Launch Slideshow

Using BIM for Complex Precast Elements

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.

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    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.

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    Coreslab Structures

    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 Universitys first all-suite residence hall  its only 100% precast concrete dormitory.

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

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    Coreslab Structures

    Coreslab Structures of Indianapolis produced precast elements for Valparaiso University’s first all-suite residence hall — its only 100% precast concrete dormitory.
  • Corey Greika, Coreslabs Indianapolis precast sales manager and vice president, notes an interesting trend. During the recent recession, a higher percentage of the precasters projects requiring BIM were institutional, such as the Valparaiso University job. Now that private sector construction activity has increased, the plants number of BIM projects has gone down, with the exception of large projects such as stadiums.

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

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    Coreslab Structures

    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.

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    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.

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    Coreslab Structures

    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.

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    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.

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    Mortenson Construction

    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 dormitorys brick inlay façade, without having to draw and redraw layouts for each precast panel.

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

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    Coreslab Structures

    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.

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    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.

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    Coreslab Structures

    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.

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

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    Mortenson Construction

    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.

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    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.

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    Mortenson Construction

    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.

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

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    Coreslab Structures

    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.

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

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    Harold Lee Miller

    "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.

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

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    Harold Lee Miller

    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.

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

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    Harold Lee Miller

    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.

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

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    Harold Lee Miller

    Paul Sprague smooths a surface at Corelsab's plant in Indianapolis.
  • Precast concrete pieces in Coreslab's yard await deliverty.

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    Precast concrete pieces in Coreslab's yard await deliverty.

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    Harold Lee Mill

    Precast concrete pieces in Coreslab's yard await deliverty.
  • The Kalasatama Fiskari and Fregatti residential buildings in Finland took the prize for Teklas 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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    The Kalasatama Fiskari and Fregatti residential buildings in Finland took the prize for Teklas 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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    Tekla Inc.

    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.
 

When sophomores at Valparaiso University in Indiana enter their new, all-suite residence hall this fall, they will appreciate the spacious floorplans, kitchenettes, and air conditioning. But what’s behind the scenes is even more impressive. The 85,000-square-foot structure is the university’s first dormitory to be built entirely with precast concrete. In fact, the 300 students would not be moving into their new rooms so soon if not for its precast design, executed with building information modeling (BIM).

After securing the project bid, the Chicago office of Minneapolis-based Mortenson Construction chose its materials to meet the aggressive 12-month timeline. “We knew that by using structural and architectural precast, we could meet the deadline with fewer jobsite quality issues,” says Andy Frank, construction executive for Mortenson. After successfully partnering on the KFC Yum! Center arena in Louisville, Ky., Mortenson selected Coreslab Structures Inc. of Indianapolis as the project’s precast producer.

“Once we get a job and see the client’s model, we can quickly determine how the precast design integrates with mechanical, electrical, and plumbing, and easily change our framing plan based on potential conflicts,” says Corey Greika, Coreslab’s Indianapolis precast sales manager and vice president. “We received Mortenson’s model of the Valparaiso project before we started our engineering, so we could punch it into our structural analysis program and start cranking out numbers without having to lay out the building first. It saved us days of creating and revising drawings.”

Mortenson was an early adopter of BIM technology in 2005, when the contractor began using the tool as part of its virtual design and construction approach. The company now uses it for every project, about one-quarter of which involve precast concrete. “We work hand-in-hand with architects and precast producers very early in the design process to make sure the structural requirements fit with the aesthetic design,” says Frank. “Rework is easily cut in half because the work is so much more accurate when all the trades are coordinated.”

At Valparaiso University, the planning process took about two months upfront, with several design iterations to satisfy both the structural and aesthetic concerns. “Speed is the main benefit of using BIM,” says Greika. “The 3D model educates each partner when they come on to the project so they know what limitations already exist and can make decisions more easily. No one is operating in a vacuum.”

Jobsite payoff

The Valparaiso residence hall had its share of design challenges that were made bearable by BIM. Rather than a 90-degree L shape, the building’s footprint angles to resemble a number seven. Coreslab planned the architectural brick-inlay panels by “walking around” the building in the 3D model. “We have to lay out the brick coursing around all the windows and doors ahead of time,” says Greika. “With a model, we can literally see how it’s going to line up when we turn a corner.”

Using precast panels instead of a brick and mortar façade proved to be a wise decision, as the region’s unusually harsh winter would have prevented onsite bricklaying for weeks, if not months.

Structurally, the producer helped resolve HVAC conflicts and planned the locations of shear walls around the building’s openings to handle the specific weight requirements of precast elements. The process was made more challenging by the contractor’s plan to install prefabricated bathroom units after the structural elements were erected. “A precast structure is generally more closed than a poured-in-place building with concrete columns,” says Frank. “But here, we left openings large enough to slide whole bathrooms from one side of the floor to the other.”

Frank estimates the project’s precast design, combined with BIM and a design-build approach, shaved two to three months from the project timeline. With frequent conference calls to ensure seamless coordination, the designer, contractor, and subcontractors virtually eliminated budget issues and change orders. “In a non-design-build scenario, all the stars might not have aligned as well,” he says, “but we had the right team with the right delivery method to get it done.”