Valentines Day Roundtable

Contributor: Swinerton Blogger   |   February 15, 2013
Valentines Day Roundtable

On February 14, the San Francisco Digital Design group kicked off Valentine’s Day with a breakfast roundtable discussion at Swinerton’s San Francisco headquarters, with stunning views of the city skyline as a backdrop. San Francisco Digital Design provides a monthly forum for AEC industry professionals to share ideas and insight about how new digital tools are shaping the construction and design spheres. A presentation by James McKenzie, Director of Swinerton’s Center for Excellence, sparked a lively discussion about the evolving use of building information modeling (BIM) data in project design. “Emerging BIM technology can be considered truly disruptive to the industry,” stated McKenzie, who spearheads Swinerton’s research into the latest construction technologies, including BIM, laser scanning, field robotics, and other game-changing tools. “The business of building isn’t going back to the way it was before.”

Before construction begins, design teams can use BIM to create virtual 3D models of a project—from an entire building to certain elements, such as flooring or electrical systems—and see potential problems before they occur. “The true value of modeling is in eliminating the price of the unknown,” noted San Francisco Digital Design member Nancy McClure, an independent Revit consultant who helps companies maximize use of the BIM software. Adhamina Rodriguez, Project Executive and Sustainability Consultant with Swinerton, described how a Swinerton preconstruction team used point cloud modeling to map out a very uneven floor slab for the recent City Target project in downtown San Francisco. The data-rich model informed the team precisely how much concrete was needed to level out the surface, removing guesswork and waste. In the end, said Rodriguez, the savings from an accurate concrete order more than made up for the cost of the model.

Though viewpoints were diverse, a clear theme emerged from the forum: As digital design tools like BIM evolve, collaboration among designers, contractors, and building owners is critical. There are sure to be challenges along the way to integration, but harnessing the power of new technologies will ultimately lead to better buildings and happier clients. After all, said McKenzie, “innovation will always win.”

-By Madigan Talmage-Bowers