BIM wants to change the way architects work, but there isn't any benefit for architects. More info is embedded in the design - but for the benefit of the contractor and the owner. The architect still needs to produce everything he has produced in the past - plus this additional information.
Never mind that it is only on multi-million dollar projects that you might find an owner and contractors capable of taking advantage of the BIM information. I think it is safe to say that in 2012 a majority of owners and contractors are at their limits technologically with email, PDFs, and a spreadsheet.
I think the problem lies in trying to embed this information in the visual representation of the building, which either forces the architect to commit to decisions too early (leads to rework) or forces the architect to return to finished, but generic, drawings and make them job and product specific. This has never been an issue before BIM, except in the case of specifications. Specification have tended to be a new layer of information that gets integrated with the drawings, often late in the process.
This is a permanent stumbling block. An architect will never know the exact span and load when first drawing a bar joist, or the color and material of a handrail when first drawn.
The time to add specifics is during the noting process. If this is robust enough, then the specifications can be eliminated, too; and the drawing doesn't require any rework at all.
Why is BIM so popular? I submit that it is because the firms that sell the capability have convinced large clients that it is "the future" and it doesn't cost anything to prepare for the future. The big architectural firms need to show they are ready for "the future". So the architect provides it. The Owner ignores it because ... it is really complicated. The contractors can use it or not - nobody can tell. The management of the big architectural firms are too far removed from drawing production to understand the inherent rework and cost that it requires (not to mention whether it is being done well).
Something BIM-like will undoubtedly arrive on the scene. There are benefits to be had. Just not for architects and just not right now.
Other articles about BIM:
BIM Webinar Thoughts
Who Will Champion BIM?
Are You Ready For BIM?
How Long Till BIM Heaven?
Edited: October 1, 2013
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