In the architectural field, Building Information Management (BIM) has made it easier to design, build and maintain structures and their surrounding properties.

This three-dimensional platform gives everyone from architects and engineers to builders and other contractors a broad view of a building plan that includes detailed information and analytical tools.  
 
It has made planning, building and managing sites—including a structure’s infrastructure, such as HVAC and electrical systems—so much easier. Best of all, it helps building specialists to identify potential pitfalls before they occur, saving time and money. 
 
At Quinn Evans Architects, we are no strangers to the power of BIM, and rely on it for many of our projects. But when it came to using it for historic sites, we envisioned a whole new way to do that. See, many of our clients are historic sites that are governed by unique rules, and could largely benefit from the intel that BIM provides. 
 

You can imagine the rules and minute details we are faced with when considering upgrades, additions and maintenance to some of our nation’s prized historical landmarks. When we work at these sites, we need to know more than building plans and equipment placement. We need to understand details about historic building materials that may be required to be held intact or completely replaced due to health and safety reasons. Everything done on a historic site is not only about making it useful now—it’s about respecting the historical integrity of the space for the future.  
 
Having worked with clients in the historic preservation for 30 years, we are very familiar with the demands and requirements these sites must meet. We knew that if we could leverage BIM and tailor it to this field, it would be a goldmine. 
 
Could a single data source save time and money…all while preventing irreversible, catastrophic errors and maintain the historic integrity of a landmark? Could it be rolled out for all landmarks, perhaps linking data to view history in a completely new way?  

Using BIM to Preserve History

We came up with the concept for HBIM (Historic Building Information Management) in 2013. Soon after, the Quinn Evans team went to work creating the system with collaborators at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Plantation and conducted a pilot study within the next year. After successfully implementing it at Mount Vernon, President George Washington’s iconic 21-room Virginia mansion and 500-acre estate in Virginia, we are confident that HBIM is an effective tool that has the capability to revolutionize a niche market.  
 
The layer of history that goes into understanding these sites is massive. Large amounts of historical data may be digitalized now, but may be also housed in numerous locations without a single point of access. Being able to access, harness and manipulate this information at a moment’s notice—the same way architects can using ordinary BIM data from newer buildings—is an incredible asset to professionals, property stewards—and even to visitors of historic sites. 
 
The HBIM platform offers peace of mind to make sure the most critical information is accessible. It can specify how preservation activities comply with applicable regulations and therefore avoid costly compliance issues. And it offers a better visual on how prospective changes will impact other areas of the building.  

HBIM in Practice

Here are two ways HBIM could be used: 

  • Architects and landmark stewards can gain perspective and valuable insights on planning and maintenance from a BIM interface similar to the one they’re already using. For example, they may be able to restore a part of the structure knowing what type of wood was used in the past, and adding reclaimed wood of the same type and era, so it remains more historically true.
  • Visitors to historic spots could use a screen and selected data from HBIM to learn more about details of a site.

The valuable information accessed by the HBIM interface can guide strategic planning decisions today and be useful in future applications. It’s something we’re proud to be unveiling to the world. And we are equally excited to see all of the innovative ways in which it will be used. 
 
Contact me at asteele@quinnevans.com, to check out a demo of HBIM and see how we already have used this ground-breaking platform.  
 
Download the guide here.