The conclusion of Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital (LCCH) project represented the end of an era for long-term A2K Technologies customer, Conrad Gargett.
Being seven years in the making, the project saw the heyday of 2D CAD come to an end and be bypassed with 3D and Building Information Modelling (BIM).
LCCH was a merger of the Royal Children’s Hospital and the Mater Children’s Hospital in Brisbane. It was part of a $1.5 billion program of work that included an adjacent academic and research facility.
Conrad Gargett, in joint venture with Lyons, was commissioned for the architecture, landscape and interior design of the 95,000m2 hospital. Work was carried out in Brisbane and the Lyon’s office in Melbourne.
The project was so large and went for so long, that Conrad Gargett had evolved from 2D using Autodesk’s AutoCAD, into a building information modelling (BIM) / Revit office by the time it was finished. The office now uses Autodesk Building Design Suite and Revit as its default drawing application.
Using now-outdated techniques and without the benefits of BIM, Conrad Gargett and Lyons successfully created a hospital with not only 359 beds and 12 clinical levels, but also with landscaping to create a healing garden and a site comprising 77 per cent public open space, including roads or roof gardens.
It also incorporated acoustics to achieve the right noise balance for patients while dealing with ambient noise from the nearby busy road.
As well as being highly-functional—incorporating some of the world’s most advanced diagnostic, interventional and treatment facilities—the design references the structure of a tree with a ‘trunk’ and ‘branches’ providing vertical and horizontal linkages, and sun shading with purple and green blades referencing the surrounding nature.
The massive project involved 54 architects, 1,700 drawings, and 2,900 room layout sheets.
Scott Savage, Systems Administrator at Conrad Gargett explained that due the complexity of the deliverables required, they had no choice but to keep the whole project in 2D, rather than benefit from the 3D modelling being used in newer projects.
“During that time, we were dipping our toe into the world of BIM, but the building was way too complex to attempt to do it in a BIM format,” said Savage.
“There was no way we could tempt fate to do a job of that size and complexity by doing it on a platform that we had no experience with.
“We just had to draw and draw and draw.
“There was a large contingent of people working on the job when it was in the middle of the drawing phase. All the construction documentation just had to be done on thousands of separate drawing pages.”
Conrad Gargett employed people dedicated to checking that references were updated. Savage explained, “If I changed something on sheet one for example, they had to check that it was also changed on sheet five and sheet nine, or wherever it was referenced throughout the building. And there were a lot of references to have to go through.
“If you’re working with 3D models, there isn’t the need for that number of people, because you don’t need someone doing coordination all the time. With Revit for example, the 3D models handle the view changes automatically.”
But, according to Savage, the biggest challenge was how to keep two separate offices working together from tripping over each other.
“We had to create internal processes to make sure we didn’t end up with situations where someone in Brisbane might edit a drawing at the same time as someone in Melbourne, and one saves first but the other loses all their work.
Moving forward with BIM and 3D Modelling
Conrad Gargett is now a full BIM office, with a dedicated BIM Manager.
“We now use Revit as our default application. The Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital was our last large scale, 2D, CAD-based project so it’s also the end of an era for us,” said Savage.
“Everything that comes through the doors now is generally a Revit-based project. Our default drawing application is now Revit, so unless there is a particular need or request from a client, project manager or a contractor, all jobs are now done in Revit throughout the company.
“Nowadays, in a BIM world, we can leverage tools such as Revit Server. Everyone is always working on the one central model, and it doesn’t matter where you are, because the Revit Server is handling the information after that.
“We also have a Townsville and a Sydney studio. The offices share models on Revit Server, so we can have landscape teams in Brisbane doing landscapes on projects that the architects are also working on in Sydney.
“You no longer have to ‘follow the bouncing ball’ through all the different sheets you’ve created. You can access a sheet from the central model, and then anything that references that is changed automatically. Having the three dimensions also allows you to do things like clash detection.
“You can also take the model to meetings and clients can see it. You can cut sections through it, and you can walk around it, which gives them an easier understanding than just some flat lines on a piece of paper.
“It’s ironic that the Children’s Hospital project was one of the biggest we’ve ever had, but turned out to be the last hurrah of our old way of working.
“If nothing else, it will always be known internally as the last time we documented a job fully in AutoCAD.”
The Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital design has already been recognised on the world stage, with Conrad Gargett Lyons winning the prestigious Future Health Project Award at the 2014 Design & Health International Academy Awards.
Working relationship with A2K Technologies
Scott Savage explained, “Conrad Gargett have been using A2K since the 90’s (in its previous incarnation of KarelCAD), and they’ve been beside us all the way since then. They’ve also helped us as we transitioned from a 2D, CAD-based organisation into a 3D, BIM-focused, Revit office.
“Over the years, we’ve relied on A2K for our Autodesk software training. I had my Revit training and it was great. I went from never even having even started Revit before, to within three or four days being able to do basic modelling and family creation and topography. It was a good grounding.
“We also ask A2K to come into our offices on an ad hoc basis, usually around product release time. We have them in to show us the cool new things that can be done, and give us a demonstration.
“Whenever we have a technical support issue with Autodesk that we can’t figure out ourselves, it’s always referred to A2K.
“There have been a couple of times where we’ve had .NET issues with Revit, and we’ve contacted A2K’s support guys who’ve told us these were known issues and how to resolve them.
“They’re the people we call when we’ve exhausted all our internal knowledge, and we’re still scratching our heads; we say ‘okay it’s time now to call A2K and see what they can do for us’. They’re very knowledgeable.”
About Conrad Gargett
Conrad Gargett is a progressive firm with a vibrant legacy of prominent and enduring designs, at the forefront of architecture in Australia.
Operating from Brisbane, Sydney and Townsville, Conrad Gargett delivers projects internationally, across a diverse range of sectors including health, heritage, research, defence, education and commercial.
Image credits: Christopher Frederick Jones