Project Description

In September 2007, the Applied Technology Council (ATC) was awarded a grant from the Charles Pankow Foundation to develop an extended set of Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs) for Structural Components for inclusion in the National BIM Standard (NBIMS). This project seeks to improve productivity in the design and construction industry by taking the lead in developing a basis for incorporating and integrating structural design codes, analysis tools and methods into the IFCs of the IAI effort.

What is an IFC?

Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs) are the means to exchange chunks of data related to buildings that software vendors have agreed to use when their software systems exchange data. The systems are said to be interoperable when the meaning of the chunks of data and how they are assembled have been agreed upon in advance so that any software could exchange, interpret and use the data correctly. In other words, IFCs are analogous to words in a neutral language that two foreigners communicate in. For example a Swede and a Nigerian may choose to communicate in English. The words have defined (i.e., agreed upon) meanings that could be put together, in ways defined by the language rules, to communicate complex thoughts. Similarly, complex structures of building, facility and life-cycle information are assembled and clearly communicated using IFCs.

The International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI) defines IFCs as data elements that represent the parts of buildings, or elements of the process, and contain the relevant information about those parts. IFCs are used by computer applications to assemble a computer-readable model of the facility that contains all the information of the parts and their relationships to be shared among project participants. This project model (i.e., Building Information Model or BIM) constitutes an object-oriented database of the information shared among project participants and it continues to grow as the project goes through design, construction and operation.

The ATC/CPF research project, “IFCs for Structural Components,” will enable construction project teams to exchange information reliably with structural engineers, and vice versa, by enabling their software systems to be interoperable and communicate directly with high fidelity.

Vision Statement

Create a robust process for seamless, efficient, reproducible exchange of accurate and reliable structural information that is widely and routinely utilized among all tools and stakeholders. Generate it once; use it many times - interoperability.


ATC will develop a framework and a pilot set of IFCs for Structural Components.  The initial focus is on the exchange of member geometry and properties.  This effort will expand to include Detailing Model Data, Construction Model Data, and Structural Model Data.

Project Accomplishments

Strategic Work Plan. The Strategic Work Plan charted our course and captured the priorities that the Project Management Committee (PMC) and Project Advisory Committee (PAP) set out for this project.  The initial Strategic Work Plan was drawn up on December 21, 2007 and then updated on June 6, 2008, following the first work session and the evolution of project priorities. Download PDF file of Strategic Work Plan here.

Benchmark Project Test. The benchmark test will serve as an important metric of the current state of IFC exchanges, but possibly more importantly as a measure of future success.  The benchmark test is drawn from an idealized structure derived from a portion of a “real” stadium project that includes a broad content of different structural materials, elements and configurations.  This model was generated natively in three of the most prevalent parametric modeling or BIM software platforms, and exchanged with each other, common engineering analysis software, and an IFC viewer.  The initial purpose was to systematically quantify the state of current interoperability in a methodical and comprehensive format.  In the future, these same models will be used to gauge the progress of the software platforms to exchange the same information using the ATC-75 generated IFCs.  The results of the benchmark tests are contained in a summary electronic spreadsheet and detailed report for each BIM platform.

Figure 1: Benchmark Test Model

Figure 2: IFC Transfer Summary

Download Benchmark Test on three models as a PDF file here.

Download Excel spreadsheet for Tekla Structure here.

Download Excel spreadsheet for Revit Structure here.

Download Excel spreadsheet for Bentley Structure here.

Work Session 1. The first work session in Nashville set forth the priorities that practitioners viewed for structural interoperability - this was the forum that set out the business processes for how we work as structural engineers, and aligned that with our priorities for exchanging the information we need between software platforms, i.e., the user requirements. Download PDF of Work Session 1 here.

Work Session 2. In the second work session in Chicago , the exchange requirements were reviewed in detail with the software company representatives  and the process to engage them in the implementation of these exchanges was begun.   Workshop 2 report not yet available.

Exchange Requirements (ERs). The exchange requirements, sometimes referred to as the information delivery manual (IDM), captures the objects and attributes that are contained in the BIM model that are to be exchanged between software platforms.  The ER explains the exchange in the terms used by the profession and aligns it with the very specific definitions that are required for software programmers to execute via IFC. This document serves as the pivot between the practitioners and the programmers.

Figure 3: Summary Table of Exchange Requirements

Download PDF of Exchange Requirements here.

Download PDF of IFC Binding here.

IFC Model View Definitions (MVDs). The work on developing the MVDs has only just begun.  Check back for MVD downloads!

Download PDF of Model View Definition here.

Dissemination Work Plan. The Dissemination Work Plan, issued on June 6, 2008, provides direction for the team on how to reach out to the largest possible audience of practitioners and encourage their belief in and demand for functional interoperability, and to reach software programmers and facilitate their involvement in a community effort to enable full, robust, and trustworthy interoperability.

Download PDF of Dissemination Work Plan here.

Diffusion Summary Report. This report will capture the effectiveness of the dissemination process by summarizing the diffusion success, documenting the implementation of the dissemination strategy and seeking out measures to quantify the effectiveness of the plan.

Generalized Schedule

The project is intended to last approximately two years. The schedule for deliverables is:

  1. Strategic Work Plan: 12/21/07 - COMPLETED
  2. Dissemination Work Plan: 3/25/08 - COMPLETED
  3. Final Draft URPB Report: 3/13/09
  4. Final URBP Report: 4/10/09
  5. Model View Definitions: 4/17/09
  6. Diffusion Report: 9/24/09
  7. Validation Test Report : 10/23/09

Draft material will be posted to this website as it is developed.

Sponsor acknowledgement

The funding for this project was provided by the Charles Pankow Foundation. For further information, please go to

Project Participants Roster

Project Management Committee (PMC)

Chris Rojahn , Principal Investigator
Applied Technology Council
201 Redwood Shores Parkway, Suite 240
Redwood City , CA   94065-1175
Thomas McLane , Project Manager
Applied Technology Council
2111 Wilson Blvd., Suite 700
Arlington , VA   22201
Edwin Dean , Lead Technical Director
Nishkian Dean
425 SW Stark, 2nd Floor
Portland , OR   97204
Michelle Anderson , Project Administrator
Nishkian Dean
425 SW Stark, 2nd Floor
Portland , OR   97204

Project Advisory Panel (PAP)

Francois Grobler , Chair, Project Advisory Panel
US Army Engineer Research & Development Center
Construction Engineering Research Laboratory
Champaign , IL   61826-9005
Chuck Eastman
College of Architecture , 0155
Georgia Institute of Technology
Atlanta , GA   30332
Dan Frangopol
Lehigh University
117 - Mountaintop - Bldg. H
Bethlehem , PA   18015
Jim Jacobi
Walter P. Moore & Associates, Inc.
3131 Eastside, Second Floor
Houston , TX   77098-1919
Steve Jones
McGraw-Hill Construction
Two Penn Plaza , 9th Floor
New York , NY 10121-2298
David Hutchinson
Buehler & Buehler Structural Engineers
600 Q St Ste 200
Sacramento , CA 95814
Paul Mlakar
US Army Engineer Research & Development Center
3909 Halls Ferry Road
Vicksburg , MS   39180
Deke Smith
National Institute of Building Sciences
1090 Vermont Avenue NW, Suite 700
Washington , DC   20005-4095


Erleen Hatfield, P.E., Lead Engineering Consultant
Thornton Tomasetti
51 Madison Avenue
New York , NY   10010
Aaron White, Engineering Consultant
Walter P. Moore and Associates, Inc.
11900 West Olympic Boulevard, Suite 750
Los Angeles , CA   90064
Thomas Liebich, IFC Consultant
AEC3 Ltd
Wendl-Dietrich-Str. 16
D-80634 München , Germany
Robert Lipman
100 Bureau Drive , Stop 8630
Gaithersburg , MD 20899
Paul Seletsky
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
14 Wall Street
New York , NY 10005

Technical Support

Peter Mork, Technical Support Services
Applied Technology Council
201 Redwood Shores Parkway, Suite 240
Redwood City, CA  94065-1175

Industry Participants

Wai Chu
AEC Autodesk, Inc.
610 Lincoln St
Waltham , MA   02451
Brad Douglas
1111 Nineteenth Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington , DC 20036
Luke Faulkner
American Institute of Steel Construction
1 E Wacker Drive Suite 3100
Chicago , IL 60601
Raoul Karp
Bentley Systems, Inc.
2744 Loker Ave West Suite 103
Carlsbad CA   92010
Lassi Liflander
Tekla, Inc.
Metsänpojankuja 1
02130 Espoo
Nicolas Mangon
AEC Autodesk, Inc.
610 Lincoln St
Waltham , MA   02451
Chi Ng
Gehry Technologies
12541 Beatrice Street
Los Angeles , CA , 90066
Herman Oogink
SCIA W+ B Software BV
Kroonpark 10
6831 GV Arnhem , Niederlande
Rasso Stienmann
Nemetschek Technology GmbH
Konrad-Zuse-Pl. 1
Munich , Germany
Doug Sordyl
38800 Country Club Drive
Farmington Hills , MI 48331
Volker Thein
Bentley Systems
Rob Tovani
Computers & Structures Inc
1995 University Ave Suite 540
Berkeley CA   94704
Angel Velez
AEC Autodesk, Inc.
1 Meadow Gate Avenue ,
Farnborough Business Park ,
Farnborough, Hampshire , GU14 6FG ,
United Kingdom
Frank Wang
Tekla Inc.
114 Town Park Drive – Suite 500
Kennesaw , GA 30144
Tom Williamson
7011 So. 19th
Tacoma , WA 98466

Relevant Links

National BIM Standards Committee

IFC-BIM Exchange Support Forum, this is the forum to post about IFC exchange problems -

This shows how CIS/2 and IFC fit together -

CIS/2 basics -

IFC basics -

IFC Wiki -


Information Delivery Manual (IDM) -

Model View Definition (MVD) -

Implementers Support Group (IFC Certification) -


CIS/2 and IFC (from here you can download a CIS/2 to IFC translator) -

Integration of Structural and BIM -

For more information, or if you would like to participate in this project, please contact the Applied Technology Council (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone (650) 595-1542).