Lionel Lambourn; Gehry Technologies

Lionel Lambourn, managing director of Gehry Technologies in the Middle East discusses the adoption and future of BIM Which projects have you used BIM for and how did BIM enhance the working processes within the projects? In this region we have utilized BIM at various stages on the Guggenheim Museum Abu Dhabi (for the design […]

Lionel Lambourn, managing director of Gehry Technologies in the Middle East discusses the adoption and future of BIM

Which projects have you used BIM for and how did BIM enhance the working processes within the projects?

In this region we have utilized BIM at various stages on the Guggenheim Museum Abu Dhabi (for the design phase), the Yas Hotel (for the design and construction phase), the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (for the construction phase), the Abu Dhabi Investment Council Headquarters (for the design and construction phase), the King Abdullah Petroleum Science and Research Centre, the Louvre Abu Dhabi (for the design phase), the Strata Tower at Al Raha (design phase), the Burj Khalifa Executive Lobby (construction phase), Four Seasons Hotel Festival City (early construction phase), W Hotel Festival City (early construction phase), the King Abdullah University of Science & Technology Solar Towers (construction phase), Qatar National Museum (design and tender phase), Midfield Terminal Abu Dhabi (tender phase), Presidential Flights Abu Dhabi (construction phase).


BIM offered different things at different stages for each one of these projects. The Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, which is over a year into its construction, has achieved a tremendous amount of progress through its leveraging of BIM for design coordination, on-site logistical planning and construction simulation studies carried out in the computer. The designs of the equipment and methodologies for the maintenance and servicing of the complex, moving double skinned envelope of the Abu Dhabi Investment Council Headquarters was assessed, refined, and verified in BIM months before the first envelope panel was installed. The precise geometry of each and every panel of the Yas Hotel Gridshell would be impossible but for the power of automation and optimization tools in BIM.


What kind of reaction do you face from the wider industry when talking about BIM and how has this changed over the years?

In the last several years, there has been a growing awareness in the region of what BIM is but the level of understanding of its benefits in practice are still widely varying. More and more, we are seeing BIM specifications written into a project’s contractual requirements. When you read these specifications, you notice a general trend of growing sophistication and understanding of the use of BIM; however, we  are still in very early days of this general movement toward the adoption of BIM. There are still scores of projects currently in construction that could have but do not currently benefit from the use of BIM.


How do forums such as BuildingSMART benefit their members and BIM?

A group of like minded professionals who have, loosely speaking, a common goal and who are willing to gather and organize themselves will always be able to capture the attention of their intended audience more effectively than any individual. By drawing on the volunteered time of their members, buildingSMART is able to put on events, amplify the marketing of BIM, and simply create a louder buzz around BIM. Besides having a collectively louder voice, it also has a more credible voice. As a body that champions the benefits of an open platform approach to BIM rather than the interests of any particular software vendor or BIM practitioner, buildingSMART and its representatives—as long as they restrain themselves to speaking in their capacity as members of buildingSMART—have the benefit of impartiality. In an industry where the market is still on the lower reaches of a learning curve, the consumer needs an impartial organization from which to obtain unbiased guidance—buildingSMART seeks to provide that kind of guidance.


How significant is it that the Jordanian government has taken the “BIM oath?” what will this mean for the local industry and can you see this spreading throughout the industry across the wider region?

It’s certainly a move in the right direction but the effect of such a declaration is dependent on how actively it is  implemented. How will the government enforce this? Will economic incentives be provided by the government on projects that are considering the use of BIM? Will excess levels of construction waste incur steeper penalties? What is the time-frame behind their plans for BIM implementation? These are questions that demand answers with some degree of sophistication from experts who understand not only BIM but the construction industry and how it is affected by the national and global economic forces that we currently face.


What are the main barriers to adopting BIM/ joining such bodies and how could these be tackled, in your personal opinion?

Implied in this question is the assumption that the adoption of  BIM is the biggest hurdle which any company faces. Or to put it another way, in the spectrum between “no BIM”  at one end of the scale and “fully leveraging BIM” at the other, the actual barrier that you refer to in your question is not located at the adoption phase.


The barrier is when you have already made that initial investment in time, resources and money, and have implemented what you think is BIM on that first project. Perhaps it’s one year since you invested in BIM and you are struggling to reap the benefits on your project and you start to worry that this whole BIM idea was a mistake. This is where the barrier is. Some companies will persevere and work hard at developing those best practices that allow you to truly leverage BIM for a significant return on investment, other companies will find the learning curve so steep that they just slide right off. The thing with BIM is that it requires the development of a well-coordinated set of best practices and a concerted effort at adhering to those best practices in order to see the return—it is not something that magically happens when you take an installation CD out of its box and put it into your computer. The best BIM service providers have a big advantage here—they know where the pitfalls are in the work flow and they have had years of refining their best practices so they can walk into a project and implement BIM in such as was as to ensure a return immediately. Most companies who are thinking about the adoption of BIM will have a far greater return on their investment if they work with a reputable BIM service provider on their first project and learn their best practices before they try to execute BIM by themselves from scratch.


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