Using BIM for Complex Precast Elements

The $27 million residence hall at Valparaiso University was completed in an aggressive 12-month timeframe, largely due to its precast concrete construction using BIM, and design-build project delivery method.

Coreslab Structures of Indianapolis produced precast elements for Valparaiso University’s first all-suite residence hall — its only 100% precast concrete dormitory.

Corey Greika, Coreslab’s Indianapolis precast sales manager and vice president, notes an interesting trend. During the recent recession, a higher percentage of the precaster’s projects requiring BIM were institutional, such as the Valparaiso University job. Now that private sector construction activity has increased, the plant’s number of BIM projects has gone down, with the exception of large projects such as stadiums.

Mortenson Construction was able to install decorative thin brick precast panels more quickly than a traditional brick and mortar façade, especially during harsh winter weather.

By using BIM to execute its precast design, Mortenson Construction assures higher quality. Structural conflicts were resolved up front and decorative exterior wall panels were more easily aligned with planned openings and joints.

A 3D BIM rendering helped Coreslab design precise coursing for the dormitory’s brick inlay façade, without having to draw and redraw layouts for each precast panel.

During the design phase, Coreslab Structures (Indianapolis) Inc. helped determine where critical structural elements would be located, such as shear walls, door and window openings, and spaces for bathroom units. “It really helped to have the 3D model up front in BIM, so we could ‘walk around’ the building and really understand its structure,” says Corey Greika, precast sales manager and vice president.

The designer planned for internal spaces large enough to allow prefab bathroom units to be inserted into each suite.

Workers hoist a precast panel from a flatbed truck at the jobsite. Mortenson estimates the project's precast design and design-build approach shaved months from the project timeline.

BIM reduces the chances for error in precast construction. “Rework is easily cut in half,” says Andy Frank, Mortenson construction executive.

"Speed is the main benefit of using BIM." - Corey Greika, Coreslab's Indianapolis precast sales manager and vice president.

Mark Ganote and Corey Greika talk at Coreslab's plant in Indianapolis.


N'Cho Yapi checks a precast element shortly after it is poured at Coreslab Strustrures.

Paul Sprague smooths a surface at Corelsab's plant in Indianapolis.

Precast concrete pieces in Coreslab's yard await deliverty.

The Kalasatama Fiskari and Fregatti residential buildings in Finland took the prize for Tekla’s 2013 Best Precast Project. The BIM model includes piled foundations, detailed and reinforced concrete elements, load-bearing structures, and thermal insulation and brickwork.

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