By Martyn Horne, Group Product Development, Computers Unlimited
BIM Unlimited won the BEST USE OF BIM FOR SUSTAINABILITY OR CONSTRUCTABILITY award at the Build Earth Live event last week. This virtual, global design competition revolved around a site location in New York City. Like previous competitions such as Build London, Sydney, and Qatar, teams had just 48 hours to publish their proposals to Asite’s Adoddle cloud-based collaboration platform.
As the team’s BIM manager for the event, I led my international team members with a desire to create innovative architecture within an organized and collaborative BIM workflow. Tasked with a very demanding brief to reimagine the Hudson Yards site in lower west Manhattan and submit a proposal for both a 60-story residential tower AND a multisport community outreach arena adjacent to The High Line elevated urban park, lead architect Rubén Hernández Fontana and his team of architects at CAEDRO/Estudio Caribe created a sophisticated architectural concept with non-standard geometry, while the rest of the multidiscipline project team rose to the challenge of integrating that concept into their BIM workflow.
Truly demonstrating an interoperable BIM approach, the major disciplines within the team used their preferred software, while specializing in the fields of architecture, structural design and analysis, MEP design, and 4D construction scheduling, and exchanged their BIM models using IFC. Our team also welcomed for the first time new members including research students from the University of Tokyo and Tokyo University of Science with expertise in the area of external airflow led by Yasin Idris.
FlowDesigner external airflow image courtesy of University of Tokyo students.
“The Build Earth Live events are a great example of what can be created in the short timeframe allowed when team disciplines work collaboratively and in parallel,” said the team’s BIM Validation and Analysis Manager David Oliveira. This sentiment was echoed by the judging panel, which commented on the impressive amount of detail that the BIM Unlimited team was able to present in the short time allowed.
Solibri Model Checker ITO image courtesy of David Oliveira at Cadtec.
Our team’s response to the brief began with an analysis of site data available from the city planning department. When analyzing the site, Architect Rubén Hernández Fontana commented, “The outdoor green space harmoniously communicates the three areas of the project: the Sport Arena, the Residential Tower, and a pleasant spatial and visual connection with The High Line. The efficient connection between the areas and the good accessibility to the metro stations make an ideal community space for future urban development of the zone.”
With 796,000 square feet, the Hudson Yard Diagonals provides a particular connection with the different contextual elements found in the Hudson Yard area: first, a visual and operative connection to High Line Park; second the use of the planned site, maximizing, at the ground level the use of the public spaces; third, an elevated public and green space that connects the High Line Park, the view to the river and our proposal for the Sport Arena+Residential Tower, both visually and spatially.
The Residential Tower is conceived as a flexible structure, supported by an external diagrid. The diagram structure defines the composition of the façade, being integrated yet concealed by a curtain wall, which reflects a single angle in the diagrid. This forms a visual pattern that breaks with the usual diagrammatic design for diagrid structures, which is the main inspiration behind this building’s design and very simply changes the perception of a high-rise building.
This architectural rendering of design concept for the proposed Residential Tower and stadium was provided by Rubén Hernández Fontana and Jonathan Reeves.
The Sport Arena is idealized as a horizontal building that has direct relationship with public spaces, a relationship that is sometimes found in successful New York buildings as is the Lever House at 5th Avenue. This building, The Sport Arena, allocates a Multi-use Sport Hall for community use, while at the same time strengthening the project’s relationship with the ground level public space and the river front.
At the top of the Sport Arena is a green and open space that complements the High line, but at a higher level, producing different visuals of the site and the river. This space has a direct communication to the Residential Tower, making it an ideal space for the residents of the project.
Vectorworks Architect software was used to import SHP file geometry with embedded metadata to produce parametric visualizations of the “big data” or GIS data. This technology within the Architect platform creates an effective communication tool over and above trawling through lists of tabulated data. An airflow analysis of the site using FlowDesigner was also instrumental at this stage to simulate wind patterns over the localized site and existing buildings using weather data.
Early concepts utilizing a diagrid structure combined with volume massing and space layout objects allowed both the structural engineers (via Scia Engineer software) and the MEP engineers (via DDS-CAD) to begin working on IFC files exported out of Vectorworks Architect by the architectural team. David also carried out clash tests, evacuation escape route analyses, and room accessibility tests at this stage in Solibri Model Checker.
Part of team BIM Unlimited with their award.
At the same time, the University of Tokyo team provided airflow analysis feedback of the massing studies, and this, in turn, led to the distinctive vertical louvered façade of the sports arena, the setback core of the ground floors of the residential tower, and the appropriate placement of trees in the landscape design to create an informed solution for the reduction of prevailing wind velocity at the corner of the buildings.
As another example of parallel working, UK Architect Jonathan Reeves and Architectural Technologist Samit Patel from Computers Unlimited were able to create a series of visuals, which communicated and documented the constant refinement of the proposals as the project evolved using Vectorworks’ rendering application, Renderworks. As Jonathan explained, “I was able to federate the existing site buildings and engineers’ IFC models with the native Vectorworks Architect files and render them in a single solution.”
Synchro PRO was used to create a schedule and a 4D animation, demonstrating the construction sequence and timeline for the proposal. With the architecture and structure IFC files created separately by different team members, Shaohua Guan from Synchro Software was able to integrate these separate files into one model and bring 3D BIM to another level – 4D.
And finally, the team’s presentation was completed by a series of plans, sections, and elevations generated directly from the BIM within Vectorworks Architect.
From my perspective, the BIM allowed the architectural team to interact with all the project disciplines, gaining genuine feedback, which allowed our team to create a more innovative and informed proposal. And of course, it’s in 3D, so it provides for the construction documentation in a shortened timeframe, which allowed us to hit the extremely challenging deadline.
In summary, both veterans and newcomers to the team all agree they took away a lot from their involvement in the competition and will look to apply their new knowledge back to their respective workplaces. Everyone also unanimously agrees that they can’t wait until the next Build Earth Live event – wherever it turns up next in the world.