Perhaps it’s the inner BIM (Building Information Modeling) geek in me, but I’m constantly impressed while looking at the construction document level MEP models that our engineers generate. While there is a certain level of mundanity to the subject matter, there is also an elegance that stems from being able to visualize the entirety of the air and hydronic systems in a building in three dimensions. The models at this stage of development are notable because they represent the many hours of thought and effort from the engineering disciplines all consolidated into one digital representation.
Beyond the aesthetic value of it, there is the very tangible coordination benefit that the MEP models present. The discussions that occur during design between ourselves and our engineers are always much more productive and efficient when we have the model to reference. We can also push the boundaries of spatial efficiency with more confidence, allowing for tighter ceiling plenums and more efficient mechanical rooms.
Here are a few images that illustrate the level of complexity and intelligence that are built into these models. The first is a view of the mechanical, plumbing, and fire protection systems in the classroom wing of our Brooke Mattapan project. The second is a rendering that our mechanical engineer did of the mechanical room at our KIPP Academy Lynn project (credit Sam Kats of Architectural Engineers Inc.). Yes, you read that correctly; our mechanical engineer generated a rendering of the mechanical room, as they were proud of the compact footprint within which they were able to make their design work. To me, this anomaly in the normal course of architect-engineer interaction was evidence of the paradigm shift that MEP models are bringing about.