Interview with ARPRO

September 26, 2017

CanBIM speaks with Rodrigo Rubio, COO at ARPRO, a Colombia based company and Daniel Rodriguez Estrada, BIM coordinator at ARPRO about the firm, their experience and initiatives with BIM along with an interesting case study in downtown Bogota, Colombia. Read on!

Karan: Give us a brief Introduction to ARPRO

ARPRO is a Colombian company based in Bogota D.C. operating since 1978. Our activity include real estate development, project management, design management, architectural design, LEED certification, systems integration, construction, and asset management. The company has a broad spectrum of project typologies from low income housing to high end commercial buildings. ARPRO partners with high quality design companies locally and internationally, and is involved in several enterprises with major real-estate trust funds operating in the country.

The company started a seven year development plan back in 2013 to introduce state-of-the-art digital technologies in the daily operation. The company is now a leader in the local market for using 3-D platforms for design, coordination, budget and schedule, and for introducing BIM protocols in all projects.

As a result of the complexity of certain projects such as ATRIO (a two towers complex being built in Bogota Colombia), ARPRO developed a specific digital platform to manage high number of plans and drawings on site with extended navigation capabilities linking all related documents together with an automated routine for updates. This “digital lounge” also serves as a depository for all construction activities follow-up, gives access to 4-D schedule review, and includes sequences of pictures and videos of different construction phases.

Karan: Give us a brief intro to your background and expertise

Rodrigo Rubio-Vollert has a Bachelor’s degree in architecture from Universidad de Los Andes (Bogotá, Colombia) with a Master’s degree in Design Studies from Harvard University with 28 years professional experience including architectural design, design management, project management, construction, research and architectural education.

He was founder of GIV, a research group on housing and urban development at Los Andes University back in year 1999. Appointed as Head of the School of Architecture at Universidad de los Andes in 2002, with published books and articles on housing, city growth, and research projects involving software development for automated design delivery of housing prototypes.

In 2007 Mr. Rubio was appointed Vice President of Design at Arias Serna Saravia, a renowned Colombian design and construction company where he leaded the design team for the Trump Ocean Club in Panama, a 70 stories high mix-use development. He is currently the Chief Operating Officer of ARPRO S.A. His role at ARPRO S.A. includes the supervision of management innovation in all design and construction activities of the company and the management of the ELLISDON-ARPRO Joint Venture in charge of the construction of Bogotá´s ATRIO towers designed by Rogers, Stirk, Harbour and Partners from London, UK.

Daniel Rodriguez-Estrada has a bachelor’s degree in architecture and Bachelor’s degree in Design with a minor in Business Entrepreneurship from Universidad de Los Andes (Bogotá, Colombia) with 3 years’ of professional experience working with construction site teams developing and implementing innovative tools and solutions for information and data management, including BIM/VDC. He started as document control for Bogota’s ATRIO towers, after a year started implementing BIM/VDC for the same project as BIM Professional, and currently is Lead BIM/VDC Coordinator for ATRIO and other projects at ARPRO S.A.

Karan: What are some of the BIM initiatives being undertaken?

This approach helps us get involved in a wide range of initiatives from where we can take advantage of, for example, 2D drawings are not the last word on the site anymore, models are the go to option and contain reliable design information that does not only show how an element will be installed, but gives the team further useful data that can help them take decisions on the go.

Currently, we have successfully implemented procedures and protocols to receive our consultant’s models and actively work with them in tasks such as quantity take offs for estimating, construction and logistic simulations over 4D, installation and approval control, progress reporting, collaborative fine coordination and fabrication model review and approvals among others.

Site direction and project management are now empowered with real, updated and graphically understandable information that helps them take accurate decisions that can effectively mitigate the risk of the project and its investment.

Karan: What is the organisation's philosophy towards BIM

The company BIM philosophy is based on bold values such as openness, transparency, and team work. We believe that an environment where shared information is easy and free of barriers will help everybody in decision-making based on straight-forward, reliable data. First major milestone of our philosophy is the development of our “SALA DIGITAL” (digital lounge) where all relevant information for construction is available to all trades and involved parties, ready to use, no restrictions, to be plugged in any device without cost or effort. Our intention at ARPRO is to start from our digital lounge and further develop 3D modeling as the only construction input on site, capable of replacing 2D drawings. This will happen only when 3D models are reachable in a simple form.

Karan: Could you share an interesting project/case study/product where BIM is being implemented or has been implemented ?

Atrio is a commercial development where ARPRO together with ELLISDON general contractor/construction managers. It is a two tower complex, 46 levels (200m) on the North Tower and 64 levels (268m) on the south tower with more than 250.000 sqm of built area including 5 levels of underground parking and a 12.000 sqm promenade on the first level with gardens and shops that is completely open to the public.

The towers feature a hybrid concrete/steel structure with a concrete core. Architecturally exposed structural steel bracings connect to the concrete columns. Permanent formwork rings forming nodes will be one of the main design features on the façade once its completed.

The project is located in downtown Bogota, Colombia on an intermediate risk seismic zone that adds extra complexity to the structural design and to its connections and coordination with steel structure, nodes, rebar connections and formwork that have been 3D modeled in order to coordinate the different complex interactions and discuss the best construction approach.

Construction of a structure with such level of detailing lead to precise assembly requirements that need to be meticulously planned in advance. We have parts being designed and produced in different places of the world with teams that need to be constantly updated on every detail to guarantee a proper seamless installation on site. Communication over different 3D models is key to achieve this level of coordination. Previous virtual checks are performed among all models to identify potential interferences during the construction phase. Involvement of several teams require extended visualization capabilities: complex construction schemes require deeply coordinated components coming from different disciplines, based on highly communicated teams. We have been working to make this happen by virtue of using virtual models in a centralized and synchronized environment.

It is the first project in which we have been able to develop our models to such a higher level of coordination. We also use these models for detailed coordination with sub-trades, as the ultimate tool for installation control once everything has been proven to be in the best possible position. This has been particularly useful for extended piping going in and out the core through limited openings, with tight space respecting the projects expected clearance across the area.

Details such as supports, equipment real size, pipe isolation are managed including a close involvement of all trades on site; their expertise is a key factor to arrive at a clean and crystal-clear installation perspective.

Simulations and models are not only used to coordinate the systems but to track processes like the approvals of systems installations. We used our 4D simulation tools in a customised way in order to visualize each stage of approval of every single steel structure element; the result gives the team quick visual data on the status of each element attached to specific dates.

Karan: What are some of the major challenges in the industry the project/product/process will help to overcome? What's innovative about it?

Involvement of local trades is a remarkable innovation by itself: none of them had done any virtual coordination inside a digital environment before the ATRIO project. They were asked to be involved 100% in such platforms since the tendering phase; many questions were asked, fears exposed, mistakes were solved. We managed to create an active and solid team that has been constantly learning as one for the benefit of the project. We take advantage of the most experienced field engineers and mix it all together with young professional’s skills to get the most out of the virtual planning before the construction actually happens.

Karan: Share information about your BIM strategy that is not available on your company website, in other words tell our readers something about your BIM strategy they should know they may not already know

ATRIO has been our flagship project in which we have been able to implement and develop new protocols and processes. It has a very wide range of needs and its constantly demanding new solutions which requires us to re-think our processes in order to come up with reliable, fast information for the site team. We are now implementing all these lessons in other projects in our office, such as “URBAN 165”, a 12 stories high office building currently under construction in Bogota Colombia, where the next generation of BIM protocols will happen. As an example, we are starting to test point cloud scanning to verify and process as-built information on the upcoming coordination for all pending elements as per our upcoming challenges. This is an exciting step immersed in a market not used to benefit from the kind of information that point clouds can deliver in complex construction methods. We expect to “spread the technological word” across all our endeavors in the short time, making efficient visualization methods and information management part of our regular operation.