Not Your Grandfather’s Dorms
The Weitz Company builds massive luxury student housing community at Texas A&M, largest of its kind
- The Weitz Company finished a 3,406-bed student housing community ahead of schedule
- Bluebeam Revu allowed the company to simplify document management across the project
- The P3 partnership between Weitz, Texas A&M and Servitas is the largest of its kind to date
In August, The Weitz Company completed Park West, a 50-acre, 3,406-bed student housing community at Texas A&M University in College Station. Weitz’s success was aided in no small measure by a suite of BIM technologies, in particular Bluebeam Revu. The project, a public-private partnership between the university, Weitz and developer Servitas, encompasses 2.2 million square feet and was completed one week ahead of schedule, just in time for the fall semester.
A Sense of Place
At one point during construction, there were over 1,500 people working simultaneously on the project, which was spread over 15 buildings and 70 acres. Greg Martin, Senior Manager of Operational Excellence at Weitz, knew that on a site of this scale, even something as simple as physical orientation—let alone communication—would require innovation and experimentation.
“It just made sense to me that Weitz needed a visual way to communicate and provide access to the project information,” he explained. And after attending Bluebeam’s eXtreme Conference in 2015, Martin hit upon the solution: a map-based dashboard in Bluebeam Revu, where users could simply tap on a building to identify it. On a busy jobsite, it’s not always easy to locate the physical plaque identifying, say, Building 13. But if users could orient themselves on a map, they could quickly find what they were looking for without referring back to a key or learning unfamiliar nomenclature.
When the team at Weitz set out to design the dashboard, they were surprised at how easy it was without any coding or programming experience. In a matter of hours, they were able to create sleek icons and link them to documents and folder locations.
Most of the design time was spent perfecting the appearance of the dashboard, matching the Weitz brand but also foregrounding simplicity and ease of use. Once Weitz had a design they were happy with, the project managers uploaded all project-related documents onto the popular file-sharing service Box, and created hyperlinks to them in Revu. The information was managed on-site, and one project engineer was responsible for making all necessary adjustments, modifications and updates to the dashboard and associated documents.
Managing Document Access and Training Users
Every Weitz professional was given an iPad with Revu, and subcontractors—58 in all on the project—used Vu, Bluebeam’s free mobile PDF reader, to easily access the information they needed. Subcontractors could view the most up-to-date versions of the plans, but because they were only granted viewing privileges, there was no fear they’d inadvertently modify any documents.
Training the subcontractors was easy: “It’s pretty intuitive to touch a building in order to access the plans and documents,” Martin said. And from that point on, the various teams were able to provide support to each other as new people joined the jobsite.
The technology The Weitz Company used was vital to the project’s construction, and the completed student housing community now stands as a testament to their keep-it-simple approach. Park West is the largest public-private (P3) student housing partnership to date, and with 50,000 square feet of rooftop deck, three fitness centers, a jogging trail and three resort-style swimming pools, it just may be the grandest, too.