January 7, 2022

BIM in Landscape Design

Using building information modeling (BIM) is now a mainstream method for optimizing architectural project management and design. But in the realm of landscape design, it has yet to be widely used. A new trend is emerging, however. BIM is starting to gain traction as landscape pros discover it as an invaluable tool for their own domain.

> BIM management

Can Designers Use BIM in Landscape Architecture?

Yes. While BIM may traditionally be associated with the design and construction of buildings, more and more landscape architects are starting to use BIM to create intelligent, practical designs that are rich in useful information.

Even though landscape architects aren’t designing buildings, they are still designing development landscapes - work that requires full clarity when it comes to how a landscape will look once built, affect the surrounding buildings, and even evolve over time.

By taking advantage of the detailed data available via BIM, landscape architects are not only accomplishing project goals more successfully, but also making it easier to integrate their work with the rest of the project infrastructure. BIM-supported landscape design also allows for easier collaboration within a single model.


BIM Landscape Architecture Models vs. Standard 3D Models

One of the first questions that comes up when considering BIM in landscape architecture is: what is the difference between BIM models and the traditional 3D models landscape designers are used to working with?

The distinguishing factor lies in the data each model type can hold. With BIM, your model can be populated with information regarding every aspect of the design and the landscape model materials.

For example, a single tree placed in a BIM model could hold all of the information necessary for planting, anticipating its growth and bloom cycles, and planning its maintenance needs (water usage, etc.). It’s also possible to predict the amount of shade it would create, which could impact energy efficiency calculations in any architectural portions of the development. Other relevant details can additionally be set, such as root size, species name, or average cost per unit.


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What are the advantages of incorporating drone shots into existing designs, and how do they benefit the design process? 

Drone photography lets you capture the surrounding context with incredible detail and accuracy. And with their small size and maneuverability, drones can be used on almost any site, from narrow city lots to open plains and everything in between. For architects, that means being able to create realistic 3D aerial visualizations to understand the surrounding context better and make more informed design decisions about how the building will fit its site — or how it will stand out.

Getting aerial perspective on the site may reveal new design opportunities or unexpected challenges. But there’s another advantage to using drones in your 3D aerial site renderings that may be even more important: it improves communication with clients.

How do aerial renderings help communicate with the client? 

Good communication is one of the most valuable skills an AEC professional can have. That doesn’t just mean being able to speak or write about your project; it means being able to show customers your ideas. The proliferation of satellite imagery and GPS changed the way we see and understand the world. Today, many customers expect to see the now-familiar, aerial view rendering of projects fully and realistically represented on its site. It’s something they instantly understand, and can help answer any questions they might have. Will I have a view? Will there be shadows from neighboring towers? How does it compare to the building next door?

Using aerial renderings in architectural visualizations is one of the clearest ways to address client concerns and communicate your design’s impact.

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Brian Comeaux
Project Architect at Lake|Flato

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