Civil engineer and computer scientist Jonathan Ingram is to be awarded the Royal Academy of Engineering Prince Philip Medal for his work developing the system that heralded Building Information Modelling (BIM).
Ingram’s Sonata software, completed in 1985, represented a step-change in technology as the first system to bring together all of the characteristics of modern BIM, enabling users to create a single model of a whole building rather than referencing many different files.
He designed and built the software using one of the first desktop workstations, alone in an attic, based on his experience of 15 years of graphics, mathematical and engineering projects. The first version included full rendering capabilities, with internal design for heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and energy management.
Since its launch, Sonata has been used in the design and construction of structures including the Australian National Tennis Centre, the British Library, and Portcullis House in Westminster. In 1992, Ingram went on to design and co-write Reflex, the next generation BIM system, which has been used on projects such as the refurbishment of the Royal Albert Hall and aspects of the construction of the Heathrow Express.
“It gives me great pleasure to receive the Prince Philip Medal,” said Ingram. ”At the time, ‘selling’ the changes in work practices that BIM insists upon was difficult and it is happily surprising that BIM is now a revolution in its own right. I hope that BIM will be extended into smart cities and digitising building and infrastructure asset bases.”
Following Ingram’s development of the third-generation ProReflex system, a license for its development was assigned to the founders of the Revit system in 1998, which today forms the predominant BIM system in use around the world.
The award will be presented by the Duke of Kent at the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Awards Dinner on 23 June.