A BIM-based design process: 1/JBR – part 2/3


December, 2017

For The 1/JBR design, we used BIM, which itself is not that unusual anymore. What is crucial is the way BIM is implemented in the process of design.


The 1/JBR project became a BIM project immediately after the napkin sketch stage. It might not seem like a big deal, but only if we consider the usual way most firms use BIM, this approach is vastly different. In general, unfortunately, today most projects are modeled in BIM after the last stage, Design Development, begins. Until then, the team works in inaccurate 3d models, or even worse, 2d design software. This means that statistics aren’t tracked at the crucial time when the biggest decisions are made. Such a process wastes a lot of BIM’s ability to help sharpen the design team’s pencils early on, and contribute to making better pre-concept decisions.

It is understood by some, that a project’s success depends on a strong pre-concept, or at latest, concept stage. Making the wrong big moves early in the design process can quickly result in a project which under-performs or fails entirely.  It all leads to the conclusion that it is important to have some statistical feedback right from the start, optimising a building’s areas, construction methods, façade design, parking, and construction cost. A construction cost which is too high can quickly end a project, or if it is too low, result in a design which doesn’t meet the quality of expectations of any given market segment causing poor sales.

1/JBR is a 46 story building in an incredible setting, with views over Blue Waters, Dubai eye, Skydive Dubai, and Palm Jumeirah. It was crucial that views to these points of interest were maintained as much as possible, and while the project aims high regarding market segment, the costs had to be controlled while maintaining maximum quality.

1/JBR has overcome all these challenges, due to the use of BIM right from the start. The modeling process began with multiple options and iterations of each option. These alternatives were continuously tracked, keeping all views, areas, quantities and costs constantly in check. In the beginning, the team explored a range of options, of which some were more flamboyant than others.

The models started off very modestly, with a minimum representation of each idea.  Instead of trying to solve every design to a high level of detail, the options were continuously adjusted to ensure overall optimisation. At the end of this Pre-Concept stage, all options contained clear information about the key parameters:

  • Uninterrupted views to all of the points of interest around the location
  • specific sizes of each unit exactly matching the goals stated in the client’s brief
  • the ratio between net area (the part of the building which can be sold or rented) vs gross area (that which is required to operate the sellable part, but cannot itself be sold, such as the elevator core, fire stairs, public corridors and services)
  • Structural efficiency
  • Minimized length of the MEP services