BIM can help landscape architects who want to ensure precision in their designs.

“One thing that BIM doesn’t do well is a curve,” says Joshua Orth of Norris Design.

Building information modeling is a powerful tool that helps architects design buildings to code and predict a building’s performance in terms of energy efficiency, but landscape architecture is more forgiving than building.

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“When we work on a site level, precision is close enough,” Orth said. For example, when deciding where to place a tree on a new site, landscape architects have some freedom regarding where they can actually dig the hole. There may be some restrictions due to easements or other site features, Orth said, “but for the most part we deal in approximations on the site level.”

BIM was developed as a way to help architects meet the exacting requirements of various building codes and standards, so landscape architects who want to make BIM work for them have had to train themselves to think differently, Orth explained.

“Our industry is pretty notorious for getting a concept in place … and then kicking it out to the contractor to finish out the details,” he said. “That doesn’t work very well when you start going into BIM because you have to have that level of precision.”

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