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Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island is pushing the envelope, both in education and project delivery.

The university is in the midst of constructing a new $78 million, 80,000-square-foot engineering building that will include specialized facilities for nanoscale and biomedical engineering, along with two full floors of new lab space (20 laboratory modules) designed to expand cross-disciplinary research such as chemistry and computer sciences. The new three-story facility connects the engineering and physics building via bridges on all three levels.

This project represents Brown's first use of integrated project delivery (IPD) at a whole-building scale. The project team includes Philadelphia-based KieranTimberlake (architect), Shawmut Design and Construction (construction manager), Research Facilities Design (lab planner), BuroHappold Engineering (engineer), F.H. Chase (clean room), Northeast Interior Systems (lab casework/equipment) and Arden Engineering Constructors (HVAC).

Perhaps more compelling is that full range of IPD strategies that have been applied by the owner and project team including colocation, trade partner coordination, in-depth pull planning sessions, the implementation of lean design principles—and, of course, technology.

Mechanical Edge

The Brown University project team is relying Autodesk A360 Collaboration for Revit with BIM 360 Glue cloud-based BIM management and collaboration tool and Bluebeam Revu to share access to the building information model (BIM) hosted in the cloud.

As a mechanical contractor with an in-house professional engineering group that specializes in design/build type projects, Arden Engineering Constructors, LLC, part of the Arden Building Companies, brings additional technology benefits to the table.

Specifically, the Arden team is using SysQue for Revit MEP. SysQue lets users design in Autodesk® Revit® with real-world, manufacturing-specific content that’s ready for fabrication. With it, engineers can create accurate project plans that line up with MEP contractors’ detailing, fabrication, manufacturing, and installation requirements while reducing labor costs and accelerating project timelines. SysQue includes an intelligent interface automates sheet views, bill of material (BOM) schedules, component annotation and the dimension process while standard naming conventions makes isometric spool creation fast and accurate.

William Cameron, BIM manager for Arden, explains, “The entire team is working in Revit for design, collaboration and coordination. Without SysQue and A360, we would have been working with 2D backgrounds. Conventional practices create a layer of separation between the project team partners. The real-time coordination removes that condition allowing us to truly work together and deliver a cohesive, constructable solution on a fast track schedule.”

With a Centralized Cloud

While the Arden team has used SysQue since 2014, the Brown University project is one of the first times that they’ve used it with the A360 platform and the first time they’ve used SysQue with a centralized cloud model.

Cameron emphasizes that with IPD the team is trying to design, coordinate and collaborate concurrently, adding, “With IPD, the architectural and structural systems change by the hour, not by the week or month on more conventional projects.”

With regards to the benefits of SysQue in an IPD environment, he continues, “SysQue allows us to work with real world components in a native Revit family format. As a native Revit model, we can facilitate better collaboration with other Revit users, including the original engineers. Add on A360 platform, and now we’re able to collaborate in real-time instead of conventional file share methods where we’re constantly working with outdated models. With SysQue and A360, we’re working with live models and live information. When things change, the team sees those changes in minutes. That’s made a huge difference on this project allowing us to deliver a project that meets all of the owner’s desires and deliver a quality project on time.”

Arden engineers started out designing the HVAC system with direction from the Engineer of Record Buro Happold using SysQue for Revit. The team prefabricated all components of the HVAC and plumbing system starting with the underground. The lab waste system is a Georg Fischer polypro fusion welded piping system. The sanitary and storm was all cast iron hub and spigot.

Cameron explains, “We created fabrication drawings for everything from the HVAC to plumbing systems and the Medgas systems (of which there were at least a dozen), down to the .5” pipes. We’d never created spool drawings in this much detail and it was all facilitated by SysQue and A360.”

Once designed in SysQue and fabricated, Arden used the Trimble Robotic Total Station (RTS) combined with Trimble Field Link for MEP construction layout software to locate hangers, brackets, support points, etc.

They also used the Trimble TX6 3D laser scanners to scan the RODI rooms once set.  He adds, “We use SysQue to create spool drawings from the scans so that we can prefabricate all the interconnecting reverse osmosis and ultrapure filtration systems. Basically, SysQue and Revit is our standardized workflow—these are our primary design, fabrication and coordination systems.”

Seamless Workflows

Cameron believes that Arden’s 3D engineering, fabrication and collaboration capabilities were key in getting the job for the new university engineering building.  He says, “Early on in the selection process, the construction manager and the university officials interviewed all the trade partners. I strongly believe that our technology gave us a leg up in that interview and that’s ultimately how we won the project.”

He also notes that his team would not have been able to keep up without the common A360 and Revit platform. The building project is on track for on time completion in fall 2017.  

Throughout the course of the project, Cameron and his team have become strong advocates for IPD. He concludes, “Every member of the team is invested in the process and collaborating. It’s truly been a cohesive, coordinated project that I think will deliver the best quality project. The approach has had some learning curve, but after doing this project, I would love to do every project this way.”

He’ll likely get his wish. Arden currently has three more Brown University projects on the books—and each one will be performed with an IPD approach.

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About Arden

Founded in 1954, Arden Engineering Constructors, LLC is part of the Arden Building Companies which is comprised of Arden Engineering Constructors, Pawtucket, RI (Headquarters), Earthwise Energy Technologies, Pawtucket, RI, Unique Metal Works, Pawtucket, RI, MJ Daly, Waterbury, CT and Corporate Mechanical of New England, Tewksbury, MA. Arden Engineering Constructors is the largest mechanical contractor in Rhode Island, with an in-house prefabrication shop, 50 full-time office employees, and over 125 union craft personnel.  The company specializes in the design, installation, and maintenance of mechanical HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems for healthcare, education, and industrial markets.