Is BIM Taking Off in Russia? Interview with Marina Korol of Concurator

I had the pleasure of interviewing Marina Korol, CEO at Concurator and Vice Chair of buildingSMART Russia. We discuss the state of BIM in Russia.

What is your background and how did you get interested in construction and especially BIM?

My primary background is computer science. But my main domain was always AEC industry where I’ve been working for about 25 years now.  And while at the beginning of my career  I was inspired by 3D CAD software for architects now I became even more inspired by BIM, digital technologies and the transformation that AEC industry has to go through. To help companies overcome difficulties of the transition with lesser pains became the main idea for founding consulting business of Concurator.

To accomplish that I had to leave Autodesk, one of the leaders of the BIM market, the company where I had many years of employment. Sounds strange, doesn’t it?

Can you tell about your company, what you do, and who are your clients?

Marina Korol BIM RussiaConcurator is a pretty young consulting company with a mature professional team and focus on BIM implementation. Among our services is BIM strategy development and support in realization; short-term BIM education programs for top and middle management; pilot projects etc.

We also develop BIM standards of various levels. Starting from Russian national BIM standards and codes of practice to corporate standard of a particular company. One of our clients is Autodesk. We’ve developed BIM standards for vertical and horizontal construction for their software solutions. These standards then became freely available for the whole market. They’re located at Autodesk knowledge network and thousands of clients have downloaded them to roll out implementation in their companies.

In BIM methodology we’re following UK BIM approach and customizing it for our market. Among our business partners, there are several UK companies.

Another type of our business activities is conducting BIM researches. In 2016 in cooperation with Moscow State University of Civil Engineering we prepared a report “Measuring BIM Value on Russian projects”.   Just recently we finished a report based on last year’s BIM survey – “Level of BIM Use in Russia – 2017”.  617 responses were received during April – December 2017.

The results are to be disclosed very shortly…

Who is using BIM in Russia, and are there particular types of projects where it’s mainly used?

Design consultant companies – architects, structural, MEP engineers are doing best with BIM.

Developers of residential and commercial realty estate are catching up. Construction contractors are lagging far behind. Exceptions with good results are integrated companies having inside full life cycle – design, construction, and operations.

Housing, commercial real estate, infrastructure projects, sporting facilities, industrial construction – this are typical projects type where BIM is used most of all.

Do public or private sector clients have requirements for the use of BIM, e.g. where it should be used, or what standards to follow?

BIM hype is full scale presented in Russia. Private sector clients are requiring BIM not always being able to specify what exactly they want from BIM. But the situation is changing fast. Well-developed BIM requirements become an integral part of briefing documents of the projects.

National BIM program is being developed with a focus on standardization. The first series of BIM standards, predominantly ISO standards as well codes of practice were made effective in 2016-2018. So there is something for a client to refer to.

There is no BIM mandate for public projects yet, and a public client is not free to impose BIM requirements.

What are the main challenges in implementing BIM in your market? Do you have ideas on how to overcome those challenges?

The main challenge is obviously the state of the economy. In 2017 we had only 1,5% GDP growth and low investments level. This does not support BIM implementation. Another challenge is old regulations base, some norms like cost estimation became obsolete and are to be updated. This is a long process.

Scarce qualified or at least properly educated and trained human resources coupled with inertia at Universities is a factor keeping implementation back. There are other factors as well, but they are not so substantial. In general, people don’t like to change and leave their comfort zone.

Recovering and healthier economy plus Government BIM mandate for public orders with appropriate legal and technical regulations changes would work as a lever for the Russian market.

How do Russian organizations and companies collaborate in advancing and developing the use of BIM?

Professional communities, their size, scale and particular activities are key to advance in BIM use.

I’d like to start with buildingSMART Russian Chapter which was established last year. I’m its Vice Chair. It’s still in the forming stage, but I believe will soon become a center of BIM activities in Russia.

Some software vendors are doing important work here. Say, Autodesk have founded BIM Leaders Club – an organization of people and companies using their technology and those who reached an advanced level of BIM use. The level of conversations there differs dramatically from average on the market.

Technical Universities cooperate with industry leaders and practical knowledge is brought to classrooms by practitioners and students being full- or part-time employed while studying.

There are lots of forums, conferences, seminars, roundtables with knowledge sharing helping professionals in networking and establishing new BIM-related connections.

Can you mention a few projects where you think the use of BIM has been successful, and what in that case were the main benefits?

This year Russia is hosting FIFA World Cup. To some extent, BIM was used for all the new stadiums’ design and construction. The stadiums are almost ready to host the games. Use of BIM helped project management.

Another example is Lakhta Center in Saint-Petersburg which is going to become the highest skyscraper in Europe (462 m). BIM was key to successful project implementation and commissioning is scheduled for this year.

What is the maturity of BIM implementation overall in your country and how do you see it develop in the next 3 to 5 years?

I must say it’s not even across the country nowadays. We’re witnessing very mature ways of working with well-defined BIM processes and collaboration procedures, with EIRs and BEPs and sophisticated ways of Open BIM concept realization. Russian BIM competent design and engineering companies work on the European market, they open their offices in EU.

Housing realty developer companies start using BIM throughout all the life cycle stages – from concept to operation and maintenance, also practicing VR technologies in their sales offices to convince customers buying apartments.

On the other hand, many companies, mostly contractors, partly design consultants show no interest in harnessing these technologies, seeing no value for themselves.

To measure Macro-BIM adoption level in Russia, to have reasonable quantitative estimation we are partnering with Bilal Succar (BIM Excellence) and Mohamad Kassem  (Northumbria University Newcastle) and will use their five model approach. For that, we are launching another research project and will have more complex adoption picture very shortly. We’ll be happy to share the results with your readers.

The speed of BIM use development in Russia is pretty high. We can see it year-to-year from projects presented at the annual forums and contests as well as discussions inside professional communities. Though Gov BIM mandate is not introduced in Russia yet, there is national Government level BIM program and it’s well communicated. It created a high level of awareness and some level of pressure on the market participants thus, I believe, in 3 to 5 years the whole market landscape will change.

How can our readers contact you?

The first suggestion would be to find me on LinkedIn. Although this professional social network is prohibited in Russia because they don’t comply with Russian law about storing personal data on servers in the country, since I’m traveling quite often I will be able to receive messages your readers may send.

Or just drop an email to our company’s address – 4info(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)concurator.ru. We’re open for cooperation in the fields which I mentioned.