A test-case for BIM: RKW Architektur +


How flexible is the BIM process? This question arose for German firm RKW Architektur + in their project New Office Düsseldorf. The architects started work in Autodesk AutoCAD 2D and switched to the BIM method only in planning phase 5 at the request of the general contractor. Their experience in this project demonstrates that BIM works even if all parameters in the model are not set from day one.

RKW Architektur


With 350 employees, RKW Architektur + is one of the largest architecture firms in Germany. Clients include private real estate companies as well as the public sector. The focus of the Dusseldorf office is on commercial and industrial buildings, but it is also active in residential construction. Since 2015, RKW Architektur + has planned around 45 projects to BIM standards and is considered a pioneer in the industry.

The project

One of the most modern office buildings in Germany is being built on Hansaallee in Düsseldorf-Oberkassel. On the 10,000 square meter site of the former Rheinbahn administration building, the German headquarters of the real estate company STRABAG is constructing the new building with five full floors and a penthouse. Most striking is the rounded glass-clinker facade, which gives the building a unique character. The building is scheduled for completion  in Autumn 2020. Several companies will then move in as tenants of the 36,000 square meters of gross floor space.

RKW Architektur

The architecture firm was initially commissioned for the planning services according to HOAI 1 to 4. In these initial phases, design was carried out using AutoCAD 2D. The general contractor ZÜBLIN wanted to work on the remaining service phases in accordance with BIM standards, using Autodesk Revit. Their reason for moving to BIM was to facilitate management of the  completed building , which was to be based on the model data. Here, proof had to be provided that a change to BIM was possible during the ongoing process. The question was: is the methodology flexible enough? And can the data from the first phases be transferred without problems? Collaborating with ZÜBLIN, whose structural department took over the structural design, RKW Architektur + created a project development plan in which all modeling and performance specifications were defined. For optimal control, the team held a weekly model exchange in the first months with all specialist planners.

RKW Architektur

During the project, it became clear that the BIM method made sense even though the team did not establish guidelines at  the start. They found that BIM can also be used in an  “agile” methodology. This applied both to the beginning of the BIM adoption and the further course of action. For example, the New Office Düsseldorf agreed to relocate the technical examination to ZÜBLIN and hand over the coordination models to RKW Architektur + for planning coordination. This distribution of roles proved itself and provided teams a profound understanding of the mutual requirements, thereby helping them avoid mistakes and achieve milestones more quickly.

“BIM is not rocket science. Time and again it turns out that many processes run in the well-known and familiar way, just better, more accurate and sometimes even faster,”  said Ralf Wetzel BIM Coordinator, RKW Architektur+.

RKW Architektur

Sylvia Knauer

Sylvia Knauer is the product marketing manager for Revit software at Autodesk. She has been in marketing at Autodesk for more than 9 years, with prior experience in the CAD industry. A San Francisco Bay area resident for nearly 20 years, Sylvia is a Wisconsin native with degrees in International Relations and German Literature from the University of Wisconsin. She also holds an MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.

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