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Monash’s New Horizons building: wild, forward thinking and using BIM

Aleks Baltovski

By Donna Kelly

7 August 2013 — BIM-MEP Conference: “At the end of the day BIM is not going to build a building for us. People build buildings. It’s just a tool.”

That’s what Probuild Constructions design manager Aleks Baltovski told the recent BIM-MEP AUS Forum.

Mr Baltovski was outlining the BIM initiatives implemented at Monash University’s New Horizons Centre which opened last week.

He said the project, located at Monash University’s Clayton Campus, was a collaborative research facility between the CSIRO and Monash University, in particular, the Faculty of Engineering  and Faculty of Science.

Project stakeholders included:

  • Project manager – Johnstaff
  • Architect – Lyons
  • Structural – Bonacci
  • Building services (mechanical, electrical and dry fire) – Umow Lai
  • Hydraulic and Fire Services – Rimmington & Associates
  • ESD/Green Star – Irwin Consult
  • Managing contractor – Probuild Constructions

Aleks Baltovski

Sub-contractors were:

  • Mechanical – AllStaff Airconditioning
  • Electrical – Stowe Australia
  • Hydraulics and civil – Cooke & Dowsett
  • Dry Fire – Elite Fire
  • Wet fire – Firebase Sprinkler Systems
  • Structural steel and façade shop drawings – INGEN 3D

“The building is intended for research on materials engineering including computational and physical modelling and simulation of manufactured products and technology for the bio-medical, aerospace and renewable energy industries,” Mr Baltovski said.

“It reinforces the importance of the Clayton Innovation Precinct as the most significant technology innovation hub in the southern hemisphere.

“The building has achieved 6 Star Green Star Design rating under Education v1 rating tool and is currently going through 6 Star Green Star As-Built rating under Education v1 rating tool.”

Showing slides of the centre, Mr Baltovski said it was “a pretty wild building”.

“Some people compared to a zebra, some think it’s like looking through a kaleidoscope, some people compare it to a transformer just about to take off.”

“Some people compared to a zebra, some think it’s like looking through a kaleidoscope, some people compare it to a transformer just about to take off.

“I found that after having a chat to the architects, it’s a design embellished with the bow of a ship – looking forward, exploring new horizons.”

Mr Baltovski said the use of BIM was pushed by the client and was not a contractual requirement.

New Horizons

“It was a really complex job and the BIM process really assisted us in being able to visualise it.

“There is an industrial feel to the aesthetic of the building with references to engineering, the nature of the building – by having exposed and natural finishes, and lot of steel in it as well.”

The use of BIM included:

Design team:

  • Design and documentation in Revit
  • Well structured and detailed models
  • Level of coordination (LOD200)
  • Not all services were modelled
  • Specifications and schedules exported from Revit

Subcontractors:

  • Building services and structure trades took part in BIM process
  • Combination of software packages used
  • Consultants models utilised to move objects and coordinate services
  • Mechanical subcontractor (Allstaff) acted as lead trade
  • Opportunity of the process established by client and design

Probuild

  • Shared role as BIM manager (Navisworks)
  • Established a BIM Implementation Plan to define:
  1. Rules of engagement
  2. Level of detail to be provided
  3. Technology required
  4. File format to be used
  5. Segments to work on set targets and monitor progress
  • Chaired weekly coordination workshops
  • Educated site staff how to use technology on site

Mr Baltovski said the key uses for the BIM process included:

  • Visualisation of the building
  • Clash detection
  • Estimating
  • Interrogation of documents
  • RFI process and queries
  • Design change management
  • Setting out on site
  • As-built (untagged) model

New Horizons

“BIM is a ‘process’ not defined by a single word and there should be a much broader concept of BIM,” he said.

“It is just a tool – and we should not rely on it for everything. At the end of the day BIM is not going to build a building for us. People build buildings.”

Mr Baltovski said lessons learnt included that with the exchange of information earlier was always better and there needed to be earlier input by the managing contractor and subcontractors.

Clients also needed to have an understanding of BIM and be involved earlier in the process, and it was important that all elements be modelled, with the more detail the better.

Mr Baltovski said some of the feedback from subcontractors included that they would have struggled without BIM for a research centre like New Horizons, and that if the project had been delivered under a traditional 2D process there could have been up to 100 issues to resolve, where BIM had reduced that to just 25.

Mr Baltovski ended his presentation by telling the attendees that sharing knowledge and experiences would help maintain momentum of the BIM movement.

He also asked them to “keep an open mind and be flexible when embarking on the BIM journey”.

“Be bold and be brave and embrace the spirit of collaboration.”

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