Building Information Modeling for Masonry Committee (BIM-M)


Phillipe J. Ledent (Term Ends 2023)


The purpose of the TMS BIM-M Committee will be to provide a structure for implementing and maintaining BIM for the masonry industry.

An initial task will be to assist the National Building Information Modeling for Masonry Initiative by providing input into Phase II, Project 3. The definition of this project from the “A Roadmap for Developing and Deploying Building Information Modeling (BIM) for the Masonry Industry” document is as follows:

3. Masonry Wall Model Definition – Phase II

This project is at the core of masonry BIM. Because masonry BIM is a computational model of masonry construction, and masonry walls are the fundamental assembly in masonry construction, it is critical that the data representation of the masonry wall support all of the functionality that is envisioned for BIM-M. Currently, it is simply not computationally practical for BIM software to track individual masonry units in an entire building. Therefore the masonry BIM data structure must include the definition of wall types, and must provide the means to map these wall types onto regular and irregular regions on wall surfaces. This project will develop requirements for the digital representation of masonry walls in BIM systems. This will lead to the development of masonry families, through which a set of masonry units (extracted from the data structure defined in the masonry unit project) are arrayed according to established rules to take a generic wall in BIM and represent it as a fully-described masonry wall. It is anticipated that these walls will be represented in different levels of detail depending on the needs of the BIM user. For example, in early stages of design and on large-scale buildings, walls will be represented as regions without populated masonry units (wireframe mode). As more detail is required, these regions will be populated as masonry units represented as 2-D polygons, and finally as full 3-D photorealistic rending with masonry units modeled as solids. In addition, the wall definition must include the propagation of masonry units in various bonding pattern with modular coordination of masonry veneer and backup systems.

Project Tasks

  1. Define high-level classes that must be required to be defined in masonry BIM: veneers, bonding patterns, masonry backup systems, openings, pilaster, etc. and methods for generating objects based on these classes. Adapt to and coordinate with the masonry hierarchy established in the BIM for masonry benchmark project.
  2. Formalize the concept of a masonry family, which is a complete set of objects needed to define the veneer masonry and its backup system within a given bounded region in the BIM system.
  3. Identify rules that define the relationships between objects. These will be the parametric rules that control bonding patterns and the relationship between veneer and backup bonding. These rules will determine how bonding patterns react to the placement of door and window openings, to the placement of floors and roof systems, and how the bonding systems will react to the region boundaries in which a given masonry family is mapped.
  4. Define strategies for regions to adapt to modularity of the masonry systems embedded in them.
  5. Define a set of views of the masonry system, from lightweight views that should be computationally tolerable to detailed view suitable for photorealistic rending and virtual construction.
  6. Develop an interface that allows for the importing of masonry units (from the masonry unit project) into a wall definition.
  7. Develop interface requirements for the input of wall types (denoted a “wall definition module”) to be implemented in BIM.
  8. Work with software vendors to prototype/validate initial data structure for masonry wall definitions.
  9. Publish a draft specification for wall data model.

The Initiative will be retaining the services of the Digital Building Laboratory of Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) to complete this project. However, it requires masonry industry input. Specifically, the TMS BIM-M Committee will perform the initial development of 10 typical masonry wall type definitions, which will be used by Georgia Tech to further develop the digital representation of masonry walls in BIM systems and to develop masonry libraries for BIM.

The initiative created five workgroups during Phase I: architecture, structural engineering, general contracting, masonry contracting, and material supply. The chairs of the architectural and structural workgroups will continue to work on the TMS BIM-M Committee, and working group members will be asked to participate as subcommittee members.


The expectation is that the initial organization of the TMS BIM-M committee and the development of the 10 wall systems would be completed by December 31, 2013. Their work product would form the basis for Georgia Tech’s work starting in January 2014.

Once this task is completed, the TMS BIM-M Committee would set an agenda for future assistance in implementing the Roadmap and maintaining BIM within the masonry industry. Opportunities for BIM-M within TMS exist to:

  1. Develop user guidelines once software is available.
  2. Develop educational programs, seminars, and webinars for architects and engineers. The initiative has a separate program for education of masons, contractors, construction contractors, and construction managers. This committee will provide input into those programs as well.
  3. Prepare masonry standards related to BIM-M. The Initiative is becoming a member of the National BIM Standards committee for the building Smart Alliance, a council of the National Institute of Building Sciences. As the committee matures, TMS BIM-M could become the representative of the masonry industry.
  4. Be the leader in maintaining BIM-M within the masonry industry after the national initiative is completed.

TMS’s BIM-M Committee is assisting in the implementation and maintenance of the Roadmap of the National Building Information Modeling for Masonry Initiative.


The National Building Information Modeling for Masonry Initiative was sponsored by:

The Masonry Society (TMS), International Masonry Institute (IMI), International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers (IUBAC), National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA), Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA), and Western States Clay Products Association (WSCPA).

TMS Members, Darrell McMillian and Daniel Zechmeister, were on the Executive Committee for Phase I of this Initiative, and TMS Member David Biggs is the Masonry Industry Coordinator for the Initiative.

During Phase I of this Initiative, the document “A Roadmap for Developing and Deploying Building Information Modeling (BIM) for the Masonry Industry” was developed. This roadmap notes a series of phased projects that the masonry industry must undertake in order to prepare the technical foundation (software) for masonry BIM (BIM-M) and to prepare the industry to implement masonry BIM (education).

Three phases of work were recognized: Development, Specification, and Implementation. Phase I is complete. Phase II of the initiative will establish the foundation for a software specification. This will be implemented through four projects:

  1. Masonry Unit Model Definition
  2. BIM-M Benchmark
  3. Masonry Wall Model Definition
  4. BIM-M Contractor Input