Founded in 1960, Rutherford & Chekene (R&C) is one of California’s foremost engineering firms, with a staff of more than 85 professionals that provides structural and geotechnical engineering services. Headquartered in San Francisco, this multidisciplinary firm specializes in large-scale, often high-tech, institutional projects such as hospitals, laboratories, museums, sports complexes, educational facilities, fabrication plants, and even aquariums.
R&C’s involvement in industry research, technical committees, and professional organizations enables its engineers to remain on the cutting edge of the building profession and at the forefront of transformative building approaches such as integrated project delivery, digital fabrication, sustainable design, and building information modeling (BIM). A Revit® Structure user for about two years, R&C has already completed (through to construction documentation) seven projects and is currently working on 10 more. The firm’s adoption of BIM to date has centered on the use of Revit for design, analysis, and documentation and on supporting activities such as visualization, clash detection, collaboration, scheduling, and material quantity takeoffs. The firm is currently forging new workflows and partnerships to extend its use of BIM for digital fabrication.
Ideate, Inc. (San Francisco, California)
University of California, Santa Cruz
Project: The proposed new biomedical building at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) will feature four floors of laboratory, office, and administrative functions over a basement-level vivarium. This building will provide interdisciplinary wet laboratory space and core specialized facilities for scientists concentrating on health and medical issues. The $65 million building, scheduled for completion in 2010, will be located adjacent to the Physical Sciences Building and the Science Library, and within close proximity to several existing research and engineering buildings. These proximities are intended to create a biomedical “research cluster” of buildings according to research interest rather than departments, resulting in a compact hub of interdisciplinary research collaboration.
BIM Experience: This project featured a close collaboration between R&C and the project’s architectural design firm, San Francisco-based EHDD Architecture. Their collaboration was facilitated by sharing their Revit-based models for design coordination as well as clash detection. The joint efforts of this cross-functional project team resulted in an optimized, efficient design process—particularly critical on a high-cost-per-square-foot project such as this one—to control building costs, schedules, and ultimately outcomes.
The use of the Revit platform created efficiencies throughout the design process. For example, during conceptual design, R&C used Revit Structure to analyze two different building configurations (with and without a basement) using two different structural systems (buckling-restrained braced frames and moment frames). R&C created four structural design options based on the architect’s Revit conceptual design models, and then used those design options directly for structural analysis. The Revit structural model is bidirectionally linked with external structural analysis programs, so once the analysis was complete and the members were sized, the Revit model updated accordingly and the design team could produce quantity takeoffs, helping UCSC make informed decisions even at this very early stage in the project, a hallmark of integrated project delivery.
California State University at Chico
Project: The Wildcat Activity Center (WAC)—currently under construction and scheduled for completion at the end of 2008—is a two-story, full-service fitness center for Chico State students. The activity center includes a three-court gym, a 15,000-square-foot fitness facility, an indoor running track, four multipurpose rooms, a 10-lane recreational pool and spa, a 35-foot climbing wall, and a cafeteria. A central glass atrium houses the climbing wall and cafeteria, visually and physically linking all the major activities in the facility.
The students at Chico State lobbied for the new facility and the student body voted to add its cost (approximately $50 million) to their fees. Therefore, student body representatives were an integral part of the client review process throughout the project’s design. The student body and university are planning for a Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, standards established by the U.S. Green Building Council) certification for the building.
BIM Experience: On this project, R&C engineers worked closely with the project architect, Sasaki Associates of San Francisco, collaborating on the overall design by sharing their Revit® Architecture and Revit Structure design models. The building design is quite complex, featuring an innovative cable-supported roof structure and exposed structural steel in the central atrium area. The ability to reference the discipline-specific design models during the design process gave the R&C and Sasaki designers a better understanding of how the structural and architectural elements all fit together, coordinating the overall design as it emerged, therefore avoiding costly interferences during building construction.
In addition, the combined model enabled all the project stakeholders—including university officials, student body representatives, constructors, and steel erectors—to visualize the complicated building, a task that would have been particularly challenging using traditional drawings. For example, during a design review of the facility’s gymnasium (with the cable-supported roof structure), R&C used the 3D visualization features within the Revit software as well as the dynamic walkthrough feature of Autodesk NavisWorks to help the extended review team easily understand, and approve, that particular design approach, saving weeks of schedule time. The design team has even provided the Revit and NavisWorks models to the university’s construction management department to incorporate into their BIM curriculum.