BIM for Façade Access: Can you Reach Every Square Foot of Your Building?

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Recently, LB employee-owners Andrew Atkins and Brandon Schwartz, P.E. spoke at the Digital Built Environment Institute conference in Dallas regarding increasingly restrictive code requirements for facade access equipment and the complexity of building facades, which requires designers to consider the implications of facade access early on in the design process.

Check out their presentation summary below and contact us to learn more or to request this presentation for your team’s next lunch and learn.


Whether you are designing a mid-rise rectangular-shaped clinic building, or the tallest building in New York City with a complex geometry and intricate façade, designers must consider how the owners and maintenance staff ultimately access every square foot of the façade for cleaning and other maintenance needs.

The advent of Revit and other 3D modeling approaches has greatly assisted in the pursuit of early, comprehensive coordination of the façade access program.  This class will first explain some of the basic approaches to façade access, whether they are aerial work platforms (boom lifts) or building maintenance units (BMU’s) that ride atop rails a thousand feet in the sky. The typical process and model exchange between consultant and design team will be highlighted, including the use of special equipment schedules, and how BIM 360 streamlines the process.

We will then demonstrate how attendees can build a conceptual boom lift or BMU family in order to gain early design data and coordinate amongst disciplines. The structural engineer can get preliminary force reactions from the BMU. The architect can determine how high the parapet may be to hide the BMU. The mechanical engineer can verify that the proper clearances to equipment are maintained.

The presentation will share some of the more advanced families that Lerch Bates has developed, specifically for BMU’s, and some tips and tricks that we have utilized to make the families more user-friendly and manipulate the geometry in the 3D viewing environment. Although these tips will be focused on the special equipment” category, they will be applicable to many families that attendees utilize on a daily basis.

Lastly we will share a brief case study of a recent high-rise project and how many of the previously-discussed tools were implemented—to varying degrees of success—by the façade access consulting team.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn how the façade access industry currently utilizes Revit models to determine equipment needs.
  2. Discover how conceptual families, including adaptive components, can be created to understand initial design criteria, such as reaction forces and reach distance.
  3. Understand how families can be modified with reach zones to run “reverse clash detection” studies for your building.
  4. Learn how schedules and the Revit model can be utilized to collaborate with Operations & Maintenance personnel.
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