BIM People – Dr Louis Gunnigan – Grangegorman


Dr Louis Gunnigan is Team Leader for Engineering and Built Environment in the Campus Planning Office at Grangegorman and BIMIreland’s BIM People interview this week.

Dr. Gunnigan is Past President of the International Construction Project Management Association and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Building. He is former Head of the School of Construction, in Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT). He has had an active academic career researching, supervising research, publishing and consulting. Before entering academia, Dr Gunnigan was a construction project manager and HR manager. He has enjoyed a career in Ireland and Britain.

Topic: Building Information Modelling (BIM) at Grangegorman

Could you briefly describe the Grangegorman project?

The Grangegorman site is an area of approximately 73 acres, located in Dublin 7, approximately 1.5 km from O’Connell Street. The Campus will deliver 380,000 m² of floor space of which DIT will occupy 270,000 m² by the time all of the activities of its staff and student population of 22,000 are relocated. The total investment, of over €1 billion, is the largest single investment in higher education infrastructure in the history of the State. The remainder of the accommodation is to be provided to the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Department of Education and Skills. The project is being developed by the Grangegorman Development Agency (GDA) whose function it is to deliver the new facilities to DIT or HSE or other bodies as appropriate.

Could you briefly describe the progression of the project?

The first works package was the HSE Phoenix Care Centre, opened in 2012, which allowed the decant of the existing St Brendan’s Hospital buildings. This was followed by demolition of old buildings, stabilisation / adaptive reuse of historic buildings and development of the site infrastructure and public realm. This facilitated the first relocation of 1,000 students and staff in September 2014. The timeframe for the full delivery of the campus will be determined by the availability of funding. The next big move, aimed for completion in 2018, will be the relocation of the next 9,000 students.

How useful has BIM been on the Grangegorman project?

Embedding BIM into the project has been a steep learning curve, but we are now moving towards having a campus-wide BIM which will develop with the project. The Greenway Hub building which has now reached practical completion was the first new building designed and constructed with BIM.

Was there a plan for the use of BIM from the start of the project?

The Grangegorman Project Board made the decision to use BIM and set about developing a BIM Strategy for the project. However, the BIM Strategy only began full development as the new buildings began to go into procurement. The procurement of the Greenway Hub and the East/Central Quads PPP brought the need for a fully developed strategy into focus and was a major driver in the completion of the strategy.

Could you describe the background to the decision to utilise BIM?

Through its education and research activities in Engineering and Built Environment, DIT is a major player in the development of BIM in Ireland. Consequently, there was considerable interest in DIT in making its new campus a BIM project. In addition to this, GDA supported this view and was keen to adopt BIM for this project.

Should BIM be standard for major projects of this type, especially when the management of the site is going to be returned to the client, or when managed by a PPP contractor?

I believe we should aspire to having BIM as standard on public projects. However, there is a resource problem in small companies as the industry is still in recovery and resources are scarce for investment of time and money in new technology.

Please describe how BIM was used in the refurbishment of old buildings and the construction of new buildings?

BIM was not used in the refurbishment of old buildings, but as we are developing a BIM model of the whole site, these buildings will be laser-scanned to produce detailed 3-D images. These will be integrated into the model and will be used to develop the operational aspects of the model for these buildings.

Based on your experience in project management, do you think BIM made a significant difference here? Please explain the benefits.

BIM is still at an early stage of development here and for now, the benefits in design and construction are highlighted extensively in the industry. However, for an organisation such as DIT, it is the use of BIM in the operation of the building that will bring most benefit. During the design phase, BIM can also be used to assess the functionality risk to be carried by DIT throughout the lifecycle of the building and this would be a significant improvement to the project delivery process.

If BIM was absent, would the project have progressed significantly slower?

No. It would not have progressed slower. However the knowledge we now have would not be as sophisticated or as easily accessible.

Will BIM be used in the operation and maintenance of the Grangegorman campus? Please describe how it will be used.

The fact that BIM is used brings a huge database of knowledge that was not available in such an accessible fashion previously. The ability to harmonise the processes and procedures needed in O&M and to manage the fixed and movable assets will be enhanced. Planned, preventable maintenance will be easier. Data from components will be easier to analyse and there are likely to be even more benefits that will emerge as BIM itself develops.

Based on your experience, what improvements could be made to construction management culture to further facilitate the adoption of BIM?

We need to reflect on the operation of a BIM environment in the context of construction contracts. The current construction contracts are adversarial and legalistic. This does not assist in the creation of a collaborative environment which requires people to cooperate and compromise in the solution of problems. With this in mind, the development of the PPC2015 Alliance Contracts in the UK is interesting. These contracts are currently at draft stage and are being reviewed by the PPC Consultative Group. It would be worth trialling these contracts in Ireland so that they can be refined to use in future construction projects using BIM in Ireland.


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