BIMstorm™ #2 - BIM Caseweek Rotterdam LIVE 19-23 NOV 2007
In California and Hawaii, Onuma, Inc. participated in this live
BIMStorm and collaboration with the CAD Visual team in Netherlands.
The virtual project was initiated by
“Rijksgebouwendienst” Department of Ministry, VROM,
(Netherlands' GSA). The Rotterdam city council was interested in
- Environmentally neutral bridge to connect between
Rotterdam Center and South
- Integrating an existing train station with the project
- 400 million Euros for the bridge
- 800 million Euros for a mixed-use housing, office and
This fast-paced design charrette involved 60 teams working on
projects and presenting results throughout a four-day BIM conference.
VROM required BIM and open standards to share and collaborate among the
various teams. Onuma demonstrated how webservice and open standards
based BIM exchanges could support rapid and massive real-time
collaboration with teams around the world.
A BIM Journal by Joost Wijnen, Cadvisual
Edited by Michael Bordenaro, NF Publishing Co.
Rotterdam BIMStorm Refreshes the Netherlands
The Netherlands held its first comprehensive Building
Information Model exhibition November 19 – 23, 2007.
The country's eight largest contractors sponsored the national
event, which invited building industry members to participate in a
large-scale, virtual design and construction project to demonstrate how
to benefit from new processes and technologies.
Other industries have experienced phenomenal productivity
improvements when using advanced software tools that exchange data
through open standards.
Building Information Models tie data to images in very
powerful ways. The capabilities of this relatively new software tool
set is just starting to be understood.
The ultimate success of the exhibition indicates than the tool
set can be easier to learn and more effective than most participants
Based on the virtual building projects designed and modeled on
Google Earth during the first BIM Case Week, there is great potential
for productivity improvement and profitability opportunities in the
A day-by-day glimpse of the developments are below and images
are available at www.bimcaseweek.nl - a Dutch langauge site.
The first assignment was to build a 3rd major bridge in Rotterdam, home
of the largest port in Europe.
The budget - 400 Million Euro ($500 million) - was similar to
the budget of another recently built bridge.
But the program was expanded to include housing, offices,
entertainment and other amenities help attract 500,000
visitors/tourists per year.
The budget was increased to 1.2 Billion Euro ($1.5 billion),
but all additional funds had to be financed from anticipated project
The City of Rotterdam is the official initiator of the
project, but the exhibition was administered by the Rijksgebouwendienst
(RGD), which oversees national building projects. RGD is comparable to
U.S.A.'s General Services Administration (GSA).
Since the renovation and expansion of a railroad station could
be integrated, a potential funding source for part of the project was
ProRail, owner of almost all railroad tracks and stations in the
19 NOV 2007
Participants gathered in the top floor the largest national
contractors’ association headquarters.
More than 90 people brought laptops and computers to actively
work on the project. More than 200 observers watched the proceedings
and spoke with the designers throughout the event.
The project was divided into three main sub-sections:
- The Bridge
- An island of buildings
- The land on each side of the river where the bridge landed
Each section was lead by architects, who are trained to lead
complex, consensus-based, problem solving exercises. Trained first to
express ideas with paper and pencils, the architects began working with
these traditional tools.
One group, Michel Post Architects (MPA) from Amsterdam,
supported by technology consultant Cadvisual, started creating 3D
models from the beginning of the day.
At the end of the day, MPA and Cadvisual were able to present
a preliminary design solution as a Building Information Model (BIM).
The basic model was able to provide interactive visuals and
meaningful details such as names for every space in the project. Also,
a combined steel bridge structure and building structures were made
available through software from Tekla and EliteCAD linked through
software open standards provided by buildingSmart Alliance.
It was possible to "fly over" the project to see it from many
angles and obtain data in the form of meaningful reports generated
based on client questions.
At a 5 pm review, officials from the City of Rotterdam were
impressed by the designs, but were also disappointed that some
presentations only included digital images of paper sketches that could
not allow client interaction.
So the client clearly expressed an interest to see all
presentations as 3D models within 24 hours.
Tuesday, 20 NOV 2007
All teams anxiously started 3D modeling. The tension was noticeable
between those with design abilities and those with modeling abilities.
Most of the participants started creating individual models of
their section without much thought about how they would all link.
Most information was being shared as .DWG files, which are
oriented for 2D representation.
Because MPA's group was building a model from the start,
Cadvisual was creating files that can be shared with the .IFC data
exchange file format. In order to test the exchanges, the group had two
professionals making a basic model of the other sections of the
At the end of Tuesday presentations were given using the 3D
models created that day. The 3D quality was poor and the models where
not aligned at all. It was also obvious no valuable reports, quantity
take offs, or real-time cost estimating, was possible. Since the client
had required this level of performance from the launch of the project,
there were complaints.
Participants indicated they though the requirements impossible
to achieve and they blamed bad ‘intranet’
connections for not having adequately met the requirements.
That is when Cadvisual proposed to that all teams use the .IFC
data exchange format. Since there had been serious exchange problems,
everyone agreed on trying to use IFC’s on Wednesday. The
client vigorously agreed.
The MPA/Cadvisual team decided to help the other sub-sections
better understand .IFC data exchange and help them when possible.
Wednesday, 21 NOV 2007
Many participants thought that Tuesday was a very inefficient day,
because the teams had not collaborated well.
On Tuesday people were exchanging .DWG date on memory sticks.
There was no common 0-point for the project
There was still tension between designers and modelers. It was
obvious that many designers were not familiar with the 3D model design
It was assumed every one knows about 3D modeling and that
since the country's top 90 3D modelers were participating, everyone
would have the same perspective and the same level of understanding
about this new tool set. These assumptions lead to the low productivity
But Wednesday the hierarchy of people, tools and knowledge
started to fit together for the start of a productive day.
Almost everyone tried to use the .IFC exchange format. Some
even took arduous steps to convert .DWG files to .IFC files.
Since Cadvisual was responsible for a tower on the island,
this was the only IFC-based model (made in EliteCAD) to use it within
Riuska do an energy analysis.
At 5 pm all 90 architects and modelers were pretty content
with the results. There were no network problems anymore and the models
actually did fit together, although lot’s of parts were
missing and not aligned…
After the presentation by the team-leaders, the client gave
their own presentation - of a new conceptual design! The client
demanded that the existing models would be changed … just
like its happens in the real world. And they demanded budget
calculations which were directly linked to the main BIM model, although
there was no ‘main model’, let alone an descent
IFC-based model which could provide the needed data…
A deep discussion occurred among the architects, modelers and
client. One camp felt it unfair that just when major strides had been
made to created a unified BIM model, changes were expected. Although
the client stated that when using a proper BIM model, changing it,
should not be a problem.
After the discussion the client management team had a meeting
while most of the designers went to a dinner.
Joost Wijnen from Cadvisual joined in the client management
meeting, because he was convinced that Onuma was a unique solution to
this very common problem.
In this meeting the architects of RGD stated they wanted changes in the
design and the City of Rotterdam wanted more automated financial
information related to the model to inform strategic design decisions.
Since no model server was used, almost everyone was disappointed no
real-time 3D central model was available to everyone.
There hardly was any information available from the client
side, not even MS Excel sheets with highly detailed line item
Wijnen argued that an advanced, low-cost, online model server
would accept many types of data, use it all to integrate complex models
that can automatically output key building project reports, including
detailed financial reports.
Although the client was impressed about the proposed
international collaboration (‘using time zones is very
powerful’ they stated), there were also concerns that after
the project was over, the integration process would no longer be
possible without international collaboration.
At 9 pm, Wijnen was given 12 hours to coordinate a
presentation using Onuma.
Wijnen had only one problem, he had never used the software
Wijnen explained the project to Onuma, Inc., headquartered in
Pasadena, California, USA.
From 9:45 pm until 11 pm (1.15 hours) Wijnen's team was given
a live web-demo by Kimon Onuma, AIA and his team.
Determined to show the client the local team was able to meet
requirements without any further international assistance, Wijnen
coordinated an all night
process of entering existing project data into the software program to
create meaningful, interactive 3D models.
Digital scans of hand drawings, Excel Spreed Sheets, data from
structural steel software programs, geographic data from existing
sources, such as Google Earth, maps and other data was entered into the
the Onuma software.
Before 1 am (4 hours), the Rotterdam team was creating Excel
spread sheets of program requirements to create 3D massing models to
provide very conceptual relationships of size, cost and aesthetic
It took until 4:30 am (7.5 hours) to create the desired Excel
spread sheet description of the project.
Onuma could accept the Excel spread sheets and create a 3D
model. Also, it can help create a model based on the digital scan of a
Ease of importing data is matched by ease of exporting data in
.IFC compatible format and other formats such as the .XLS format used
by Excel spread sheets.
Because of this import-export capability, Onuma can help two
models created in different programs be accurately linked. They can
then be imported into a third program with drag-and-drop ease.
To see if the models meet the requirements of the client, it
is only necessary to read the Excel files, which can be color coded to
indicate a lack of compliance.
The 3D models landed on Google Earth were described as
‘abstract visualizations’ of the Excel spread
sheets describing the project length, width, height, and other factors.
At 5 am (8 hours), support was needed from Onuma, Inc., which
provided assistance through Onuma, Google Earth and Skype.
The remaining hours were spent finalizing the presentation.
Thursday, 22 NOV 2007
At 9 am (12 hours) there where approximately 100 people waiting for a
But first a meeting was held to help educate people about the
new processes and advanced technology they were about to observe.
During this meeting, Wijnen received the message that the
project was online. A small KML-link was sent via e-mail, and Wijnen
opened Google Earth, then loaded the models on the 3D map of Rotterdam.
Wijnen says, "We are convinced the team of Onuma could have
had the models up and running in less than half the time we used. But
we were determined to learn the tool and use it ourselves. And we were
successful at learning it overnight."
Because the client was able to see cost estimate data related
to preliminary design images, strategic decisions were made. For
example, understanding foundation costs led to the decision of housing
all program requirements in 3 tall towers instead of 5 short ones.
The other 90 modelers were able to follow the changes through
Google Earth, as this model was updated automatically.
By Thursday evening the models had a bit more detail, some
design issues were solved and a preliminary cost analysis calculation
It was a very intensive week for everyone; it was amazing to see how
serious everyone was and how freely they gave their time to the
Also it was very satisfying to see how people grew to these
- We need a good network
- We need a common 0-point in the project
- Designers and modelers have to learn to collaborate with
- .IFC is an excellent format for data sharing
The demand for .IFC open standards was a surprise. Everyone
was positive. There were no real complaints because everyone was
realistic that not everything is possible with IFC (yet). But we are
sure the expectations are high now!
So the demand for better IFC’s are serious now. Also
because the main conclusion of the BIMcaseweek is that the market is
ready for BIM.
Which is a big step forward to IFC based buildingSMART!
Wijnen says, "Most spectacular, I think, was the introduction
of Onuma; some people said it should have been used right at the start
on Monday! Of course they are right, but the reality is, no one was
interested before the communication problems showed up. As usual, it
takes a crisis to start a revolution."
How BIMStorm Rotterdam Happened
11/20/07 Start Using Onuma
- 3:01PM Pacific Time. Cad Visual contacts Onuma about the
ongoing live charrette for the BIMcaseweek in the Netherlands.
- 3:20PM Pacific Time. Start Go To Meeting, Cad Visual
identifies site in Rotterdam on Google Earth. Onuma imports site
outline into Onuma from Google Earth.
- 3:40PM Review of concept completed. Rough idea of program
explained verbally on Skype. Bridge spanning the river, housing on top
of bridge, other buildings on either side, metro line through the
bridge. No concrete program discussed at this point. Excel program
files not available on BIMcaseweek site yet.
- 4:15PM First rough scheme created in Onuma, moving
buildings from Boston BIMStorm to Rotterdam. The idea was to get a
starting point and not have anything "sacred" in the rough scheme. The
intent of this early part of the BIMStorm is to get all the "known" and
"unknown" information of the project into the system.
- 4:18PM 1.3 Million Square Feet of buildings programmed.
Excel file exported with all square footage. Google Earth exported. IFC
exported to Revit, and ArchiCAD. ArchiCAD used to rapidly arrange
various options and then import those back into Onuma.
- 4:21 PM Up to this point the above process was completed
with one team member in Onuma. One more person is added to expand the
study, add other programming elements and a metro line.
- 4:22 PM rough program description in the form of a one
page MS Word Document Received from CAD Visual.
- 4:22 PM Pacific, 1:30 AM in Rotterdam. CAD Visual Team
calls it a day. More to follow tomorrow morning.
- 7:00 PM Onuma team loads a new scheme based on CAD Visual
program description into Onuma.
11/21/07 BIMstorm Lands
- 1:22 AM Pacific, (10:20 AM in Rotterdam.) CAD Visual Team
demonstrates Onuma to client in Rotterdam. Onuma team observes other
schemes being shown.
- 2:10 AM Onuma team creates new scheme version 3
- 9:30 AM Onuma and CAD Visual team has online brainstorming
- Review schemes
- Train CAD Visual Team in the use of Onuma
- Test for the first time IFC in and out from Onuma to
Elite CAD ( successful )
- 1:00 PM - 11:00 PM, (10 PM - 8 AM in Rotterdam ) CAD
Visual and Onuma team collaborate on creating schemes in Onuma.
11/22/07 Review of Schemes
- 9:00 AM PM - 6:00 PM, in Rotterdam. Cad Visual continues
to develop and refine schemes with input from Rijksgebouwendienst,
Department of Ministry, VROM, (the GSA of The Netherlands). VROM
requirements created to compare with various architects solutions.
- 6:00 PM, Onuma solutions presented in Rotterdam by CAD
11/23/07 Continued Design Studies
- The Onuma team used the IFC files generated by CAD Visual
using Onuma to export to Revit and study various alternatives and
import the results back to Onuma.
- The Onuma team used the IFC files to also study a more
detailed curtain wall option in Revit.
Info on BIMStorm
Info on BIMcaseweek: