For more than 50 years, Boston-based Flansburgh Architects has been designing award-winning civic, cultural, and educational facilities. “Our work is a microcosm of all building types,” explains Joseph Marshall, AIA, architect and design technology coordinator at Flansburgh. “For example, public, private, and international schools with large campuses allow us to design theaters, dormitories, athletic facilities, and a variety of all building types.” While these complex projects allow for diversity in design, they also require dynamic solutions. As such, Flansburgh has now fully transitioned to BIM to ensure smoother collaboration, both internally and externally.

Over the years, Marshall and his colleagues integrated new components of the latest Vectorworks Architect releases into their workflow to see how BIM could impact their firm’s approach. As a result, Flansburgh is now at the forefront of implementing and advancing cutting-edge technology in architectural design. This BIM-focused process took off with two of Flansburgh’s recently completed projects.

“Holbrook School was one of the first projects where we used BIM with a full consultant team,” says architect and BIM coordinator, Brian Hores, AIA. As the first new full pre-K through 12 public school in Massachusetts, the project was constructed around the existing school while it was still occupied and with minimal disruption to day-to-day school activities.

Having the ability to combine all trades into one building model during early phases of design helped to prevent easily avoidable efficiency problems. Hores’ team kept up with the fast pace of the project by importing all of The Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) data models from the contractors, no matter which BIM software they were using, into their Vectorworks model for the new Holbrook school.

Flansburgh’s master plan for St. John’s Preparatory School, located in the scenic town of Danvers north of Boston, created several new additions to the campus including a new STEM building, a renovated middle school, and a state-of-the-art wellness center. The school wanted a space that would cater to students’ overall well-being, so the Flansburgh team used standard physical models to help everyone visualize the space. “From there, the preferred scheme was brought into a 3D model,” says Marshall, “which aided in the further design development.”

Holbrook School HVAC model image courtesy of Flansburgh

Once the digital model was completed, stakeholders could quickly see how their input affected the design and get a true sense of the finished product. “Using the visualization tools early on lets everyone envision the building. Some of our renderings look as good as photographs,” Marshall notes. Officials at St. John’s Prep used Flansburgh’s renderings for fundraising purposes, and invited Marshall and Flansburgh vice president Kent Kovacs, AIA, to use the project as a teaching tool, introducing the students to architecture and the efficiency of the BIM design process.

“We have been using Vectorworks effectively for a long time,” Marshall says. "It’s an all-in-one design tool with which we can deliver a BIM project without compromising our design process."