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BIM in LA: Emerson College

The B1M | 3:09

BIM in LA: Emerson College

Fred Mills

21 September 2016

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Video hosted by Tom Payne.

EMERSON College have created a new state-of-the-art home for their undergraduate internship programme in the heart of Hollywood. Here we take a look at how building information modelling (BIM) brought this incredible structure from concept to reality!

The project seeks to create a positive urban development and a welcoming public space in this area of Los Angeles, bringing student accommodation, instructional facilities and administrative offices into one location for the College.

"A state-of-the-art facility in the heart of Hollywood"

Formed of two residential towers that are bridged by a multi-use platform, the 10-storey square building provides accommodation for 217 students, event space, mixing studios, retail space and a fitness centre across 11,148 square meters. A sculpted form weaves through the central space housing classrooms and administrative offices.

Above: Emerson College's new facility consists of two residential towers, bridged by a multi-use platform (image courtesy of Morphosis Architects and Zahner).

The project is sustainably designed and achieves a 15% saving on energy costs and a 31% reduction of potable water use in all fixtures.

Recently opened, the $85M USD facility designed by Morphosis Architects is striking from all angles and at all times of day.

Above: The new College - visible in the foreground - sits in the heart of Hollywood (image courtesy of Iwan Baan).

The project team’s work within a building information modelling (BIM) environment is credited with much of the scheme’s success. Information modelling started at the outset with the lead designers developing and federating their graphical models in a common data environment (CDE).

This approach was the basis for weekly design meetings and workshops where the team would collaborate and co-ordinate their proposals around one federated model.

"The team would co-ordinate their proposals around one federated model"

Further non-graphical data – such as specifications and performance criteria – was linked to the information model in the common data environment (CDE) as proposals developed.

Through replicated servers at Morphosis’ office in Los Angeles and the site office at Emerson College, a single and current source of data was maintained for all team members.

Above: Part of the sculpted form that weaves through the centre of the building (image courtesy of Iwan Baan).

Where possible at pre-construction stage, a number of specialist trades were brought in early to integrate their detailed data to the information model and to engage with the design process. The team have explained how this brought everybody onto the same page before works started on site and how – purely on the graphical side – it encouraged people to think in 3D rather than 2D; essential on such a geometrically complex design.

3D representations also helped to make the client’s design sign-off process easier and allowed end-users to feel more connected and engaged with the project.

Above: A 3D representation of the College's central curved form (the residential towers and bridge level are not shown) (image courtesy of Morphosis Architects).

A strong climate of trust developed at pre-construction stage that the team put down to working in an open and collaborative way.

As work began on site, this working culture continued. Data from the information model was relied upon to fabricate components. These included the building’s folded panel solar screen, the panelised façade system and its curtain-walling.

Contractors on site were able to use tablets to access information from the model that they knew was accurate and up to date.

Tablets were then used extensively during the snagging (punch) phase to document issues and manage their correction, linking their location accurately within the floor plans.

Above: One of the College's courtyards between the central sculpted form and a residential tower (image courtesy of Iwan Baan).

Above: A front view of the new facility showing the sculpted form sitting within the square structure (image courtesy of Iwan Baan).

Now complete, the Emerson College team believe that BIM played a key role in finishing the project on time and within budget. They also believe that a number of cost savings came from investing in and committing to the BIM process.

Emerson College is now one of Hollywood’s most prominent BIM case studies and one that we felt was at least worthy of being on the small screen.

Above: Emerson College is now one of Hollywood's most prominent BIM case studies (image courtesy of Iwan Baan).

You can learn more about Emerson College’s new facility here.

Images courtesy of Morphosis Architects, Iwan Baan, Zahner and Tim Braseth. We welcome you sharing our content to inspire others, but please be nice and play by our rules.

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