Buildings and Infrastructure Begin as Data, Not Steel or Concrete

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Here at the BIM Forum in Boston, the latest in 3D architecture and construction technologies are being discussed, including big data and 3D reality capture – the process of capturing reality using a laser scan – yet a theme that most presenters keep coming back to is that good design still comes down to knowing what you want to create and communicating that vision as data.

“There has never been a bigger disconnect between design and what’s being done onsite,” said morning presenter Tyler Goss, director of construction solutions at Case, an AEC and 3D technology consulting firm based in New York. “We are categorizing design and construction work at the nano-level. We want ALL the data at our fingertips, eventually. Right now, with the technology we have, some data is better than none.”


A rebar web designed in 3D for a Bechtel project.

Goss explained how his firm is working for a client that is looking at datifying its entire process so the organization has a pan-optic view of their entire building operations. While BIM stands for building information modeling, creating a building design in a computer with fixed parameters, the datafying process actually takes data OUT of a 3D computer model and cross-connects it with the people building it.

One case study that stood out was Bechtel’s use of rebar design.

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Dr. Peter Carrato, a PhD and fellow at Bechtel, showed how using BIM and reality capture of existing spaces allows his team to eliminate any errors in steel rebar design for Bechtel’s projects that use concrete. Using a 3D design model created in a software program such as Autodesk Revit and a robotic total station to capture existing conditions gives them accurate conditions for all projects and allows the team to fabricate its rebar, usually offsite, ahead of time and save money and sitework.

“Rebar fabrication has two steps, bend and shear, ” Carrato said. “We create the rebar design in the model and our total stations have that model downloaded to them gives us the space and the design. We can put model and reality together. Using reality capture in this way actually lightens the data weight of the 3D model.”

This type of design can allow estimators to buy more exact quantities and eliminate construction waste.

Rebar 3D model

A 3D model of a rebar section designed using building information modeling.


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