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P&T Group paves the way for BIM innovation in the Middle East

customer story

P&T Group (P&T) is an award-winning global architectural and design firm, which has been combining innovative, high quality, sustainable solutions for over 150 years. The firm was founded in Hong Kong in 1868 by William Salway, who wanted to establish a design practice in response to the increasing demand for grander buildings in Asia. P&T has consistently ranked in the top ten largest consultancies in the world, with over 2000 architects, engineers, planners and designers operating in over 70 cities.

Project Summary

In 2013, P&T Group was appointed as the design consultant on a complex healthcare system renewal project by the Ministry of Interior (MOI) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). The Security Forces Medical Center (SFMC) Project is the largest medical investment in the Gulf Cooperation Council area, costing $6.8billion SAR ($1.8billion US). This initiative is aimed at providing state-of-the-art healthcare services to four million Saudis, starting with the construction of two medical complexes in Riyadh and Jeddah.

Once completed, each hospital will boast medical facilities over an area of 550,000 square meters comprising two hospital buildings with 1274 beds, an academic and clinical centre, a research centre and specialist hospitals for mental health, treatment of addiction, and a 580-bed gynaecology and obstetrics department. The project Gross Lease Area (GLA) for each site will be 2,500,000 square meters.

“Autodesk is committed to developing its technology to support companies such as ours, and together, we can transform the industry in the future.”

—Andrew Woods, BIM Manager, P&T Group


Implementing innovative processes to overcome complex design challenges

Due to the high-detail infrastructure demands of the project – with over 16,000 rooms, and over 125,000 individual pieces of medical fitout across multiple theatres, operating theatres and specialised rooms – documenting the designs and schedules in a conventional CAD environment would have been almost impossible.

To help meet the ambitious goals set for the project, the Ministry of Interior for Saudi Arabia mandated the implementation of Building Information Modelling (BIM) for the design and construction of the hospital complexes. The project team at P&T Group decided to use a combination of Autodesk® Revit® for the project’s design and documentation and Autodesk® BIM 360™ Docs for project collaboration.

Whilst P&T Group had used Autodesk Revit solutions elsewhere in Asia and the Middle East, this was the first time that the architecture practice would be using the technology in Saudi Arabia.

Revit is a robust architectural design and documentation software application specifically designed to support building information modelling (BIM) workflows. Revit can leverage dynamic information in intelligent models — allowing complex building structures to be accurately designed and documented in a short amount of time. Each intelligent model created with Revit represents an entire project and is stored in a single database file. This allows changes made in one part of the model to be automatically propagated to other parts of the model, thus enhancing workflow.

P&T Group’s team was made up of colleagues in Saudi Arabia, the United States, Portugal, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Spain and Vietnam. This created a huge amount of data, which not only needed to be shared securely, but also made constantly available. Uploading and downloading the hundreds of 3D models that were being produced in different countries would have meant designers had to deal with lots of ‘dead time’ and wasn’t practical with the team located in multiple time zones.  

Utilising BIM processes to coordinate between the geolocations enabled the design team to manage the workflow with maximum efficiency to cope with the wholesale design changes brought about by medical planning revisions and incorporation of the latest legislative standards in a timely manner.  This reduced the timeframe by as much as 40% and more importantly, meant that designers were comfortable in the knowledge that changes circulated through the hospital in a well-coordinated, robust manner, thus reducing errors.

Andrew Woods, BIM Manager at P&T Group said: “Companies tend to pick small projects to get used to any new technology, but in starting with BIM on one of the world’s largest hospitals, we did the exact opposite. Our core team was excellent and believed from the outset that producing all our output for the design of the hospitals in BIM models would help us to deliver our best work. We’ve always been innovators and wanted to push ourselves on this project to fully embrace the BIM environment.”

Laying the foundations for future long-term benefits

P&T Group wanted to set the project up based on BIM Level 2. Though this is not a compulsory requirement in Saudi Arabia, P&T made this decision based on the knowledge that the proposed ISO Standards would be largely based on the British Standard PAS 1192 documents and therefore align P&T with industry best practice in the region and provide a robust platform on which to develop their BIM Standards.

Alongside the combination of Autodesk® Revit® Architecture, Autodesk® Revit® Structure, and Autodesk® Revit® MEP software, P&T Group also implemented Autodesk® Navisworks® Manage software for coordination and collaboration, and AutoCAD® software to supplement the drawing production. During the design stage, P&T moved the huge quantities of data produced in Revit to BIM 360, a unified common data platform that promotes integrated, collaborative workflows between architecture, engineering and construction teams.

The extended architectural and structural teams – with designers in offices around the world – were able to collaborate and contribute insights about their design models in the context of the project. Being able to rely on a single source of information without having to check who had the latest version of the model meant teams were ultimately much more productive.  

In 2016 as Lead Consultant, P&T Group set up the Common Data Environment (CDE) hosted on the BIM 360 Docs Platform in accordance with PAS 1192 standards. The flexibility and ease of use of the BIM 360 Docs platform means that the CDE can be set up in a manner that best suits the project demands in a secure and robust platform. As it is a SaaS (Software as a Service) platform it evolves and improves significantly over time, introducing new features and enhancing the application. Due to the sheer scale of these projects, to cope with the massive amount of data, over 8500 folders where set up and typically over 5700 individual documents are uploaded by the team every month.

P&T is already reaping huge benefits by implementing BIM and will continue to see further benefits by utilising the experience and skills gained, on further projects. Despite being slightly different structurally, the design of the second hospital is almost identical to the hospital in Riyadh, meaning much of the initial design work has already been completed. The initial challenges that P&T faced when setting up the CDE, putting together a team with the right skills and working towards delivering a project to BIM Level 2, have all been addressed and much of the documentation saved on BIM 360 Docs can be re-used for the construction of the second site.

“Without the use of BIM 360 on this project, we would have found meeting the onerous deadlines very challenging and most importantly, we’ve managed to hit each milestone without compromising on our design integrity or aspirations to always deliver projects of the very highest standard.”

—Andrew Woods, BIM Manager, P&T Group


Delivering on time without compromising on quality

“In the Middle Eastern market, construction projects typically have very tight and challenging deadlines to meet, with aspirations for the very highest quality from the clients. Without the use of BIM 360 on this project, we would have found meeting the onerous deadlines very challenging and most importantly, we’ve managed to hit each milestone without compromising on our design integrity or aspirations to always deliver projects of the very highest standard,” continued Woods.

We build the building twice – once in the virtual world and then again in the real world. This methodology underpins the work that we do, supported by the digital technologies which provide a much more efficient method of creating, designing and maintaining the built assets. The BIM processes and expertise we have developed gives P&T a huge advantage in the Middle East and put the architectural practice at the forefront when it comes to working on complex projects with strict deadlines right across the region. We are now well positioned to deliver BIM Level 2 projects in the Middle East and are planning to use Autodesk products as the backbone to any new project we are involved with.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai has mandated that by 2030, 25% buildings need to be produced using 3D printed technology. By using BIM 360 on this project, P&T Group has established a firm foundation that will enable it to be at the core of that directive in terms of knowledge and skills.

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