Using Technology to Better Understand New Space at the University of Northern Iowa

The $27 million Schindler Education Center houses the College of Education for the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). The interior renovation includes programmatic enhancements and the reconfiguration of classroom space to increase collaboration. Additional emphasis is being placed on energy and water conservation strategies that have a high return on investment.

These changes resulted in the replacement of mechanical and electrical systems and the addition of a fire sprinkler system to the building. To help the facilities personnel understand how their new systems will work, Project Manager Winston Williams and Integrated Construction Coordinator Andrew Gibson held an informational session in the empty mechanical room. Using Autodesk BIM 360 they created various viewpoints for locations in the future mechanical room. When standing in those predetermined locations the facilities team press the Augmented Reality button on their iPad and see exactly where the MEP systems will be located.

This tool also helped the team verify whether or not clearances were appropriately addressed and to check the equipment locations in regards to function and maintenance. Additionally, they now have the ability to click on any piece of equipment in the 3D model and obtain details on the make and model, the size of the unit, and its load capacity. 

“By doing this interactive simulation we were able to get buy-in and participation on the systems and their layouts so that in the future when someone asks ‘why was it done this way’ UNI can reference this interactive session where the maintenance team expressed their concerns and signed-off on the layouts” said Andrew.

The model brought a lot of excitement to the project. Many of the maintenance personnel and University representatives even requested the model be loaded on their iPads after taking part in the interactive meeting. Andrew held a training session to help them load the model, drawings, and BIM 360 Field to their iPads. He then walked them through the basics of using these tools and how this will help to best run their systems.

Andrew also created a 3D animated model of a new green terrace to show the University how the completed project would look once complete. “Andrew's visualizations have been so helpful as part of the many in-process tours we have given to faculty, staff, and area educators. He has taught our people so much about how construction is done today” said Renovation Committee Chair Rick Knivsland.  “The imagery created has also been invaluable in our work with the Foundation. Our donors can see where their generous gifts are going, and new donors have been inspired to give.”

Want to learn more about the project? Check out this video created by the University of Northern Iowa.