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From Legos Lover to Director of Digital Practice
Brian P. Skripac knows a thing or two about BIM. As the Director of Digital Practice at Astorino, a Pittsburgh-based design firm, his job translates to providing BIM leadership throughout the firm to drive collaboration, innovation, and the merging of both technology and practice.

To start with, Astorino is quite forward-thinking in their approach to design to even offer such a position. The firm not only strongly believes in BIM, but has completed an impressive amount of sustainably designed projects as well, which is in line with Skripac’s objectives. “With sustainability being such a key component of the early design phase, it blends itself very well to the iterative design studies BIM can provide.”

Skripac’s love for the built environment goes all the way back to when he was little and around construction with his dad. “It might seem stereotypical, but I always loved to play with Legos,” said Skripac. All of that Lego playing paid off because he graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture.

Read the following Q and A with Skripac and learn about how Astorino uses Autodesk tools, his suggestions to stay competitive, and his ambitious goals for world BIM domination.

What CAD software applications do you use in your job?

As a full service AEC firm Astorino uses quite a range of design technologies. Our core design technology and BIM authoring tools are Revit Architecture, Revit Structure and Revit MEP. In the early conceptual design phase we are working to leverage tools like Project Vasari for early massing studies and sustainability studies. In addition, we are working to define processes and workflows to utilize other technologies such as Green Building Studio to iterate and validate multiple green outcomes for projects.

During the construction coordination phase Astorino has been taking advantage of Navisworks for clash detection studies, 4D sequencing and project timelining.

We are also working to integrate our BIM initiatives into the cost estimating exercises of our Design/Build team.

Making sure we take full advantage of the outcomes BIM can provide, we are working with clients to help make them aware of the value this model geometry can provide them during the full lifecycle of the facility.

What drives you to go to work every day? What is the best aspect of your job?

The best part of my job is being a part of a firm that is completely engaged in the promotion and use of design technologies to better their design/construction process. I really enjoy the opportunity to continually learn more about all of the different ways BIM is changing the industry and being able to implement them at my firm while promoting that knowledge at both a local and national level.

What are some of the coolest software tools on the market you’ve seen?

Augmented Reality is certainly an impressive way to view design projects.

What are your thoughts on sustainable design? Do you think it’s imperative?

Sustainability should always be a critical component in the design process. This is another exciting part of my job that I can become integrally involved within the firm. With sustainability being such a key component of the early design phase it blends itself very well to the iterative design studies BIM can provide. Once you have a design you can study and analyze it to optimize the facility’s overall lifecycle costs from early in design.

To learn more on the firms sustainability initiatives you can visit:


What about BIM? What are some of the challenges you face with BIM in your role and how do your thoughts on BIM and sustainable design coincide?

In the same way sustainability is an imperative initiative I feel that BIM is in the same boat. BIM, when properly and fully leveraged, can provide a tremendous competitive advantage in the marketplace. This is also a big challenge…being able to provide metrics of BIM success stories too can be difficult, but important. You always want to stay in front of the market by benchmarking your expertise and skill on how your organization is able to merge technology and practice for the larger good.

I’m always surprised when I hear people talk about it not having value and that they won’t switch from their traditional methodologies until they are forced to. I think that time is coming very soon and the term “irrelevance” will be the key word to describe these organizations.

How is your company being innovative?

Astorino is being innovative by creating an internal Digital Practice team that is working to connect all of our current technologies and processes. This type of integration allows us to become more innovative due to our already existing and dynamic structure as an AEC firm. I think this diverse approach to technology is not an approach that all firms can take advantage of and enables us to look more critically at how we use technology to collaborate and streamline our workflow for the value of the project as a whole.

What trends and predictions do you see in the AEC industry?

I think the two big trends in the AEC communication will be lifecycle management of facilities and the access to design/construction information from anywhere on the jobsite or in the building via the growing application of mobile technologies.

What are your future goals?

World BIM domination... :)

What advice do you have for firms to stay competitive?

You need to be a leader, not a follower. Technology is only an enabler; it is how well you apply it to your practice that will allow you to be competitive and ultimately successful.

What advice do you have for someone pursuing a career in engineering and design?

Be collaborative, embrace technology and the change that it brings. Be sure to think outside the box and always look for new and unique solutions to existing problems. Business as usual no longer applies. If you’re a good communicator and listener you will be able to work more effectively in a team structure, which will lead to much success in the future.

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Published 2012-10-29 00:00:00