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BIM Case Study – Luxury Condominium

A developer in Philadelphia, PA was building a luxury apartment building and requested drafting and coordination services for a lobby space. Within this space, we were tasked with the following:

  • Provide BIM modeling and coordination services for the lobby’s HVAC and Plumbing Systems 
  • Use coordinated BIM models to produce shop drawings ready for construction 

Project Parameters:

The client’s design team asked Helm BIM to evaluate existing design documentation for HVAC and plumbing runs planned for the lobby ceiling space. The design team also had an elegant multi-level ceiling planned for this space and needed to understand how the duct and plumbing runs work with the type of ceiling they wanted to build. The building was still being constructed, the concrete walls, floors and beams had been poured along with openings in slabs for plumbing, mechanical pipe and HVAC. 

The Coordination Process:

We started by:

  • Converting 2D design documentation from the client into a unified 3D Navisworks model
  • 3D Laser Scanning existing concrete site capturing concrete slab heights and sleeved openings

We used the Unified Navis model and 3D Laser Scan for:

  • Running clash detection to highlight conflicts between roof, hvac run, plumbing runs and structure within existing design
  • Using model vs point cloud to note deviations between design model and actual field conditions
  • Sleeve openings – vertical penetrations for storm drains were in different locations in the existing drawings vs reality
  • Structural Beams – intended to hold up a balcony were not accounted for in the drawings and conflicted with the ceiling design

We met with the design team to:

  • Review clashes between the proposed roof, HVAC run, plumbing runs and structure and incorporate their solutions
  • Confirm placement of electric panels and air returns on walls

Once we were able to get answers about all the outstanding items by the client, we were able to produce fully coordinated construction documents called shop drawings to be used for building in the field.

Project Benefits:

While we joined this project well into physical building, applying BIM to this process was beneficial to our client in several ways

  1. Connecting Physical and Digital Information– With this project being well underway, it was critical that our BIM models were verified with in-field information. Understanding the vertical penetrations between the concrete slabs above and below the lobby space is critical for connecting to horizontal runs.
  2. Improved Visualization and Collaboration – Bringing all the design documentation into a 3D cloud hosted setting allowed for a thorough clash detection and subsequent conflict review.
  3. Cost and Time Savings – Coordination ensures that the shop drawings produced are constructible and conflict free. Conflicts that are discovered in the field cost additional labor and time to rectify while issues discovered in BIM help builders gain efficiency.
  4. Intended Ceiling Design Achieved – With proper coordination and value engineering of the HVAC and plumbing, our client was able to realize the elegant ceiling design they wanted for their lobby.