2D to BIM Case Study – Assael Architecture

Vectorworks Case Study

This is an abridged version of the original case study by Vectorworks. View the original

Assael Architecture started with humble beginnings. Two staff members grew into an award-winning practice comprising several teams, directors, associate directors, and managers. With over 20 years of expertise in the design of mixed-use, residential-led developments in large, urban areas, the practice primarily works in major cities throughout the UK and is expanding its international presence with projects in Russia, Bahrain, and Germany.

A new project — Pontoon Dock — proved the perfect opportunity for the company to put its Building Information Modeling (BIM) planning and coordination into practice.

The Problem

The proposal is a landmark “Build to Rent” development comprising three buildings with heights ranging between five and 14 storeys, with 154 private rented apartments and 82 affordable homes, in response to Greater London’s housing shortage.

Assael’s major design challenge was balancing the build density on the constrained site, which sits between a viaduct outside Pontoon Dock DLR Station and the Thames Barrier Park.

The Plan

The Assael team sets out a project execution plan scaled to match the size of each project. “We work with the clients to make sure they understand the standards of the program we are working to,” explained Simon Pitt, one of the directors at Assael. “We allocate resources on a weekly and monthly basis to make sure that the key project tasks of the program are being met, while saving time and unnecessary expenses.”

With this in mind, the practice structured its project workflow to follow a workable and proven routine:

  • Assael issued the architectural model near the end of the week (Friday).
  • The MEP and structural engineers had a few days to download the architectural model and update any changes to their own models, uploading their own IFC files the following week (Tuesday).
  • Assael downloaded these models, combined the discipline models together, and performed clash detection with Solibri Model Checker. The resulting federated model was issued with PDF reports within 24 hours (Wednesday).
  • The federated combined digital model is reviewed at the fortnightly DTM (design team meeting). All design coordination prior to the DTM would be done via a web-based communication tool called BIMcollab.

This process was repeated in two-week cycles until the model was finalised. This systematising of information and model exchange worked well, and the Pontoon Dock project was the first of Assael’s to reach BIM Level 2 collaboration.

 

 

Assael was committed to constant communication, coordination, and negotiation to ensure all parties were presented with a consistent view of the project status. “We all had to sit around the table and look at the execution plan, the timeline, the model, the model exchanges, and the time for federating the model,” said Ben Lam, BIM manager and associate at Assael.

 

 

“We definitely spent a lot of time getting the model right and not just concentrating on 2D information, even though the contractors and consultants rely heavily on 2D data,” said Lam. Focusing on 3D modeling was important for the Assael team to reach their goals and allowed the firm to share not only the model, but also 2D information more easily.

“Getting the model right and spending more time at the beginning has really reaped rewards,” said Pitt. “And using Vectorworks allows us to generate the 2D information a lot quicker than we could before, especially when we consider the repeated updating and refining of the design.”

The Results

To meet the BIM Level 2 mandate, Assael had its own workflow adjustments to absorb. According to Lam, Vectorworks played a big role in this transition.

“It was quite a natural progression from using Vectorworks to get into BIM because we have always used Vectorworks’ intelligent objects like walls, windows, and doors, but we had never taken advantage of the fact that they were creating 3D BIM objects already,” he said. “I think our users have come to realise they’re creating BIM models without having to dramatically change the way they work. They’re starting to see the benefit of actually generating a proper model from which they are generating 2D information and how effective that can really be.”

The software also simplified the number of steps taken to reach major milestones in projects. In particular, Renderworks one of many features that’s proved to be a game changer.

“It’s a complete necessity here because we use rendering a lot for our elevations,” said Lam. “Without Renderworks, we just would not get the correct look and feel to our elevations and the associated information. With many of our material renders, for example, the light resources and the shadowing are very important for elevations. So, no matter what changes we do for the model, the renderings for the elevations come up just the way we like them to.”

Moving completely to BIM has also transformed the firm’s design process overall.

“In four to five years, projects that go from initial capacity study through to planning are now done as BIM models,” said Lam. “Everyone uses the 3D aspect much more than they used to; they have become more proficient in using 3D as part of the BIM process.”

He emphasised the importance of working completely in 3D.

“In the UK, a massive part of the design process for any project is gaining planning permission,” Pitt explained. “A vital part of our work is ensuring that we get the information right to present to planning committees, planning authorities, and the general public. When we moved towards BIM Level 2 using Vectorworks, we also needed to make sure the quality of our work didn’t drop or was compromised in any way. The fact that our existing workflow could be adapted quickly really helped in the transition.”

For Assael Architecture, the switch to BIM Level 2 compliance has been very effective, and the results of the Pontoon Dock project, along with many others, has set the firm up to continue on the path to a productive and promising future.

“We’ve developed our skills in 3D to develop BIM, and everyone is more proficient now in the way they use Vectorworks,” said Lam. “So, it’s been a natural progression between what we were using primarily as a 2D tool, for sections and elevations and plans, to develop that to 3D information that was already there but not being utilised.”

By fully utilising 3D, creating a BIM execution plan, and learning how to successfully conduct an openBIM workflow process with engineers, Assael will continue building future homes — and building its practice — for many years to come.

 

All Images © Assael Architecture

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Vectorworks 2019 Teaser – Class & Layer Filters

Vectorworks 2019

Vectorworks are returning again this year with Teaser Tuesday! Here’s your chance for a sneak peek at updates to come in Vectorworks 2019. For the first in the series, here’s a Vectorworks 2019 update that will help you save time and make your workflow even smoother.

Most design files end up with more classes and layers than one can easily manage. In Vectorworks 2019, steps have been taken to increase efficiency by adding the ability to search, filter, and add tags to layers and classes. This means you can instantly find what you’re looking for by typing in a keyword search or using filters to display class and layers based upon specific properties. Watch the video below to see the full capabilities:

“As the amount of data in BIM files increases, it gets harder to find and manage classes and layers,” said Chad Hamilton, AIA, LEED AP, Principal Architect at Hamilton + Aitken Architects. “The new layer and class filters help sort through this information so we can quickly find what we need. This is a huge improvement, especially for offices doing more complex projects.”

Find out more by visiting CAD Software Direct/Vectorworks.

Vectorworks Case Study: BPR Architects

Vectorworks Case Study

Working in BIM enables bpr architects to create world class buildings for Middlesex University

View the original case study by CADUSER

For bpr architects, BIM Level 2 is becoming business as usual. This medium-sized, employee-owned firm based in the UK focuses on how good design can add value to a client’s vision. Led by Directors Paul Beaty-Pownall and Steve Cowell, the firm specialises in three core sectors: higher education, rail stations, and regeneration. In response to the UK government mandate for the use of 3D BIM on all public projects by 2016, bpr moved quickly to keep pace with the requirements. As part of its compliance strategy, bpr began using Vectorworks software almost exclusively to maintain consistency across projects.

“We took advantage of the UK’s regulatory regimes to move to BIM. In 2013 we changed our working practices and workflow so projects are drawn in 3D from conception. I decided that all future work will be in 3D, and we will make better use of models that can produce information more efficiently.” – Paul Beaty-Pownall

With this framework in place, bpr implemented BIM Level 2 standards into its workflow with teams combining design information with their models to create a federated BIM model. The team selected a pilot project for this task: the Ritterman Building, a five-storey teaching space for long-standing client, Middlesex University.

“As a designer you are always looking for opportunities where you can add value through good design, not just for the betterment of the project, but for the betterment of the environment around that project – strategic solutions that benefit the wider estate.” said Beaty-Pownall.

Such was the case when working with Middlesex University. A client for more than 12 years, the university trusted that bpr had a solid understanding of its needs and how to accomplish them through good design.

Vectorworks Case Study

HOW TO MAKE BREAKTHROUGHS WITH BUILDINGS
Several challenges arose when bpr started working on the Ritterman Building design. First, the building would be constructed on a vacant part of campus composed of a steep, grassy bank. The building also needed to be adaptable to meet continually changing teaching, accessibility, and sustainability requirements, both immediate and for the future.

“We worked closely with the structural engineer to consider how that might be done, such as how to refurbish the building later on down the line,” said Lizzie Dodwell, an architect at bpr. “It made more sense to design within that problem to give us that flexibility in the future.”

For the Ritterman Building, bpr designed flexibility into the structure, such as opening up double-height space that could be modified at a later time by adding floors to create modular teaching spaces. Throughout the decision-making process, the firm also took the university’s long-term goals into account.

“The pedagogic needs of the university’s vision and operational requirements for the future is something we don’t know at this stage,” said Dodwell. “By being more flexible in our approach, we allow adjustments to be made later on down the line.”

The completed building is comprised of both functional and innovative teaching spaces for the faculties of Science and Technology and The Arts & Creative Industries. In addition to these spaces, the Ritterman Building also includes a café, technology suites, a dance studio, and offices for academic staff. The building may take two to three years from initial idea to completion, whilst the educational curriculum can change every year,” said Beaty-Pownall. “So being prepared to adapt and change the building over time is really important.”

BEHIND THE SCENES WITH BIM LEVEL 2
The timing of the Ritterman Building provided the perfect opportunity for bpr to transition to a BIM practice. Middlesex University already had a framework in place that required bpr to work with the same teams, including structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers, across all projects. “It’s been very effective to work over a long period of time with the same design team across a number of different buildings with the same clients,” said Beaty-Pownall.

The ability to import different types of files into Vectorworks helped the bpr team progress through their design plans at a faster pace.

“The structural engineer had Revit and was very keen to collaborate. In the early stages he would send us his models in IFC and we would import them into our Vectorworks model to keep things simpler. The others all use 3D software in different packages, that were then exported into IFC and coordinated in a federated model, in Tekla.” – Lizzie Dodwell

To produce detailed drawings and construction documents, bpr took the Vectorworks model and created separate files for three distinct “zones” in the 3D modeling environment – the envelope, core, and internal zones. This enabled three teams to work on separate files. The teams then referenced each work area to a single sheet file, which they could work on in 2D to export detailed drawings and schedules. In this way, the entire team could extract consistent information from a single source.

Beaty-Pownall believes that embracing BIM workflows across the practice has been worth the effort. This collaborative way of completing projects has enhanced bpr’s workflow in ways that, without Vectorworks software, may not have been possible. “One of the core benefits to the practice of using a 3D workflow is how it enables us to focus on design with the confidence that the delivery of information to support exciting ideas is robust,” he said “We could push the boundaries and explore opportunities as the project develops.”
Although bpr did not serve as the BIM manager for the second half of the project, obtaining and maintaining Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) information allowed the firm to ensure that the coordination of the different disciplines would come together at every stage of the design process. Increasing Accuracy and Saving Time The benefits of Vectorworks extend beyond collaboration, increasing accuracy and saving time by using integrated Vectorworks worksheets instead of spreadsheets to keep track of project details. “When we used Excel spreadsheets for our scheduling, we were literally taking up time counting door by door and door handle and hinge,” said Beaty-Pownall. “We now have a lot more confidence that the data provided is accurate.”

Finally, Vectorworks software has been helpful for bpr to see buildings in context, as the team can situate designs within true-to-life surroundings to offer a large amount of detail to clients. “We tested the potential for a new performing arts building to understand the capacity of the proposed site,” said Beaty-Pownall. “Placing it in a wider context – how high the buildings are, the character of the area, as this would be a landmark building. The Massing Model and Space tools were used to determine whether it would have a really significant impact on the neighbourhood.”

Vectorworks Case Study

Vectorworks Case Study

UNLIMITED POSSIBILITIES TO LAST A LIFETIME
Middlesex’s vice chancellor, Professor Tim Blackman, hailed the building as helping the university to “provide students with a world-class learning environment equipped with the latest facilities and technology,” cementing its reputation among employers “for graduates taught in industry-standard settings with the skills they need.”

“I think it’s really important to work with a client, like Middlesex University, to ensure that this whole process is going to be of benefit to them. They need to be able to know that the information we are able to provide upon completion is supported by their facilities systems.” – Paul Beaty-Pownall

Working in the public sector, especially for a client in the higher education industry, has made Beaty-Pownall recognise the importance and legacy of their work. What started as a creative brief can become a reality within the software.

“There’s a natural feel to drawing a 3D model of a building with Vectorworks. Thinking through how it is actually built as you draw, helps to structure the model, provide efficient packages of information, and design great buildings.”

Now that the Ritterman Building is complete, bpr is committed to working completely in BIM with 3D models for future projects. “Working in 3D enables you to visualise what you’re designing,” said Beaty-Pownall. “With every line you draw, you can see the impact on the wider vision.”

There’s Still Time to Sign Up for An Introduction to Allplan Architecture

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Always Have the Right Tools in Hand
With the new actionbar in Allplan Architecture 2018, you will find the tools you need for your particular tasks via a series of ribbons. The actionbar is structured according to different roles and tasks so that function groups, such as modelling, drafting or visualisation, are available to you.

3D Modelling Without Compromise
Enhanced development in the area of 3D modelling in Allplan Architecture 2018 allows you to implement your visions without compromise and with the highest level of precision.

Efficient Information Management
With the combination of Allplan Architecture 2018 and the BIM platform Allplan Bimplus, you can easily handle the exchange of thousands of pieces of information in BIM projects. You can use Allplan Bimplus to centrally define information and then use it in different systems and disciplines throughout the entire life cycle of a structure.

 

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VisualARQ 2.2 is Now Available for Download

VisualARQ 2.2 for Rhino

This new service release includes some new features and fixes most of the issues reported by users:

  • New vaSplit command – vaSplit on YouTube
  • New vaFillet command – vaFillet on YouTube
  • New Update Property component in Grasshopper to change a property from a referenced document object.
  • Element and Furniture objects created from Grasshopper styles can be rotated in 3D.
  • Objects created from Grasshopper styles share their block geometry when they are equal, improving speed, memory consumption and file size.

See the complete list of what’s new at VisualARQ.com.

Download Now
This is a free service release for all VisualARQ users and works on Rhino 5 and Rhino 6.

If you are a VisualARQ user, download VisualARQ 2.2
If you are an Evaluation user, download the new Evaluation version to test the new features.

Webinar: An Introduction to Allplan Architecture

Allplan Architecture Webinar

Join Ralph Pullinger and Jonathan Croft for this webinar which will introduce the tools within Allplan Architecture that provide Architects complete creativity and project control. Allplan Architecture is tailored to produce detailed design drawings, enabling unparalleled information quality.

After this webinar you will understand:

  • The physical and functional properties;
  • Professional drawings and visualisations;
  • Reliable and traceable quantities and costs.

Sign up now to secure your place

 

Always Have the Right Tools in Hand
With the new actionbar in Allplan Architecture 2018, you will find the tools you need for your particular tasks via a series of ribbons. The actionbar is structured according to different roles and tasks so that function groups, such as modelling, drafting or visualisation, are available to you.

3D Modelling Without Compromise
Enhanced development in the area of 3D modelling in Allplan Architecture 2018 allows you to implement your visions without compromise and with the highest level of precision.

Efficient Information Management
With the combination of Allplan Architecture 2018 and the BIM platform Allplan Bimplus, you can easily handle the exchange of thousands of pieces of information in BIM projects. You can use Allplan Bimplus to centrally define information and then use it in different systems and disciplines throughout the entire life cycle of a structure.

 

Buy Allplan Architecture today or get started with a free 30-day trial!


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12:30 – 13:30pm (BST)
Wednesday 11th July, 2018