Joshua Cohen is a principal at Fat Pencil Studio
Demolition. Excavation. Shoring. Hoisting. There's a lot going on at a construction site and careful planning is required to keep a project running on budget and on schedule, without compromising safety. Since 2005, Fat Pencil Studio has helped construction companies analyze options for site logistics and phasing using accurate 3d models. Now, thanks to the folks at SketchUp, we've got an extensive tutorial available to explain our process.
I won't give it all away here, but if you are not inclined to watch a full 30 minute video about wonky SketchUp techniques, I'll just say that the key trick is using scene tabs to show/hide different layers of the model—one for each phase of the construction project. The project in the video is an apartment building currently under construction in Northwest Portland. I've been over to the site twice to get pictures and hope to return a couple times to get images for updating this post.
Constructability is another area where we see 3d modeling being used to test ideas and strategies before a project breaks ground. Various components can be sourced and accurately represented in a 3d model as part of a building assembly. The visual process of building and evaluating such models can weed out many problems before they happen. Fat Pencil Studio has built detailed 3d models for construction defect cases, and I have to think if the architects and contractors had invested more time up front in evaluating constructability the cases might never have ended up with litigation. As you can see in the image below, a well-organized model can help keep track of building components and show how they fit together:
A wall section showing the parapet and clerestory window construction: