Design Drafts – Building Information Modelling


The Design Drafts is a series of articles focusing on the design of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT (ECLRT). This month, the focus is on the use of Building Information Modelling to aid design and construction.

Construction is a physical job. It takes people on the ground to excavate, pour concrete, lay down steel and perform the many steps involved in building a new transit line.

Behind the scenes, construction is increasingly aided by technology. The use of new technology has affected almost every aspect of construction over the past 20 years, helping to save money and advance scheduling.

The Crosstown project makes extensive use of Building Information Modelling, or BIM for short. BIM is a process of using software to create 3D models of stations prior to their construction.

 A shot of the future Kennedy Station platform, inside the BIM model

BIM is more than just visuals. Every physical piece in the BIM model has information attached to it. For example, a piece of a wall has information about the materials, volume, weight, and scheduling details/installation date attached. In effect, a BIM model is a complete virtual simulation of a real build.

“BIM models are not just a physical representation, every object in the system has a database of information attached to it” said Denis Erlich, BIM Manager. “We share these models between designers and constructors, allowing for better communication and reduced turnaround on information sharing.”

Every physical piece in this model can be expanded upon in BIM software such as Autodesk

BIM’s potential has helped the Crosstown team to more effectively plan and design the various structures required on the line. Estimators are using BIM to determine material quantities and schedulers are using it to help create more realistic and accurate timelines. In addition, certain sections of the line are capturing already-built structure measurements using laser distance-measuring devices, and uploading the scanned information into BIM software as a method of quality control.

Once complete, the Crosstown will provide 19 km of new, modern transit along Eglinton. In the meantime, new technologies like BIM are guiding the process.