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Student Presentations

Model-Based Estimating
Ali Borhani, University of Washington
Building Information Modeling (BIM) has triggered fundamental changes in processes and procedures of design, construction, and project management. During the past decade, BIM practitioners in academia and industry have aimed to leverage BIM capabilities for quantity takeoff and cost estimating also known as Model-Based Estimating. However, the effectiveness of existing practices have been limited mainly due to a lack of standard workflows and a lack of integration between design development and cost estimating processes. The research team at CERC, UW and Skanska conducted an applied research project to address the current challenges. The outcome is a package (called MBEst) that includes a standard model-based estimating workflow, a model QA/QC guideline, and a collaboration framework.The MBEst helps design and construction teams to build a collaboration partnership, leading to efficient and accurate quantity takeoff and cost estimation in the early design stages, on-time value engineering, and effective management of design and cost changes.

Digital Fabrication Framework Operations
Sadra Fardhosseini, University of Washington

There has been a huge change in building industry and related costs in North America recently. For example, the expenditure on residential constructions has grown from $69,571 million to $105,109 million in the last decade (CMHC, 2013). While statics indicate a growing trend in construction cost expenditure, the sale price has decreased at the same time (NAHB, 2014). In other words, “builders’ profit margins dropped while their construction costs were elevated” (Ajweh, 2014). Therefore, conducting research to evaluate contractors’ profitability appears to be crucial. This loss of profit might be recaptured by enhancing projects’ productivity. Particularly, applying machines could result in performance’s improvement in terms of time, cost, quality, and safety. This fact gains more attention in the competitive construction market in these days. In this respect, measuring productivity could lead to performance enhancement, problems identification, resource optimization, and practices improvement. (Ajweh, 2014). Although extensive researches have been carried out to highlight the association between construction productivity and formworks, a few publication has focused on how digital technology could enhance project productivity. Therefore, the objective of this study is to shed light on the impacts of integrating digital technology, specifically CNC machines, in the construction industry with a focus on formwork operations. It is tried to assess the adoption of this technology from various perspectives such as labor productivity, formwork quality, cost effectiveness of using CNC machine, and workers ‘safety. In other words, this research has been built to address the following hypothesis: “in contrary with public notion, not only integrating digital fabrication to develop formwork will exceed the project budget, but also the benefits of this adoption such as time reduction, quality improvement, and hazard elimination will bring more profit to the contractor”. A case study research using CNC machine for formwork fabrication will be conducted to validate the mentioned hypothesis. It is aimed to measure the project productivity and profitability to compare it with the conventional way of formwork fabrication. It is expected that the results of this study will provide useful guidelines for contractors to notice the advantageous of using CNC machines over that traditional approach and to help them to make better decisions in order to enhance their profit margin despite the rising construction-related cost trend.

Value of Digital Tools for Users and Design Workflow
Tony Lopez, University of Minnesota

Digital Tools are changing the Design Workflow. With the high amount of end users developing their own digital tools specific to their industry it is becoming increasingly more complex to manage the usage of tools in a workplace setting. This research project aims to answer three questions centered around the tools, the users, and the workflow; how can we measure the success of digital tools, how can we define the value digital tools bring to the users, and how can we track the influence digital tools have on the workflow?

The research will define first what are the Tools, who are the Users, and create a framework to structure the Workflow that will be populated with the research data gathered. The first phase will be purely investigative research with interviews of the project teams for valuable insight that will help track the influence and define the value of the tools and the users. This phase will also document any trends, patterns, or regular occurrence of instances that relate between the tools, the users, and the workflow. The second phase includes the creation and structuring of a requirements analysis to begin measuring the success of digital tools and the users. This will begin to set up a criteria for benchmarking standards of tools used within the project workflow. The last phase will be to narrow the research to two specific digital tools being created in the office to measure the in depth success within a project phase. This research project will begin to measure the user to tool interaction within the architectural workflow to understand how we each affect the other.

Architectural Lean Design
Sheldyn Merrill, University of Minnesota

The building industry needs a clear and shared understanding of what lean design process/thinking is in-order to accurately analyze and share opinions on the effectiveness lean can bring to the industries productivity. Recent research including LCI sponsored surveys shows that architects are the most resistant among the industry stakeholders to participate in lean design. We speculate this is due to the high misunderstanding and varying definitions about lean design. This is a year long research project conducted by a research university, national architecture firm, national contractor and regional structure engineer all base in the same major metro area. This research will use surveys, interviews and observations with professionals and current projects as methods to access the current understanding of what lean design means to disciples in the building industry. Second goal is to analyze the current understanding findings, to rethink and diagram a new perspective on the lean design model. Diagrams will explore how and if lean design can disruptive the building industry and become innovative. The overarching goal is to understand the different perspectives within the building industry about lean design, understand what works well and what needs improvement, and understand how architects can be more included in lean design. With this understanding, lean design can be integrated into the architectural practices with full buy-in, with ease of use, and enhanced value to client.

Virtual Reality Tools used in Design Process

Dustin Schipper, University of Minnesota

Virtual reality has become increasingly commonplace in architectural offices around the world.  However, there is still significant uncertainty about how to properly incorporate the technology into existing practices, a problem which is compounded by the large number of tools currently available.  This research aims to answer two questions, each addressed by a separate phase of the study; what is the current status of virtual reality in architecture, and what communicative value can virtual reality add to a collaborative design process?

This study’s first phase will be a context review.  Virtual reality software relevant to architectural design will be coded and categorized, and the review’s findings will be supported by interviews of virtual reality experts currently employed at AECOM. The second phase will build on the results of the first by applying one software tool chosen for its contextual fitness, to a healthcare project underway at AECOM.  The selected project is a micro-hospital entering design development.  The virtual reality tool will be implemented in monthly design review meetings of user groups.  This study will assess the communication that takes place in these sessions through protocol analysis and surveys of the user groups upon each session’s completion.  The virtual reality tool will only be used with one department’s user group while the others will make use of traditional representational media.  Between each round of monthly user group sessions, process and implementation adjustments will be made to the virtual reality media with the intention of improving the quality of communication.  The results of this study will provide a guide to the types and capabilities of virtual reality tools, and demonstrate a case of added value when virtual reality is incorporated into a portion of the architectural design process where quality of communication is crucial to a project success.

Speaker Bios

Ali Borhani is a PhD student and a Research Assistant at the College of Built Environment, University of Washington. Ali’s research interests are in Building Information Modeling (BIM) including BIM-based project collaboration and management, computational methods, and green BIM. He has an additional research interest in sustainability including energy efficiency and high performance buildings. Ali graduated with a JBSc. degree in civil engineering from the Bergische University Wuppertal (BUW), Germany and a MSc. degree in construction management from the University of Washington (UW), USA. During the past years, he has worked in R&D projects with different organizations such as Skanska, USA Inc., U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and UW Capital Projects Office.

Sadra Fardhosseini is a PhD student in Construction Management at University of Washington. He got his M.Sc. in Construction Engineering and Management at University of Nebraska, Lincoln (2016) and his B.Sc. in Civil Engineering at Shahid Beheshti University, Iran (2013). His research interests are mainly about Building Information Modeling (BIM), Decision Making, and construction safety with a focus on hazard identification and risk analysis. Previously, he worked on safety research topics such as “finding the relationship between workers’ attention and accidents using the eye-tracking device,” and “workers’ safety in post-disaster recovery operations.” Currently, he is conducting research on the benefits of integrating digital technology in construction industry and specifically formwork fabrication.

Tony Lopez is a student in the Masters of Science in Research Practices program at the University of Minnesota School of Architecture. He received a Bachelors of Architecture and a Bachelors of Business Administration in Business Management from Woodbury University.  He is interested in applying business strategies into the profession of architecture with an emphasis on interdisciplinary collaboration. Tony has experience working with sub-contractors, construction administration, and a background in construction. He has collaborated in a number of diverse teams throughout his undergraduate and graduate career applying business strategies into team cultures. He is currently working for Perkins+Will on a research project with the University of Minnesota. He also loves pizza, puppies, and pazookies.

Sheldyn Merrell is a student at University of Minnesota as a candidate for the Master of Science in Research Practice. Her alma-mater is Hampton University receiving a degree in the Master of Architecture. Her correct research is focusing on Lean in design process and thinking in architecture practice. This research is a partnership with the University of Minnesota and RSP Architects. Sheldyn has experience working on sea level rise for two years with National Resilience Initiate and Hampton University. She has previously worked at  KEi Architects in Richmond, VA and C & R Architects Denver, Co.

Dustin Schipper is a student in the Masters of Science in Research Practices program at the University of Minnesota (UMN).  He holds an M. Arch from UMN as well as a BFA in Studio Art.  He is interested in the design process, and potential in applying digital and computational strategies to design thinking. Dustin has experience working as a research assistant to faculty members within the University of Minnesota, and has previously conducted research with the Minneapolis based architecture firm Cuningham Group Architecture Inc.  He is currently conducting research as a complimentary component of his studies, through a joint public private partnership between AECOM and the University of Minnesota.