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Letterman Digital Arts Center - Case Study 2003 - 2005

The BIM Process

Owner: Lucas Film Ltd.
Architect: Gensler and HKS, Inc.
Engineer: Skilling Ward Magnusson Barkshire
Landscape Architect:  Lawrence Halprin

High Tech  Corporate Campus: Four 4 story low rise office buildings, 865,000 sf concrete  structure,
1500 stalls underground parking 17 acres of park  space, 23 acres total

Received LEED NC Gold Certification

Opening ceremonies were held June 25, 2005. The $350 million, 865,000 square foot (79,000  m²) center is home to 1500 employees, who began moving there in July, 2005. The  grounds were designed by landscape architect Lawrence Halprin.  The design architect for  the buildings was Gensler, and architect of  record was HKS, Inc.  The lobby of Building B is open to the public during regular business hours  and contains a gallery of Lucasfilm memorabilia including props and costumes  from the Star Wars film series.  The Presidio is a former U.S. Army base. The arts center takes its  name from its location on the former site of the army's Letterman  Army Hospital, which was named for Dr. Jonathan Letterman, medical director for the Army of the  Potomac in the U.S. Civil War.

The productivity of the construction industry, as measured by constant contract dollars of new construction work per hourly work, has gradually declined according to the Productivity Index (1964-2003) published by the US Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Our world has changed, our economy has changed and so has our design and construction industry.  This industry is going through an overhaul never seen before by adapting smart parametric digital technology that in the past was only used by the automotive, shipbuilding, and aircraft industry.  Many of the lessons and experience learned in these industries are being transferred to the more static design and construction industry.

A proposed client mandate

Building owners are pioneering this rediscovered technology, commonly referred to as building information modeling, or BIM.  After all, these owners are at the very core of the design and construction industry and have the most to gain.  They have the power to eliminate the unnecessary waste, in both time and resources, and the associated cost burden facing the AEC industry.  Indeed, the new client mandate is rapidly changing this industry. View By View is on the forefront of building information modeling and has successfully implemented BIM on the Letterman Digital Arts Center constructed in the Presidio, San Francisco by saving in excess of $50 million on the $350 million campus.

View By View was selected to join the Letterman Digital Arts Center (LDAC) project management team, representing the owner and acted as a design and construction coordinator, pointing out interferences between various disciplines and assisting in the resolution of design issues. The adoption of BIM technology for this project evolved over time and intensified as the benefits of creating a detailed, dimensionally accurate 3D product model became evident.  Initially, a polygonal surface 3D model was created to provide photo realistic views of the project for the Presidio Trust and public viewing.  Polygonal surface models are not intelligent models as they contain only 3D geometry and surfaces with materials applied to them.  The natural progression was to take the process further and create a 3D model that could be useful for the life of the project containing accurate information on the building product systems and also creating an “as built” 3D intelligent model.  To accomplish this task, View By View recreated the 3D model by implementing building information modeling technology.


Figure 1 Computer generated rendering of the LDAC campus, using the traditional 3D geometry and photo composition done in Photoshop.


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