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Top 3 BIM Projects in China

The B1M | 5:24

Top 3 BIM Projects in China

Fred Mills

23 March 2016

Video Views

Video hosted by Tom Payne and Fred Mills.

CHINA are becoming one of the fastest new adopters of building information modelling (BIM). Here we take a look at three of their highest profile BIM projects to date, and explore what those examples mean for the nation’s vast construction industry.



First up is Disney’s latest USD $4.1BN resort, set to open in June 2016. Led by the Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) team, the Shanghai park offered a great opportunity to integrate and apply BIM on a portfolio scale.

Over 70%* of the buildings were developed in a BIM environment, with efficiencies realised from running numerous projects concurrently. The benefit of co-location meant that project teams could access the same resources and support, collaborating and sharing knowledge within an ‘eco-system’ of BIM-enabled projects.

“Over 70% of the park’s buildings were developed in a BIM environment”

A further benefit of using BIM on a project of this scale was to help integrate WDI with over 140 different disciplines involved in the project, including many local design firms and contractors. This led to the number of Requests for Information (RFIs) raised at tendering stage in one of the park’s areas being significantly reduced. Instead of WDI’s average 3,000 RFIs, they received just 360*.


Phoenix Television’s new 65,000 square meter headquarters in Beijing is completely unique. The building’s non-linear form – developed by the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (BIAD) – demanded an advanced approach from the project team and originally led them down the path of detailed 3D modelling.

Phoenix Media Centre's unique form taking shape. Image courtesy of BIAD UFO.

Quickly seeing the benefits of integrating non-graphical information and sharing it in a common data environment (CDE), the team progressed to working in a BIM environment and cite that process as key to mitigating a number of risks, saving time and increasing quality compared to more traditional methods.

That being so, the project team are the first to admit that they struggled initially against long established drafting conventions and deliverables. They were forced to concurrently research and develop numerous unconventional workflows to provide data interoperability and seamless information exchanges.

Section of the new Phoenix Media Centre. Image courtesy of BIAD UFO.

The result is an iconic structure on Beijing’s skyline and a powerful information model that can be relied upon for facilities management scheduling and analysis. The building’s security, safety controls, energy consumption and FM activities are all built upon data from the information model that was provided at handover.


Standing tall at number one on our list is the 128-storey Shanghai Tower.

Developed on a former golf course site, the USD $2.4BN, 632m structure is China’s new tallest building and the jewel in the crown of their financial centre. US architectural practice Gensler led the design-team and worked in BIM environment from the outset.

At 632m, Shanghai Tower is the tallest building in China.

The process of BIM implementation on the project was overseen by a core team of just three people who monitored its impact on overall delivery and schedule conformance. Increased control and mitigation of rework contributed to a reduced construction schedule of just 73 months for the 576,000 square meters of floor space, about 30% faster than similar structures*.

An early image of Shanghai Tower under construction. Image courtesy of Gensler.

Integrated working and improved collaboration were also cited as key benefits of the BIM process. San Francisco based Gensler – leading an extended team of structural and service designers around the world – shared their information models in a common data environment (CDE), enabling all parties to communicate within the virtual context of the project. Graphically, the tower’s twisting outer skin would have been near impossible to convey with 2D techniques and the team saw considerable benefit from being able to visualise and understand their project and its surroundings in three-dimensional form.


China’s construction industry is vast. It was valued at USD $2TN in early 2015**, though fluctuations in their economy in the 12 months since should be noted.

Projects of the scale and impact that we have shown in this video are great influencers for wider BIM adoption across the country. The Chinese central Government are drawn to BIM by the efficiencies it offers. They have witnessed overseas examples from the UK, US and other nations, and have benefitted from that expertise.

“Projects of this scale and impact are great influencers for wider BIM adoption across China”

Like many Governments though, they have not gone as far as mandating BIM. They simply encourage it. In a vast provincial nation like China, that approach has bred fragmentation and many regional authorities have developed their own standards and mandates, all differing from those of their neighbours.

As with other markets, the challenges to BIM adoption on the ground are almost purely cultural. The Chinese industry focuses very keenly on the capital cost of delivery and there is a reluctance to make the early time and software investments that BIM requires. Compounding matters, Chinese designers are typically paid on the number of drawings they produce and the idea of creating just one information model somewhat horrifies them.

For all the barriers faced (which we’re sure will sound familiar to our viewers in other markets) BIM is being met with a high degree of enthusiasm in China. The general trend is towards BIM adoption and at a much faster rate than markets like the UK have experienced. Recent research by Dodge Data and Analytics found that BIM use amongst Chinese Architects is expected to increase by 89% in the next two years, and by some 108% amongst Contractors.

“As with other markets, the challenges to BIM adoption on the ground are almost purely cultural”

To some extent the UK had the challenge of finding its feet with BIM with few other nations to look to. Other markets are benefitting from the learning and guidance that the UK have developed, building on that foundation to implement at a faster rate, even if that implementation is sometimes more fragmented.

Are you working on a BIM project in China? If so we would love to hear from you. You can get in contact with us here.

*Sourced from Dodge Data and Analytics (2015). Learn more in The Business Value of BIM in China. **Sourced from the National Bureau of Statistics of China (2015).

Images courtesy of Shanghai Disneyland Resort and Photoshot (Shanghai Disneyland), Fu Xing and BIAD UFO (Phoenix Media Centre), Gensler and Shanghai Tower Construction and Development (Shanghai Tower), Pixel Flake and Ahen0barbus (Beijing) and Exploring Life (Hong Kong).

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