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BIM changes the London skyline

London’s skyline is transforming into a fine collection of striking skyscrapers with bread-and-butter aliases: The Gherkin, Helter Skelter, Cloud, Boomerang, Three Sisters, Walkie-Talkie, Cheese Grater, Shard… what’s next, the Toilet Brush? In addition to titillating nicknames, what these projects have in common is the necessity to use the latest construction technology, i.e. BIM, to construct and maintain them in an efficient and sustainable manner.

Take the Cheesegrater, for example, i.e. the Leadenhall Building, that got its nickname because of its silvery, wedge-like south facade. Its construction was “mothballed” for three years during foundation stage but now this exciting project amazingly close to the Pinnacle site has been revived. It is said to be the coolest and classiest of them all.

“BIM software is involved in almost every major project in London nowadays,” says Andrew Bellerby, managing director of Tekla in the UK. “Leadenhall, for example, was presented as a Tekla model created by Arup already in the tender phase.” Despite the striking profile of the building, project engineers are intrigued by the node connections within the structural-steel megaframe. There has been a huge effort to develop node details for most efficient use of the model downstream with fabrication and constructability in mind. Arup’s designers consulted with specialist steelwork subcontractors to develop buildable nodes by modeling them so they could be fully visualized, shared with finite element analysis software, and developed for shop fabrication, allowing the nodes to be welded, rather than bolted, for increased strength and aesthetics.The Cheesegrater’s design is energy-efficient, exploiting passive solar heating as well as natural use of daylight. The envelope has been designed to control the amount of sun entering the building so as to not overheat the interior and avoid glare. An important addition to the building’s sustainable delivery is its building information modeling process right from the beginning.

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