Whitepaper Watch: A Better Integrated Big Room

Based on research by Reid Senescu, “Making the Integrated Big Room Better” examines the flow of information within an integrated big room to better understand team interactions. (Photo by Hayes Button)

Co-locating teams in an “integrated big room” has already paid off to the tune of $100 million on projects, but recent research shows that strategic collaboration can further enhance productivity and potentially garner even greater savings.

“Making the Integrated Big Room Better,” a whitepaper by DPR’s Atul Khanzode based on research by Stanford University’s Center for Integrated Facilities Engineering (CIFE)’s Reid Senescu, examines the flow of information within an integrated big room to better understand team interactions. Senescu analyzed data from a large-scale hospital project to reveal interdependencies and complex workflows between team members. This is the first step in better identifying the lead discipline in a big room environment at a particular time, as well as enhancing the quality of interactions to achieve better outcomes.


The implementation of the big room has already shown that interdisciplinary collaboration saves time through fewer requests for information (RFIs), while collaborative design practices correlate with decreased rework. Through their research, Khanzode and Senescu sought to make the big room even more efficient by determining which trades and subcontractors should be integrated into the process during different stages of the project.

Making this determination relies on an understanding of who is interacting with whom, about what and when—all of which can be gleaned from an analysis of the flow of information within a team. Senescu performed an in-depth analysis of nearly 30,000 Bentley ProjectWise® team files to measure and visualize the complex workflows between team members.

ProjectWise logs gave Senescu precise data on which team members created, edited and viewed files, which he then further analyzed by applying the automatic information dependency algorithm. Senescu used this information to develop a “team information interaction sequence” (TIIS)—what he likened to a “fingerprint of collaboration”—to see how and when disciplines interacted.


Correlating workflow patterns is a critical step in determining which discipline should lead the big room. Using a common metric called “betweenness centrality,” Senescu identified the extent to which one team member lies between others and serves as a conduit of information at a particular time. Early on in the project studied, data shows that the architect’s betweenness centrality spiked, indicating that the architect should have been co-located and should have served as the lead discipline. However, when the general contractor has the highest betweenness centrality, it should lead big room meetings.

Furthermore, by identifying where the most frequent information exchanges occur at various times throughout a project, a team can understand who is absolutely necessary to have in the integrated big room and other collaboration periods (such as integrated concurrent engineering [ICE] sessions). This allows the team to become more effective and more efficient in its use of time and resources.

Read “Making the Integrated Big Room Better” in its entirety.