October 31, 2017
Manufacturing Insights

Consigli consulted with Secret Services, Smithsonian on D.C. project

Consigli Construction Co. Building Information Modeling Manager Jack Moran.

Thanks to an innovative technique, Milford construction firm Consigli Construction Co., Inc. has opened an office in Washington, D.C. in 2016 after working on the restoration of the Smithsonian Institution's 19th century Renwick Gallery. Jack Moran, the building information modeling manager for the company, sat down with the WBJ to answer questions about the company's venture into the nation's capital.

What is building information modeling?

Building information modeling is an intelligent 3D model-based process by which buildings are designed and constructed. Rather than drawing buildings, intelligent, data-rich 3D models are created, which are a digital representation of the building, including physical and functional information. Rather than just having a group of lines representing a piece of equipment, that equipment is represented by a 3D object.

This model is not only the exact physical shape and size of the actual equipment, but includes information about power requirements and performance data.

This information is not only beneficial for construction of the project, but carries over for the owner to utilize in managing their facility.

What did the 2014 Renwick project entail? How expansive was it?

Our restoration of the Smithsonian Institution's 19th century Renwick Gallery — a National Historic Landmark and home to the Smithsonian American Art Museum — was the first comprehensive renovation of the building in more than 40 years.

Work was performed while the museum was closed to the public, although its proximity to the White House, Blair House and New and Old Executive Office Buildings presented ongoing logistical challenges in the high-security, heavily-traveled pedestrian area.

Our construction approach incorporated creative logistics to address the high-security urban site, spanning background checks, delivery checkpoints and regular communication with U.S. Secret Service officials.

What was it like to work on a National Historic Landmark?

As someone with an architectural background and a passion for historic buildings (I own a home of approximately the same age and am a member of Preservation Worcester), this project was incredibly special to me.

To have Consigli's first project in Washington, D.C. be for the Smithsonian Institution was a truly great opportunity for the whole team. There was a lot of pressure for us to get it right, and we knew if we did, it would open many doors for us in the D.C. market. The team we assembled was incredible, and at the end of the project we accomplished everything we set out to do.

How did BIM help with the Renwick project?

For this project, the design team had only produced 2D drawings. Our team recognized early on in order to retrofit modern building systems and code compliance in an 1860's vintage building, with minimum impact on the existing architecture, we would need an intensive 3D coordination effort.

To do this, we laser-scanned the entire building, had a detailed model built, and used this as the basis of our coordination effort. We modeled all the new design changes into the existing conditions model, and by doing so, ahead of time, were able to identify issues that could be addressed with the design team, saving time and money by reducing change orders.

We also used the models to visually communicate with the building owners and the Secret Service. All stakeholders could see what we were proposing, which streamlined decision-making and approvals.

Since Renwick, the Smithsonian has robust BIM requirements. I like to think we had a little something to do with that.

How did that project lead to Consigli opening a D.C. office?

Our implementation of BIM was a huge differentiator for us. We used techniques on Renwick we applied on projects in Worcester like Sheehan Hall, the new Residence and Dining Hall at Worcester State University, and our work at UMass Medical Center.

Because of our success on Renwick and the way we introduced our use of technology to the job, it enabled us to put a stake in the ground and begin to build out our business in a very competitive D.C. market.

We currently have more than 15 projects ongoing in the D.C. area including The Phillips Collection, The United States Botanic Garden Children's Garden, and the just opened concert hall, The Anthem.

These are some huge projects that Consigli is working on in D.C.. What's it like to be responsible for federal government buildings, especially in D.C.?

It's an awesome responsibility to work on public buildings, especially in our nation's capital. Not only are we responsible for ensuring a successful project, we are also responsible for ensuring the protection of priceless historical artifacts that will remain protected in place during the project. We are not only preserving important structures, but the history of this nation.

This interview was edited for length and clarity by WBJ Staff Writer Zachary Comeau.


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