Northwestern University Building Tech Symposium Summary


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Northwestern University Building Tech Symposium Summary

  1. 1. Symposium on Technology for Design and Construction Provides Comprehensive PerspectiveNorthwestern Universitys McCormick Engineering Master of Project Management Programprovided its second Symposium on Technology for Design and Construction in August 2012.A thorough offering of almost 20 presentations provided a comprehensive overview of currenttechnological issues facing the building industry today.Dana K. “Deke” Smith, FAIA, buildingSMART alliance Executive Director, provided thesummarizing presentation. His comments are incorporated into the following overview byMichael Bordenaro, BIM Education Co-op, Co-founder.The symposium was organized by Burcin Kaplanoglu and John Jurewicz, faculty members ofNorthwestern University’s Master of Project Management Program. The symposium providedadvanced building industry technology case studies and lessons learned as the heart of acomprehensive event bringing national and international leaders to Chicago for three days offocused learning.The event is summarized by Mr. Jurewicz at Images areavailable at his link.The following is an all-text summary by Mr. Bordenaro.Stéphane Cote, a part of Bentleys Applied Research Group, started the event by speakingabout significant potential for augmented reality in the AEC market. Providing numerousexamples, including an information-rich walk through the 60 billion Euro Crossrail project, itwas not hard to see the benefits available for building industry professionals able to link real-world conditions to virtual world information.Ground penetrating radar used to help map existing structures for civil engineering work andshowing cables, pipes and other items in walls were some of the potential benefits ofrepresenting BIM data in augmented reality business applications.Mr. Cote recommended watching “The Future of Augmented Reality” video and the “Sight” video by Daniel Lazo at www.Vimeo.comHoward Ashcraft, Jr., Esq., with the Construction Group at Hanson Bridgett LLP explainedhow Integrated Project Delivery contracting methods are increasing in popularity. His teamhas been involved in “35 full blown Integrated Project Delivery projects” and “gets a seriouscall once a week now.”Integrated Project Delivery contracts allow building industry professionals to perform in acollaborative manner with confidence, thereby encouraging the best work from a united team.Mr. Ashcraft has been involved in establishing multi party contracts with as many as 11 parties
  2. 2. signing one document.A Sutter Health Care project guided by an IPD Contract with 11 signatures was delivered 18months early and for $30 million less than similar, non-IPD projects. The project enjoyed a 99percent accurate mechanical model. Because of this, there was a .5 percent mechanicalchange order rate compared to the typical 7 to 10 percent.On one IPD project, the average time for having RFIs answered was 22 minutes . . .“because everyone is working in the model,” according to Mr. Ashcraft.Twenty-two minutes for the average Request For Information response. That changeseverything.Mr. Ashcraft described how Integrated Project Delivery contracting methods previously werebeing pursued by health care owners almost exclusively. This is changing as his team is nowworking on two non-medical IPD projects – one for an educational owner and one for aninstitutional owner. Each is valued at approximately $500 million.According to Mr. Ashcraft, the question of who owns the model has usually been answered,“the owner. ”He added that the intellectual property rights of participants are protected byhaving appropriate licensing rights established from the outset of the project.Also established at the outset of the project is a profit-related-to-performance formula.Participants are paid their fees and overhead, but profit is not allocated until the project iscompleted. There can be a greater profit if less contingency fees are used.Insurance companies are starting to prepare Integrated Project Delivery products, which willreduce the cost of insuring IPD projects, according to Ashcraft. XL Group, Zurich and otherinsurance companies are developing IPD product lines, he said.Mr. Ashcraft provided an excellent a series of significant, measurable benefits when advancedtechnologies, are properly guided with Integrated Project Delivery contracting mechanisms.And what he presented were just some of the ways savings are realized with IntegratedProject Delivery, according to Mr. Ashcraft.“Howard again reminded us that lawyers are really not bad people and that there istremendous value in having good contracts for IPD and what we do implementing BIM,” saidDeke Smith, FAIA, Executive Director, buildingSMART alliance.Daniel Ladek, an Enterprise IT Architect with CH2M Hill, used a Prezi presentation format,which is a good way of dealing with the extensive amount of data needed to be conveyed atbuilding technology seminars.“We are all information technologists,” Mr. Ladek said. The secret is to put access toinformation in places where people are already working. “Make it easy for them. Listen tothem.”To do this, Mr. Ladek suggested following the eight following steps:
  3. 3. 1) Know your 5-year business growth strategyIf you dont understand where you are aiming to be in 5 years, you will not know howtechnology will help you get there.2) Establish a technology architecture – a systems road map.3) Mergers and Acquisitions – have a repeatable play book for bringing new people on boardwith your system4) Have mobile and social technology in your road map and play book.5) Enterprise Information Management – Classify, manage, retain, archive, search anddispose data in a predetermined manner.6) Use Business Intelligence Dashboards and Reports to make “Big Data” actionable. Moveinformation from being useful to being actionable.7) Governance and controls. Know your Sarbanes–Oxley_Act, GAAP/IFRS, ITIL/CMM,International Standards Organization and other governing issues.8) Security. Make your data secure while also making it accessible. A challenging balance hasto be established and maintained.Fred Cardenas of Trimble/Meridian combined with others to show the importance of digitaldata, the importance of accurate layouts and increasing capabilities to get multiple data setsfrom a single, mobile tool.An interesting demonstration of what scanning capabilities can provide drove home the valueof advanced measuring technologies. Precision Midwest had produced a scan of theauditorium ahead of the event and mock design program showed how the data is useful forowner. Seeing the space we were sitting in as a digital point cloud – clearly representingeverything down to the plants on the stage - was a highly effective teaching technique.Craig Larson, Industry Director, Engineering & Construction, Oracle stated that half of thedatabases in the world are Oracle databases. Oracle has a feature called Spatial that allowsaccess to building and geographic data.Larson used examples from Bostons Big Dig and other projects to illustrate the way OraclesSpatial access helps the design and construction industries.The company is supporting Industry Foundation Classes established by buildingSMART.Deke Smith said in his overview, “The buildingSMART alliance is excited about Oraclessupport of IFCs and is hoping the company takes a more proactive role in the BIMtransformation in the future.”(Michael Bordenaros note: If there is one company that will benefit from the explosion of
  4. 4. Building Information Model use around the world, it is Oracle. Modeling all of the world invisual relational databases (BIM) will dramatically increase the need for data storage. If thereis a second company that will benefit from BIM, it is Cisco, but that is another story.)Peggy Yee, Program Expert, U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) addressed themany BIM programs, pilots and innovations being explored by our federal facilities manager.Deke Smith summed up Ms. Yees presentation with this sentence. “Peggy told of theproactive actions that GSA has taken to include guidelines, multi-national agreements foropen BIM, IFC, NBIMS-US, and COBie support.”That one sentence is so packed with meaning that there could be an entire Masters courseon it alone.I sum up the GSAs BIM work as the best use of tax dollars since the creation of NASA. Bythe way, NASA supports GSA BIM activities and has some of its own. But it is the GSA that isbeing the clear provider of measurable benefits from BIM, GIS, web services and basically allkey fundamentals for doing business in the building industry.Here is a point list of some of the issues Ms. Yee addressed in her always clear andunderstandable manner. − GSA is using Energy Plus for energy modeling. It is available from the Government and it IFC compatible. Open standards allow the energy models to be connected to Building Automation Systems to compare designed performance to actual performance so reconciliation can occur. − Proper use of BIM and COBie data exchanges enables immediate as-builts, immediate inventories and immediate lists of equipment/component/parts/special tools. − GSA anticipates that preparation for work order systems and connections to CMMS is dramatically reduced, allowing for immediate and measurable management benefits. Anticipated improvements include better management of warranties in the first year when service is contracted. Commissioning service improvements from having data accessible and actionable.Single Dashboard exploration, involving facility managers in creation of BIM Execution Plansand looking at the larger problem of existing condition surveys are just some of the otherforward-looking initiatives the GSA is addressing.Unlike private companies, the GSA is obligated to share all its breakthroughs with the public.As one of the largest building owners in the world, what the GSA learns about planning,designing, constructing, operating and maintaining buildings is of great value to all buildingindustry professionals.One of the key solutions to the management of so much information is the creation of acentral repository and use of a BIM server, according to Ms. Yee. The central repositorybecomes the one place for trusted data and the BIM server allows various levels of access.Together, valid reports can be created.
  5. 5. The GSA works with agencies of other countries, such as Norway, which already has a BIMServer in effective use. Through its BIM IDIQ contracting system, the GSA is working with UScompanies developing BIM Server capabilities for testing in pilot projects.There is too much more to say . . . for information see Stapleton, Mortenson Construction, has a background that includes working withproduction home builders and on the seminal Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Mr.Stapleton brings a wealth of experience to his work for Mortenson in Chicago.In a key pilot project with the University of Chicago, Mr. Stapleton said Mortenson was able toparticipate in generating many technology benefits for a $3.3 million renovation project.Completed in 29 months, the 22,500 square foot, three-story renovation, included integrationof Revit information and general information in a hard drive organized like a web-browserinstead of in a three-ring binder.The improved management data allowed for a smoother input of data into the Maximo CMMSsystem used by University of Chicago.Mr. Stapleton said the Construction Operation Building Information Exchange (COBie)template had to be customized for the project, but that is what is intended. A third partyvendor was used to integrate the COBie data into Maximo.“Spares are a big issue for large owners,” Mr. Stapleton said. Having easily accessible dataabout what equipment is in a building and what replacements are in stock is a greatcontributor to increased productivity.Eric Zoetmulder from SciQuest talked about his companys work with KBR to assist inmanagement of large construction contracts. Using a case study from the Oil & Gas industry,Mr. Zoetmulder discussed the benefits of contract management on strategic procurement andsupplier management solutions.Using contract dashboards with “Not to Exceed” red lights, green lights and yellow lightshelped people understand when they need to get together and address potential problemswith costs, schedule and other issues on the Gorgon Project. Early appearance of changeorders on their dashboard is a clear sign of concern.Having similar systems in place for building industry contract management can provideinformation management benefits, according to Mr. Zoetmulder.Stanley Pepper, CEO, Plansandspecs was joined by colleagues who told a compelling storyof the benefits of Autodesk 360 Glue, a web-based viewing tool that allows so many benefits,it is hard to keep up with all of them.Mr. Pepper pointed to the ever increasing number of project team members and their need for
  6. 6. information. Using 360 Glue as a secure portal is one way of giving and taking informationfrom team members.Milin Trivedi who was with Horizontal Glue when it was purchased by Autodesk andrebranded 360 Glue, stated that the system parses 55 file types to allow accurate viewing anddata sharing from many programs at the same time.(Mr. Trivedi agreed to provide a webinar for the Chicago BIM/IPD Community. We will keepyou updated on how that develops and how you can access it in person or on the web.)Raymond Topping, PE, Fiatech Director, explained how his organization promotesinnovative practices in technology that brings business value to companies that wantassistance in deployment of advanced hardware and software.Mr. Topping had been at CH2M Hill as a project manager of large-scale activities, such asLondons Olympic facilities. He took the position with Fiatech after being on the board formore than two years.Mr. Topping said that one of the many key initiatives at Fiatech is Regulatory Streamlining. ItsAutoCodes program is being rolled out to introduce the ability of reading Building InformationModels to determine basic egress and circulation issues.Minnesota-based retailer Target has sponsored part of the AutoCodes project and hasallowed the design of a store to be used as the test project by participating municipalities andjurisdictions having authority. Mr. Topping noted that Target pays more than $12 million eachyear to resubmit the same plans to different jurisdictions. As a testament to the potentialimprovements, Mr. Topping said that in four states that were able to streamline regulations,Target saved $50,000 per building on 150 projects.An effort to improve acceptance of Digital Signatures is being pursued and a vision paper onInteroperability is available at according to, Mr. Topping.Deke Smith said, “Our hat is off to FIATECH’s efforts toward culture change. These are bigissues that we must work towards. Autocodes is a great example. We are also working withFIATECH in coordinating ISO 15926 and 16739.”Stuart Bull, BIM Coordinator and Associate, Arup, Sydney, Australia, presented some real-lifemega projects that likely demonstrate what the future may look like for other building industryprofessionals, according to Deke Smith.In his usual, enthusiastic presentation style, Mr. Bull showed case studies, shared lessonslearned and made suggestions about technology implementation.Mr. Bull made a strong case for attending to the culture of new processes as much as thetechnology behind them. At one airport project, Mr. Bull had to delegate day-to-day teammanagement for a short while and everyone went back to working on 2D processes alone.“We lost 30 days!” Mr. Bull exclaimed.
  7. 7. Looking to the use of visualization business processes for infrastructure projects can providea wealth of education. “Infrastructure professionals are visualizing the clients investment,” Mr.Bull said as an expression of the highest value you can provide clients. When clients see theirinvestment in clear terms they can make increasingly subtle decisions that give them acompetitive advantage.On a sludge processing facility, Mr. Bull commented on the high level of detail in the modelcreated by the team he joined in progress. “Every component had 20 fields of input,” Mr. Bullsaid. Professionals using COBie would be very happy to have 20 fields of data for everycomponent in a model.Mr. Bull noted that the use of multiple tools has been a benefit in his projects. Using multipletools implies a need for a unifying code, which points to Industry Foundation Classes of datafrom buildingSMART as a common language for Building Information Model software tools.Being able to share information among multiple tools would allow opportunities on currentprojects such as the Sydney Opera development, according to Mr. Bull. He mentioned thepotential of developing of a GIS-based Emergency Response tool to assist fire departmentpersonnel based on processes being used by other building industry professionals around theworld. Sharing IFC data in effective, repeatable processes is one way of improvingemergency response with existing building data.Mark J. Frisch, Principal, Solomon Cordwell Buenz, provided a view of one architecturefirms journey through adoption of new technologies and processes. The company now doesa great amount of animations and analysis in house along with designing for digitalfabrication. Deke Smith said, “Mark walked us through his companies journey through CADto BIM to help others with the transition.”Robert Snyder spoke on Bentleys Hypermodeling capabilities released this year.Robert demonstrated a tool that links 2D and 3D visualizations in a way that speeds decisionmaking about complex subjects. What he presented may seem so advanced to many peoplethat might seem like science fiction, but it is possible today.Mr. Snyder noted that even industry leaders have been slow to recognize the inevitable nextgeneration of technology. He noted that in 1926 Jack Warner of Warner Brothers movie studiosaid talking pictures will never be widely available.So it is important to recognize the fast moving data sharing capabilities of advancedtechnologies as demonstrated through Bentleys Hypermodeling.Cory Davis, Director of Capital Renovation and New Construction for Chicago PublicSchools, noted the large number of projects being managed and the significant benefits beingenjoyed through advanced technologies. Chicago Public Schools has nearly 700 schools, 150active projects, $540 million in capital projects and 400,000 students.
  8. 8. Harmonization of facilities and student needs can be achieved by accurate understanding ofdata. Through its close working relationship with Oracle and its Primevera enterprise projectmanagement software, Chicago Public Schools has been able to measure its success inmany ways.In 2011 there were 139 people in Mr. Davis department. He now is able to achieve the sameresults with approximately 20 fewer people. Even with this leaner management staff, thechange order rate has declined from 12% in 2010 to 4.5% in 2012. This has resulted inavoided costs and savings of approximately $40 million.Through a variety of contractor training programs, Tuesday and Thursday workshops, phonesupport and other vendor provided assistance, Chicago Public Schools now is ahead ofschedule on 84% of projects, according to Mr. Davis. He also noted that $3.5 million has beensaved with electronic design management that provides 100% web-based as-built drawingsthat reduce the need to print documents.Mr. Davis said now that his department has better organized information, it is considering agreater role for Building Information Models. “BIM is where we are going. It has to be,” saidMr. Davis.Deke Smith said, “Cory identified the management tools CPS has implemented and remindedus it is not all about graphics. The bottom line is you can’t improve what you can’t count. Hehas demonstrated significant successes in his short time with CPS. BIM is also now on hisradar screen.”Bryan Jurewicz, President of, A Division of Textura Corporation, startedwith an interesting premise. He stated that there is no longer a technology problem in thebuilding industry. There is almost too much technology. How to share the information is thereal issue.GradeBeam allows a way to almost reorganize internal processes to interact with generalcontractors and subs. With featured provides, it is possible to score subs in a way that reflectsyour business metrics, so you work with the subs who work your way. Also, it is possible toestablish a customizable GC dashboard so large portfolio owners can see who is doing whatand when they are doing it.“Bryan looked at the B2B issues of managing projects and integrating various ERPs. Theircompanies extensive work with business process modeling could be the basis of future bestbusiness practices to help re-engineer the management practices surrounding the facilitiesindustry,” said Deke Smith.Sandy Damasco and James Park, of Lend Lease provided a high-level view of buildingindustry technology and a ground-level, working view of scanning advancements they aremaking.Mr. Damasco started by directly stating the real issue. The building industry is lagging behindevery other industry in the world in terms of using technology to gain real, measurablebenefits. Because every other industry provides case studies, software, hardware, processes
  9. 9. and other learning opportunities, we can have considerable confidence approaching thedramatic changes that accompany the challenge of a tool set change over.While there are challenges, Mr. Damasco noted that benefits of technology integration exist,“it is only a matter of if you are smart enough to make it work.”The concept of Value Engineering as something that is done separate from the core designprocess was dismissed by Mr. Damasco. “Make changes as they are happening, like everyother industry,” Mr. Damasco advocated.The use of advanced technology allows processes to occur faster, be eliminated or added.“Work flow has to be defined within your own organization,” he said. Showing a slide of themany responsibilities of a Project Manager, Mr. Damasco stated that this person has to beable to address information in many forms through every step of every phase.According to Mr. Damasco, the AIA BIM Level of Detail system provides an advantageousway to structure and understand projects. The AIA Levels provide a rating system between100 and 500 to express how Building Information Models can be detailed. “You need toredefine your process,” he said. People can determine sub numbering systems within theAIAs general framework to express their own understanding of model completeness.In addition to keeping up with all the current advanced technology, Mr. Damasco indicatedthere is an opportunity looking forward to meet evident needs. “It would be good if there was amini app that would scroll the model and it into a COBie format,” he said. Since there areCOBie developers working on that, his vision is spot on.Mr. Damasco also noted the market for post construction information. Clearly, the BIM-to-FMbuzz moving through the industry is evidence of the acceptance of the value that can bederived by institutional owners.Mr. Parks discussed the use of ASCII in the implementation of laser scanning processes.“Instead of just having point clouds, intelligent points are collected,” said Mr. Parks.Point clouds are excellent for capturing three dimensional shapes that let people see what aspace looks like. The points can have data related to how far they are from the scanner andhow much light is at that point. By using ASCII – which allows the data points to be shared asCSV or Excel documents – more data can be conveyed about each point. Values that can beshared include existing conditions behind each point and the conditions of the surface – is it inneed of renovation, cleaning, painting and almost any other desired data set.Mr. Parks indicated how this scanning approach helped on a high rise renovation. Thescanning process used helped identify clashes between existing structure and newmechanical systems. More than 20 clashes were resolved on each floor, saving $4,500 perclash. It is possible to estimate savings of more than $1 million from the use of laser scans onthe high rise renovation project.Ville Kyytsönen, Development Manager, Tekla BIMsight, talked about how Tekla has beeninvolved with Building Information Models since the 1960s. It is using all of its technology
  10. 10. processes in the construction of its new US headquarters in Denver.A cornerstone of Trimbles growing building industry technology group, Tekla now offersBIMSight as a free iPad application to allow zero training use of advanced building industrytechnologies. Released in 2011 BIMsight allows combining and checking of models fromdifferent programs using IFC data sharing processes. Images and text from the combinedmodels can be captured and sent to colleagues.Deke Smith said, “Ville described how Tekla integrates with Trimble and spoke of their view ofBI Modeling, BI Management and BI Consumption. They fully support and use IFC. He said “Ifyou are really doing BIM then you use IFC.”Mr. Kyytsönen noted that Tekla and SketchUp, another Trimble company, are sharing data inmeaningful ways. Companies are using SketchUp to make the stark engineer-based drawingstyle of Tekla structures easier for all stakeholders to understand. “SketchUp doesnt supportIFC, but creates visualization options that work fine,” Mr. Kyytsönen said.Kirk Olson talked about how the Syncro scheduling/CMP tool can support a project byvisualizing construction and identify problems. Synchro supports IFC and many other formats.This allows the repurposing of model elements and schedules in many ways that previouslywere not possible. Being able to see existing data in new ways contributes to significantsavings with relatively little effort.Deke Smith said, “Kirk talked about how the Syncro scheduling/CMP tool can visually supportthe project by visualizing construction and identify problems. They support IFC and manyother formats. Their goal is to get from a 2D and 3D world to a 4D world. They would like tohave all normalized data in Syncro. All about repurposing data.”Dana K. “Deke” Smith, FAIA, buildingSMART alliance Executive Director, provided a shortintroduction to the buildingSMART movement, including its international and nationalimplications. www.buildingSMARTalliance.orgOf particular interest is the U.K.s legislation regarding BIM mentioned on slide 27 of hisseminar summary available at:, in part on BIM developments in the U.S. and including Construction-OperationBuilding Information Exchange (COBie) processes developed by the US Army Corps ofEngineers, NASA and others, the U.K. BIM requirements show that legislative action can helpencourage large-scale savings for government building owners.China is watching the US BIM initiatives very closely, according to Mr. Smith. A buildingindustry delegation from China recently visited Washington, D.C. and provided an update ontheir BIM activities, which very closely mirrored U.S. BIM activities, according to Mr. Smith.Mr. Smith provided a presentation-by-presentation synopsis of the 3-day symposium. Slides 5– 12 are his summaries of each presentation. The other slides illustrate his overall summaryof the State of the Building Industry related to advanced technology.
  11. 11. Mr. Smith emphasized the collaborative requirements of working with advanced technology.“BIM is a team sport. You are not doing BIM if information is not being transferred fromauthoritative sources to end users.”Citing established case studies and effectively implemented programs, Mr. Smith told thestory of how BIM and related processes helped the $176 million USC College of CinematicArts Phase II be finished four months ahead of schedule for $6.4 million less than estimated.While providing a wealth of references and resources, Mr. Smith indicated that the path toeffective use of todays tools is not necessarily easy, but it is possible. “We are transformingthe facilities industry to the information age – that is a significant cultural change, equal to orgreater than moving to the industrial age. Expect some pain before the gain,” Mr. Smith said.To ease the transition, Mr. Smith added that training is key. “Education is a key factor – it is along term investment in our future.” He noted that the online Whole Building Design Guidefrom the National Institute of Building Sciences provides a wealth of educational material. OneAmerican Institute of Architects staff member noted that all the AIA continuing educationcredits for two years can be obtained for free at www.WBDG.orgMr. Smith also advocated attendance at the National Institute of Building Sciences firstindependent conference in Washington, D.C. January 7 – 11, 2013. See more about theBuilding Innovation conference at