Len Lye Centre: Building a Museum with BIM | The B1M


Len Lye was a famous kinetic artist from New
Zealand. The Len Lye Centre is dedicated to his work and is the country’s first single-artist
museum. Designed by Patterson Associates, the $8.3
million USD building integrates with the new art and cultural precinct in New Plymouth.
It merges with an existing heritage art gallery in a converted cinema to create new archives,
new exhibition space, education studios, a new 62-seater cinema and a motor room to house
Len Lye’s kinetic works, all across 3,000 square meters of internal space. The building is renowned for its façade.
It is formed by twenty 14-meter high pre-cast concrete columns that are clad in highly polished
stainless steel – one of the main material industries in New Zealand’s Taranaki region,
where New Plymouth is situated. Glazing is hidden within the deep-pocketed recesses.
The façade is intended to link rather than divide the external and internal environments. The form of its columns creates a curtain
that reflects natural light into the building during the day and artificial light back out
at night; the images and reflections drawing people in. From above, the colonnade’s top
edges create a Koru form, linking to the Museum’s Polynesian influences. Strict international standards mean that the
museum must operate within precise indoor climate criteria at all times. To realise
an asset with such complex physical geometry – and with such a high performance requirement
– the team worked within a building information modelling (BIM) environment to ensure the
best possible outcomes. The project team shared their graphical and
non-graphical data in a common data environment (CDE), acting as a single source of information
for the scheme. Working with different graphical authoring
software, they exported their graphical information models into IFC format – an international
open file standard that others can read – to improve interoperability. This was done in
several demonstration scenarios to start with, to ensure that protocols were tested and agreed
amongst the team from day one. To co-ordinate the complex architectural and
structural forms, and the advanced internal systems, the project team continually developed
and federated their models, effectively building the finished museum virtually at design-stage. This paid huge dividends with the façade
and meant that the interlocking concrete forms were accurately positioned. Having a clear understanding of the building’s
systems and how they would perform in use, enabled the team to reduce the costs of their
installation. Museums of this size typically require 2-3 plantrooms, but the team were
able to plan the Len Lye Centre into just plant one space. They also co-ordinated with
the HVAC engineers and sub-consultants to improve the route of ductwork runs through
the building. The information model was also used to simulate
daylighting, sun paths and heat gains across the façade, a critical aspect to get right. It also enabled Len Lye staff to easily sign-off
design proposals and to test place artwork within the virtual building, forward planning
exhibitions two years before the gallery actually opened. Heading to site, data within the information
model was extracted to provide construction-issue documentation and to inform programming and
costing. The architectural model of the façade columns
was transferred directly to the pre-cast concrete manufacturers. This ensured a high degree
of accuracy and saved the time typically required to create separate fabrication plans. Throughout the two-year construction period,
contractors were able to access the information model and the 2D data generated from it on
tablets. This helped them to better understand and visualise proposals, avoiding rework and
resolving issues much faster where they did arise. Completed in 2016, the Len Lye Centre is now
one of New Zealand’s leading BIM case studies; a shimmering monument to a key part of the
country’s heritage and an impressive step forward into its future. If you enjoyed this video, don’t forget
to share it with a friend and to get more like this, subscribe to The B1M.

5 thoughts on “Len Lye Centre: Building a Museum with BIM | The B1M

  1. That's beautiful!!! It's such a shame that so many councils object to modern architecture:/( and then pass absolutely rubbish plans to insult our eyes and cause anger in us for decades to come!! It kills off passion and freedom of life in people with vision and passion for beautiful things whatever they may be :

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