3D, CAD and BIM - What it means for churches

Does a church need 3D, CAD and BIM?

As you’re looking through proposals for architectural services you might see some unfamiliar terms like these and ask: What does it mean and why do we need it? Are we paying extra for it? Sometimes architects forget that not everyone speaks our language. 3D, CAD and BIM are simply types of software tools the design team uses to develop your project. Here’s what it means for your church.

What CAD is

CAD, or sometimes CADD, means Computer Aided Design (or Drafting) and it’s a term that came about a couple of decades ago when computers began to replace drafting boards in architect’s offices. CAD is a generic term for a type of software that allows us to use computers for drafting and is fairly standard in architecture and engineering now. You can expect that all the drawings of your church will be produced using CAD. There are many brands of software on the market, including AutoCad. CAD drawings only contain two dimensional information, the equivalent of lines on paper.

3D design modelling

3D modeling has become more easily accessible in the past decade with software like SketchUp, which is free and easy to use. These days architects have no excuse not to prepare some form of 3D computer model of your building as part of their basic services. The outside of a building is easily modeled and it is also possible to model the entire building. Of course “possible” does not always mean easy or cheap. The more detail you want, the more time is required, so although not all architects are willing to include it in their basic fee, they may do it for an extra fee. In a church project you might want to see the inside of the main auditorium space as well as select critical areas of the design. Once complete, the 3D model will allow you to view your building from any vantage point.

Does a church need BIM?

BIM stands for Building Information Modeling and is now gaining popularity among architects, engineers and contractors. Essentially it’s software that enables the architects and engineers to develop a single, complete computer model of the proposed building including all components and systems. The idea is that what is designed in the model is exactly what gets built, reducing costly mistakes during construction. In addition, the model contains a whole range of information that can be useful during the bidding and manufacturing phase. While BIM does have some benefits, it’s not industry standard yet, and many firms are just starting to lean how to use it effectively. Revit, ArchiCad and Vectorworks are the primary brands. At this point BIM is not essential for your church project, unless it’s a very large or complicated design.

Modern design tools

So 3D, CAD and BIM are simply the “behind the scenes” tools your architect uses to develop your design. The products of these tools are drawings and representations that communicate the design in a way that you can easily understand.

For help understanding these or any other unfamiliar industry terms contact David Parker or Kelly Seminoff at Parker Seminoff Architects or leave a comment below.

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