Why Virtual Construction Is The New Normal

I got a crash course in the fast growing field of virtual design and construction a couple weeks ago while reporting and writing an article for Forbes magazine on  the technology used to build a new medical center at the University of California, San Francisco (See “Building A Hospital Out Of Bits And Bricks”). The $1.5 billion project, begun three years ago, is being built virtually first — using 3D software from Autodesk, Graphisoft and Bentley Systems, and detailed input from a host of subcontractors. The aim is to find and fix the biggest problems in virtual mode, before ground is struck in December. As Atul Khanzode, director of virtual construction for DPR Construction, told me, “We get one chance to build this in the field. We can get 100 chances to build it virtually in the computer.”

Virtual construction is now the norm for most large construction projects, thanks to advances in technology. “Three-dimensional design has been around for 25 years, but there wasn’t much intelligence to it,” says George Pfeffer, DPR’s project director for the UCSF Medical Center. Now, when a designer clicks on the image of a duct or a pipe, it takes him to a document with details about that duct or pipe.UTC_Duct_2nd_Flr FD INFO 9753568

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