BIM played a key role in Central Washington Hospital's patient tower project.

Marjorie Brown, northwest managing principal, HDR Architecture, Seattle, says she and her firm are sold on the use of building information modeling (BIM) technology for the design and construction of new facilities. It's easy to see why.

The new Central Washington Hospital's patient tower in Wenatchee, Wash., was completed 10 weeks ahead of schedule and $7 million under budget, mainly because of BIM.

"From design visioning, coordination and mockups, the use of BIM at Central Washington helped drive the owner's decision-making process and became an invaluable tool for the construction team," says Brown. BIM was used to position the building, design interior spaces, and design and coordinate the mechanical-electrical-plumbing as well as the curtain wall and envelope.

Communication was streamlined as all team members were able to access digital renditions of the work in progress from computer tablets and desktops. Smart board technology and a large touchscreen computer in the job site office were used to interact with the model and other electronic documents.

The design technology increased efficiency by halving the number of requests for information by the project team and also the need for redesigns, according to HDR.

"You don't have to waste time coordinating numerous two-dimensional drawings and finding information when everything is on one central three-dimensional Revit [software] model," says Brown, adding that the program played an important role in maintaining design integrity.

The $81 million, 288,415-square-foot, six-story tower houses 151 patient rooms, a nursery, labor and delivery departments, a critical care and post-coronary care unit. A new central utility plant is adjacent to the tower. Demolition of the previous two-story hospital was required for the new construction.

Tim Heidlebaugh, facilities director at Central Washington, used to be skeptical about BIM. He's now a firm believer and raves about its impact on the project.