When architects and planners work with owners, they usually accept a proposed site and think about how to arrange and orient a building on that site.
They develop ideas about what the building should look like in some detail before engaging builders or construction managers in ideas about how the building will be delivered.
Then, if the project cost cannot be brought in line with the budget, another site or an existing building renovation is considered.
AEC teams tend to think first about what to build, then how to build, and finally where else they should think about building.
Perhaps this is the wrong sequence of decision-making and engages the team members in the wrong order.
What happens if we reversed the sequence? Can a where-how-what sequence—considering multiple sites, new and existing buildings, and logistical delivery issues before thinking about the appearance of the building—deliver a better result?
(In manufacturing, how a product will be made is just as important as what it looks like, therefore delivery issues are considered from early in the design stage.)
The minimum information required for considering alternative locations and options are:
- the owner’s requirements, or the space program
- code and zoning constraints that might differ by location
- construction cost differences and schedule implications by location
To find the best location, we need a data driven decision-making process that updates space program alternatives against multiple locations with multiple code constraints.
Note: This is a process enabled by an interoperable BIM Level 3 system; it is not possible with disparate data across multiple BIM Level 2 point solutions.
A where-how-what approach allows the focus to be on the process of delivering the project, not primarily what it could look like.
With sufficient data to determine if a certain location will permit a facility to be delivered more quickly, or managed more efficiently, an owner can make an informed decision to prioritize project value over the appearance of a building.
Owners rely heavily on the recommendations of their design and construction team, but this advice has traditionally been based on experience rather than objective data.
When building owners collaborate with finance teams, they benefit from data clearly presented in models that can be updated instantly to compare different scenarios.
Design and construction delivery decisions, by contrast, are made mostly on faith that the opinion of the planning team is correct. In this sense, owners have not been able to directly participate in a truly rational and objective decision making process.
Construction projects that leverage cloud collaboration, 3D models, and interoperable data can predict implications of choices early in the process, enabling owners to make the right where-how-what decisions to support their long-term objectives.