Small firm proves BIM success on civil project

by: Teresa Elliott | 09/29/2015
Estimated Reading time: 4 - 7 minutes

Project: Walnut Park, Austin Texas

CivilE, LLC Walnut Park Ltd.

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CivilE, LLC wins small projects award in the Autodesk 2015 Excellence in Infrastructure competition for the Walnut Park Project. Image courtesy of CivilE, LCC

Competing among the Goliaths on civil projects, one small firm uses BIM as their slingshot to success.

CivilE, a 5-person civil engineering firm celebrating their second anniversary, employed BIM to improve multi-disciplinary design collaboration, simplify hand-off and integration of data helping to speed design iterations and support communications on this project. With a BIM workflow, CivilE, LLC demonstrated that Autodesk’s tools can empower small engineering firms to create compelling visualizations within the constraints of a small project’s budget. Here’s their story.

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Creek Ridge Line – Walnut Park Apartments – resting on the edge of Walnut Creek. Austin, TX. Courtesy CivilE, LLC

Named by Forbes as one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, Austin, Texas, faces a housing shortage. The Walnut Creek Apartments will help ease the pinch. Providing 277 new housing units, the Walnut Creek Apartments will be situated over an 18-acre site in the North Lamar corridor of the city. With many sustainability elements in the structures, the new complex is also environmentally friendly in its site design, which preserves many of the 1,300 trees at the location. The design also includes a path to connect pedestrians and cyclists to nearby commercial and retail developments. In addition, the site includes design challenges such as grade change of over 80 feet and more than 1,300 trees of various species. The owner, Larry Peel & Co., Inc., desired a site that would integrate into the natural terrain and preserve as many of the trees as possible.

The owner engaged CivilE to provide civil engineering and site visualization services for the development. To meet sustainable design requirements the CivilE team needed to collaborate closely with the architects. The entire team embraced Building Information Modeling (BIM) and a model-based process to help them design, coordinate, and collaborate over the course of the project.

CivilE relied on  Infrastructure Design Suite Premium for design, and Autodesk InfraWorks 360 along with Autodesk 3ds Max Design for visualization. The architects turned to Autodesk Revit as their core design tool. These tools enabled a model-based workflow throughout the project. As team members from one discipline revised their portion of the design, other disciplines analyzed and accounted for the changes in their portion of the model. For instance, the architects incorporated the civil design into their Revit model to ensure the building design integrated with the site.

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Walnut Park Crossing driveway to serve proposed Walnut Park Apartment Project, Austin, Texas. Image courtesy of CivilE, LLC.

The model-based approach has delivered numerous benefits for the project. Early on, zoning concerns necessitated a complete redesign of the civil plans. A team of two took advantage of the intelligent objects within the initial design to revise the plans and create new renderings in only two months. Using a model-based approach also helped the firm explore more strategies for preserving the forested character of the site. As a result, the team was able to develop a design that keeps in-situ vegetation while minimizing the need for irrigation.

The team brought together all project models within InfraWorks 360 regularly. This provided a whole-project view that the owner and design team could view. The team is even sharing views out of individual units with the owner, giving the owner the opportunity to suggest view-enhancing modifications early in the project. These 3D visualizations will be used to assist in securing project approval from the City Council and Zoning and Planning. When the project nears completion, the owner plans to use the project visualizations to assist in leasing activities.

Watch another video on this project here.

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