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Thank you to John Mitchell on your 22 years of service to buildingSMART Australasian


John (left) being presented with a buildingSMART certificate and gold pin after being nominated for the Fellowship award at the buildingSMART International Summit in Barcelona

On the occasion of John Mitchell’s stepping down from the Board of buildingSMART Australasia (bSA) after 22 years at the 2019 Annual General Meeting in December, we want to acknowledge some of the key events where John has been instrumental in the adoption of openBIM in Australasia…


John was the first architectural practitioner in Australia to apply BIM technology using BDS (mainframe-based 3D building modelling software from ARC Cambridge, UK) to document the Kyogle Hospital project in around 1978.


Even prior to that John contributed to the work of ACADS (Association for Computer Aided Design) throughout the 1970s and early 1980s.


He went on to present the full Darling Harbour Development Plan modelled in GDS at the first World GDS User Conference in Cambridge, UK in 1988.


Throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, John was also actively involved with the Computer Advisory Committee of the Australian Institute of Architects, promoting the early adoption of CAD and later BIM in Australia.


In 1983 John gave a presentation at the ACADS conference in Brisbane above the Sportman’s Hotel in Spring Hill. Current bSA Chairperson, David Mitchell, attended as a 1st year cadet QS. John’s presentation included a demonstration using the mainframe computer which was about the size of a dish washer.


John was instrumental in establishing the Australian Chapter of the fledgling International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI) on 27 September 1997 with $300k funding from the Federal Government initiated by the CSIRO, who provided admin support for the Chapter through those formative years.


He has been on the Board (generally as Chair) ever since that time, with the exception of a 3-year period (2001-2004) when he worked for Graphisoft in Hungary.

He helped organise the IAI international Technical Meeting (ITM, now referred to as Summits) in October 2001 in Sydney, hosted by IAI-AC.


John helped disseminate the benefits of interoperability to an influential audience in the early days when he acted as master of ceremonies in the ‘Seeing is Believing’ collaboration demonstration in Oslo in 2005.


He helped organise the buildingSMART International Council Meeting in Brisbane in November 2007 (IAI became buildingSMART in 2005).


John was instrumental in delivering the report to the Built Environment Innovation and Industry Council (BEIIC), “Productivity in the Buildings Network: Assessing The Impacts of Building Information Models” (29 October 2010) which became known as the Economic Study.


John led the planning of the buildingSMART MESH conference in Mar/Apr 2011, which then led to the development of the National BIM Initiative (NBI) planning document published in August 2011.


John worked tirelessly in subsequent years up to around 2015 trying to engage with the Australian Government to adopt the NBI.


In 2017 at the buildingSMART International Standards Summit in Barcelona, a new Fellowship status was launched to recognise the voluntary contributions of 18 buildingSMART members and officers – past and mainly present – from around the world. The first tranche of awards celebrated the founding of buildingSMART (then called IAI), and those honoured, including John, were instrumental in its creation and in setting up their own chapters.


In recent years, the focus of bSA has switched to promoting state-based BIM initiatives and providing industry education and training through workshops, seminars and conferences. John has been a strong supporter of that work, but also initiated and led a bSI Model Setup project, developing guidelines for handling large-scale projects using BIM, particularly in relation to mapping between BIM Cartesian coordinates and geodetic coordinates used typically in geospatial modelling.


In “retirement”, John wishes to focus his efforts on “solving real-world challenges through the hands-on application of IFC” … getting back to the implementation of BIM in real projects.


Thank you John, from the current buildingSMART Australasia Board (David Mitchell, Chris Penn, Jim Plume, Holger de Groot, Mark Fairbairn, Jon Mirtschin, Eric Bugeja, Don Cameron), bSA personnel (Aaron Watts and Audrey Flemming), on behalf of the many board-members you have worked with over the years, and our industry. It’s been a pleasure and we wish you the very best of luck in your future endeavours.

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