BIM and Facilities Management – Sydney Opera House: CHRIS LINNING

In the past weeks, we’ve learnt about how BIM has changed the way many buildings are designed and built. But does a project end at the moment of handover? The answer is no. Buildings have life-cycles just as we do. We are conceived, born, raised, get old, say hi to disease and cancer, get ourselves fixed, one twice maybe a couple of times and then we say bye bye. Buildings are commissioned, designed, built, worn down, renovated a few times, and then eventually get pulled down. How long a building can last for comes down to how well the facility is managed. BIM has fundamentally revolutionised building management providing the building manager with the tools for precision, unparalleled control, analysis and preemptive diagnosis. 



We’ve learnt from the previous presentations that the general trend for the construction industry is in the direction of BIM. From conception, the building is designed in 3D with information geo-spatially attached to it. The model is then built again and again reflecting design changes and potential clashes. The information attached to the 3D model is then used to physically construct the building which has already been built many times virtually. Finally, the building is handed over along with the BIM model to the client.


So what does the client need a BIM model for? previously, building managers managed buildings using 2D Architectural drawings to spatially map out the services within a building. This process on its own was cumbersome, let alone using it to increase building efficiency, replace worn out components, or customise building functions to suit specific needs.

With BIM, buildings are accurately modeled with important information attached to each component. Building managers have complete control over their building using one model. They are able to pinpoint where certain services are, how much power are parts of the building using or if any components are wearing out. This allows the building to be managed in a responsive way not an reactive way.


For example, a model which shows details of A/C location, performance, manufacture and last service can allow a building manager to predict if parts of, or the whole unit needs replacing. Replacing in response to key indicators before breakage will cost less than replacing when it becomes apparent the A/C unit has broken down.

Although this sounds like the logical thing to do, what’s amazing is that the Opera House being almost 40 years old has never had as-built plans or models provided.  How their building managers managed to run the facility so successfully like clockwork baffles me. This is one facility that has been crying out loud for BIM implementation due to the sheer amount of services and other components required to operate the place.


The full completed as-built 3D model of the Opera House is due to be completed next year. Meanwhile, the precursor to the level of success BIM can add to the facility can be observed in the current extension of the underground delivery post underneath the Opera House. 6 different companies working together under one model is a testament to where BIM is heading in our industry.

By using BIM, 6 different companies could operate under one roof solving complex problems in the virtual environment without having to go back and forth saving time and money. By the construction stage, due the open sourced nature of BIM, the model handed over to John Holland for construction was 96% clash-free. At this point, only 4% of clashes needed to be solved at the construction stage ensuring the project stays on schedule. Furthermore, design changes during the construction stage is then saved and handed over back to the Opera House after completion showing where exactly design changes occurred.


Into the future, instead of a pile of concrete and steel, buildings have turned into a living breathing entity which evolves over time according to design, construction, after-market changes. Each professional in the building industry can now extract information as well as input information into one shared model. This effectively enables different sectors of the SAME industry work on the SAME playing field. The process of design, construct and maintenance has suddenly become a team game instead of different professions trying to fit together with time/cost consuming clashes.

It is clear BIM doesn’t just end during design and construct, but continues to work for the building throughout its life-cycle. In a way it is like an auto-biography which details how the building was conceived, its experiences growing up, the difficulties its encountered throughout its life and how it has dealt with the problems. That is all for now, and what a way to end a fascinating albeit long 9 weeks of presentations.

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