How can Revit collaboration improve your airport experience?

Sylvia Knauer Sylvia Knauer July 24, 2017

6 min read

Architecture firms Hennebery Eddy and Fentress used Revit collaboration to improve passenger experience at Portland International Airport. 

We’ve all been there: shouldering a computer bag and wrestling a carry-on in a throng of passengers at an airport gate. It feels like everyone’s crammed into one terminal. But in other airports, space seems better-allocated and you relax in a comfortable waiting area, knowing you’re within view of your gate. This better level of passenger comfort was the mission of firms Hennebery Eddy Architects and Fentress Architects when they undertook a terminal balancing project at Portland International Airport (PDX).

In airport parlance, “rebalancing” means making changes to more effectively use the space to avoid overloading and to create a better passenger flow and experience. At PDX, this meant not only ultimately adding a 140,000-square-foot concourse extension with ample daylight and views of Mt. Hood, but also moving airport functions including ticket counters, baggage services and airline operations space. With the project touching all aspects of the terminal from concourses, to ticketing, to ramp workers, to airfield striping and aircraft placement, the job required a team capable of handling the complex requirements.

Hennebery Eddy Architects, a 51-person studio located in Portland, Oregon, had previous experience with the airport and with project owner the Port of Portland. They teamed up with a known name in aviation design, Fentress Architects of Denver, for the project.

Using a Construction Manager / General Contractor (CM/GC) project delivery model allowed the Port of Portland to engage Skanska as construction manager to provide constructability input during the design process. The firms joined forces to work together as a collective team on the project. Michelle Vo, Principal at Hennebery Eddy clarified, “This is not a handoff type of project. We’ve been in it together the whole way.”

Revit collaboration

Coordinating a large, far-flung team

The project involved not only the firms located in both Portland and Denver, but numerous consultants, engineers, the Port of Portland and its representatives — everyone from leadership to Revit users– which mandated a need to organize information and centralize communication. Architect Scott Moreland, associate and BIM manager at Hennebery Eddy, selected Autodesk Collaboration for Revit and BIM 360 Team to connect both designers using Revit and the extended project team. The cloud-based Collaboration for Revit service provides centralized access to Revit models, and let project team members at multiple sites co-author Revit models regardless of their physical location. This cloud-enabled worksharing also let team members see each other’s work and communicate with one another in real time. The firms conducted almost all project communication via BIM 360 Team—the cloud platform on which Collaboration for Revit is built—which provided cloud storage, file sharing, design review and communication tools for all stakeholders.

Revit collaboration

Responding to changing project requirements

This Revit collaboration practice proved invaluable when, two years into the project and with construction about to begin, the project went through a significant programming change. With one of the airline fleets switching from smaller ground-loading aircraft to larger gate-loading aircraft, the rebalancing effort shifted, gates were added and the building became three times larger than originally planned. The team paused the project, scaling down Collaboration for Revit licensing during the time required to rethink the design. They essentially started over with a new design for the rebalancing project and scaled the team back up.

In this situation, working in the shared models enabled by Collaboration for Revit and BIM 360 Team was crucial to the project team’s being able to effectively apply knowledge from the work they had done and move forward with the new design. With sixteen people in offices located in Denver, Portland and San Francisco working in one model, Moreland found that managing this significant change remained seamless in the collaboration environment.

Connecting designers with Revit collaboration

Using Collaboration for Revit, the teams had 25 designers using Revit on the job with at least 15 to 20 of those people within the model at one time. Over the course of the project, the firms transferred licenses to adjust staffing between the offices. Corey Ochsner, Architect and Senior Associate with Fentress, explained that the teams used Collaboration for Revit when exploring design options and looking at phasing elements and doing so increased their efficiency in understanding that they had full integration of the team in the model. With instantaneous updates, all entities including the contractor could provide feedback, and by seeing every detail as it developed, Ochsner was able to provide oversight.

Even with the larger, more complex model in the second round of design, the teams found that they continued to experience fast syncing speed as with the previous model.

Ochsner noted that using Collaboration for Revit “we are able to provide design iterations more quickly and we’re able to quickly evaluate design options to work out issues and continue forward.”

All through the project, the Revit team gained great value from being able to communicate directly with each other within Revit. Said Moreland, “the communication ability within Revit has been great. It’s like we have a direct line to each other.” He found this especially valuable when he needed to connect with team members who, when in Revit working toward a deadline, did not check texts, voicemail, or email but were reachable in Revit via the Communicator. The Communicator tool in Collaboration for Revit is not only an interface for real-time chat, but also indicates who is in the model and where they are working and provides a log as to who’s currently synchronizing or who has recently synchronized.

Revit collaboration

While the Fentress and Hennebery Eddy teams worked directly with each other in Revit using Collaboration for Revit, they used BIM 360 Team to communicate with other engineers on the project by linking to models that each group would upload the to the BIM 360 Team site, which served as a central repository. The Design Team had a few consultants using AutoCAD, and placed exported CAD backgrounds on the BIM 360 Team site for their use and to be able to communicate with them.  The AutoCAD users benefited from being able to view the model in the same location which helped them understand the overall design they were trying to coordinate with.

This ability to immediately access the most current models saved the teams not only the time that would have been spent waiting for models to upload and download, but also helped them avoid the risk of wasting time working on outdated models.

Revit collaboration


Connecting the entire team

Use of BIM 360 Team improved the process for designers who needed to share their work with the Port of Portland and other stakeholders, as well as for team members who were not able to view and comment on the project without having to fire up Revit and actually open the model. The designers found that it let them bring people into the design process who had previously been hard to include.

Says Moreland, “With BIM 360 Team, they can easily find, view in 3D and comment on a specific design element, and collaborate directly where the comments will be referenced later.”

Moreland found BIM 360 Team especially useful when he was at the job site or in a meeting and he could share specific aspects of the project using BIM 360 Team on his iPad. Ochsner noted that BIM 360 Team has sped the decision-making process by “allowing us to build the engagement with the clients and stakeholders within the project.” By inviting Port of Portland maintenance and operations staff into the project “they are able to understand it and see the project and therefore they’re feeling more included and that their comments are being addressed.”

Learn more about using Collaboration for Revit and BIM 360 Team for better team collaboration on your Revit projects.  

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