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Your VDC Coordinator is the Conductor in your BIM Orchestra

By Daniel B. Welch, President, Final Draft CAD

Your VDC Coordinator is the Conductor in your BIM OrchestraDaniel B. Welch, President, Final Draft CAD

Who on your construction team will know everything about your building? Your Superintendent, and likely your Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) Coordinator who will be responsible for the Building Information Model (BIM).

The VDC Coordinator is the individual that will know the most about the building, especially early on in the project. The VDC Coordinator will know about each trade’s modeled content, which Addendum or RFI will impact a specific area, and if the overall design can be built as provided by the design team. The coordinator will also request new models from the design team, ask a trade to shift a duct in a coordination meeting, or find a better way to route conduit through a tight path.

In short, the VDC Coordinator is the conductor in your BIM orchestra. The orchestra is the owner, design team, contractors, and subs.

On a project that I was personally involved with earlier in my VDC Coordinator career, the construction project manager and I were walking through a large building and I noted a substantial gas line in an interstitial space. The project manager stopped in his tracks when I commented that it was a surprise to see it, and it wasn’t in the BIM. His response was, “You are right. It is a temporary gas line, and you need to get away from your computer more often.” I had become an extension of the building in since I knew most everything about the project.

The VDC Coordinator will constantly be asked for information, generate troves of data, research issues, expedite/generate RFI’s, and find creative ways to solve problems for the field. This may be by utilizing the BIM for additional modeling of one-off items, coordination, clash detection, drafting, animations, renderings, 4D (animation over time), and/or 5D (model with cost data). It could also be by integrating a point cloud to confirm existing conditions against the model or utilizing Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) data for civil overlay content to supplement the BIM. The VDC Coordinator will be that orchestral conductor, ensuring that all of these items are integrated in a format that will maintain project integrity. The conductor maintains technology and access credentials, coordinates subcontractor files encompassing the overall BIM, and ensures meeting minutes are distributed in a timely manner.

The coordinator has knowledge of computer systems and software, general building construction, architectural, civil, sub-trades (mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection), and even specialties like food service, laboratory, theatrical, pneumatic tube, or general manufacturing practices.

The VDC will work many hours on the project, coming into the office early with the superintendents to fly the BIM and answer their questions, and staying late trying to catch up on email and keep the administrative tasks moving forward.

When all of this goes well, the VDC Coordinator leads the orchestra to make beautiful music. You will see the talents of your construction team at play, and your clients will be able to hear and see a well-organized project in 3D before it is built. The BIM will be a source of pride and it will be relied on, especially in very complex projects. Money and time will be saved. Selecting the members and instruments in an orchestra and making them play together requires care to create beautiful music, and your BIM team should ensure the same care is taken.

I like to say ‘we build buildings in 3D before they’re built’. The VDC Coordinator will be this person on your project, conducting your team on its way to its building masterpiece.

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