World's Seventh-tallest Building Created by Ronald Lu & Partners Using “BIM” Digital Design Technology
The 530m-tall Tianjin Chow Tai Fook Financial Centre is a modern design marvel.
RLP used building Information modelling (BIM) technology, an intelligent 3D model-based process, to design and execute the complex structure
Ronald Lu & Partners (RLP) is committed to advancing architectural design in the digital age, implementing cutting-edge technologies to create a better life at every opportunity. The 530-metre-high Tianjin Chow Tai Fook Financial Centre (“the tower”; “the Centre”) is an excellent example of the firm’s commitment to excellence.
The seventh-tallest building in the world and the third-tallest in China, this recentlycompleted tower is a testament to RLP's extensive skills in using building information modelling (BIM) technology to design and execute world-class structures. In this case, BIM significantly reduced the time and cost of the tower’s construction, and played a vital role in optimising its striking, crystal-clear hyperboloid winding glass curtain wall. Architects have begun using digital modelling to improve efficiency and accuracy, especially during the design and construction of ultra-complex buildings like the Centre, as it increases accuracy and reduces resource use.
At the start of the construction process for the Tianjin Chow Tai Fook Financial Centre, experts estimated that at least 1,308 pieces of independent asymmetric insulating glass units (IGUs) would be required for its unique curtain wall structure, formed by the intersection of eight irregular curved surfaces.
However, after performing BIM analysis and using repeated data modelling, the number of independent IGUs needed for the Centre’s curtain wall was reduced to 476 – a decrease of over 60%. This not only saved an enormous amount of resources and significantly reduced costs; it avoided the risks inherent in fabricating and transporting these glass panels. Additionally, the optimisation of end-unit segmentation and joint cladding helped to further simplify the construction process. As a result of this sophisticated BIM analysis and implementation, the project was completed a full four months ahead of schedule.
The tallest building north of the Yangtze River in China, the Tianjin Chow Tai Fook Financial Centre is made up of four basement levels and five podium levels, topped by a 103-storey tower. The Centre also includes the K11 shopping mall, the K11 ATELIER office, a five-star hotel and serviced apartments.
The Centre has been recognised as one of the most complicated skyscraper designs and structural systems ever designed in the country, combining both rigidity and flexibility to counter the effect of winds and seismic activity. In delivering this incredible “vertical city”, RLP leveraged the sophisticated talents of experts in digital modelling and collaborated with top domestic and foreign partners, including SOM, the East China Institute of Architectural Design and Research and ARUP.
Traditional building design still largely relies on two-dimensional technical drawings; BIM extends these designs into three-dimensional geometry. BIM also incorporates information about time, cost, asset management, sustainability, and other important considerations that technical drawings cannot. As the technology has evolved, BIM's multiple advantages in terms of construction schedule coordination, clash detection, spatial relationships, geospatial information, quantities and properties of building components, and many other factors have become more apparent and increasingly indispensable.
Bryant Lu, the Vice Chairman of RLP, has been a champion of BIM for more than a decade. He says, “Over the past few years, BIM has become widely used in the fields of architecture, engineering and construction. Governments have also introduced BIM-related standards and policies to support these sectors and help accelerate their practices into the digital age. At RLP, we have experienced the many advantages of BIM first hand: integrating cross-departmental information resources, optimising construction times, ensuring economic costs are kept down, and solving complex structures.”
“I absolutely believe that the use of BIM across these sectors will become more prominent in the future”, Mr Lu continues, “BIM helped create the iconic façade system of the Tianjin Chow Tai Fook Financial Centre, making it into a world-renowned skyscraper. This success reflects RLP's persistence, perseverance and professional advantage in cultivating our BIM proficiency over the past 12 years.”
The Tianjin Chow Tai Fook Financial Centre has already won several awards, including the highest honour recognised by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ China Awards 2020, as well as other internationally prominent awards including the China BIM Certification Alliance’s Platinum Award and the Steel Structure Gold Award at the China Construction Metal Structure Association’s Annual Outstanding Engineering Awards.
RLP has also won several international BIM-related awards, including for our design of Hong Kong's Xiqu Centre. RLP currently employs more than 80 BIM experts, a figure which is likely to expand.
Mr Lu has a bright view of the future of BIM at the firm, saying: “RLP intends to expand our usage of cutting-edge digital tools such as BIM to design a better life and contribute more to the development of cities in China, across the Asia-Pacific region and around the world.”