July 17, 2006
Architects and Contractors Team up on Award-Winning BIM Project
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor


by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Welcome to AECWeekly! Architectural awards are bestowed on firms that exhibit particular qualities in their designs. In recent years, other categories have been added such as that of building information modeling, which involves more of the lifecycle process in the design of the building, allowing architects and contractors to work in teams. In June, the 2006 Building Information Model (BIM) Award for “Inspirational Pilot Project” was awarded by the Architect’s Technology in Architectural Practice (AIA TAP) Knowledge Community to Houston based Kirksey for their design and model of Satterfield & Pontikes Westway Office Building in Houston. Read about this
interesting award winner in this week’s Industry News.


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Industry News


Architects and Contractors Team up on Award-Winning BIM Project
by Susan Smith


Architectural awards are bestowed on firms that exhibit particular qualities in their designs. In recent years, other categories have been added such as that of building information modeling, which involves more of the lifecycle process in the design of the building, allowing architects and contractors to work in teams. In June, the 2006 Building Information Model (BIM) Award for “Inspirational Pilot Project” was awarded by the Architect’s Technology in Architectural Practice (AIA TAP) Knowledge Community to Houston based Kirksey for their design and model of Satterfield & Pontikes Westway Office Building in Houston.


This building, set for completion in late 2006, was designed and modeled in BIM using Graphisoft’s Archicad, Estimator and Constructor. The building is a Class A office building, to be a three-story, 65,000 square foot, cast-in-place concrete structure. It has the added distinction of being certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) and complies with the U.S. Green Building Commission (USGBC) specifications.


David Larrew, AIA, GDLA Director of Architectural Technology for Kirksey, spoke with AECWeekly about this prestigious honor and how it came about.

“George Pontikes contacted us because of our knowledge of Archicad and doing BIM projects. He really wanted to make this project a true BIM project. it was mainly his initiative that got the team together,” said Larrew. “He got the subs on board, and structural up front for the design phase so we could do all the modeling and design as a team rather than the traditional way where the architect is hired on, does a design and sends it off to the consultants.”


Pontikes was already using Graphisoft Constructor and Estimator prior to this project. They derived great benefit from taking the 2D architectural drawings and modeling the project themselves so they could do the estimating and scheduling in Constructor and Estimator. It saved them time and was more accurate than doing it traditionally. “Once we were brought in on the team, and they knew we were using Archicad, they thought we could streamline the whole building of the model. So we worked hand in hand with them building the model for their use as an Estimator/Constructor model.”


The BIM process was also valuable in doing the energy calculations for the LEED certification. A DOE 2 compatible software for energy calculations is connected to the 3D model, which is necessary for doing those types of calculations. Sun studies are done directly in Archicad, and that and other information from the model is taken into the DOE 2 compatible software, then the software runs the estimation and calculation of the energy analysis.


Kirksey has an in-house LEED certification team, which they try to use on as many projects as they can. “We would like to do all our buildings LEED-certified,” said Larrew. “Not all owners want to spend the money up front. In the long run, if you’re going to own the building, you might as well get it LEED-certified because you will get a lot of credits and also just the cost of maintenance and the lifecycle of the building give you a great payback.”


Some of the green features Kirksey implemented included an exterior sunshade system to increase thermal efficiency and provide glare-free views for occupants. Reduction in the heat-island effect was achieved by putting a garden roof on a section of the building. Landscaping and benches in a central park area added additional atmosphere.


Kirksey has been an Archicad user since 1998. “Ever since then, all the projects we do in this office are 3D and the whole BIM thing is now becoming popular,” said Larrew. “We never called it BIM, it was to us an object oriented 3D documentation automation. It helped us produce documents faster and demanded a lot less coordination in house, because as you build a model, you don’t have to draw elevations or draw sections, they are actually built for you. This cuts down a lot of errors and omissions that we used to experience with 2D drafting.”


According to Larrew, Pontikes was the first firm to ask for the BIM model in order to do their estimates. Since then, Larrew has talked to three different contractors who are asking about the Archicad BIM model, and trying to understand how they can utilize the 3D model in their estimating and scheduling work.


“I think the contractors are getting more excited about BIM than the architects are because of the fact that it will save them time during estimation,” said Larrew.


What features of this project were unique or led to the winning of the AIA award? “The judges said that of all the entries in our section they thought ours was using the BIM process the most,” Larrew commented, adding, “Taking the whole team on, all the way from the owner to the subs, being all part of this format. It’s not a huge project, only 65,000 square feet, a couple of glass rectangles sitting on a site, a nice clean design but not spectacular.”


The project still wasn’t 100 percent BIM, but it was close to complete, said Larrew. The extent of the BIM was the master plan, spec office building, with core and exterior shell. Any additions to the design would be easy to implement using the master plan.


“What we find will be the hardest hurdle for contractors and architects is getting over the way we do things now, which is, the design team puts the project out for bid, contractors bid for it and it gets awarded. So it’s a design-bid-build and then sue structure. We’re trying to go with a more integrated practice and have a design built team all assembled at the start where everybody’s on board and doing the model. It’s going to be a hard road but that’s the way it’s going to have to be to do a BIM process for everyday projects.”


The way the team worked, they would sit down in weekly meetings and at a certain point in the process, the model was put into NavisWorks so people could see all of the different disciplines together in one model. “They would walk through the model, then Pontikes hired a Graphisoft consultant to help them with estimation. He was the conduit between us and the construction team, so we would meet and then we would discuss facts like spending too much money on concrete, we’re over budget here, etc.”


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