retooling PRACTICE is the theme of the upcoming AIA Technology in Architectural Practice (TAP) Building Connections Congress on January 9th at the AIA Headquarters in Washington D.C. For those unfamiliar, TAP is a knowledge community within the AIA focused on expanding knowledge and education on the use of computer technology in the practice of architecture.

A compelling facet to this year’s Congress theme is the exploration of how the “introduction of these new technologies in the practice of architecture has brought about underlying changes in the historical approach to the design, delivery, and operation of buildings that necessitate a critical examination of how we function as professionals.” This topic is of keen interest to me personally as CannonDesign has launched our Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) initiative which positions the evolution our digital practice and transition from the traditional Building Information Model (BIM) management approach to focus specifically on the process orientation of the BIM-enabled VDC delivery process across the firm. I’ll be speaking specifically about this evolution at the Congress, and below is more info about the topic.


In leading this initiative at CannonDesign, our strategy for VDC is about driving a consistent project delivery framework by leveraging past experiences to define best practices in our BIM-enabled processes, workflows and modeling standards. Documenting and sharing these processes across the firm is critical to raising the bar in driving consistency in our deliverables.

This is important because more than ever, our clients are becoming more focused on leveraging BIM to deliver their projects. With this in mind, we need to make sure our project teams are setting the proper expectations about the use of the BIM from the outset by creating a strategic alignment between their expectation and our deliverables. In creating this alignment by outlining the applicable BIM Use Cases, the collaborative project team can then focus on development and documentation of our VDC approach, including the authoring of BIM-related governing and affiliate contract language, a BIM Execution Plan and a Level of Development (LOD) approach to define the expectations and goals for the entire team.


The implementation of this resulting workflow enables an enhanced certainty of outcome, in accordance with the prescribed reliability of our multi-disciplinary BIM deliverables creating a more efficient process and successful project. Our VDC approach is allowing CannonDesign to provide leadership to our clients in multiple ways. From the outset of a project we have the opportunity to share our process during our early strategic alignment phase to raise awareness and educate our clients on the value of a BIM-enabled project approach well beyond the “use BIM” expectation that occurs in many request for proposals.

This conversation not only occurs in the context of improving the overall design and construction process, but also explores how Cannon Construction Services and our Design-Led Construction, single-source and integrated project delivery methodology can achieve accelerated speed to market, optimal cost and enhanced certainty of outcome, while reducing risks for our clients. Additionally, we can explore what information is most critical at turnover and how leveraging BIM post occupancy can reduce our client’s total cost of ownership.

There is a tremendous opportunity to further the BIM-enabled design and construction process through our VDC initiative and we’ll be sharing more experiences in the future.