Lanier Technical College

Complex coordination requirements prompted DPR to lead BIM training on the Lanier Technical College project.
Complex coordination requirements prompted DPR to lead BIM training on the Lanier Technical College project.

Team Schooled on BIM to Increase Efficiency, Effectiveness for New High-Profile Educational and Community Facility Nearing Completion

A centerpiece of Lanier Technical College, a new educational and community building that is approaching completion near Atlanta, has proven to be a place for learning long before the first student ever steps foot through the door. This is because for many of the team members involved in the facility’s design and construction, the project represents one of their first hands-on experiences using building information modeling (BIM). Despite what has undoubtedly been a somewhat steep, on-the-job learning curve for some involved, the payoff has been a more efficient project that ultimately avoided conflicts that otherwise may have been encountered.

DPR is constructing the $12 million Medical Technology and Economic Development Center, a three-story, 57,000-sq.-ft. project, for the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission, the governmental agency responsible for many community college projects in the state. In addition to providing space for student support services such as faculty offices, classrooms, and laboratories for programs in surgical technology, physical therapy, radiology technology and sonography, the building will also serve as a gathering place for the community. When completed, the facility will be the first of its kind in Forsyth County.

From the onset, DPR was committed to implementing the BIM process on the project, in large part because of its high level of design and complex coordination requirements. The exterior skin package alone required the coordination of eight to 10 building trades, according to DPR Project Manager Chad Hamlin. This objective presented something of an uphill battle for DPR.

“The budget was tight already, and modeling the project simply wasn’t feasible,” said Hamlin. Additionally, Pieper O’Brien Herr Architects, as well as many of the subcontractors, had varied levels of experience with BIM prior to the project. Regardless of the budget and range of skill sets, DPR and the team were committed to utilizing BIM. Team members from various companies underwent intensive BIM training and coordination, led by DPR’s BIM engineer for the Atlanta office, Nihar Topkar.

DPR modeled all of the architectural elements, while the structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection subcontractors supplied their scope of work—all modeled in 3D. Not only were a variety of conflicts avoided well in advance, but BIM also allowed the team to prefabricate extensive portions of the work utilizing fully complete shop drawings and shop-level quality control.

Despite early reservations about using BIM, the owner is now sold on its many benefits, according to Rob Alden, executive director of Facilities Management for the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG).

“The BIM assistance that DPR provided the design team on Lanier Tech Forsyth greatly increased the efficiency and effectiveness of the project from the start, and is a glimpse of the future that I hope to reach regarding a working model for the colleges

to use on a regular basis,” Alden said. “TCSG has recently made the decision that all major capital projects will be designed using BIM in the future. We realize the benefits gained during the design phase to help our end users—the college administration and faculty—better visualize, understand and participate in the design process. This early ‘buy-in’ makes the end users ‘stake holders’ in the design and ultimately happier clients for TCSG.”

Lanier Technical College Medical Technology and Economic Development Center

Team Players

Project: Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission

Architect: Pieper O’Brien Herr Architects

  • The Lanier Technical College Forsyth facility serves students, faculty and the local community alike
  • The owner and project team trusted DPR to coordinate and lead intensive training to realize the goal of utilizing BIM
  • The BIM process streamlined complex coordination requirements, preempted conflicts, aided prefabrication and helped build consensus during construction
  • The project’s success influenced TCSG to turn to BIM for all future major capital projects

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