Leveraging BIM to build a world-class brewery


Fast-tracking a 216,000-square-foot brewery in 14 months required not only a considerable amount of planning, but the latest in construction technology. At the heart of Hourigan’s Design-Build team for Stone Brewing’s East Coast distribution facility is Building Information Modeling (BIM). Utilizing BIM helps to identify potential issues throughout construction, minimizes change orders, and ultimately saves the client valuable time and money. Here’s how BIM played a role throughout design and construction, which is nearing completion.

Strategic Scheduling
To meet the brewery opening requirements of Spring 2016, early design packages were released in late 2014 to support the project schedule and allow the main structure of the building to begin fabrication. While much of the primary structure was released, the brewing process design was still under development. Using the 3D model, structural additions and modifications were made to the design with consideration for the framing that had already been released for fabrication. The use of technology allowed the teams to plan and evaluate changes needed for the beer-brewing process without affecting elements that were already fabricated or installed in the field.

Increased Accuracy and Coordination for Fast-Track Delivery
One of the primary process drivers for this type of facility is the placement of equipment and the coordination of the brewing tanks, underground piping, and pipe bridge structures for extensive mechanical and process piping. Due to the required speed of construction, and the simultaneous design schedule for these important process coordination items, it was decided that the building structure would use precast concrete panels in lieu of tilt-up concrete panels for the exterior walls. This decision bought valuable time for the process design coordination, and allowed for fast-track delivery of the building shell and envelope.

With BIM, the Hourigan Design-Build team was able to plan with accuracy, find the most efficient routing for MEP systems, prefabricate the material, and install much of the needed infrastructure before the interior concrete floor slabs were ever placed. These decisions allowed for maximum flexibility and speed in a construction process that had an aggressive schedule.

Efficient Communication Across Continents
The utilization of BIM and Bluebeam also streamlined communication, allowing parties involved to communicate more efficiently, particularly across time zones. When it was 10 a.m. in Richmond, Va. (where the project and builders are located), it was 7 a.m. at Stone’s San Diego headquarters and 4 p.m. in Berlin, where much of the facility’s equipment originated. Project information was accessible across continents and time zones 24/7, and it’s safe to say that the model was being viewed and used to bridge land, sea, and language barriers.

The model became a rallying point for the team, and a place where all parties pulled together to review the installed conditions and evolving design information. With this convenience, the members could evaluate the least impactful alternatives for adjustments or additions that were needed for brewing.  A facility of this type requires form to follow function to ensure a design that will efficiently produce in excess of 600,000 barrels of beer per year at full capacity.  Our team worked closely with Stone Brewing Co. to ensure that their goals were met and we maintained all production deadlines.

The Power of BIM 
It’s important also to note that the power of this technology doesn’t end when the project is finished. The 3D models and project documentation is maintained and compiled for use in the management and decision making of the facility. This provides an accurate inventory of the physical assets of the built environment – which will be critical to the operation of the brewery and its thousands of feet of piping, brewing, and plumbing systems.

For more information, read about BIM or the Stone Brewing Company Project.

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