Engineering can be a complex business. Further impacting understanding of engineering systems is that they are usually covered by the architectural elements. However, these elements are key to the viability of the systems we design. Therefore, communicating the thoughts and elements of these systems is extremely important. Taking the concept that 'a picture is worth a thousand words,' Walter P Moore has embraced a practice of visual communications to provide pictorial representations of ideas before they are constructed to aid clients, design team members and contractors in understanding our design concepts. These communications come in 3D representations of design, video clips of facilities being considered, and simple electronic sketches. While construction documents are still the basis of the design effort, leveraging BIM and newer technology for reality capture and 3D scanning to illustrate new concepts and communicate our designs help set us apart.
A video fly-through was developed to communicate to city officials and area stakeholders what the Allen Parkway improvements might look like as they considered the viability of the project. The project is planned to include improving pedestrian crossings and traffic movement, increasing parking for the new Buffalo Bayou Park, and enhancing the environment of this prominent gateway leading to Downtown Houston. Local TV stations were able to use the video to illustrate to the public what was being considered by the City. This video is a platform for understanding the project and its impact, generating comments and design suggestions, and establishing open and transparent communications with the public on a very high profile project.
Intersection roadways do not always intersect at right angles. This can cause problems and result in unsafe intersections. Compounding the situation adding a cresting vertical curve through the intersection can block necessary visual corridors. The geometry of Holzwarth Road is one of these situations where both horizontal and vertical curves occur at the same place, potentially creating an unsafe intersection. Using conventional 2 dimensional plans to determine how this intersection would function is extremely difficult to those that know what the issues are and understand them, and almost impossible for those not familiar with the design to understand. Walter P Moore developed a video clip representing the view from a vehicle traversing the proposed elevated intersection to determine what the sight lines would be based on a slight angle at the intersection and a crest vertical curve at the intersection. Using the video clip to visually communicate, our team was able to confirm the feasibility of the design and illustrate to local officials the intersection would be safe.
The more complex a problem is, the more effective visual communication can be. When Texas Children’s Hospital selected a pedestrian bridge design to span over Fannin Street and the METRORail system, Walter P Moore was called upon to help design a system that could be built in this extremely complicated situation and to assure the contractor, the City and METRO that it could be constructed. The design of the facility utilized Building Information Modeling (BIM) computer aided drafting platforms to develop models of the proposed bridge and existing conditions. Then working with the contractor, we developed a sequenced video of the model representing the sequence of construction. The model assisted the team in developing the sequence and associated design modifications to allow the system to be constructed with minimum impact to the rail. The video demonstrated how workers could safely construct the steel structure around the electric catenary wires serving the rail. It also was used to determine how to design and construct the foundation system for the bridge supports that were located in a congested area full of utilities and retaining wall foundations.