3 Awesome Construction Software Projects from 2017

October 6, 2017 Adrienne Bliss

2017 has been another steller year for innovation in the construction industry, as this year's Autodesk AEC Excellence Awards Finalists clearly show. Increasingly, firms are profiting from digitizing their jobsites, using construction software as the solid foundation from which to "build up" their projects -- literally and figuratively!

This year's finalists demonstrate the industry's increased willingness to experiment with new technologies and approaches, yeilding some pretty stunning results.

Choosing from the impressive pool of Finalists, let's dive into 3 awesome projects of 2017!

Construction software Krause full front image credit.jpgView of Krause Gateway Center looking north fromo the Pappajohn Sculpture Park.


Project #1: Krause Gateway Center, Des Moines, Iowa

Firm: Ryan Companies US, Inc.


Designed by world-renowned Renzo Piano, the new Krause Gateway Center will serve as a corporate headquarters for Iowa-based convenience store chain, Kum & Go. The 6-story, 163,000 sq. ft. center in downtown Des Moines is intended to provide workspace for employees as well as serve the greater community, offering shared facilities to the public.

Project Challenges

The design of the building is extremely complex, and the design-build delivery method also created unique challenges.

To achieve the transparent and airy look desired by the architect, the floor to floor height was minimized. As a result, approximately 90% of the mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems are routed through the structural steel requiring approximately 1,400 penetrations. The steel for each steel beam was notched to accept and support the glazing system, and was unique and custom fabricated before arriving on site.

Wistia video thumbnail - Krause Gateway Center - AEC Excellence Award Finalist

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The Ryan Companies team lays the foundation of the Krause Gateway Center in this time-lapse video.


Using VDC and Construction Software Helped Validate and Realize the Design Intent

The complexity of the design necessitated the use of powerful construction software to display the numerous components accurately and develop unique and highly technical details efficiently and effectively.

Using several types of construction software helped with building coordination and clash detection as well as coordinate the 1,400 steel penetrations. In many areas insufficient space required the use of intumescent paint instead of traditional fireproofing, which areas the team identified in advance using construction software.

Additionally, significant time was spent evaluating the design to reduce the weight and make the steel as efficient as possible. VDC made possible the process of designing the structure, generating and approving shop drawings, and receiving materials. Using 3D models allowed the team to overcome unknowns, language barriers and previously untested theories.

Cloud- and Mobile-based Software Enabled Smooth Project Coordination

To date, no conflicts have been identified in the field. This would not have been possible without Autodesk technology.

- Ryan Companies US, Inc.

The building model was hosted on BIM 360 Glue ensuring it was always up-to-date. The tool was used in the field to clearly communicate design and installation intent to the team’s many subcontractors. Time spent in the model reduced time spent coordinating issues in the field.

Construction software Skanska Render image credit.jpgA rendering showcasing the Harborway between 121 Seaport and 101 Seaport for pedestrian access. 


Project #2: 121 Seaport Boulevard, Boston, Massachussetts

Firm: Skanska USA Building

Project Overview

121 Seaport Boulevard is a new 17-story, 450,000-sq.ft. mixed use tower located in the heart of Boston’s Seaport District. The Tower is targeting LEED Platinum certification, and the building’s elliptical design will result in 15 percent energy savings by reducing direct solar exposure.

The team used a highly collaborative and lean construction process and leveraged technology and innovation to the fullest extent to drive operational efficiency. The team was also creative in how they faced jobsite and time constraints.

Innovation helps with time, money and space constraints

With a limited lay-down area and the existing MBTA Silver Line and Interstate 90 running beneath one end of the site, the design solution focused on balancing form and function. To stay on its tight schedule, the project team employed up-down construction, where the building superstructure progresses upward at the same time the excavation is proceeding downward.

Wistia video thumbnail - 121 Seaport Boulevard - Skanska - AEC Excellence Award Finalist

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Skanska demonstrates its innovative up-down construction method in this animation.


BIM 360 Field significantly reduces cycle time to close issues and improves the project’s overall quality showing a reduction in response time to site issues by 15%. This is primarily due to immediate electronic collection, sharing of punch lists, QA/QC checklists as well as BIM 360 Field serving as a hub of the latest documents and knowledge needed for enhanced collaboration.

Skanska is also beta-testing BIM 360 Project IQ on the project, which helped to create a risk management procedure using predictive analytics. It helps to speed the time it take for a superintendent to assess the severity of issues from hours to minutes. The product is one of the first applications of machine learning in construction and adds that the pilot program recently was expanded to Autodesk’s enterprise customers.

Skanska VR - Construction Software - image credit.jpg

VR gives prospective tenants an immersive first-hand experience of the scale and openness of the building prior to completion.


Additionally, thanks to VR technology, Skanska was able to demonstrate the building's unique elliptical shape, dramatic three-story lobby, and unobstructed views with virtual column-less floorplates to prospective tenants before steel was even erected. 


Construction software China Zun Tower - image credit.jpgChina Zun Tower towering over even the nearby skyscrapers in the heart of Beijing's business district. 

Project #3: China Zun Tower, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China

Firm: China Construction Third Engineering Bureau Group Co., Ltd. 

Project overview

At over 500 meters high, China Zun Tower is the world's first ultra-high-rise building constructed above an area that can have earthquakes registering 8.0 on the Richter scale. The tower is the future headquarters of China CITIC Group, located in heart of Beijing’s Central Business District. 

The scale of this building project is huge: with 43.7 million square meters of floor space, 7 floors underground and 108 floors above, coming to 528 meters high. The seismic activity of the area coupled with the size of the building necessitated an incredibly complex structural system.


Wistia video thumbnail - China ZunTower AEC Excellence Award

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Dive into the China Zun Tower project and see how it is being built.

Due to the proximity of the external building wall to the property line, construction materials have to be processed and assembled outside construction site. The concrete filled multi-cavity steel mega-column with cross-sectional area of 64 meters is the largest around the world. The building is composed
of the world's highest steel plate shear wall which is more than 227 meters.
The enormous scale of the project and the myriad of disciplines and teams involved meant collaboration and coordination had to be as exacting as possible. Using BIM throughout the lifecycle of the project enables all stakeholders and all disciplines to collaborate on-site or remotely, and in real-time, on such a large scale. 

Mobile and cloud-based construction software including BIM 360 Glue and BIM 360 Field helped the project team:

  • Digitize the construction site with cloud and mobile tools
  • More accurately and efficiently conduct tasks like tour-inspection, technical disclosure, and QA/QC via mobile tools
  • Simplified construction management by giving working groups access to BIM data so they understood they key construction steps
  • Resolve nearly 400 issues of inconsistency between model and construction site
  • Detect 5,000 issues during design and 6,000 during construction, which achieved a significant reduction in errors and demolitions due in part to collision checks
  • Change orders dropped 80% compared to that of similar projects
  • Saved 7,200 square meters of floor space due to the high quality of detailing design and coordination

Given the success the team has seen to-date, China Construction Third Engineering Bureau Group Co. Ltd. plans to reproduce the successful management process used for this tower and apply it to other projects. 


The Next Generation of Construction Software

AU 2017: Talking Construction Data, Integration Partners and Next Gen BIM 360


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