How Transparency with 3D Modeling Supports A Transformative Public Build in Medellin, Colombia

AIA Arquitectos e Ingenieros Asociados S.A. is a leading design and construction company in Colombia. In business for 70 years, the company employs 600 direct and 2,000 indirect employees and has delivered over 700 projects across Colombia from infrastructure to buildings.

In recent years, the company’s BIM department has adopted a mentality of modeling for construction, using 3D models to improve handoff and collaboration across the preconstruction and construction phases. Recently, they implemented new technology from Assemble to support improved collaboration and efficiency.

Tomas Trujillo, VDC Director at AIA, sums up the challenge the team addressed when implementing Assemble. “We needed a way to take all the information from the 3D model and use it to inform our decision making in construction.”

Assemble is a web-based application that consumes and conditions model information and organizes it for different workflows. The result is a number of advantages, including:

  • Conditioned models
  • Model quantification
  • Iterative preconstruction estimating
  • Access to multiple model views
  • BIM 360 Integration

From taking critical information to project teams to providing clearer status updates, AIA has created workflows that are saving time, improving data accuracy, and improving collaboration across stakeholders.


Trujillo notes, “The ease of Assemble allows multiple non-Revit users to manipulate and feed information into the model without needing expensive technology. It allows us to add intelligence and logic into the models, automating certain decisions so we can focus on execution and communication.”

Communication was a key factor for a high-profile public project that AIA was charged with.


Transparency and Communication Become A Competitive Difference


Situated in a central region of the Andes Mountains is the city of Medellin. The city houses about 2.5 million residents, and since the turn of the 21st century has received international recognition and several awards for its efforts in urban and sustainable development.

Ciudadela Universitaria de Occidente is a new university in Medellin located in an area affected by violence in recent history. It’s built as part of a methodical social transformation effort through urban development.

Ciudadela Universitaria de Occidente will serve up to 8,000 students within 13 buildings, a total of 25,000 sq meters, plus another 35,000 sq meters of landscape. AIA and another partner were selected by the public entity financing this project due to their use of 3D modeling to communicate project design and vision.

“The way we used 3D modeling to communicate with the owner became a critical factor. It provided the level of transparency needed for stakeholders to have peace of mind, which is expected in high-profile public projects. You need to be able to give a transparent update for tracking construction at any point in time."

Tomas Trujillo, VDC Director at AIA


Using Assemble for Speed, Accuracy and Transparency in Reporting


Simultaneous access plus offline and online access is one of the many ways Assemble supports information sharing. "With the always on accessibility of Assemble, I can take notes directly from the field. It also enables more collaboration with stakeholders as everyone has access." notes Trujillo.

Assemble allows teams to add jobsite data on top of the model data, and restricts what information actually changes in the model based on that input. In the case of building Ciudadela Universitaria de Occidente, this capability became critical for tracking and reporting what AIA calls ‘Inversion Tracking’ daily.

“We analyze how much money has been spent using an earned value and schedule to measure project development,” says Trujillo. “It helps the team determine if a critical decision needs to be made mid-project or if the project scope and schedule is on track.”

Prior to using Assemble, this type of analysis and reporting took a month to complete. With Assemble, that time frame turned into a day.

Using Excel to capture pre-packaged data points, information from the jobsite is uploaded into the model to generate status updates that are visually color-coded.

The information flows from the jobsite in real time - taking a site engineer about an hour to input previously defined information into an Excel sheet which is synchronized automatically at the office. Next, a BIM Manager takes about five minutes to format the data before it is automatically uploaded back into the model.

To make data capture easier, the team followed a typical Assemble workflow, breaking down the model into smaller, more manageable packages called ‘Work Packages’. As engineers input data, they are simply following this workflow to provide key information across each area of work.


In addition to isolated Work Packages by area, the information coming from the jobsite can be filtered into functional groupings like: General, Scheduling, Record, Unit Price Analysis, Provisioning, etc.

“The magic about this is that we never manually feed information into the platform,” says Trujillo. “Rather, once this information is in Excel, automatic logic performs assessment and assignment status updates by work area: on time, ahead, delayed, pending.”

Once the data flows back to the model, the updates occur automatically and the team can now select and view the area of the building that needs to be discussed based on the daily inputs from the jobsite.

Trujillo selects one corner of the building in the model and zooms in on his screen. This is a Work Package, and different colors display areas of the building and their status.

“This helps us communicate the current status and visualize look-ahead within the model, so that every stakeholder is aware of project development. The customer sees the model with the exact information that we are seeing. They get to know the process, the project, and the results.”

Tomas Trujillo, VDC Director at AIA


For those on the jobsite, the process is not one-sided. AIA BIM Managers are now using data from the jobsite to keep the model up-to-date. This is improving transparency internally with every day handoff of data for construction management. Because of this, Trujillo says, “we don’t see any more peaks in efforts at the end of the project trying to make up for lost time due to previous mistakes.”


Return on Investment


AIA took great care to measure the new process of using Assemble for Inversion Tracking when they first launched this new workflow, simultaneously running it against their previous reporting method.

The results of the new workflow were astounding:

  •     Report production has been reduced from a month to a day
  •     Report accuracy has improved by around 50%

Trujillo says this was an eye-opening moment for the company. “We had monthly reports that were not very accurate reflections of the real-time status of the project. We discovered we were often making decisions on inaccurate data.”

The company has now used a more automated workflow with Assemble within four different projects. Improved reporting time and accuracy has led to many qualitative benefits on these projects, including:

  •     Improved decision making
  •     Improved collaboration
  •     Improved handover process
  •     Improved customer feedback

In this way, AIA is now giving its customers something intangible yet highly valuable - peace of mind.



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