With new advancements in software opportunities, Open BIM is tiding over the disconnects between different project sectors, making the workflow more efficient at both large and small scales. Open BIM extends the benefits of BIM (Building Information Modeling) by improving the accessibility, usability, management, and sustainability of digital data in the built asset industry. Open BIM processes can be defined as sharable project information that supports seamless collaboration for all project participants, removing the traditional problem of BIM data that is typically constrained by proprietary vendor data formats, by discipline, or by the phase of a project.
At Destination Brisbane Consortium's Queen's Wharf Development in Brisbane, Australia's third-largest city, Open BIM technologies are being integrated by lead architect Cottee Parker and an extensive team of experts from various fields. Expected to open in late 2022, Queen’s Wharf will transform the CBD (Central Business District) and river’s edge with an iconic design that embraces Brisbane’s inviting subtropical climate and celebrates the precinct’s Indigenous and European heritage with interpretive trails and experiences spanning the Brisbane River and ridgeline. The northern riverfront development will feature a new casino, the overhaul of heritage buildings, five new hotels with more than 1000 guest rooms, around 50 restaurants, and a major retail precinct. It is expected to attract more than 1.5 million extra tourists to the city and create over 8,000 jobs.
Embracing digital collaboration to plan and coordinate their vast amounts of design data, the Queen's Wharf team of architects, engineers, contractors, and suppliers are working in an information modeling environment, employing 16 different software tools across 39 contributing companies. Information modeling allows the team to clearly organize all of the project’s key information in an easy-to-access, central place. It’s where the 3D models, data, and specifications are all kept and coordinated by the team. The approach improves efficiency, dramatically increases people’s understanding of the proposals, and cuts waste. The project's digital engineering specialist DBM Vircon, responsible for the management of the overall construction, has more than 340 models under management and is processing 215 individual models each week.
Gabor Gulyas, project lead and operations manager for digital engineering at DBM Vircon, explains that “interoperability and a consistent Open BIM workflow are essential for this project. There is no way around it, if you keep in mind that up to 300 people are working on the design models at the same time in peak periods, coordinating over 200 different models."
For the Queen's Wharf project, BIM software developed by Nemetschek Group - a German vendor of software for architects, engineers, and the construction industry at large - has been the most widely used. Of the company’s 16 software brands, four have been employed across the main stages of Queen’s Wharf.
"Queen's Wharf is clearly a role model for any modern construction project. Working very closely with the project teams, we are excited to provide the backbone for seamless collaboration across the entire construction lifecycle in this large-scale project," said Viktor Varkonyi, Chief Division Officer of the Planning & Design Division, and member of the Executive Board at the Nemetschek Group.
At the design stage of Queen's Wharf, teamwork was enabled by Graphisoft’s Archicad program. Following Integrated Design principles, architects and engineers were able to review and check the same models in real-time - understanding each others’ intentions and picking up errors before they occurred on site. The tool’s Open BIM compatibility meant that models could be imported and coordinated in Archicad, even if they weren’t produced in the software - breaking down barriers and improving team workflow. On any construction site, time means money, and when part of a building is built incorrectly or can’t be built because of a lack of clear design information, the impact can be huge.
To avoid such circumstances on a project as big and complex as Queen’s Wharf, the team used Solibri to check design information for errors before it was issued to the contractors on site. Aside from ensuring information is correct, finding and accessing what is needed on a project of such a massive scale can be challenging, especially once on-site, and giving all team members a level playing field to find and open what they need - regardless of how digitally savvy they are - is fundamental.
With Bluebeam Revu, Cottee Parker saved the team from navigating thousands of physical documents by introducing a digital, paperless workflow. The approach cut the time spent reviewing drawings by a staggering 50%, while decisions involving multiple stakeholders have been taken more quickly. On a project like Queen’s Wharf - where there are 10,000 times more documents than normally found on a domestic building - efficiency, and the reduction of unnecessary paper wastage are essential.
Helping the team process their data, dRofus was able to consolidate the huge amounts of information coming in from multiple sources, keeping everything in one place and allowing all users to easily access and edit it when needed. While information modelling has been essential in the design and construction phases, it will play an arguably greater role once the Queen’s Wharf is completed - helping to manage and maintain the new district throughout its 99-year lease.
"The lead architect Cottee Parker used Archicad and software like dRofus for data management and Solibri for model checking. This experience proves that open BIM works on very large-scale projects as well," said Gergely Kmethy, Director of Customer Support Services at Graphisoft.
Enabled by technology, the team is now motoring towards their goal of completing the core elements in 2022 and renovating the site’s heritage structures - including the historic Treasury Building - in 2024.
Nemetschek Brand's ARCHICAD, Bluebeam, dRofus, and Solibri programs were also critical in delivering an award-winning design. In 2019, PDC (a division of DBM Vircon) won first prize for Brisbane’s Queen’s Wharf at the prestigious buildingSMART International Award for Best Design. In an outstanding display of IFC collaboration and Open BIM teamwork, this coveted title acknowledged the digital engineering team’s pioneering and innovative efforts over the three years of collaborative work. This marked the third consecutive year that a dRofus client had won the Design Award.
Chris Razzell, the Managing Director of dRofus confirms, "Normally dRofus is implemented during the briefing or concept design stage and this project just goes to show that it is never too late. Clients struggle with Data Management every day on projects and that pain goes away once they flip the dRofus switch."
The project also received a 6-star Green Star Communities rating for sustainable development.