?
The construction industry is at a really exciting digitisation stage, which is creating new career paths for young people. It’s not such a narrow world anymore – you might be an architect, but you can at the same time be an information manager, a BIM manager, or work in 3D printing. There is a range of skills that should be transferred and brought into the industry, and digitisation supports this.
How do you see the relationship between architects and surveyors evolving?
I used to work quite closely with a team of quantity surveyors who measured from BIM models and used the data to inform their bills of quantities via BIM-complementary software such as CostX. I’m pushing to develop more of these relationships in my present role, because although we rely on BIM – leading some to question whether we need surveyors at all – in my view they are absolutely crucial for bringing their expertise and understanding to the model.
Is BIM still driving change in the industry?
BIM Level 2 has been an extraordinary driver for change, and has put the UK in a position where other countries now wish to follow our example. However, a two-tier system seems to be forming with companies that have progressed their BIM capabilities and expertise to a high level – giving them an advantage in bidding
for work – leaving behind other smaller practices who haven’t progressed as far with BIM. This is a worrying knowledge gap.
Are architecture and surveying firms still too risk averse?
For small or medium-sized firms, cost is still a huge issue. Not only with the technology itself, but also training people to understand it. The reality is a lot of businesses don’t work to a big research and development budget. Firms need to have a clear view of where they are going, too. Some of the most successful firms have a five-year plan of how they see themselves advancing with BIM in the future.
Are we coming close to a point where every facet of the built environment can be put in one model?
Yes, this is where we’re heading. The aim is that by 2025 there is a greater level of digitisation and integration. Large technology firms have identified the construction industry is ripe for development and there is a huge opportunity to sell new products, services and systems ultimately for the benefits clients and end-users.
You can read the full interview in the MODUS June Issue.