261 Reasons to Swipe Right
High-tech and hyper-connected, college students of the future could swipe before they could walk or talk. And savvy institutions are actively preparing for this global generation that doesn’t just value innovation as much as access to Vine—they are accustomed to a continuous cascade of updates and upgrades, and they are seeking out colleges and universities that embrace the same vigorous pace of change.
That’s precisely why the University of San Diego planned the redesign and relocation of their bookstore around the central goal of becoming a modern, experience-driven retail destination. When the expansion of their Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering provided an opportunity for the creation of a new store in a new location, University officials knew the project would represent a stark departure from the bookstores of yesteryear—basement-level burrows where students searched for Bronte and Byron through maddening mazes of narrow shelves and stood in lines moving slower than TSA checkpoints. With Balfour Beatty Construction’s expertise in virtual design and construction (VDC), the University knew our teams were uniquely aligned to build a bookstore that, through the incorporation of mobile infrastructure and cutting-edge technology, would engage Gen Z students and beyond.
Named the University of San Diego Torero Store, the new bookstore occupies just 6,665 square feet—less than half of the 19,000 square feet of the previous location. Balfour Beatty’s scope of work also included enclosing portions of an existing building, the Student Life Pavilion, to create the intended addition. This drastic reduction in space presented two chief dilemmas for the project team: 1) connecting existing building systems (structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection) to new building systems and 2) avoiding clashes in the field due to limited HVAC installation space. Balfour Beatty harnessed the power of Building Information Modeling (BIM) to successfully address both issues, not only delivering a dynamic living and learning retail center but also indelibly influencing the University of San Diego’s approach to campus construction projects.
Before the first shovel hit dirt, a sophisticated, multi-model BIM workflow helped drive efficiency into the building process. During the design phase, Balfour Beatty’s VDC team collaborated with architect, Mosher Drew, as well as major trades to produce a federated BIM model, or a model compiled by amalgamating several different models into one. To produce the federated model, Balfour Beatty developed a master execution plan that established team members’ roles and responsibilities and required software platform(s) among other expectations. Balfour Beatty also led bi-weekly coordination meetings with project partners during which live clash detection was conducted. Over a period of two months, an astounding 261 clashes were uncovered and resolved, avoiding potentially disastrous downstream impacts to the project’s productivity and profitability.
“Without the BIM process and digital documents, the coordination and construction process would have been extremely time consuming and tedious at best, and the costs for re-work due to trial and error as the project unfolded astronomical. BIM works!” proclaimed superintendent Tim Milam.
The benefits of BIM were observed far beyond the walls of boardrooms on the Torero Store project. One of the bookstore’s signature design elements is a custom LED lighting fixture that establishes a sleek, futuristic ambiance. Capable of changing colors and synchronizing with video and sound, the lighting system is composed of 33 multi-shape panels that are suspended at differing heights and angles. Knowing the intricacies of the lighting fixture would pose conflicts for proximal systems such as architectural soffits and sprinklers, Balfour Beatty’s VDC team proactively created a 3D base model that they compared against the federated model. Where conflicts were pinpointed, the team collaborated with the owner, architect and subcontractors to adjust the locations of several panels without sacrificing the original design intent. Once the fixture’s design had been finalized, Balfour Beatty provided the 3D model to relevant trades in PDF files that contained exact sizes, elevations and dimensions of the panels. In several other locations throughout the bookstore, BIM enabled the project team to navigate complex installations in extremely compact ceiling spaces.
Throughout construction, the project team also leveraged the federated BIM model as a quality control mechanism. Shop drawings were produced directly from the model, and the drawings were hyperlinked and shared via a cloud server with all project partners. Submittals, including RFIs, ASIs and other markups, were linked to those drawings, enabling every team member to instantaneously access up-to-date construction documents from iPads in the field. Cascading messages widely and instantly? Sounds a lot like Twitter minus the character count. Access to information anytime, anywhere? Can the human race even survive without WiFi? Through the power of BIM and digital document platforms, championed by companies like Balfour Beatty that understand their transformative value, re-work might just one day go the way of MySpace. Or for the ancients among us, a dial-up AOL modem—in all its hissing and crackling glory.
The University of San Diego was so impressed with Balfour Beatty’s ability to maximize efficiency throughout the entire project lifecycle that BIM is now required on all future campus construction projects. “BIM was very helpful from an owner’s perspective to help all the stakeholders better understand what the final project [would] look like. Also, all the clashes that were caught with BIM saved the University time and money,” praised Tim Doudna, senior project manager for the University of San Diego.
It was only fitting for a contractor so embracing of Lean processes and technologies to build a bookstore that, among its modern features, boasts a virtual mirror that allows shoppers to visualize how clothing will look without actually setting foot in a dressing room. From self-ordering touch screens at mobile kiosks to an interactive academic instructional genius bar, the Torero Store doesn’t just offer a taste of augmented reality—it genuinely reflects the campus’s people and personality. And we can definitely swipe right to that.