BIM in Action

June 08, 2010

Some professionals in the construction industry may still see the topic of BIM (building information modeling) as being a lot of hype but little action. But the truth is there are a lot of real world examples out there—from sports stadiums to hospital projects—where contractors, trades, and owners are finding more practical uses for BIM.

Take for example, sports stadiums. These arenas are typically unique structures, with complicated rooflines, curved beams, and heavy structural steel design. Recently, a total of five new stadiums were built for the FIFA World Cup, and two were modeled using BIM techniques and software.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium has a unique roof structure—made of teflon-coated fiberglass, held up with 36 steel girders, and a total weight of 2,500-tons of futuristic curved beams. CadMax, www.cadmax.ca, Boisbriand, Que., the steel detailers, used Tekla Structures, www.teklastructures.com, Espoo, Finland, to model the project.

According to Tekla, the project required seamless coordination of 4,200 drawing between multiple party participants. However, with the use of technology, the tight schedule and unique details were completed on time.

Additionally, Tekla was used on the renovation of Royal Bafokeng stadium and the creation of the Mbombela Stadium—in both cases to model the steel structure of other stadiums for the FIFA World Cup.

Beyond the construction of facilities for the FIFA World Cup, contractors recently finished installing the structural steel for a children’s hospital in California. General contractor, McCarthy Building Companies, www.mccarthy.com, St. Louis, Mo., is building a new 425,524-sq.ft., $563-million patient tower and expansion project.

According to Max Burcham, project director, McCarthy, the team is using BIM to help refine coordination and reduce conflicts between the various systems in the hospital. In addition, it is using mockups to mitigate waterproof issues and work through the details of how components interface. This project is scheduled for completion in December 2012.

While contractors, trades, and owners are using BIM to help improve coordination in the field, providers are working to release the latest in updated technology solutions.

For example, Reed Construction Data, www.reedconstructiondata.com, Norcross, Ga., announced new versions of its SmartBIM Library 4.0 and SmartBIM QTO 2.0, which include support for Revit 2011 from Autodesk, www.autodesk.com, San Rafael, Calif., among other new features.

Other enhancements include improved performance for publishing and filtering large catalogs in SmartBIM Library. SmartBIM QTO allows for early cost estimating with Revit, which can help project participants refine the costs early in the project.

While BIM can be a topic of in-depth conversation in the office, at trade shows, and even in online forums, contractors are putting the associated technology to the test and are finding out how the applications can work in a real-world environment.