Perhaps not much of a widely discussed subject but certainly one of great interest to clients, stakeholders and delivery teams across the globe, both past and present, major sports projects are extraordinary feats of economic planning, risk management, social interactions and engineering ingenuity.  In a broader sense involvement stems from a political level through to local organising committees, programme/project managers and a talented supply chain of designers/contractors/engineers.


Where does BIM fit into all of this?


Early Experiences  

Based on my early career experiences as a graduate design coordinator working on the 2012 Olympic Stadium, London.  The project was built within a 40 acre site with a seating capacity of 80,000 during the event and converted to 25,000 for Legacy.  Our team was tasked with coordinating the mechanical, electrical and public health systems using BIM (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Design Authoring and Coordination, 2012 Olympic Stadium, London  (Source: Fulcro Engineering Services)


This ultimately supported design development and multidisciplinary design coordination on site.  Other outputs such as quantities, drawings and visualisations were derived from the basis of a coordinated and accurate model.  This saved time across various activities and simplified the process for everyone to understand areas of complexity and constraints relatively quickly to reach optimal resolutions.  In addition, client representatives were using BIM as a basis to create a site wide rendered visualisation model to support communication and engagement.  Overall some of the key benefits included better information management, communication, simplified design coordination and improved project delivery (time/cost/quality).


At the time I recall researching into projects in the Far East such as The Beijing National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest to comprehend the extent of BIM implementation and associated benefits.  Figure 2 demonstrates the use of 3D modelling and analysis.


Figure 2: 3D Structural Modelling, Birds Nest Stadium, Beijing (Source: Tekla)


In this project example, BIM was used to not only model, coordinate and analyse the design but also to reduce the construction costs as “the designers removed the top roof and enlarged the area of the roof opening, which reduced the total steel weight from 45,000 to 42,000 tons”.  Fully appreciating BIM requires initial investment, buy in and coherent management – on a very high level industry recognises that the use of BIM on major sports projects is practical and valuable through the graphical representation of design elements and associated metadata.


Journey in the Middle East

Otherwise, the realisation through my later experiences in programme management, leading BIM for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World CupTM,  truly became an eye opener for implementing digital engineering initiatives on major sports projects.  The benefit of having an educated client and buy in from the outset was a great asset within itself, alongside a talented team of BIM analysts and some of the worlds most talented and skilled consultants.  From the initial setting up of strategy, standards and templates right through to the procurement of information management systems and actual execution of BIM on live projects.  Our starting point was Al Wakrah Stadium, designed by Aecom in association with Zaha Hadid (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Al Wakrah Stadium, Qatar (Source AECOM & SC)


BIM was implemented for various uses including design authoring, clash detection, quality assurance, environmental analysis, digital fabrication, construction sequencing, quantification, structural analysis, crowd modelling, visualisation and operations and maintenance.  The data derived from these uses could then be used by various departments across the client organisation to make informed decisions, understand constraints and provide feedback.  BIM provided teams with better quality information (through a central data repository) that was reliable and accurate enough to inform decision making.  This coupled with other information management and technology initiatives including GIS, dashboards and camera monitoring solutions provided a whole new world of further innovation and benefits for managing construction activities.


Final Thoughts

From our experiences at BIM academy we recognise BIM can without a doubt be successfully implemented on major sports projects in various respects.  Furthermore, it is important to recognise that successful execution requires a well thought through strategy, robust standards, experienced and knowledgeable staff and the ability to join the dots between different initiatives.  Equally stakeholder management and engagement from the top down needs to be continuously coordinated in order to ensure real value can be derived across the entire ecosystem of a project.  Subject to BIM being implemented correctly during design and construction, the use cases for facilities and asset management through to operations are open for exploitation (Figure 4).  The opportunities are immense for rolling out BIM and related digital engineering workstreams on major sports projects, whereby we certainly recognise no single project is the same with relentless pursuits of greater efficiency and dynamic delivery environments.



Figure 4: Potential use cases for BIM – Facilities and asset management and operations