A BIM technology provider puts IPD methods to the test in the construction of Trimble’s Rockies Campus.
by Vicki Speed
July 29, 2013

The just-completed four-story, 125,000-sq.-ft. Trimble Rockies Campus is the newest office building in Colorado developed by and for a technology company with an emphasis on open, collaborative concepts.   

The campus includes floor-to-ceiling windows that provide abundant natural light, bike parking with access to regional trails, large locker rooms to encourage exercise and a one-acre playground for testing technology.

“It is important for our employees to have an environment that creates the opportunity to openly collaborate with one another, encourages shared experiences and inspires new ideas,” says Trimble Vice President Chris Gibson.

Culture of Cooperation
The incentive for Trimble’s open collaborative space began prior to groundbreaking in May 2012. The Trimble design and construction team sought to apply integrated project delivery (IPD) techniques to gain the lifecycle benefits of streamlined processes, tight coordination and building information modeling (BIM) to deliver the project in a 13-month schedule. The design and construction of the new headquarters, led by Oz Architecture (architect) and JE Dunn (general contractor), was facilitated through a guaranteed max price project delivery mechanism.

The project team embraced Trimble’s open build-out intent. Brad Schenk, vice president of preconstruction at JE Dunn Construction, says, “The Trimble Rockies Campus project provided a unique opportunity to deliver more value to our client while establishing a more predictable, repeatable workflow for the entire project team. We saw the value on individual parts of the building process and on the project as a whole. As the general contractor, we realized value in the overall quality—fewer RFIs—and accuracy of the final deliverable and schedule savings.”

The project team used an array of solutions to develop and document methods that maximized quality, maintained or beat the schedule for individual tasks and virtually eliminated the chance for costly misfits in the field. The team completed the Trimble project early with fewer changes than comparable projects. Workers were more productive because prior work was complete, and all systems and components fit as prescribed in the intelligent 3-D model.

Perhaps the greatest value from the Trimble project was that the project team took a step forward in improving reliability and reducing waste in materials, processes and labor.
Redefined Reliability

An example of the improved workflow was evident in the design, detail, fabrication and construction phase of structural steel, concrete, rebar and exterior metal studs of the building.

To create a more streamlined workflow, the structural engineer, steel detailer, rebar detailer and JE Dunn as the self-performing concrete contractor centralized their production work by collaborating on a single federated BIM. The structural engineer provided detailed reinforcing steel shop drawings and exterior panel shop drawings to help speed the approval process and eliminate translation errors interpreting documents. Then, JE Dunn utilized the structural engineer’s design model to develop lift drawings and define embedment details.

Vince Stellino, project manager with JE Dunn for the Trimble project, explains, “A dimensionally accurate model also meant we could take the information to the field where we saw significant gains in productivity. The erector initially thought it would take two weeks per truckload to set steel. It actually took them 4 1/2 days.”

Each structural steel member could be tracked to its zero position taken from the model, and a prism on one of the final steel beams confirmed the layout of the entire steel frame. The last steel column was erected within a 1/4-inch tolerance. The rest of the project team—from the mechanical, electrical and plumbing contractors to the exterior skin contractor—realized equally valuable efficiency improvements.

The structural steel process was just one area of documented improvements gained in the construction process. Civil grade control systems allowed the sitework contractor to complete the site excavation process four weeks faster than projected. The use of BIM tools provided extremely accurate model data that resulted in 100-percent embed placement and reduced structural RFIs by 50 percent. Automated BIM-to-field connections allowed the mechanical, electrical and plumbing trades to complete early hanger placement prior to deck concrete placement, which increased site productivity and product installation. In fact, MEP field layouts improved by 50 percent or better.

Mired in Models
Once constructed, a key component in concluding a highly successful project is to transition the as-built data into facility management’s role.

Trimble has traditionally leased the office space it occupies. With the decision to build the Rockies Campus, Trimble’s building construction division and Trimble’s internal facilities team found themselves in the role of the owner. In this new role, Trimble quickly realized the need to define the facilities-management scope of their new property. 

As a BIM technology provider, Trimble knew what was possible and how to leverage technology to make it happen. However, the Colorado-based team did not fully understand what facilities data was needed from the model to manage the building. What model deliverables should be provided by the design and construction team? What database should be used? Should standards such as COBie be implemented?

With technology to facilitate data gathering, sharing and coordination supported by a project team consisting of OZ Architects, JE Dunn, Structural Consultants Inc. and many others, Trimble did seemingly everything they could to make the process easy. However, they quickly found they were mired in too many options and had to take a step back.

Taking into consideration both the long-term building management “must haves” and the “nice to haves,” the Trimble facilities team agreed upon a set of deliverables and model inclusions to support their needs. By articulating these desires early in the process, the design and construction team was able to create the proper data workflows, actions and technology inflections that facilitated Trimble’s needs when it came time for project handover.

Energized to Innovate
On May 6, 2013, Trimble moved into the new headquarters—several weeks ahead of schedule. The building is designed to achieve LEED certification through a holistic rating system. A large portion of the LEED points were earned through optimized energy performance features. The passive systems building envelope uses no man-made energy to function once installed, only natural free energy. The energy