3D modeling helps design, build AISD Fine Arts Center and Athletics Complex

April 24, 2019 - A building is like your body.

That’s the analogy that Mitchell Osborne, Mechanical Electrical Plumbing (MEP) coordinator for Adolfson and Peterson Construction, gives when explaining the value of 3D building information modeling (BIM) and how 3D modeling is helping plan and construct the future AISD Fine Arts Center and Athletics Complex.

[Learn more about the new bond-funded AISD Fine Arts Center and Athletics Complex.]

“A building is a living, breathing thing,” Osborne said. “It’s always changing and needs to be maintained.”

The architecture is the skin. The structure is the bones. And the MEP is the nervous system.

Constructing the nervous system for facilities as complex and high end as the Fine Arts Center and Athletics Complex is a monumental task. These buildings are not symmetrical. Unlike an office building, where one room is like the next and one floor is the same as the one above and below, every space is different.

“The AISD and its architects utilize BIM on many district projects, but most commonly on newly constructed facilities like McNutt and Peach Elementary, the Dipert Career and Technology Center and the Agricultural Science Center,” said Kelly Horn, AISD executive director of Facility Services.

Each room and space in the new facilities require precise coordination. Everything – like duct work, electrical wiring, plumbing pipes, fire sprinkler, beams, walls and more – must fit together perfectly.

Osborne gave the natatorium in the Athletics Complex as an example of a complex space that really benefits from 3D modeling. There will be tons of equipment in the pool room, but thanks to BIM, all the equipment will fit together like a puzzle and get installed without a hitch.

The 3D modeling process starts with the architect’s model of the buildings – the shell. Then, models for the structural and MEP components are all added. For the Fine Arts Center and Athletics Complex, there are 16 different models, or layers, combined into one and then animated with the BIM software.

Once all the layers are combined into one model, Osborne runs a clash detection test that shows where problems exist – problems like a line of duct in the way of plumbing, or the fire sprinkler not fitting in the space above the ceiling in a particular room, or plumbing for a toilet cut off by a structural beam, and on and on.

Osborne then meets with all the engineers and architects to review the problems. The 3D model is projected on a large screen, and they virtually travel through each building, focusing on the problem areas highlighted in red. Together they identify the issues and discuss solutions.

After the meeting, the engineers and architects adjust their plans to solve the problems, update their models and send the new models to Osborne.

Then the process starts again. All the new models are combined into one and animated, the clash detection test is run, and the team of architects, engineers and contractors meets again to work on remaining issues.

The process lasts about 30 weeks, with weekly meetings to review the model, identify problems and develop solutions.

It’s a long process, but all the coordination allows everything to run correctly in the field.

“We take extra care to make sure everything is right the first time,” Osborne said.

Getting everything right on the front end is much better, cheaper and efficient than having to go back later and fix mistakes.

“It really provides a better product,” Osborne said.