Alassaf, Nancy (2019-11). Architectural Information Modeling (AIM): Teaching Formal Concepts of Design Using Building Information Modeling (BIM). Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • This research focuses on overcoming the difficulties of using BIM in conceptual design. It suggests that incorporating formal knowledge with computational concepts within BIM enables the tool to support the conceptual design process. This research used a mixed-methods approach that comprised of historical-interpretive research, model-based inquiry, and quasi-experimental research. First, a computational framework called Architectural Information modeling (AIM) was developed. AIM is a computational design framework that uses BIM to represent a formal language explicitly and provide a generative description of an architectural style. It employs various strategies to define conceptual design vocabularies and syntactical rules. In AIM, a direct connection between the abstract diagram and the actual built form is established. Second, the formal language of Richard Meier was selected as a test case. AIM was used to code the language of the Douglas house and generate the Smith house from the same model. Moreover, various other options that have the same formal language were created using the same model. The notion of stylistic change was explored too. Second, architectural design pedagogy was selected as an area of exploration to validate AIM. A pedagogical framework to teach AIM was developed to conduct a quasi-experimental study in the form of a longitudinal study. At the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University, three second-year design studios (38 students) participated in this intervention study. Data were collected through observations, student survey, student writing assignments, and student projects. Descriptive and inferential statistical methods, content analysis, and a panel of experts were used to analyze the data. The findings of the study illustrate that AIM can provide a shift from BIM as a construction-oriented modeling environment to a design environment where the architect can think, design, and generate multiple design options that incorporate explicit aesthetic and intellectual values. This research has produced significant original contributions in four areas: Building Information Modeling (BIM), the theory of formal language and formal studies in architecture, architectural design education and the role of BIM in design studios, and conducting research through design.

publication date

  • November 2019