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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 1997 was renamed the International Alliance for Interoperability as Autodesk users insisted that the IFCs should be non-proprietary and urged development of the IFC standard.[5] It 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


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
  • Russia
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • UK & Ireland (in January 2018, the UK chapter merged with the UK BIM Alliance)[9][10]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ 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)
  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. ^ "BIM Alliance & buildingSMART UK&I Chapter announce a merger". BIM Today. 30 October 2017. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  10. ^ "UK BIM Alliance releases FAQs on merger with buildingSMART UK&I". BIM Today. 11 January 2018. Retrieved 8 February 2018.