The BIM-Burning Man Connection

Burning Man has become a cultural phenomenon, growing from a small beach gathering in San Francisco in 1986 into the sixth-largest city in Nevada (larger than the state capital) for one week per year. (Check out this blog to read about the building of Black Rock City!) Upon reflection, Burning Man is a lot like the practice of building information modeling (BIM). So put on a funny costume, drop some acid, and read on as we compare the two.


Innovation. In 1986, Larry Harvey and Jerry James thought up the idea of Burning Man and brought it to life. For four years it was an annual beach gathering culminating in the now iconic conflagration. This history and that of BIM are the subjects of full-length books and shorter versions can be found on Wikipedia and other web resources. But both Burning Man and BIM are distinct forms of innovation.   




Talk about innovative! (Source: Lulutrip)


Logistics. Burning Man is a unique logistical challenge for every participant, just like underlying logistics for BIM are difficult. At Burning Man, you need to bring shelter, food, water (or water substitutes), and transportation to a harsh environment. BIM requires skilled people, a definite protocol for your approach, and a clear definition of scope. For both, planning is paramount and will only lead to failure if you are inadequate in your preparation. Check out this ginormous packing list for Burning Man!




Getting a yacht to the middle of the desert can't be easy... (Source: Fest300)


Young people. Burning Man tends to favor the young (the largest demographic of festival goers are in the 25 to 34 age range). Construction Dive reported that BIM is being geared towards younger generations, and you can read the thoughts of Professor Wei Wu on BIM demographics in our previous post. Both Burning Man and BIM are revolutionary and next-generation projects, so it makes sense that increasingly younger generations would be drawn to them and encouraged to participate. 




You've got to be young to want to dress like this! Though take note: Feathers are no longer allowed at Burning Man. We're sad too. (Source: AOPA)


Expensive. Burning Man isn't cheap and BIM is certainly not a low-cost undertaking either. The ticket price to attend Burning Man in 2016 is roughly $500 for entry and parking, but the real cost is in preparation, art projects, and vacation time. For BIM we have various ways of measuring cost, but be assured, neither Burning Man nor BIM are inexpensive endeavors.  



We think that sums it up nicely. (Source: Quartz)


What's next? Burning Man has become so popular that it can no longer accommodate demand; tickets sell out in 30 minutes! The question becomes, what's next? Will there soon be multiple parties per year? Will they be set up in various other deserts? What is the future of Burning Man? BIM is similar! We've gotten good at clash detection, most model integration problems are now solvable, and it is gaining widespread adoption. But what is the future of BIM? We couldn't tell you, but we're certainly on the road to finding out.

Tags: BIM MEP Coordination AEC

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