NYC Transit Enters a New Dimension

BIM modeling was used as part of a program initiated by the MTA.

Rendering by Shani Gurevich, Assoc. AIA, electrical program, CPM.

The MTA New York City Transit is transitioning to BIM. With the launch of a pilot program to train a small group of architects and engineers in the software, the training strategy assumed no previous knowledge and put participants to work on a real project — the rehabilitation of a substation in Brooklyn — in just five weeks.

As a participant, I found the pilot highlighted some of the major issues facing the two fields when working together on any project. In one instance, architects and engineers found that they were working on the same concrete wall in separate files without knowing it. This caused a small row as they each tried to mark “their territory.” Jurisdiction over different materials between architects and structural engineers became a hot topic for debate when it came to finishes that could be considered both aesthetic and structural. The disagreement could have been avoided if more time was spent communicating.

In an age when technological devices — computers, cell phones, fax machines — make human contact so effortless, it is hard to believe communication is still a challenge. Barriers still need to be broken between architects and engineers. As the first members of our organization to use BIM, we have been able to affect the day-to-day culture of our agency. Because BIM is much more interactive and complex than typical CAD programs, the extent to which we rely on each other is special, not only in generating work, but also in learning from each other’s talents.