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JE Dunn used jobsite kiosks to provide digital access to the most current contractor record set. The organization of data was paramount since documentation equated to having one drawing issued every six minutes on the project. It is estimated that $1.5 million in printing costs alone were saved. Image: JE Dunn Construction

School is truly back in at Oregon Health & Science Univ. (OHSU)’s recently completed Collaborative Life Sciences Building. The building, along with Skourtes Tower, is the result of a joint venture between Portland State Univ., Oregon State Univ. and Oregon Health & Science Univ., and is designed to foster collaboration among students and instructors from the multiple institutions.

The recently LEED Platinum-certified buildings include simulation, teaching and research labs; retail space; offices; classrooms; multiple lecture halls and a 200-chair dental school. The completion was made possible on a very short timeline using advanced Building Information Management (BIM) techniques.

Without such a plan, the design team couldn’t have accomplished:

  • 650,000 sf (including garage).
  • $295 million construction cost.
  • 32 months design/construction timeframe.
  • Up to 500 workers onsite at once.
  • 45% energy savings.
  • 26 miles of plumbing systems.
  • 126 miles of conduit.
  • LEED Platinum certification.

Creation of the building model provided consistent data for wind dispersion analysis, smoke control and life safety calculations, energy modeling, lighting calculations and HVAC loads. This model was used by the contractor to set sleeves and anchors for a multitude of service pipes and ducts. Because of the fast pace dictated there was overlap of design and construction, the model delivered real-time coordination of trades. “Lockdown” of design at systematic intervals permitted designers to contribute useful information up to the last minute. Concepts were vetted in real time because of the early BIM modeling and co-location of team members (owner, contractor, architect, engineers).


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Energy conservation image.

The use of a heat-recovery chiller and the strategic integration of how the systems are laid out allow significant savings on the heating bills. Cooling is enhanced by careful selection of chillers. Fan static pressure is decreased by use of dual-purpose heating/cooling coils. This lowers operating costs significantly since the lab fans run 24/7. Use of multiple small plenum fans in air handlers saved space and provided more program area in a smaller building footprint. Evaporative humidification supplied with heat by the heat-recovery chiller gave the vivarium a humidification system with a very high heating Coefficient of Performance (5.0).

Use of the BIM model translates design information to the field electronically in the form of construction coordinates. The process, once automated, increased speed of layout. In spite of the complexity of floor penetrations for piping, ductwork and conduit, large sections of floor slabs were poured at two-week intervals. The BIM model should prove to be a resource for ongoing operations and maintenance, as well as future renovations over the life of the building.

Other construction practices used to save time and improve quality included prefabrication of pipe racks carrying hot/cold domestic water, dental vacuum and lab gases. Once the racks were brought to the job site, hoisting and horizontal transport to the installation were carried out at a rapid pace. The time from crane lift to completed rack hanging from the slab was a matter of two to four hours. By fabricating offsite and scheduling just-in-time delivery, it’s estimated the project saved 15% compared to on-site fabrication.

Other BIM-related practices included job site kiosks with full access to the contractor’s current record set at all times. This full tracking of RFIs, drawings and submittals allowed questions about the complexity of construction to be visualized and answered in an efficient manner. The organization of data was paramount since documentation equated to one drawing issued every six minutes on the project. It was estimated that $1.5 million in printing costs alone were saved by this approach.

John McMichael, PE, is Principal Senior Mechanical Engineer at Interface Engineering since 1982. Wade Snyder, LEED AP BD+C, is the Engineering Services Manager for JE Dunn Construction.