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Bluebeam: BIM Helps Hospital Project Satisfy Strict Seismic Codes



April 6, 2016 — Challenges in project communication are an inevitable part of every build. The more those challenges can be mitigated or avoided, the better the prognosis for meeting project goals and, better yet, the more future-proof facilities digital documentation will be. Enter building information modeling (BIM). 

Beneficiaries of BIM often cite improved communication and build planning as key rewards to using the process. Having been called upon by Degenkolb Engineers to assist in constructing the 740,000-square-foot California Pacific Medical Center (CPMC) project in San Francisco, San Francisco-based firm Modulus Consulting can certainly echo those sentiments. The CPMC Van Ness and Geary Campus is currently slated for a mid-2018 completion. 

The project’s design encompasses a 400-plus-bed hospital space with a glass entryway located just seven miles from the San Andreas Fault Line. Shaky ground to be sure, and enough to present yet another obstacle: The hospital space needed to satisfy the 2007 California Building Code with OSHPD (Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development) Amendments for Acute Care Hospitals, which dictates building codes for hospitals to ensure the withstanding of earthquakes of high seismic magnitude in order to treat possible victims. 

While there is no way to build a truly “earthquake-proof” structure, the CPMC needed to meet the OSHPD guidelines calling for the facility to remain operational during a magnitude 7.9 quake. 

Part of the solution entailed the installation of viscous wall dampers (VWDs) — gel-filled wall supports, which absorb seismic vibrations. These were a technological first on any project in the United States. 

The other part of the solution entailed uniting design communication efforts through shared software.

“OSHPD is one of the strictest building departments in the United States, and we only meet once a week and have three hours to go over changes in a review. Either we get everything approved in the three hours and have the tools to say that the drawings are bulletproof, or we drive to Sacramento, where we can wait for up to three months to get the simplest of changes approved,” said Benjamin Alfonso, a senior BIM specialist at Modulus.

To make design review easier, Alfonso implemented PDF-based annotation solution Bluebeam Revu and its integrated collaboration solution Bluebeam Studio, which provided a centralized shared document space for Degenkolb and Modulus. 

While many believe that the industry builds to the model, Alfonso explained that teams really have to build to 2D construction documents derived from the model. And reviewing changes on documents like these can be challenging when the model is particularly complex.

“If you have a model that is really complicated, how do you actually capture all of those changes? How do you document that in a 2D document?” Alfonso asked. “That’s really where Bluebeam helped us a lot. We used Revu’s Overlay Pages feature in the meetings, using different colors so we could quickly see what changed on each document and make sure the engineers’ changes were properly documented. Having this tool makes the approval process go by that much more smoothly.”

Some industry teams also use 3D PDFs to share and review editable model views outside of BIM. Leveraging digital document management not only enables building teams to finish projects faster but also deliver easily navigable electronic O&Ms for quicker access to critical information beyond the completion of a project.

For more information about Bluebeam Revu, visit



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