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Letterman Digital Arts Center - Case Study

The BIM Process

The specifications state that the contract drawings are diagrammatic.  It is the responsibility of the contractor to determine the degree of difficulty of coordination and develop the schedule, budget, crew sizing and bid instructions to accomplish the work.

The design team beliefs

The Design team develops a building design concept that estimates the space required above the ceiling. It is to be acceptable if the special estimate is 80% correct, the contractor will fit the remaining 20%.

The contractor’s beliefs

The contract documents represent a complete design.  The primary responsibility of the contractor is to determine elevations for the work shown in the contract documents.

The missing link

Who produces the “As Built” construction drawings or building information models?

On the LDAC project, View By View filled that  “missing link” role.  It will be up to the building owners to decide if independent companies or the general contractors should take on that role. It is my personal opinion that the benefits provided to the client by general contractors at the pre-construction phase would not be fully materialized unless there is an independent professional group representing and advocating for the owner.  As I have stated in the beginning of the paper, the owners are at the very core of the construction industry and have the most to gain.

The key to promoting the change in the building industry is educating more owners regarding the significant benefits and cost savings that they can realize by demanding the delivery of a building information model. Building owners will have a ready 3D reference and usable information at their fingertips, for ongoing building maintenance and operations throughout the building life cycle.

The Letterman Digital Arts Center (LDAC) is located on a 23 acres, Presidio National Park, San Francisco, California, of which 17 acres was returned to the park.  The campus comprises of four buildings and a theatre with total of 865,000 square feet gross area and an underground garage of 717,000 square feet, providing 1,500 parking spaces with four levels underground.  Building A has a 1200 square feet server farm and an 800 square feet media production suite.  The structure is a post-tensioned concrete frame with steel framing on the top levels.  Three buildings are enclosed with external plaster stucco walls and two buildings are clad with brick panels.  The buildings have a raised floor system, containing the MEP placed on the concrete floors then covered and sealed with metal floor panels.  The raised floor system is a fairly new concept in the USA but very common in Europe.  Despite numerous design layout changes that were required by LucasFilm Ltd due to company restructuring, the project was completed on time and below the estimated budget.  Construction started in January 2003 and was completed in June 2005.  There was no finger pointing during and after completion of the project as most of the problems were solved before the construction.

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Figure 4  Aerial photos of the construction site of the Letterman Digital Arts Center located in the Presidio, San Francisco. On the right is the finished Letterman Digital Arts Center with the Palace of Fine Arts in the foreground.


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