Start Scenes

VDC in our DNA

For nearly 20 years, our team has helped pioneer the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) in all phases, from preconstruction through operations and maintenance. As measured by McGraw Hill, the longer a firm has invested in the use of BIM, the greater the impact to its partners and customers. Our innovation-based culture has led us to develop an experience level that is simply unparalleled in the industry.

Scroll to experience the story of VDC

The early days of VDC

In 1995 Mortenson formed the Center for Construction Innovation to research ways to improve construction processes and technologies. Inspired by emerging 3D-graphics technologies in the manufacturing and aerospace industries we began to see the potential of computer-generated graphics as they related to our own industry. Something big was on the horizon.

We built the “unbuildable.”

Working with Stanford University and Disney Imagineering, a team from Mortenson was about to make history. Building the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles would have been next to impossible using conventional construction processes. Virtual Design & Construction (VDC) gave engineers the detail needed to make such a complex design a reality. This was only the beginning.

More on Concert Hall

Walt Disney Concert Hall
(Los Angeles, CA)

Building and installing an acoustic ceiling

Using Building Information Modeling, the project team determines how to create and install the complex prefabricated ceiling panels over the stage in the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

4D Models developed

Mortenson's growing team of VDC experts develop the first 4D models, which incorporate time into the three-dimensional model.

Learn more

Computer Numerical Controls

Our project teams begin to use our models to drive CNC (computer numerical controls) fabrication of building systems based on the 3D project database

Putting know-how to action.

With the onset of model-based clash detection in 2001, spatial conflicts could be detected and eliminated before construction even began—a breakthrough for team coordination and a reduction in scheduling delays. Our Integrated Delivery Advancement Team was now promoting companywide development of VDC. An early output of this team was our new plan-room computers that brought vital information onto the construction site, putting modeling data into the hands of craftworkers.

View Denver Art Museum Case Study

Denver Art Museum
(Denver, CO)

Model-based Clash Detection

Mortenson begins the use of model-based clash detection. We start to establish processes to lead and manage “total building” coordination and planning

Expert Advisory Board Formed

Mortenson forms a company-wide think-tank called the Integrated Delivery Advancement Team (IDAT) to further Mortenson team member knowledgebase and expertise in virtual design & construction.

First Model-based Prefab

We build our first model-based prefabricated wet core, allowing us to build components of a lab building off-site to improve quality and reduce the project schedule.

A collaborative, integrated approach.

The mid-2000s saw significant steps forward when it came to fine-tuning VDC best practices and increasing project communication and collaboration. Along with 3D models and “fly-throughs,” project web sites enabled a new way of interacting with stakeholders at projects like the Benjamin D. Hall. This design-build-operate-maintain building earned Mortenson an AIA TAP Building information modeling award.

View Benjamin D. Hall Case Study

Benjamin D. Hall
Interdisciplinary Research Building
(Seattle, WA)

Sharing Lessons Learned

Mortenson deploys internal collaboration tools to capture and share virtual design & construction lessons learned companywide, and further our VDC knowledgebase.

Journey to The Last 100 Feet®

Integrated Work Plans (IWP) are deployed on our project sites – assembling all of our project model database information into simple, comprehensive “instruction sets for the field”, thus beginning our journey to The Last 100 Feet®.

Second R&D Benchmark: Boeing

Mortenson's research & development efforts continue as we study lean principles and prefabrication research in the commercial airplane manufacturing process and its application to the construction process.

A unified game plan.

What would happen if we made project plan data and real-time analysis available to every worker on a construction site? This question drove Mortenson’s “Last 100 Feet®” initiative, which made use of new Digital Plan Tables, tablets, and Plan of the Day (POD) workstations. Not only was VDC enabling the building of structures which were once unthinkable, like Target Field in Minneapolis, MN, but building information modeling was now improving the management of facilities post-construction.

Read Target Field Case Study

Target Field (Minneapolis, MN)

The Last 100 Feet® in Action

Mortenson introduces the concept of The Last 100 Feet®, which moves VDC from a computer in an office directly into the field, driving efficiency and innovation further into the project site.

Developing Our First "Virtual Mockups"

Mortenson project teams develop our first enclosure “virtual mock-ups, ” which are detailed enclosure models that allow our teams to build virtually before we build physically.

View SketchUp Case Study

Fourth AIA BIM Award

Mortenson receives its fourth AIA TAP award for Design/Delivery Process Innovation using Building Information Modeling. Awarded projects include UoW BDH Interdisciplinary Research Building (2007), UCHSC Research II (2009), EKG Cornerstone Art Center (2009).


VDC as standard practice

By this time, VDC was Mortenson’s way of doing business, influencing each phase of every project, but most importantly our project stakeholders. We formalized our “40 to 400” initiative to make VDC central to how we build, so each project team member would be able to leverage VDC to plan and build smarter to drive higher value to our customer. As a downstream result, we began VDC knowledge transfer to our renewable energy and horizontal markets. VDC is not just for buildings anymore.

Silver Cross Hospital (New Lenox, IL) SilverCross

Fifth AIA BIM Award

Mortenson receives its fifth American Institute of Architects Building Information Modeling Award for Design/Delivery Process Innovation using BIM at The Medical Center (confidential customer). At this time, Mortenson Construction is the only general contractor to win five individual AIA BIM awards.

Model-based Estimating

Model based estimating systems are rolled out as a company-wide solution for improved preconstruction and integration with design partners.

Touch Screens

Touch screens are integrated into our Plan of the Day (POD) and Plan Room Computer (PRC) stations on project sites – further enabling ease of use and access to our models.

See it in action


Modern-day pioneers.

Today, Mortenson stands apart as industry frontrunners in VDC and BIM, enabling projects to be completed more quickly and at lower costs than ever before. With virtual reality systems, our customers can now experience projects before they are even built—helping them make better, more informed decisions. We’re already looking onward to tomorrow’s possibilities.

Read about VDC for Renewable Energy

VDC Project Analysis

This study was completed as part of a research consortium between the University of Minnesota and Mortenson Construction, the Master of Science in Architecture Research Practices (MS-RP) program.


Mortenson takes the design phase process to an immersive CAVE experience providing our design partners and customers with a new enhanced decision making solution.
See Inside Pegula Ice Arena
Read 2014 AIA TAP Award Study

Renewable Energy BIM Award

In 2012, Mortenson expands their BIM awards to the renewable energy industry. The Spring Valley Wind Farm wins the Bentley Be Inspired Awards for Innovation in land development, engineering, and management.


The road ahead

At Mortenson, we are continually improving our process and looking for new ways to leverage technology to improve our people and process. We focus on industry and academic partnerships to drive VDC research to building what’s next. Stay tuned for more as we work together to change the landscape of what’s possible today to be prepared for a better tomorrow.


Independent Study Confirms Reduced RFIs

Independent University of Colorado study confirms 37% RFI reduction based on Mortenson’s VDC process compared to BIM use on another very similar project.

Laser Scanning Survey Systems Implemented

Laser scanning survey systems are implemented on Mortenson projects for as-built conditions and for quality control measurement linking the model to work put in place.

Tablet PCs Deployed

Tablet PCs are deployed on project sites to allow real-time access to project model information and provide additional safety, quality, and productivity tools for our project teams.

Engineering & Technology Innovation

Mortenson receives Fiatech's Celebration of Engineering & Technology Innovation (CETI) award for work on the University of Colorado Denver - Research 2 project. This award is given to organizations that have conducted new and emerging technology implementations.

Plan Of The Day

The Last 100 Feet® develops further with the invention of the Plan of the Day (POD) on-site project workstation. PODs place the model and associated information into the project work zone.

Third And Fourth AIA BIM Awards

Mortenson receives its third and fourth American Institute of Architects Building Information Modeling Award. One is for Design/Delivery Process Innovation using BIM at the University of Colorado Research 2 facility, the other for Creating Stellar Architecture using BIM on the Colorado College Cornerstone Arts Center.

Digital Plan Tables

Digital plan tables are deployed to project sites – providing our teams with a VDC-based replacement to the traditional 2D drawing project site plan table.

Operations And Maintenance Models

We deliver our first operations and maintenance models as part of project close-out and transition to sustainable occupancy process.

Third R&D Benchmark: Healthcare Industry

We continue our R&D benchmarking with a study of LEAN practices within healthcare facility operations.

Improving Facilities Management

Mortenson's integrated delivery advancement team, with key Mortenson leadership, establishes an industry focus group to study ways of utilizing building information modeling to improve facilities management.

View case study

Standardized Field POD

Journey to Paperless

Virtual Mockups Move Inside

Model-Based Point Layout

VDC Goes Horizontal

POD Meetings Go Digital with SMARTboard Technology

Mortenson's SilverCross Hospital Model showcased on the 2012 Navisworks product suite

12th BIM/VDC Award

Mortenson partners with CSU to build a center for VDC

Watch CSU and Mortenson partnership video

Mortenson develops eCloseout as an electronic O&M deliverable

In House Reality Capture

Mortenson early experimentation in laser scanning leads to in house reality capture expertise and additional service offerings to our customers to improve the aggregation of existing conditions.

Read about laser scanning

Associate CIFE membership continued

BIM on Infrastructure Case Study

Watch case study video

Prefabrication / Modularization

Through VDC, Mortenson has demonstrated to our customers reduced time... What if we could assemble a building in a week through prefabrication and modularization? The technology exists and the opportunity is just around the corner

Mortenson builds Faster, Smarter, Better

Robotics and Automation

In the past, Mortenson has learned from the automotive and aerospace industry to implement VDC on our projects. We are still in the early stages of leveraging robotics to innovate and drive efficiency while lowering safety hazards on projects. The horizon is promising with increased consumerism of robotics and automation technologies.

Augmented Reality

Since 2007, Mortenson has been experimenting with AR. Based on the advancements in mobile and whereable technology it is only a matter of time before it is commonplace in the construction industry. What is even more exciting is how our customers will be able to experience and operate their facilities with AR as a downstream process of design and construction.

3D Printing

Disruptive technologies are not limited to mobility in the field. What if we could physically print out components of our buildings? 3D printing is becoming more feasible and may soon be a reality for commercial construction. Through engagement with academia and industry, Mortenson will continue to investigate opportunities as new innovations in technology and materials are developed.

Giant 3D Printing