With so much at stake, today's Building Teams have no choice but to streamline the construction process through technologies that are readily available.
Two such technologies approach this in different ways — one through the design management process, the other through the construction management process.
Managing a campus design
Antunovich Associates, a Chicago-based architecture, planning, and interior design firm, has been using Revit, from Autodesk, in the design of the 700,000-sq.-ft. University Center of Chicago project. Currently under construction in the city's South Loop, this residence hall will serve student populations from three private local universities: DePaul and Roosevelt Universities and Columbia College.
With Revit, a building design and documentation system based on object-oriented, parametric 3-D modeling and database technology, the firm was able to visualize design intent for the three demanding client groups and rapidly incorporate design changes. This allowed the team to work quickly and accurately on the many design options, which resulted in the project being completed on schedule and within budget, despite its size and complexity.
The firm also used the system to generate massing studies, which team members refined using a variety of perspective and elevation views to automatically create design deliverables and generate new design options to show to the numerous client groups during weekly review meetings.
"Autodesk Revit has been a tremendous benefit to this project," said David Graue, principal of Antunovich Associates. "Its ability to coordinate and update design documents freed us to focus more on design. Later on, it helped us develop an accurate pricing set and communicate with the contractor. If we hadn't been using Revit, we would have needed to add at least two or three more members to the team."
During design development and construction documentation, the project continued to benefit from the use of a building information model it had created. Revit's interoperability with AutoCAD made it effortless for Antunovich Associates to share files with the associate architect and consultants.
The Antunovich team exported plans and elevations out of Revit so that the associate architect could work on designing overall building sections and details using AutoCAD. In turn, AutoCAD's 2-D drawing information was imported back into Revit as an underlay for coordination.
During the construction phase, the designers used the product to build virtual models of key parts of the building according to the structural engineer's drawings, fine-tune them, and show the contractor the results. This allowed the team to solve problems in 3-D before the actual construction process.
The parametric change technology automatically coordinates changes made anywhere — in model views, drawing sheets, schedules, sections, plans, or renderings. Revit's change management capabilities proved extremely useful as building components were added and deleted, unit configurations were revised, and the number of beds was adjusted.
Instead of producing reams of paper that would have to be coordinated after the fact, the Building Team intelligently coordinated virtual construction in 3-D space.
Managing airport construction
For the management of a $100 Million Kansas City International Airport Terminal Improvements Project, Kansas City-based Walton Construction Company used Constructware, a Web-based construction management system. Now under construction and expected to be completed by October 2004, the project's key improvements include full mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and services upgrades, plus terrazzo floor replacement, enhanced glazing systems, and post-9/11 security enhancements — all while keeping the airport operational during construction.
The project called for the use of project-specific RFIs. Using the product's template capabilities, these forms were seamlessly integrated into the project, meaning that the correct documentation could be sent electronically to all parties and viewed on-screen as if on paper. The result is that users can access this documentation immediately after it is logged, versus waiting for a fax or e-mail.
Walton has also been able to streamline workflows by lowering the amount of paperwork being sent out to each subcontractor, using templates that require a minimal amount of input and lowering the generation of duplicate documents. Walton also created form letters for notices, request-for-change cover letters, and award and subcontract cover letters, thus improving efficiencies and freeing up key personnel to focus on management rather than paperwork.
By deploying these new database-driven technologies, firms have a real opportunity to collaborate with the whole Building Team, resulting in significant savings in costs and time.