Design innovation for large-scale projects
How AIA partner Bentley’s BIM applications designed the world-class architecture of One Blackfriars
Building design is a process of invention, requiring the synthesis of varied information and evaluating many possible ideas. To assist in this process, the infrastructure industry is turning to building information modeling (BIM) methodologies to create new workflows for design teams, allowing them to easily share models and drawings, and manage project data.
Bentley’s AECOsim Building Designer advances these BIM methodologies by providing a flexible modeling approach. Designs can begin quickly by referencing a 3D engineering-ready reality mesh, created from photos taken with any camera, including a smart phone. Ideas can be sketched, and alternatives can be iterated using computational methods. The multi-discipline application allows coordination of engineering systems and production of automated drawings. Designs can be presented as photorealistic renderings and movies.
A result of these BIM advancements is the One Blackfriars building in London, designed by SimpsonHaugh and Partners. The 170-meter tower is located along the Southbank near Blackfriars Bridge, an important city axis across the river.
The elegant tower creates a beautiful new silhouette on the London skyline. Its slender design minimizes the tower’s footprint and maximizes the public realm at street level. The tower has a complex double-skin facade, the outer leaf being a glass surface with a curved geometry. Using BIM processes and drawing applications significantly increased the project team’s productivity and its ability to continuously advance the design.
SimpsonHaugh and Partners’ design team quickly realized that the parametric model could be used to provide more than the initial building form. It could also help develop the relationship between the building’s inner and outer glazing systems, internal spaces, and structural column positions. Moreover, the design team could generate an analysis model of the structures for WSP, which was the structural engineering firm on the project. To achieve this unique relationship for the building’s design, the project team used Bentley’s RAM Concept. The application’s meshing algorithm obtained reliable and accurate predictions of concrete behavior. The results were then fed back into the model, ensuring consistency and accelerating the collaborative process.
Using BIM processes and drawing applications significantly increased the project team’s productivity and its ability to continuously advance the design.
The team also used Bentley applications to design the most geometrically complex area of the entire project: the sky garden enclosure. It provides a weather-proof barrier to the winter gardens of the three-story premium penthouse. The geometry has flat, single-curved, and double-curved areas with varying inclines.
Using GenerativeComponents, a companion feature within AECOsim Building Designer, the team designed the building’s complex geometry. The parametric model resolved the geometric requirements, suggesting that the facade mullions lie on a plane defined by the façade joints. Then, the transom planes were set on a best fit geometry, segment by segment, so that they were approximately perpendicular to the glass surface.
The overall building model provided the team with the ability to describe and analyze the complex form of the tower and its panels. Additionally, the model helped quantify all the panel characteristics and test them against industry criteria. From an aesthetic visual quality, the model allowed the project team to quickly study alternative design solutions for the random internal panelization and color gradation across the entire tower.
AECOsim Building Designer CONNECT Edition, the next generation design modeling application from Bentley, provides modeling flexibility with a feature-rich approach to 3D modeling. It provides immersive design by designing in context with referenced reality models. Its ability to manage small and large-scale projects provides project teams with beneficial BIM advancements.
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SimpsonHaugh and Partners