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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Perot Museum of Nature and Science design mirrors Texas’ natural environment

November 26th, 2013 by Susan Smith

The Perot Museum of Nature and Science located in Dallas, Texas, won a Be Inspired “Special Recognition Award”  in the category “Innovations in Comprehensive BIM” at the Year In Infrastructure 2013 (YII2013) event held in London in October. The building, designed by Morphosis Architects, is very striking in that it is embues the visitor with the feeling of the natural environment of Texas, with its earthy use of rocks, stone, concrete and sedimentation of the earth layering.

Architect Cory Brugger said that they had a great project team with the general contractor, subcontractors and contractors coming on board early. They created 3D models for design and delivery as well as processes for construction. The project was an example of Bentley cross-platform interoperability with seamless workflow among architects, project consultants, and subcontractors. Also the BIM model fostered confidence among the various project stakeholders. Using an integrated BIM approach involved MicroStation, Bentley Architecture, Structural Modeler, and Bentley Navigator. The Morphosis project team was able to deliver the USD  92 million museum ahead of schedule and under contracted budget by 6 percent.

Unlike many museums that sport a more neutral background so they don’t compete with the exhibits, the 180,000-square-foot, 14-story facility features exhibits, contextual displays of collections, state-of-the-art technology, multimedia presentations and hands-on activities, housing many valuable fossils and other priceless materials.

The main structure is cast in place concrete and steel for the podium and for pre-cast. There were 850 pieces of steel designed and developed using Bentley Structural. The project required 330 RFIs during predesign phases.

“We subdivided four different panel shapes into smaller components,” said Brugger.  “We had 33 geometric families – to take a panel from intended geometry, the key component was the resolution of each of the panels. The question was, how do you maintain continuous geometry from one panel to the next?”

There were 13 different panel densities, and 13 different assemblies of them. Brugger said that they used the same geometry design in the atrium: plinth façade geometry.

The panel prototyping was done in the architectural office. When we looked at CNC milling, we decided we would work within the structural tolerances, so we worked with these original mockups,” said Brugger. “They had hand built all the geometric molds. They then organized them into a panel mold that was poured. The beauty of this system was we could dissemble the pieces but reassemble, so we could reuse a lot of original materials as part of the fabrication process. Using the full BIM model, every one of the parametric pieces was built in the environment.”

Brugger said the BIM model was used for construction in the field for finalizing the building, shop drawing coordination, CNC fabrication, and as frameworks for installation of complex building components.

The lobby ceiling was ” leap of faith design/build project,” with flat panel and single curve geometries. It was achieved by using shop drawings  and an Excel spreadsheet. They used a pin connection to hold panels together.

They way it was done was by building the geometries and building section cuts of the auditorium as you walk through. The sections could be placed in space by a robotic hangar. Profiles were clad in DWG, showing some of the complexity of the waves as they move through the space. This approach saved about 70 hours in installation.

The escalator is a clear glass box on the side of the building. All coordination of the MEP and electrical run within the body of the escalator, and was run through the BIM model. “Every key node in the structure, every curved glass cable,  came from our model,” said Brugger. There was integration with radiant heating for the interior. “The lightwells bring light into auditorium, with 26 foot molds and four mockups, making sure we can maintain the consistency of concrete. We could look at reinforcement, vibration of the material and mixes of the concrete.”

All the MEP water and rainwater is recycled. One reason for this is that there should not be any sitting water on top of the concrete itself.

This building is on track to become LEED Gold, which will make it the only institutional building on the LEED Green Associate List.

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Categories: AEC, architecture, Bentley Systems, BIM, building information modeling, Cloud, construction, engineering, infrastructure, integrated project delivery, LEED Gold, MEP, mobile, site planning

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