Sheryl Staub-French

Professor

Relevant Degree Programs

 

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2019)
Requirements for BIM-based building design coordination processes (2018)

Building design coordination is a critical and challenging task to ensure that the design meets the functional, aesthetic, and economic requirements of project stakeholders. The cost of design coordination can be significant, with some estimating as high as two percent of the total cost on projects. It is therefore imperative that coordination issues get resolved as efficiently as possible, particularly given that thousands of conflicts may be identified during design coordination.Even with implementation of Building Information Modelling (BIM) project participants still face significant challenges that disrupt and hinder the coordination process. I have identified three critical issues that impact the successful implementation of BIM in design coordination processes: (1) the extent of BIM-based design coordination processes and protocols implemented, (2) the efficiency and ease in which practitioners interact with state of the art of BIM tools, and (3) the effectiveness in which design coordination issues are captured, represented and documented. Very little research has specifically looked at the BIM-based building design coordination with such focus.This dissertation investigates BIM-based building design coordination through the lens of two state of the art public sector projects. The research involved embedded case study analyses and a mixed-method contextualist research approach that included iterative grounded theory and co-production of knowledge. The investigation of BIM-based design coordination resulted in the formalization of design coordination processes, identification of bottlenecks faced by practitioners, and development of design considerations for BIM tools. The exploration of design coordination meetings resulted in taxonomy of interactions with design artifacts, outlining the relationships between goals, artifacts, interactions and transitions. The research on design coordination issue representation resulted in a classification taxonomy that explicitly represents process-based, model-based, and physical design issues. This research has many practical implications to the construction industry, as well as the BIM software development community. The research enables practitioners and researchers to better understand the challenges of BIM-based design coordination processes, helps the software development community to design state of the art BIM tools to better support practitioner interactions and navigations with BIM, and better manage and represent design coordination issues encountered throughout the coordination process.

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Understanding the transition to BIM for facility owners (2017)

Building information modeling (BIM) is emerging as a potential solution for facility owners to address the challenges of poor information quality and interoperability during project handover and inadequate facilities management during building operations. However, implementing BIM in an owner organization is a complex challenge that necessitates reconfiguration of work practices and internal structures to fully realize the benefits. Although previous studies have documented the potential benefits of BIM adoption for owners, such as improvements in work order processing, very little research has specifically looked at the transition to BIM and the scale of the effort required for large and diverse owner organizations. This dissertation investigates the transition to BIM through the lens of two large public owner organizations in Canada. Specifically, the research involved embedded case study analyses to investigate the alignment of facilities management (FM) practices across the organizational and project contexts in relation to owner requirements. The resulting case study analysis is unique in terms of the richness of the data collection and analysis methods used, the research approach investigating alignment across two interrelated contexts at the organizational and project level, and the focus on information in terms of understanding how facility information is affected by the organizational processes, technologies and requirements.The investigation of current owner practices enabled a better understanding of the gap between available and required information, processes and technology, and the challenges owners face when considering the transition to BIM. A significant contribution resulting from these studies is the framework I developed to characterize the alignment between organizational constructs, available technology, project artifacts and owner information requirements. The research into two different owners provided a rich understanding of owners’ information requirements and led to the formalization of computable requirements in relation to BIM, and the development of a 3-stage methodology to help owners develop and deploy BIM requirements. This research demonstrates that the transition to BIM for facility owners necessitates the development of explicit and computable BIM requirements, the reconfiguration of internal work practices, and the formalization of stages of compliance to support BIM-enabled project delivery.

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Automated extraction and querying of construction-specific design features from a building information model (2011)

In recent years, several research and industry efforts have focused on developing building information models (BIMs) to support various aspects of the architectural, engineering, construction and facility management (AEC/FM) industry. BIMs provide semantically-rich information models that explicitly represent both 3D geometric and non-geometric information. While BIMs have many useful applications to the construction industry, there are enormous challenges in getting construction-specific information out of BIMs, limiting the usability of these models. This research addresses this problem by developing a novel approach to extract construction features from a given BIM and support the processing of user-driven queries on a BIM. In this dissertation, we formalized:(i) An ontology of design features that explicitly represents design conditions that are relevant to construction practitioners and supports the generation of a construction-specific feature-based model; (ii) A query specification vocabulary which characterizes spatial and non-spatial queries, and developed query templates to guide non-expert BIM users to specify queries; and(iii) An integrated approach that combines model-based reasoning and query-based approach to automatically extract design features to create a project-specific feature-based model (FBM) and provide support for answering queries on the FBM.The construction knowledge formalized in this research was gathered from a variety of sources, which included a detailed literature review, several case studies, extensive observations of design and construction meetings, and lengthy discussions with different construction practitioners. We used three different tests to validate the research contributions. We conducted semi-structured, informal interviews with four construction experts for the four building projects studied to validate the content, representativeness and the generality of the concepts formalized in this research. We conducted retrospective analysis for different features to evaluate the soundness of our research in comparison with the state-of-the-art tools. Finally, we performed descriptive and interpretive analysis to demonstrate that our approach is capable of providing richer, insightful and useful construction information.This research can help to make a BIM more accessible for construction users. The developed solutions can support decision making in a variety of construction management functions, such as cost estimating, construction planning, execution and coordination, purchasing, constructability analysis, methods selection, and productivity analysis.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Interactive visual analytics for BIM compliance assessment and design decision-making (2018)

The widespread adoption of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in the Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Owner (AECO) Industry has led to data-intensive projects. The growth of data in the digital environment may affect compliance with the Owner’s BIM requirements and the overall project goal to utilize BIM for downstream purposes. Existing compliance assessment practices utilized by industry are very cost and time intensive, and ineffective at supporting design decision-making. Three specific challenges were observed in our research. First, the quality of information integrated in the BIM models may be inaccurate, thus impacting the integrity of BIM and posing a risk to the project. Second, the inundation of unstructured data generated in the BIM environment impacts the team’s ability to manage information and extract useful insights to drive actions. Third, project stakeholders are often less involved than BIM experts in the BIM compliance process due to limited understanding of BIM platforms and drive their business-level decisions without understanding the status of design data.The objective of this research is to address these three specific challenges using an action-research (AR) methodology. We present the outcomes of an action-research (AR) project undertaken with a global design consultant, Stantec, in the context of the design of a large healthcare facility. The objective of AR was to create a robust yet simple-to-use compliance assessment workflow. The key metrics for BIM compliance were identified and evaluated over the course of this study. An automated data analytics and visualization workflow was developed to simplify the compliance assessment process of BIM-based projects. Visual programming was used to automate the BIM data analytics to represent key compliance metrics and streamline complex workflows. The interactive visualization provides actionable information to project teams in a way that enables project experts to gain insights more effectively to inform decisions and to help manage compliance with Owner’s BIM requirements. The workflow developed in this research was utilized by the design consultants on the case study project to achieve compliance with the Owner’s BIM requirements, and the Regional BIM Lead at Stantec decided to use this workflow on all their BIM projects across the province.

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Quality control and quality assurance in hybrid mass timber high-rise construction : a case study of the Brock Commons (2018)

Wood has seen a resurgence recently as a construction material driven by technological advances and a growing concern for the environment. Although an increasing amount of mass timber high-rises are being built all around the world, lack of information and outdated preconceptions are some of the obstacles that are keeping mass timber products from increasing their market share in high-rise construction. Academia and industry leaders must keep track of the progress that is being made and inform the general public as innovation and technological advances continue to take place.In this context, the University of British Columbia has recently completed the construction of the Brock Commons Tallwood House. This 18-story residence building employs two reinforced concrete cores and a mass timber structure composed of cross laminated timber panels, glued-laminated columns, and parallel strand lumber columns. With this, the building is currently the tallest wood building in the world and a testament to the suitability of engineered wood elements for high-rise construction.Aiming to address the lack of information surrounding mass timber high rise construction, this thesis documents the quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) practices that were put in place during the delivery of the building. The main objective of this research was to identify and present lessons learned from the application of these QA/QC practices. To do this, various QA/QC practices were identified and analyzed by reviewing the project specifications and other project documents, reviewing recognized industry standards, and interviewing various members of the project team.This study found a series of comprehensive and well-planned QA/QC practices that were put in place by the project team and that were appropriate to comply with the project requirements. This study concluded that most of these practices are replicable and advisable for future projects. The different QA/QC practices that were identified and the lessons learned from their application are presented in this thesis.

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Space programming requirements representation, analysis and visualization at a large scale architectural firm (2018)

Space programming is a primary task during the schematic design process, to produce a geometric configuration of a space layout that is in accordance with the project's requirements. By nature, space programming is an iterative process that evolves according to the client’s requirements. A critical challenge of space programming is the limitation in the link between the client’s requirements and design tools. The rigorous process of analyzing, structuring and extracting meaningful information often leads to requirements being overlooked or important requirements failing to be satisfied. Failure to meet the client’s space program requirements, could possibly lead to decline in the performance of the building, cost increase, client dissatisfaction and penalty fines charged by the client which are usually clearly stated in design contracts.This study adopted an observation-based empirical research approach to investigate the current practices and challenges of space program requirements data management, and design workflow at a large scale international architectural/engineering firm. Following the case study and recording challenges, I developed a smart Microsoft Excel® template to structure and parse a client’s space programming requirements data. This was essential to extract significant information such as the name of the rooms that have a proximity relationship requirement. This data was used to develop a dashboard to visualize space programming information and to validate the compliance of a building project’s space programming requirements in conjunction with a visual computational tool through a visual floor plan overlay.The developments were made to help designers extract space programming requirements in an automated manner and improve the iterative design process of space programming by automating visualizations to assess the compliance of space programs.

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An investigation of the implementation of lean philosophy within a specialty trade (2017)

Construction projects are dynamic and complex systems; their planning, execution and delivery involve considerable collective effort and coordination on the part of multiple individual stakeholders that come together to form a temporary project organization (TPO) for a project’s duration. In contrast, traditional construction project management practices are static. They often rely on inadequate and early assumptions of a handful of individuals in the TPO that try to predict and plan the execution of the project in great detail in the early stages of a project. To manage uncertainties, contingencies and buffers are introduced into the planning process. This static approach to construction management often results in variability which leads to waste and loss of value. Innovative tools and approaches such as building information modeling (BIM) and Lean construction have emerged over the years and aim to eliminate waste and inefficiency resulting from current practices in the construction industry. These approaches, however, require significant reconfiguration of the interactions within a TPO, among other things, which introduces significant challenges in their adoption and implementation. This manuscript presents the findings of a 16 month action-research project undertaken with a specialty trade. The research project aimed to investigate the implementation of lean principles within the organization and the potential impact on a complex, mixed-use project. Several performance metrics, such as planned percent complete (PPC) and degree of change in scheduled tasks, were utilized to measure and assess the reliability and efficiency of the planning efforts on the project. Reliance and dependency of following specialty trades on upstream trades performance was also analyzed. The findings highlight the challenges a specialty trade faces in shielding their production from upstream uncertainties when they have no control over the tasks assigned to them or the preceding tasks to their work. The planning efforts undertaken by the project team were also compared to guidelines of the Last Planner System to uncover differences in planning approaches. Suggestions for further performance enhancement and evaluation such as more collaborative planning and continuous look-back and learning processes are proposed to bridge the gaps uncovered between traditional and novel approaches to planning.

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Data visualization of requests for information to support construction decision-making (2017)

The construction industry is dependent on effective communication among project team members. Construction data has varied formats and size, and are communicated through a variety of mediums over the course of the project. This often leads to potential discontinuity and delays in communication between project team members. Requests for Information (RFI) are the standard form of communication between the design team and the construction team. RFI’s are not just a means of construction communication; the fact that the RFI has been generated points out that there is something wrong, missing or unclear with the existing documents and designs. Past studies have suggested that RFI’s are an indicator of deficiency in design documentation. Current RFI management systems are not sufficient to provide project participants with a medium to analyze the problems, their cause or even to easily look for information required in these RFI documents. From past studies, we know that visualization helps humans to analyze complex and vast amounts of data easily. In this study, we develop visualizations of data in the RFI documents and investigate if it has potential benefits for construction project members. To extract and transform data from the semi-structured RFI documents, we develop a framework by employing the qualitative technique of content analysis. A case study approach was employed for this study. Approximately 1,400 RFI’s were analyzed from Project A and around 500 RFI’s were analyzed from Project B. In this framework, we identify several quantitative and qualitative dimensions including time (when), spatial context (where), actor (who), reason (why), RFI Type, Domain, Property, Attribute, Entity (what) that can be used to visualize the data for analyzing the information in the RFI’s. The RFI dashboard was developed with constant feedback from industry personnel who stated that the dashboard had promising benefits for both the consultants and the owners. The contribution of this research is the development of a framework to structure and organize the information in RFI documents, the creation of a prototype dashboard visualization of RFI data, and the assessment of the potential benefits of RFI data visualization for decision making in the construction industry.

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Framework for assessing the potential of new technologies to capture the as-built information from project sites (2017)

As-built information from construction project sites is often required by project participants to address various user-specific needs such as assessing the construction quality or planning for upcoming renovations, or guiding future repairs during building operations. However, most of this information is still being captured through traditional methods like tape measure, or referring to 2D drawings which are found to be inefficient. Although many data acquisition tools such as 3D laser scanning and photogrammetry currently exist, they suffer from numerous limitations such as the lack of affordability or requiring expertise to operate. This has encouraged both researchers and technology vendors to look into new alternative capture technologies that are cost effective, easy to use, and efficient. This need for better alternatives led to the rapid development of various new capture technologies that are now needed to be evaluated for construction industry purposes. With such new technologies being released regularly, there is also an increased confusion among industry professionals to identify the best suitable capture technology for addressing their specific needs. Thus, the objective of this research is to develop a framework for evaluating the potential of new as-built information capture technologies to support construction purposes. The research also focuses on using the developed framework to evaluate the potential of two new capture technologies, mobile laser scanning and spherical imaging, that have recently been gaining traction in the construction industry. For this, a case study based research approach was developed and four construction projects were chosen as sample case studies for this work. Current industry practices for capturing the necessary as-built information to address different use case scenarios within these projects were first observed and analyzed. Then, the framework was developed by conducting an in-depth analysis of the current industry practices, reviewing relevant literature and by also having a series of informal discussions with various project team members involved in the chosen case study projects. The potential of mobile laser scanning and spherical imaging technologies was then assessed by testing them on the relevant use case scenarios. The benefits and limitations were identified based on a structured assessment using the developed framework.

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Innovation in hybrid mass timber high-rise construction : a case study of UBC’s Brock Commons project (2017)

With the advocacy for sustainable construction on the rise, use of timber as the main building material is being championed in large-scale construction projects. While the advancement of engineered timber products is addressing some issues that previously limited the use of wood in high-rise construction, there are still challenges such as fire and weather safety, code compliance and negative public perceptions. One main gap in the available resources is the lack of a comprehensive and detailed case study of a high-rise project with wood as the main construction material to capture constraints and innovations necessary in creating success, which has formed the direction of this research. This thesis is focused on documenting a case study of the Brock Commons project, an 18 storey, hybrid timber-concrete residential high-rise located at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver campus, which is the tallest hybrid timber building in the world. The overall research objective was to identify and document the delivery of this innovative project, with a specific emphasis on the innovations necessary to make timber high-rise construction successful and the use of VDC tools in the design and pre-construction process. The case study documents the project context, the design process, the business and industry drivers, and the motivation for construction. Moreover, it investigates the motivations for all stakeholders, identifies the challenges and constraints, and captures the innovative solutions that were utilized to ensure project success. The case study also documents the innovative use of VDC to support prefabrication and overall project coordination. Specifically, it investigates the role of the VDC integrators in the project, the paths of communications with the different project team members, and the inputs and outputs of each phase of design and construction. This research identified lessons learned that can be applied to other construction projects where timber is the main structural component and a heavy use of VDC and pre-fabrication is required. Use of timber and innovative methods in construction have been consistently rising in the past decade, and this research aims to provide a starting point for future efforts in mass timber high-rise construction.

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Integrating GIS and BIM for community building energy design (2017)

Increasing urbanization has caused a corresponding increase in energy consumption from the design, construction and operation of the built environment. To achieve energy-efficient design in urban communities, the design phase needs to adopt reliable energy modeling approaches. However, current urban modeling approaches often use abstract and low level information to describe buildings because of the difficulties of collecting and managing building data on the large scale required of such urban communities. This abstraction of building data creates large uncertainties in the modeling and simulation of energy scenarios at the community level. An additional consequence is a general separation between community energy design (with low level building information) and building energy design (with high level building information). An important part of the solution to this challenge relies on the integration of information systems at the scale of both urban communities and individual buildings, which are based on Geographic Information System (GIS) and Building Information Modeling (BIM) respectively. Since current technologies do not sufficiently address the interoperability between GIS and BIM, the existing conversion between GIS and BIM does not satisfy the data requirements for community energy design. This thesis investigates this challenge and presents an approach that uses Semantic Web technologies, including OWL (Web Ontology Language) and RDF (Resource Description Framework), to integrate GIS and BIM data. In this approach, we first develop relevant design scenarios for energy consumption in buildings of the University of British Columbia (UBC) campus. Based on the scenarios and required information for the energy simulation, we create a suitable ontology to transform the data into a Semantic Web model. Then we conduct relevant queries on the transformed data to provide the required information for energy simulation of a UBC campus neighborhood that contains richer and more detailed building information that is extracted from the campus building information models. Finally, we visualize the simulation results in a three-dimensional environment and discuss how it supports designers and decision makers engaged in community planning and design.

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Investigating the performance of the construction process of an 18-storey mass timber hybrid building (2017)

The use of mass timber in high rise construction is an innovation. Mass timber construction has influential benefits including a lower overall construction time, a lower environmental impact, the use of renewable resource and an improved aesthetics. Despite the mentioned benefits, mass timber is not the traditional material for low to mid-rise commercial, institutional and residential construction in Canada. This is partially due to the need to explore the efficiency of mass timber construction relative to traditional construction. Detailed quantitative documentation of successful construction projects assists organisations planning mass timber high-rise projects by understanding and quantifying the advantages to ensure the viability of the construction process. This research project aims to understand the performance of mass-timber construction in the context of a construction manager, particularly the time saved due to completion of structural and envelope systems early. The case study chosen for this thesis is the tallest mass timber hybrid building in the world: Tallwood House. The research team studied the project in a macro-level perspective to investigate the building elements as single entities. Moreover, a micro-level study focuses on the performance of every level of the following elements: mass timber structure, envelope cladding systems and cross-laminated timber drywall encapsulation. The macro-level study investigates: (1) The production rate of the various building elements, (2) The coordination between structural trades to build a heavily pre-fabricated building using a single crane, and (3) The labor efforts per discipline. Moreover, the micro-level study investigates: (4) The variability of productivity of all levels, (5) A statistical investigation of three factors on cross-laminated timber installation, (6) Schedule reliability of preliminary planned schedule relative to the construction schedule (actual progress), (7) Earned value analysis, and (8) Planned percent complete to study the reliability of weekly work plans relative to construction schedules.All metrics were validated by the senior project manager through a discussion and confirmation of the inputs, findings and conclusions drawn. The claimed contribution of this research is an advanced state of knowledge about mass timber by exploring the efficiency of the construction process.

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Investigating the transition to BIM-enabled facilities management : a large public owner's perspective (2017)

In the architecture, engineering, construction, owner, and operator (AECOO) industry, there is growing interest in the use of building information modeling (BIM) for facilities management (FM). BIM prevents facility information from being lost, eases the access to data, and automates data entry. Despite these advantages, however, the adoption of FM BIM is facing slow growth. To promote the use of FM BIM, we need to understand the challenges of transitioning to BIM for facility owners.The objective of this research is to investigate the process and effort of developing and utilizing FM BIM. The research is based on a case study of a large public owner organization in Canada. The Owner recently completed the construction of an institutional facility that utilized BIM in design and construction. A pilot study was conducted to inform the owner of the effort to develop the handover BIM for FM purposes. The research was conducted in three phases: (1) the pre pilot study revealed the limitations of current FM processes, (2) the pilot study investigated the process to develop a FM BIM, and (3) the post pilot study identified the organizational barriers to utilizing the FM BIM. The pre pilot study revealed the inefficiencies in the daily FM practice and FM information systems, which was due to the poor quality of handover documents, inaccuracy of facility data, and lack of interoperability among the systems. These inefficiencies motivated the owner to consider the opportunities that BIM could provide for efficient data management. The pilot study detailed the process of developing the FM BIM, which included numerous steps: analyzing handover model, obtaining data from handover documents, populating the model, and attaching the O&M files. A significant amount of effort was required due to the poor quality of handover model, unorganized handover documents, and the absence of parameter template. Beyond these challenges, there were barriers to the utilization of the FM BIM, including the absence of BIM experts, lack of training, and lack of proper hardware and software, which emphasized the need for support from high-level management.

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Understanding how advanced parametric design can improve the constructability of building designs (2016)

Construction project complexity is rapidly growing, increasing the need for better project and design management practices. This complexity is attributable to the advancements in technology which have resulted in an intensification of contemporary design generation. Projects such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California by Frank Gehry & Associates exemplify the results of such technological advancements. This thesis presents the results of a year-long research project in the form of a case study on a building facade system. The case study approach is chosen due to the exploratory nature of this research project in answering a ‘how’ question where we have the ability to observe the events under investigation but lack control over them. The objective of this research is to understand how advanced parametric design can improve constructability of building designs. The research project was initiated as a test of the hypothesis by our industry partner, an international architecture firm, that they have been able to significantly improve constructability of a building facade system by using advanced parametric design tools. While the results of this study supported this assertion, a number of recurring challenges were noticed in the construction process. As a result, phase II of the project was introduced to include a rigorous productivity study of the construction process, identification of delay types, categorization of those delay types into constructability issues, and quantifying the impact of those constructability issues on the project. Finally, a conceptual design approach is developed and used to address the constructability issue with the largest impact by incorporating construction knowledge - as design rules - into the design stage using advanced parametric design tools in order to produce a design improved for constructability. The results are then validated through a comparison with the original design and checked with an expert subcontractor for confirmation. The claimed contribution of this research project is an increased understanding of how advanced parametric design tools can be used to improve constructability of the building facade system studied through design.

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Building information modeling for construction applications : formwork installation and quantity takeoff (2012)

Recent advancements in Building Information Modeling (BIM) hold great promise for addressing the challenges of the construction industry by allowing project teams to ‘test out’ a design prior to construction. The projects that have successfully implemented BIM demonstrate numerous benefits, including increased design quality, improved field productivity, cost predictability, less rework, and reduced construction cost and duration. However, much of the research to date has focused more on the preconstruction phase with less research on uses for the construction phase, The goal of this research was to evaluate specific uses of BIM in the construction phase of the project. I investigated two construction applications of BIM: (1) BIM for developing lift drawings to support formwork construction on the BC Hydro Substation project, and (2) BIM for quantity takeoff to support life-cycle assessment (LCA) and construction cost estimating on the Pharmaceutical Sciences project. The BC Hydro project provided an opportunity to examine the use of BIM for the field crew. I developed 3D coordinated lift drawings that conveyed the necessary information for forming the components accurately and clearly. I believe that creating the lift drawings increased the crew’s productivity by providing the necessary information for building a component, resolving conflicts prior to construction, and reducing mistakes.I evaluated the use of BIM for quantity takeoff using the Pharmaceutical Sciences project. I evaluated two BIM-based and one 2D-based quantity takeoff software, and based on several parameters of importance to cost and sustainability consultants. I found that calculating quantities from a BIM model is faster and more accurate as long as the model is created correctly and accurately to suit the needs of the users.This thesis provides evidence for the benefits of BIM for construction uses at different stages in the project. The BC Hydro case study provides significant detail on how a BIM can be utilized by construction field personnel. The Pharmaceutical Sciences project demonstrates the benefits and challenges of utilizing a BIM for quantity takeoff. More case studies are needed to demonstrate the benefits of BIM for different applications in the project delivery process to enable more widespread BIM adoption.

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Change Management with Building Information Models: A Case Study (2012)

No abstract available.

Evaluation of linear-scheduling-based 4D modeling approaches (2011)

Project teams face increasing pressure to deliver projects as quickly as possible. To satisfy these demands, contractors must explore various construction strategies to meet delivery dates. Using existing tools for large-scale horizontal and vertical projects characterized by significant repetition of components, the lack of ease with which alternative strategies can be formulated and evaluated precludes meaningful exploration. To address this problem, an approach has been developed at UBC that leverages a generalized implementation of linear scheduling coordinated with a 3D building information model to produce 4D images. This approach enables a more generic mapping mechanism between product and process models that works at multiple levels of detail. In this thesis, we compare this research-based approach with a commercial 4D platform that also employs linear scheduling concept to formulate its process model. This evaluation is based on a detailed case study of an actual high-rise construction project and it compares the development, functionality, and flexibility of the two approaches based on the features required of a 4D modeling environment with linear scheduling capabilities which facilitates the speedy formulation and evaluation of alternative construction strategies and which provides insightful visual feedback.

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Characterizing bottlenecks in building design coordination meetings (2010)

This thesis describes an ethnographic field study that examined the design coordination process in two building projects. The goal of the study was to better understand the challenges faced by project teams as they coordinate designs in multi-disciplinary meeting environments. I focus on the bottlenecks encountered during in-person and distributed project coordination meetings. I observed meeting bottlenecks when meeting activities were performed inefficiently, when the meeting process was slowed down, when meeting workflow was interrupted, or when decision-making was hindered. I identified and characterized meeting bottlenecks in a framework that illustrates the nature of the bottleneck, and the frequency of its occurrence. According to my observations, there were two main categories of causes for bottlenecks in coordination meetings: context-based bottlenecks and content-based bottlenecks. Context-based bottlenecks are caused by the people in the design team, the meeting environment and the meeting technology. Content-based bottlenecks are related to the nature of the information artifacts (e.g., drawings and other design information) and the interactions with these artifacts (e.g., navigation and annotation). This study also provides an analysis of the frequency and patterns of various bottlenecks encountered in different meeting settings. For example, in paper-based meetings, there were more “interaction/ access” bottlenecks observed since the meeting activities involved the use of information artifacts and the participants’ interaction with these artifacts. In distributed meetings, the larger number of meeting bottlenecks was observed under the “technology” bottlenecks group. Therefore, this analysis illustrates the specific requirements for different meeting settings. This study enhances our understanding of the work practice of project teams in design coordination meetings. It highlights the many ways that meeting efficiency could be improved for design teams in coordination meetings. By using the vignettes in this study, people from different domains can understand the nature of the meeting processes, the techniques used by project teams when coordinating designs, and the different methods used by meeting participants to interact with information artifacts. My hope is that these findings will inform the design of new interaction, visualization, and integration technologies that better support the meeting processes of design teams.

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