Form, function and creativity: building smarter with 5D Macro BIM

Traditionally, early stage architectural design consisted of little more than napkin sketches and conversations between architects and owners. It’s long been an imprecise process that’s often created confusion between project parties and uncertainty in project execution.

Enter 5D Macro Building Information Modeling (BIM) — a game-changing technology transforming architectural design.

What is 5D Macro BIM?

5D Macro BIM is a tool that allows a design team to rapidly create realistic 3D computer models of the earliest-stage design ideas. The fourth and fifth dimensions of the model are the estimated construction schedule and the construction cost associated with the design. These estimates are based on robust, real-world databases of material and labor costs. As design elements are altered in the design, the cost and schedule estimates change with them, bringing clarity and predictability to decision-making in the early design process. This combination of enhanced design and reliable data fosters collaboration, creative problem solving and transparency in the design process.

Promoting creativity and collaboration

By nature, architectural modeling is a blend of strategic function and artistic form coming together to create purposeful designs. As a result, creativity and problem solving are crucial parts of the process. Cutting-edge 5D Macro BIM enhances creativity and team collaboration, making it easier to solve problems through design. The reason?

With 5D Macro BIM, anything you can dream up can easily be modeled and examined — creative design concepts, clever finishes, innovative layouts, uniquely shaped and aligned departments, floors and walls in varying sizes. In practice, this starts with your project team listening to you and gathering the key ideas you’d like modeled. Next, the project team uses a 5D Macro BIM tool to bring your ideas to life and meets with you to present the models.

Here’s where it gets fun.

5D Macro BIM provides an opportunity to not only demonstrate the models but also show you, face to face and in real time, how your facility will look, what it will cost and how long it’ll take to build if you want to reshape certain areas, increase or decrease the size of different spaces or alter materials. At The Korte Company, we can typically model about 75 percent of design change requests on the spot, and nearly all the rest can be incorporated into a model within a day’s time.

The result is an efficient progression that sparks ideas and kicks off productive dialogue between key project parties, including your executive leadership and other salient staff, such as facility managers.

Strategic problem solving and decision-making

With ideas flying around, models adapting and numbers available, the process fosters problem solving around budget and schedule. At The Korte Company, we use the technology to create a shopping list that shows how different options affect price, allowing you to easily prioritize design elements. The process tangibly shows you how the cost of a facility changes when you add extra space, multiple stories or great features, such as a canopy or specialty finishes. Based on the demonstrations and complete information available in the model, the team can prioritize project goals within the constraints of budget and schedule. For example, after seeing various options, you may decide to phase a project over time to reduce up-front costs. The project team can then quickly model how that looks and make recommendations to strategically plan the facility for expansion.

Making decisions with certainty

Increased project predictability may be the biggest benefit of 5D Macro BIM technology. For many years, no one was sure exactly what they were agreeing to in the early stages of the process. Using modeling programs, such as DProfiler, project teams can remove that uncertainty and model every area to scale — interior and exterior. The technology shows how different departments or areas of a facility truly work together, along with their size, cost and the time it takes to build them. As a result, everyone is on the same page, and the project team can show you, at the earliest stages, a rough but accurate estimate of what your project will cost and how long it’ll take to build. You can make decisions more confidently and quickly with fewer headaches and less stress.

Even better, your team can collaborate in open dialogue to find savings and efficiencies. For example, the technology creates a rough project sequence that a skilled project team can use to identify potential holdups. In these early conversations, you can actually begin to determine what space your project team may need to access, which construction elements you can overlap to streamline the schedule and other ways to complete your project more quickly. You can also build value engineering directly into the process, substituting more cost-effective materials right into the early designs.

What has traditionally been a painful process of making difficult decisions becomes a fun experience working with a collaborative Design-Build team using a 5D Macro BIM tool.

Transparency and an open-book partnership

Part of increasing predictability in the critical path of the project is operating in total transparency. By modeling with 5D Macro BIM, costs are clearly pegged to materials, labor or soft costs. And you can progress in an open-book partnership with your Design-Builder. At The Korte Company, this is our standard operating procedure. In an open-book partnership, your project team can even provide value back to you at the end of the project, either in the form of direct cost savings by coming in under budget or in the form of extra building features made possible by coming in under budget.

Getting the most from transformative innovations with Design-Build

In our experience, the best way to get the most from 5D Macro BIM and other tools that promote collaboration and innovation is through the Design-Build method. In this approach, one entity takes single-source responsibility for design and construction, guiding your project from start to finish. We’ve published a full Design-Build Buyer’s Guide that shows you how the method can improve your project and how to best procure Design-Build services. Fill out the form below to download the complete guide.

Let's talk

Get Build-Smart guidance from our experienced Design-Build team.

Let's talk

Get started