Gilbane cuts project time by 66% using VR models and pre-fab building

by Redshift Video on August 28, 2018


Typically, the construction industry is hesitant to embrace new innovations, but Gilbane Building Company broke from convention to complete its project at the Wentworth Institute of Technology on deadline and with superb accuracy. By standardizing its drawing process with Autodesk® Revit® software, generating virtual reality models of the building, and embracing pre-fabricated structural components, Gilbane completed the project in approximately one-third of the time for similar projects.


The Gilbane Building Company faced a fast-approaching deadline for completion of its Wentworth Institute of Technology project in Boston. The new building would be a four-story, state-of-the-art, science lab and academic space. For a lab building, the number of pipes for water, drainage, gases, and other features is roughly quadruple that of the average construction project. With so many elements at play and only 15 months to complete the building, Gilbane knew there was no room for error. It needed a solution that would both speed up the process and ensure complete accuracy.


The first task was to get all the architects and subcontractors using Autodesk® Revit® software to generate drawings. With this standardization in place, the next step was utilizing virtual reality (VR) technology to model the building. The final piece was taking the models and creating pre-fabricated building components to speed up the construction process.


With everyone using Revit, the team started the project with the ability to exchange design ideas easily and quickly. From there, Gilbane implemented VR technology to generate models of the new building. Project owners, architects, and subcontractors experienced these models “first-hand.” The intensive, VR experience got buy-ins from project participants on all levels and allowed users to check for potential design discrepancies. The VR model helped users “see” and “touch” all components of the building in 3-D, including what was behind the walls. These detailed, VR models helped the team build the pre-fab components accurately in the warehouse and implement them flawlessly on the job site. Gilbane completed the building in one-third of the time spent on a traditional construction project.

In addition to an impressive project turn-around for Gilbane, the entire construction process became an opportunity to teach Wentworth students. Through the Living Learning Lab, students saw first-hand the innovative techniques they learned in the classroom come to life on their campus. On-site interns participated in the project and saw what VR could do for the construction industry.

"Prefab is everything to us. In order to do prefab properly, you have to have a 3D model because you have to give your contractors the operational surety and the dimensional surety that what they’re going to prefabricate is not going to be disassembled on the job site and put in stick wide...So all of those tools that we’re using, including VR, are used to get the buy-in from not just the owner, not just the architect, but also our subs."

- John Myers, Director of Virtual Design and Construction, Gilbane Building Co.

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