ArchiFuture 2015 is the largest and most influential BIM strategy and technology event in Japan. John Cerone, Director of Virtual Design & Construction at SHoP Architects, delivered a keynote address on Design Delivery to the ArchiFuture conference attendees on October 23, 2015 in Tokyo. The following is a summary of his presentation:
Since moving its design process to the 3DExperience platform, New York-based architecture firm SHoP has adopted an “industrial” attitude toward buildings. The firm uses virtual design to “fabricate” buildings, much as the aerospace industry assembles airplanes using digital models.
“In architecture every building is different, and every detail is different, but our processes are very much the same,” explains John Cerone, director of virtual design and construction with SHoP Architects.
This approach requires a new design mentality, focusing on a high level of detail and a close working relationship with fabricators very early in the design process.
Moving to a parts mentality
The most significant difference in this industrial approach is shifting to a focus on individual pieces as well as the project as a whole.
Very early on in a project, the design team works in terms of individual components and systems.
“They may not be the final systems that will be fabricated — they’re more like placeholders — but the system is setup so that when we get the accurate information we can easily swap the parts in,” Cerone explains.
A project may have hundreds of thousands of parts, but virtual tools allow the firm to structure all of that component data and access it in context of the larger system. CATIA allows the designers to easily move from a view of the entire building into separate building systems as well as the individual part.
On SHoP’s largest implementation of this technology, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, SHoP learned to create templates for component types, then use CATIA language to expand those templates into distinct pieces.
As Cerone explains, “We’re beginning to think about design in terms of which parts are reusable and which parts are different.”
In this case, a simple panel template containing all of the design, engineering and fabrication information was expanded into a handful of panel “families,” and then 12,000 unique panels.
The schedule component
With every aspect of a project living in the 3DExperience platform — not just geometry but also drawings, models, schedules and other details — something so abstract as the schedule itself can become a component that is attached to a design detail as a specific line item.
“That line item has a deliverable — the detail or a model of that detail is the deliverable and that can be attached to that schedule,” Cerone explains. “The schedule can be used in two ways: the linear time, but also as an object. The task that is associated with time is also a container for these deliverables.”
The result of this is a holistic view where time is always a factor, helping keep projects on schedule.
A world without drawings
Because all component information is generated in the model, SHoP prefers to communicates through fabrication plans when possible, rather than passing design drawings to fabricators.
In the case of the Barclays Center, SHoP provided the panel fabricator with the machine code needed to cut each panel, as well as information on the install sequence to help plan which panels to cut and deliver first.
For both fabrication and installation, Cerone notes that the laser scan becomes a critical part of the design process.
“It’s essential that we know the conditions that we’re installing to so that we can find problem areas ahead of time, before units are installed,” he says. A laser scan will reveal when conditions are out of tolerance, and ensure an accurate fit for installed components.
An evolving process
In addition, the firm has found that as new virtual processes are explored on a given project, subsequent projects move much more rapidly.
For example, as the Barclays Center neared completion, SHoP began to apply the processes it had learned on that project to a project in Kenya. Despite working with a vastly different form, using a different technique, the firm was able to reduce the design time on its new project to a couple of months.
“This leaves more time to run analysis, and to be much more specific about what we’re designing,” Cerone says.
Subsequent projects have moved from design to fabrication in a matter of weeks, while retaining a high level of complexity.