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Letterman Digital Arts Center - Case Study

The BIM Process

Benefits of virtual design and construction using the BIM process

Identify design conflicts and clashes as early as possible so they can be easily resolved and at a time that is most cost effective.

  • Better design solutions with “what-if scenarios” developed at an early stage and tested for constructability.
  • More accurate cost estimating as Bill of Materials and Bill of Quantities are derived from the building information model.
  • Digital mock-up of critical areas to visualize complex details and assembly methods.
  • Lower costs from the subcontractors by providing them with the virtual model and information for their scope of work. 
  • In a recent BIM conference, a steel fabricator reported reducing the cost of steel detailing from $110/ton to $60/ton by using TEKLA Structures technology developed by Tekla Corporation of Finland. http://www.teckla.com
  • Better schedule performance by simulating the best sequences (4D) and maximizing of the labor crew sizes (Line-of-Balance method simulations).
  • Minimize the number of change orders and (RFI)
  • Providing the building owners with a 3D as-built model of the entire project, including all of the MEP and Equipment Object Libraries.
  • Emergency simulations possibilities.

High tech or high risk: The legal implications of adding time and money to BIM process

We have learned from this case study of the existence of high-tech in the design and construction industry.  There remains still the issue of legal implications.  We understand the many benefits of building information models and their impact on budgets and schedules. But what are the risks? And what are the legal implications for the owners, contractors and their subcontractors?  Who “owns” these models, the Owner? Contractor? CM?  How does the virtual BIM process impact such issues as change orders, schedule updates, drawings of record?  Do these models support discovery or create a potential spoliation of evidence situation?  These issues will be discussed by a panel of construction lawyers, claims experts, owners and their attorneys at the superconference to be held in San Francisco, December 8-9,2005.

Conclusion

These are exciting times in the building industry.  After hundred of years of being dominated by non-intelligent 2D technologies, the industry is now paying attention to a new generation of 3D smart technology.  This technology represents buildings not as meaningless 2D lines but as an interconnected set of intelligent 3D parametric objects. As the designer creates or changes these objects, the implications are automatically propagated to ensure the integrity and consistency of the entire project.  Implications for safety and cost are continuously maintained.

While our experience with this new technology was exciting and rewarding and at times frustrating, our experience with the LDAC project confirms that technology alone is not the ultimate solution.  Developing and managing the partnerships between all concerned parties involved in the design-build process, particularly with owners, designers, builders and fabricators was unquestionably a critical component to its successful implementation.

The Letterman Digital Arts Center (LDAC) project demonstrates that the critical decline in productivity facing the construction industry in this country can be overcome by forward thinking owners and the project management team implementing a construction management process centered around the creation of a smart virtual building information model.  The real value of using the BIM process lies in the sharing and integration of information with multiple end-users, designers, contractors, and suppliers through the life cycle of the project.  Building information modeling will redefine the roles of architects, engineers, contractors, suppliers, building product manufacturers and facility managers because of its powerful 3D visual graphics and storage of intelligent 3D data. A critical issue that has to be dealt with sooner than later is the ownership and accountability of the building information models.

About the Letterman Digital Art Center

A world premier digital arts center owned by Lucas Film Ltd., will house some 1,500 employees. The center has cutting edge special effects production suites and video game development.  The technology installed at the center is staggering, with the capacity for 14,000 processors, the center can move 1,000 terabytes of data a day across the building's 10-gigabit fiber network.  Some 600 miles of fiber-optic cable  runs between 3000 AMD processors, 10 500 gigabytes ports supported by 100 terabytes of storage.  This technology was designed to simulate a “virtual movie set,” that will allow the employees to share files simultaneously on the different screens from different parts of the buildings.  Digital artists can feed high-resolution footage directly to the 300 seat theater’s large 49 foot by 21 foot screen in a matter of seconds.  The raised floors will allow access to this complex technology for future updates.  New computer infrastructure was specifically designed for the Letterman Digital Arts Center.

http://www.lucasfilm.com/press/presidiopreview/index.html

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