“Work hard and work with an open mind,” says Ava Norton, Manager of Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) for the Clark Construction Group. This small but mighty piece of advice is what she tells young women who are pursuing STEM-related careers.
With her own advice in mind, Norton successfully leads the implementation, employee training, and support of Building Information Modeling (BIM) and VDC nationally for Clark Construction Group. Her distinct experience as a registered architect and BIM expert has promoted problem solving and enhanced project delivery with VDC applications. Learn more about Norton and how she knows BIM holds particular value in a project lifecycle, and discover which project she believes stands out the most to her as a VDC Manager.
As an architect, I used computer modeling to facilitate building design and documentation. BIM helped me to me understand complex conditions and ensure that they worked. In construction, I work with a Virtual Design and Construction department. We help teams to understand how BIM can help them and we teach them how to use it. Clash detection resolves potential field installation issues, 4D simulations solidify construction sequences, etc. My favorite application, though, is more simple. Just looking at the model and making them available to teams. When at the drawing table on a site, I encourage the simultaneous use of the model with the drawings to help understand the building condition, identify challenges and potential missing information.
Work hard and work with an open mind. In my earlier architecture career, I had the task of dimensioning and annotating construction drawings – a seemingly mindless task. It’s not. A coworker of mine taught me that what I put on the paper will be what is constructed, and every line counts. With that advice, dimensions became a puzzle piece and annotating became an art. I made every line count and I advanced because I made sure every task I did mattered with the same importance.
Integrated computational design and reality capture.
There is a reason architects and contractors go to BIM. It’s holistic. Why go through a plan, a section, a detail, and a schedule when you can have it all in one view? Similarly, when conducting preventative maintenance, would you not want the most efficient way to identify the pieces of equipment and their impact on the performance of a building? I’ve heard stories from clients where a maintenance technician has exercised preventative maintenance on the wrong piece of equipment, or maintenance was conducted on several pieces of equipment because the technician wasn’t sure which piece of equipment was tied to a work order. When the data and model are connected in a way that uncertainty is eliminated, there can be more efficiency, which translates to cost and energy savings.
I was working as a construction administrator and participating in meetings with the MEP contractors. I loved the interaction of looking through the model and real-time problem solving with the larger team. I had been doing it on a smaller scale, and the larger contracting team had a level of energy that provided a new type of excitement for me. Soon after I landed a job as a VDC specialist with Clark Construction and have since became a VDC manager.
There are many, but if I have to narrow down to one, I’d pick Midtown Center. It’s a trophy class office building in the middle of downtown, currently under construction. Two challenges that the VDC department is currently assisting with are the Lobby MEP and finishes, and the pedestrian bridge construction. The tiled ceiling in the lobbies is supported by a unistrut system, which will be sequenced in simultaneous to or after MEP rough-in. We are working with the project team to help model and coordinate the unistrut with the MEP models. This project also has three pedestrian bridges that connect the east and west towers. Our VDC department is helping to create a 4D simulation to help understand the sequencing challenges and ensure a safe and smooth construction up to the top.
Learn more about BIM, VR & AR.
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