Contract DocumentsContract Documents
About Forrest R. Lott, FAIA: Mr. Lott is Principal of Lott+Barber, a small architecture, planning, and visualization firm in Savannah, Georgia. Their work includes institutional, higher education, and sustainable projects in the Southeast. Current projects include restoration of the birthplace of Julliette Gordon Lowe, founder of the Girl Scouts, and student housing at the edge of Savannah’s historic district. Mr. Lott has served on the AIA National Documents Committee for the past several years and is the 2011–2012 Chair.
How long has your firm been using AIA Contract Documents?
We have used AIA Documents since the firm’s founding in 1990. Each new version of the software has made them easier to edit and share.
AIA published its first digital practice document, E201™–2007, in October 2007 and then later published E202™. Both documents are exhibits that establish protocols for managing digital data and building information modeling (BIM). Currently, AIA is updating its set of digital documents and has them out for public comment. Why are these new documents—E203–2012, G201–2012, and G202–2012—a significant development?
The use and usefulness of digital documents in general, and BIM in particular, has been increasing steadily. As more project participants become skilled in using the data, more sharing and collaboration benefits the project. In order for the participants to feel comfortable in allowing others to access and sometimes alter project data, the expectations concerning use and reliance on data need to be clearly stated. The new digital documents provide the tools for managing, coordinating, and, most importantly, defining the level of reliance that the participants can assume at any project stage.
Tell us, what is digital data and how does its utilization affect current industry practice?
Digital data in the documents means any information, communications, drawings, or designs for the Project that are in digital form. This includes e-mails, CAD, submittals, and, of course, BIM data.
Practice is responding rapidly to digital data and the connections it creates between all parts of the project. Estimating, rendering, and sustainability analysis are using much of the same data rather than creating new base information for each task. Similarly, more project participants—owners, architects, consultants, and contractors—are connected by this shared data. The benefits to the project include increased accuracy, speed of delivery, and reduced change during construction.
What is building information modeling and what opportunities and challenges does its utilization present to the industry?
Building information modeling is both the process and the technology used to describe or represent the project in three dimensional, qualitative and other terms. It may be a single aggregated model or multiple data sets for different parts of the project.
BIM results in improved understanding and coordination of the project, better early decision making, and the ability to explore more options. Challenges exist, though, when different users have differing expectations about the quality and quantity of the data in the model. The architect, mechanical engineer, and estimator are often looking for different things out of the same model. That is why the new G202 is timely and necessary—by clearly stating the expectation of producing and using the BIM data at every stage.
How have the fast moving areas of digital practice and Building Information Modeling evolved over the last few years?
Just as the technology changes quickly, so do the processes. BIM began as a powerful tool for a single designer. Now, almost every project participant has, or soon will have, a role in the authoring or use of BIM. The typical progression has been from single user to multiple users, from limited design and construction data to rich analysis and simulation data, and from the construction duration only to serving the life of the building. Owners are now discovering the facility management uses of the models created during the design and construction process.
What kinds of practical questions is the industry asking itself about how these concepts and tools should be implemented and how will these new documents address them?
The industry, naturally, has questions about the new way of creating and managing project data. Architects and engineers want to get input from manufacturers and builders to inform the design models. Contractors seek the quantitative and qualitative data to make procurement and construction decisions. The very collaboration that better informs our work has risks. Everyone wants to know that sharing data still in development will not come back to bite them. We also want to know whether we can rely on all the information we have access to or only portions of it. The new digital documents provide a structure for fleshing out these questions and a way to share the resolutions with all the project participants.
Given the speed with which digital practice is developing, how does AIA membership help keep an architect at the forefront of the profession?
The Knowledge Communities within the AIA generate a tremendous wealth of information available to members. The members of these groups such as TAP, Documents Committee, Risk Management Committee and others tend to be at the forefront of the conversations about digital practice. The results of the various committee efforts are disseminated in a broad variety of ways. All of this knowledge is developed by the membership for the a benefit of the profession and is available for the asking
TAP serves as a resource for
Forrest R. Lott, FAIA
Established in 1990, the firm