Selected Projects from Bentley's 2016 Be Inspired AwardsAECbytes Feature (February 9, 2017)

Towards the end of last year, we looked at the main developments and updates from Bentley at its annual Year in Infrastructure (YII) conference and some infrastructure projects from China, Finland, Denmark, and the US that were implemented using Bentley solutions, highlighting their scope and range.

Many more implementation examples were showcased as part of Bentley’s annual “Be Inspired” awards, a mainstay of the YII conferences. The call for submissions for these awards goes out in the summer, and from among the many entries in different categories that are submitted, three are chosen as the finalists in each category by a non-Bentley jury comprised of experts in that field. These finalists are invited to present at the YII conference and a winner is chosen, with the awards then being presented in an Oscar-like gala during one of the evenings of the conference.

The project presentations, not just of the winners but all the finalists, provide a terrific opportunity to learn more about the cutting-edge use of Bentley solutions in different kinds of infrastructure projects all over the world. This article provides an overview of some of the most compelling of these projects that were featured at the YII 2016 conference held in October.

Hanking Center Tower, Shenzhen, China

This mixed-use commercial building located in Shenzhen in Guangdong Province, China, was the winner in the “Innovation in Building” category. Designed by Morphosis Architects, a long-time Bentley user that is well-known for its cutting-edge use of BIM, the Hanking Center Tower is currently under construction and, when completed in 2018, will be the tallest steel building in China, with a total height of 350 meters (1,148.3 feet). Morphosis’ projects are almost always visually striking, and this one is no exception, using folded angles to merge the public retail and dining contained in the base podium with the private commercial space in the tower that rises from it, allowing the building to be seen as a single, dynamic form (Figure 1). This unusual form was achieved by offsetting the structural core of the tower. Moving the primary circulation and services cores to the exterior of the floorplate opens up the main body of the tower, providing greater space-planning flexibility with increased natural light and airflow. A series of sky bridges and diagonal mega-braces link the offset core to the main tower, and the structural system is further strengthened by two secondary cores in the body that are used to house additional elevators and mechanical services.

Figure 1. Renderings of the Hanking Center Tower in Shenzhen, China, showing both its exterior and interior design. (Courtesy: Morphosis Architects)

From a technology implementation standpoint, the complex form of the building with its faceted façade and offset core configuration was challenging in its own right, and Morphosis used the parametric modeling and multi-disciplinary BIM capabilities of Bentley’s AECOsim Building Designer application to design it. The detached core was developed iteratively in close collaboration with the structural engineer, using modeling and finite element analysis to create an efficient system for the building to withstand gravity, wind and seismic loads while creating an open floor plan, as well as to refine the angles of the building’s geometry to improve its structural integrity. For the development of the building’s faceted façade, the design team used a parametric model in coordination with the structural engineer and façade consultant to establish the location and angles of the building’s folds, and subsequently develop it further to include dimensionally accurate system components (Figure 2). This model also provided the basis for coordination between the building’s envelope and the adjacent building systems including structural steel, concrete floor slabs, interior ceilings, and MEP systems.

Figure 2. The use of AECOsim Building Designer to design the faceted façade of the building. (Courtesy: Morphosis Architects)

With Morphosis Architects and most of the consulting firms on the project (Halvorson + Partners, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Stantec, and others) headquartered in the US, the need to work seamlessly with local design and construction firms in China required close collaboration, and this is where Bentley’s open platform and ability to translate geometric and BIM data to other vendor’s platforms was indispensable. All of the stakeholders in the project developed detailed BIM models and these were the basis for all design and coordination activities instead of the traditional 2D documentation. The process not only enabled effective BIM clash detection but also a high level of quality control, not only during the design phase, but also in the construction phase, where the comprehensive BIM model is continuing to be used for the review of construction RFIs and submittals from the general contractor and sub-contractors. In addition, the model is being used to develop digital and physical mock-ups of specific components of the design such as the curtain wall, metal façade panels, and the interior atrium liner for fabrication.

22 Bishopsgate, London, UK

This commercial skyscraper, currently under construction in London’s Financial District, was the winner in the “Innovation in Structures” category of the Be Inspired Awards (Figure 3). Rather than starting with the usual blank stake, this 62-story tower, designed by PLP Architecture, was required to be built using the foundation and basement previously constructed for an earlier tower project on that site named The Pinnacle which stalled in 2012. Having to work with an existing core made the project especially challenging from a structural perspective, which is what won WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff (WSP), the engineering firm for the project, the “Innovation in Structures” award. Construction on the project started last year and it is scheduled for completion in 2019.

Figure 3. Renderings of the 22 Bishopsgate project in the Financial District of London, UK. (Courtesy: WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff and PLP Architecture)

In order to adapt the existing structural elements for use in the 22 Bishopsgate superstructure, WSP first had to carry out extensive structural analysis to determine what could be re-used and how (Figure 4). WSP used Bentley’s RAM Structural System to analyze the interaction between the new and existing structural elements and model the complex geometry required for the foundation and basement, going through over 70 iterations for the design. RAM also enabled the design to be optimized to meet the site and structural constraints as well as comply with the strict European regulatory codes. Using another related Bentley product, RAM Concept, for the design of the basement raft foundation and floor slabs below ground level enabled WSP to retain much of the existing basement construction. Eventually, WSP succeeded in using 100 percent of the existing foundations and 50 percent of the basement.

Figure 4. Use of RAM structural analysis to design the 22 Bishopsgate structure using the existing core of the earlier Pinnacle project. (Courtesy: WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff)

The interoperability of Bentley software with other structural design and modeling applications was also critical in calculating lateral stability and load analyses, optimizing load transfers in the superstructure through the use of inclined columns and trusses, and undertaking fire analysis to determine which of the steel beams required fire protection and for what duration. Also, the ability to link RAM to Revit through Bentley’s Integrated Structural Modeler allowed a BIM model of the structure to be created that was used for 3D visualization, drawing production, material takeoffs, and collaboration with other disciplines (Figure 5). WSP estimates that the use of Bentley technology on this project reduced the design time by 40 percent and design production by 10 months, in addition to facilitating an economical, efficient structural design for the building.

Figure 5. Using other interoperable applications for further structural analysis and modeling on the 22 Bishopsgate project. (Courtesy: WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff)

Oviedo Automatic Parking System, Medellin, Colombia

The purpose of this project was to design an unmanned automated parking system for the vertical storage of 210 vehicles in a space where there was no other possible alternative, solving the severe parking shortage at the expanding Oviedo Shopping Mall in Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia. Designed by Estaco, a Colombian engineering company that specializes in the design, manufacture, and assembly of metal structures, the system had to be accommodated within an existing reinforced concrete building (Figure 6). Now completed and operational, the Oviedo Automatic Parking System was a trend-setter—five similar projects were constructed following the successful completion of this project, providing a very efficient solution for the city’s parking system requirements.

Figure 6. The automated parking system designed for the Oviedo Shopping Mall in Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia. (Courtesy: Estaco)

While the project does not appear visibly complex at first glance, what made it especially challenging was that the metal building and its electro-mechanical components operating the vertical movement of the cars had to be installed without compromising the concrete building’s structural integrity. Estaco made extensive use of Bentley’s STAAD.Pro to simulate different design options for the project and arrive at the best solution. It allowed an integrated model of the metal and concrete structures to be developed, which was used to review and validate the final scheme for concrete reinforcement, steel structure erection, and metal-concrete connection. Also, the ability of STAAD.Pro to share the mathematical models of the structure with other similar applications enabled the design to be vetted and meet the increasingly stringent structural reviews for projects of this nature required by the regulatory agencies in Columbia.

Helsinki 3D+, Helsinki, Finland

While there is no Be Inspired award category yet for city modeling as such (see the recent AECbytes article, City Information Modeling), the City of Helsinki in Finland did win an award in the “Innovation in Reality Modeling” category for its multi-year Helsinki 3D+ project which aims to create a 3D representation of the entire city. Helsinki was already using 3D data for city modeling since 1985 for smarter development and improving internal services through the ability to visualize, simulate, and analyze various “what-if” scenarios for aspects such as traffic, congestion, energy, solar shading, flood control, and so on. The Helsinki 3D+ project, scheduled to be completed later this year, aims to put a more “life-like” face to an abstract city model by adding actual scanned data to it (Figure 7).

This data was acquired using a combination of laser scanning and oblique photogrammetry, and subsequently processed using Bentley’s reality modeling tools. A 3D mesh representation of the city was generated using ContextCapture, and Pointools was used to model the surface and terrain. ProjectWise was also extensively used by the team to manage documents and data, and to share information across internal and external teams throughout the project. Other Bentley applications that were deployed include Bentley Maps for large scale base maps and utility maps; MicroStation for modeling and documentation; Descartes and Raster Manager for oblique and ortho images; Navigator for data viewing; and Lumen RT for visualization and presenting models. This, Helsinki 3D+ was pretty much a Bentley project all the way through, highlighting Bentley’s long-standing focus on infrastructure solutions and its position as the leading technology provider when it comes to BIM for infrastructure and city information modeling.

Figure 7. The Helsinki 3D+ project enhances the model of the city and adds reality modeling data to it. (Courtesy: City of Helsinki)

Ordot Dump Closure, Guam, US
This project located in Guam, an unincorporated and organized territory of the United States situated in the western Pacific Ocean, won a Be Inspired Special Recognition Award for Advancing Construction Management. The project involved the need to close a 50-acre former military dump that had become the source of significant water pollution to the area as well as air pollution from methane gas emissions, in addition to being infested with flies and a general eyesore (Figure 8). The construction management firm for the project, GHD, Inc., had to work with contractors and stakeholders across 10 different time zones to cap the dump and create a proper disposal system; also, the project was in a highly sensitive location subject to stormy weather conditions, which could potentially impose additional construction delays.      

GHD needed collaborative software to streamline workflows, manage project costs, keep the project on schedule, and ensure environmental compliance. It chose to go with Bentley EADOC —now named ProjectWise Construction Management—to store and manage all contractor-related data (see my 2015 review of EADOC).  The use of EADOC provided GHD with 24/7 access to manage enormous amounts of project data, including onsite weather station logs, aerial drone photography, and contractor daily reports (Figure 8). Based on the meticulous records developed and maintained in EADOC, GHD was able to fairly evaluate the contractor’s multiple bad weather claims, as well as demonstrate to the contractor the need to implement proper stormwater control to reduce the leachate generation while still meeting the project deadline and realizing profit on the project. Also, the use of EADOC as the central location for all documents optimized information mobility, streamlined project workflow, and greatly facilitated communication and collaboration among the internationally dispersed team members and stakeholders. GHD has some concrete ROI estimates for its use of EADOC: the reduction of time spent in processing submittals and RFIs by approximately 800 resource hours, and savings of over USD 340,000 in change order costs.

Figure 8. The Ordot Dump Closure project in Guam and the use of EADOC for its construction management. (Courtesy: GHD, Inc.)


In addition to the five projects highlighted here, there were many more projects that were selected as finalists in a wide variety of infrastructure design and construction categories for the Be Inspired Awards. The complete list of the finalists and winners in different categories can be seen at: While it was impossible to attend all the finalists’ presentations, even the brief overviews highlighted during the conference showed the vast scope and diversity of Bentley’s infrastructure solutions. There literally did not seem to be a field that is not covered.

At the same time, while all this specialization—which is increasing by the day—is well and good, it would be nice to see more examples of interdisciplinary work, for example, the integration of building design with the surrounding roads and utilities, or the impact of designing a new highway or rail system on the entire region represented in a city model. It would also be good to see an increased focus on analysis by highlighting projects that are analysis-heavy rather the design-heavy. And finally, we really need to turn our attention to the FM side of buildings and infrastructure, which still seems to be almost non-existent when showcasing examples of technology implementation in AEC.

About the Author

Lachmi Khemlani is founder and editor of AECbytes. She has a Ph.D. in Architecture from UC Berkeley, specializing in intelligent building modeling, and consults and writes on AEC technology. She can be reached at

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