Diamond Schmitt Architects: St. Jerome's University

March 24, 2016

An Interview With Joseph Troppmann:

Mr. Troppmann studied Architecture at The University of Manitoba and The Architectural Association, receiving his Masters of Architecture in 1997. He joined Diamond Schmitt Architects in 2008 with considerable experience in post secondary, justice, and healthcare facility design and has since built on his project experience with a broad range of institutional projects. He was named an Associate with the firm in 2014. He was responsible for the building envelope details on the 22-storey Peter Gilgan Centre for Research & Learning at SickKids Hospital in Toronto. Mr. Troppmann also provided design direction for Daniels Spectrum, a performing arts and learning centre, and the adjacent Paintbox condominium at the heart of a rejuvenated Regent Park community in Toronto. Currently, Mr. Troppmann is overseeing the construction of a new Student Residence and Academic building at St Jerome’s Univeristy in Waterloo, Ontario, and contributing to the Lethbridge Crossing Leisure Centre in Lethbridge, Alberta.

CanBIM: Tell us about your role at Diamond Schmitt Architects.

Joseph Troppmann: While most of my time is dedicated to the design and execution of architectural projects, I am very involved in promoting and supporting the adoption of BIM technologies in the office.

Interior Lounge 1 – Interior View of Student Residence Building Level 1 – Rendering by Norm Li

CanBIM: How is the use of BIM and digital technology affecting your role?

Joseph Troppmann: BIM and digital technology allows us to embed our models and drawings with data that we can harness to provide better analysis, communication and information to our clients, consultants and contractors. To achieve this there is now a greater complexity to our software and workflows than ever before. As a result there is a greater need for ongoing education within the office. This has become a part of my role, and many others in the office. I also spend part of my time developing improved BIM workflows between DSAI and our consultants.

CanBIM: What can you tell us about the St Jerome's University project?

Joseph Troppmann: The Student Residence and Academic Building that DSAI is working on at St Jerome’s University in Waterloo is the first example of Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) in Ontario. IPD is an emerging contract type that emphasizes teamwork and collaboration between design disciplines and construction trades to meet the project requirements of the Owner. IPD is based on a BIM workflow.

Construction photograph of South side of Student Residence Building

CanBIM: How did IPD improve the integration of BIM within this project?

Joseph Troppmann: An IPD contract removes some of the traditional contractual boundaries between consultants and contractors. The contract provided us with more freedom to share models and drawings that were in progress, and collaborate with a broader range of partners to find the most effective solutions. A variety of BIM tools were used to facilitate the dialogue.It also provided us with an opportunity to develop a workflow with our consultants that limits duplication of elements, such as columns, floor slabs and light fixtures, in our BIM models.

CanBIM: Explain your use of a Revit server, and who was able to access it.

Joseph Troppmann: We made a decision to establish Revit Server deployments in each of the consultant’s offices, and establish data connections between the offices. Architectural, structural, mechanical, and electrical revit files were linked and current. It was implemented with great success. Even with new options such as A360 Collaborate, this remains our preferred method of sharing information between consultants.

Construction photograph of North West corner of Student Residence Building

CanBIM: How did this server affect the projects performance?

Joseph Troppmann: In general we saw an improvement in overall efficiency and coordination. With more up the minute models and drawings showing the current evolution of the design, new coordination issues were identified and resolved sooner. The advantages of not waiting for weekly or bi-weekly model update became evident very early in the project.

CanBIM: What were some of the challenges in utilizing this method? How did you overcome them?

Joseph Troppmann: Workflow and graphics were two of our biggest challenges. With the mandate to eliminate duplication of elements (such as column, light fixture, diffusers) the team had to develop new workflows to communicate design intent and facilitate coordination. DSAI and Read Jones Christoffersen, our structural engineers, developed a workflow for the shaping of floor slabs and modifying slab depressions that provided excellent coordination and improved efficiency. This workflow has been adopted effectively on several projects since St Jerome’s University. Graphically line weights and visibility of BIM information from linked files proved challenging. Some of the consultants were using families that were being provided by various suppliers and manufacturers. The lack of industry guidelines were immediately apparent as it was complicated to set up views that would show, or hide, all of the maintenance access requires for equipment. This is one example of many. This remains a significant challenge for our industry moving forward, and is a large part of why DSAI has become a member of CanBIM.

Construction photograph of North side of Academic Building

Conclusion: Thank you Joseph for sharing your experiences working on the St. Jerome’s University project. This project was a great example of how innovative project delivery strategies can be combined with BIM to enhance project efficiency.

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