People

John Tobin, LEED AP

Vice President of Project Delivery & Innovation

National known for his expertise in Building Informational Modeling (BIM), John’s leadership, most recently as EYP’s VP for Operations, has helped position the firm as an industry leader in holistic high-performance building design. In the newly created role of VP for Project Delivery and Innovation, he is responsible for helping project teams optimize project delivery efficiency and effectiveness, and leads the drive to develop and incorporate new technologies for the benefit of our projects and our clients, as well as the firm.

Widely published and a popular speaker, John is known for his creative passion and his vision for harnessing the power of disruptive technology. He serves on the Steering Committee of the Upstate Alliance for a Creative Economy (ACE), a coalition advancing economic growth in New York’s Tech Valley. A former member of the RPI School of Architecture faculty, he also champions education as Business Alliance Member for Albany’s Tech Valley High School.

Publications

4th Gen BIM: BIM for Owners

by John Tobin

While we currently operate largely within the 3rd generation of BIM, we increasingly see owner requirements that suggest the next generation of BIM is fast approaching. In the 4th generation of BIM – BI(m) – the information contained in the model becomes more important than the 3D model element itself. One of the more concrete examples of BI(m) is the COBie (Construction to Operation Building Information Exchange) requirement, where design and construction-phase information is transferred to an owner for the operation of the building. Instead of creating a mountain of paper, all the information on equipment within the BIM model – color, model, manufacturer, links to PDFs on the component - is extracted into a spreadsheet format so that owners can easily access information for the future maintenance and operation of building equipment. In this newest generation of BI(m), the owner is able to benefit from the information in the model without actually having to deal with the model itself.

atomicBIM: Splitting Data to Unleash BIM's Power

by John Tobin

The technical challenges facing BIM adoption today and in the future, are largely the result of legacy workflow protocols triggered by current software. Though our current BIM solutions have served us well over the last decade, they may not be built to lead us for future success. In particular, they have not created scalable, open or granular access to the information we create during design activities. To be most effective, future BIM implementation needs to consider the entire lifecycle of BIM data, including its consumption by downstream users. Current BIM applications create massive datasets, often within a single file. Given that we will have more – and more widely distributed – BIM teams in the future, greater granularity of BIM data will be vital for the collaborative consumption of information. Instead of continuing to create ever larger files, we need to conceptualize and structure the BIM environment for quick and easy access. We imagine an arrangement where BIM is comprised of many tiny pieces of data we are calling atomicBIM – i.e., BIM in small, discrete pieces of data. An atomized information structure would provide granularity and rapid access so that subsets of BIM information could be more easily accessed without a massive download.

A Brief History – and the Future – of BIM

by John Tobin

BIM detail

Due to the benefits of using 3D virtual models to guide real-world processes, BIM has gradually grown from its origins in BM (Building Modeling) into BI (Building Information) with various combinations of model and data in between. A Building Information model can be viewed as a collection of BIM ‘atoms’ of information in a context of project information. Over four generations - BM, BM+I, BIM, and BI(m) - the composition of the atoms has changed but the essential nucleus of information is preserved. We are now entering the phase where BIM is valued as much for the information it can contribute beyond design and construction, and there are clear use scenarios, such as COBie, where the information within the model is transferred even when the model itself is not.

Project Delivery with BIM: Use Cases

by Ervin Kulenica, John Tobin

EYP currently uses BIM software in all disciplines and for all new projects. Certain projects stand out from the scores of BIM projects we’ve completed over the past 10+ years: modeling a large historic structure; using BIM files to expedite steep procurement; and assisting asset coordination and management using custom BIM components. Recent projects, such as ZEN and Penn State’s Agricultural Engineering Building, pivot on the use of BIM in an integrated "Big Room" setting where owner, contractors, and design teams all use BIM as the locus of discussion. Increasingly this "Big Room" approach is considered the future of BIM use by collaborative teams. From lean documentation and design review to phase planning and more, this article discusses the many ways in which EYP continues to lead the industry in leveraging the power of BIM.

Integrated Project Delivery: Two Key Ingredients

by John Tobin

Integrated Project Delivery is a highly collaborative team-based delivery model built on two important and related concepts – trust, and identity. While trust is the more obvious issue, I would argue that identity is a sleeper and one where many teams who struggle with IPD falter. It is useful to have a discussion at the outset of the project that everyone needs to check their previous identities ‘at the door,’ and adopt a new shared identity where designers think like owners, contractors think like designers, and owners think like subcontractors. It is through this new, shared identity that true collaboration emerges.

Innovation is a Discipline

by John Tobin

Driving innovation in real-life situations can often be traced to the simple impulse to change something. But innovation is not a stroke of genius encountered haphazardly by an individual. Innovation is a discipline that EYP promotes by cultivating certain practices and attitudes about making connections: connecting breakthroughs in technology to see new possibilities; connecting new modes of thinking to tired, antiquated processes; or simply connecting existing ideas from disparate fields to each other – all for significant benefit. As a result, our designers are determined to run through several techniques in parallel to achieve a design goal. And on a totally different level, understanding how innovation happens allows our designers to create spaces within new projects that foster, nurture, and help teach innovation to building occupants including college students to corporate workers.

BIM becomes VDC: A Case Study in Disruption

by John Tobin

For many of us who have participated in the rapid growth of BIM, It is tempting to see it as just one more technology development in the project delivery process, but its real impact is quickly accelerating beyond that. More accurately, the growth of BIM is heralding a true disruption in the construction industry. It is transforming markets, and revolutionizing expectations. In fact, it is increasingly apparent that BIM fits a well-known pattern familiar to business scholars, a pattern known as disruptive innovation and made famous by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen in his best-selling book The Innovator’s Dilemma.