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buildingSMART, formerly the International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI), is an international organisation which aims to improve the exchange of information between software applications used in the construction industry. It has developed Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs) as a neutral and open specification for Building Information Models (BIM).


The IAI started in 1994[1] as an industry consortium of 12 US companies invited by Autodesk to advise on developing a set of C++ classes to support integrated application development. The other founding members were AT&T; Archibus; Carrier Corporation; Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum (HOK); Honeywell; Jaros, Baum & Bolles (JB&B); Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory; Primavera Systems; Softdesk; Timberline Software Corp; and Tishman Research Corp (part of Tishman Realty & Construction).[2] The new technology was first demonstrated in June 1995 in Atlanta at A/E/C SYSTEMS '95.[2]

This Industry Alliance for Interoperability opened membership to all interested parties in September 1995[3][4] and in May 1996 was renamed the International Alliance for Interoperability[1] as Autodesk users insisted that the IFCs should be non-proprietary and urged development of the IFC standard.[5] The first version of IFC was published in June 1996 at which point 26 companies, including Autodesk, Bentley, Nemetschek and IEZ, committed to making their software IFC-compliant.[1] The IAI was reconstituted as a not-for-profit industry-led organisation, promoting the Industry Foundation Class (IFC) as a neutral product model supporting the building lifecycle.[6]

In 2005, partly because its members felt the IAI name was too long and complex for people to understand, it was renamed buildingSMART.[6] It has regional chapters in Europe, North America, Australia, Asia and the Middle East.


BuildingSMART says[7] it develops and maintains international standards for openBIM, combining:

  • buildingSMART Processes - information delivery manuals
  • buildingSMART Data Dictionary - it maintains the International Framework for Dictionaries (IFD) Library
  • buildingSMART Data model - the organisation manages the software-neutral Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) data model

buildingSMART also maintains the BIM Collaboration Format (BCF), a structured file format used for issue tracking in relation to building information models.


BuildingSMART has several chapters around the world.[8]

  • Australasia
  • Benelux
  • Canada
  • China
  • Finland
  • France
  • German speaking
  • Hong Kong
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Malaysia
  • Nordic
  • North America
  • Norway
  • Poland[9]
  • Russia
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • UK & Ireland (in January 2018, the UK chapter merged with the UK BIM Alliance)[10][11][a]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ In October 2022, the UK BIM Alliance rebranded as 'nima'.[12]
  1. ^ a b c Bazjanac, V. and Crawley, D.B. (1997) The implementation of Industry Foundation Classes in simulation tools for the building industry - (accessed: 6 February 2012)
  2. ^ a b A/E/C Industry Alliance for Interoperability Links Building Industry Professions AT&T, Carrier Corp., Honeywell, Inc. and HOK Among Founding Members. 17 April 1995. (accessed: 6 February 2012; archived)
  3. ^ Amor, Robert (1997) Product Models in Design and Engineering, Building Research Establishment, UK
  4. ^ Graphisoft joins industry alliance for interoperability, 6 August 1996 - (accessed: 6 February 2012)
  5. ^ Drogemuller, Robin (2009) Can B.I.M be civil? Queensland Roads(7). pp. 47-55 - (accessed: 6 February 2012)
  6. ^ a b Eastman, Charles M., and Eastman, Chuck (2008) BIM handbook: a guide to building information modeling for owners, managers, designers, engineers, and contractors John Wiley & Sons, pp.72-73.
  7. ^ What we do -
  8. ^ BuildingSMART chapters -
  9. ^ "Stowarzyszenie buildingSMART Polska oddziałem międzynarodowej organizacji buildingSMART » buildingSMART Polska". 7 June 2019.
  10. ^ "BIM Alliance & buildingSMART UK&I Chapter announce a merger". BIM Today. 30 October 2017. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  11. ^ "UK BIM Alliance releases FAQs on merger with buildingSMART UK&I". BIM Today. 11 January 2018. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  12. ^ Stanton, Justin (3 October 2022). "Nima: UK BIM Alliance puts information management first with new name, new approach". BIM plus. Retrieved 18 October 2022.