Introduction

In today's bridge design landscape, computational tools are helping AEC leaders shift away from traditional CAD-based methods. As clients are now demanding more innovative and outstanding bridge designs, AEC firms are pushed to think outside of the box by delivering structural foundations while exceeding creative expectations.

This case study sheds light on the transformation of the Burnaby Pedestrian Bridge by Perkins Eastman with the use of Speckle. This shift showcases how computational precision is reshaping efficiency and innovation in bridge engineering, with Speckle at its core.

Design Concept

The Burnaby Lake Pedestrian Bridge is conceived as a seamless union of nature and infrastructure. Its inception arises from the necessity to reconnect a fragmented community divided by the presence of Highway 1 in Burnaby. This highway, while facilitating rapid transportation, became a barrier between residents and the natural beauties offered by Burnaby Lake and the Brunette River.

The bridge concept is multifaceted, drawing inspiration from nature, history, and engineering innovation. It aims not only to bridge the physical divide created by the highway but also to become a symbol of unity and connection once completed.

Concept Diagrams

Bridging the Digital Divides in Collaboration

The collaborative synergy between the Architecture Team, McElhanney – the prime consultant, and the structural engineering firm, Fast + Epp, is the key partnership of the Burnaby Lake Pedestrian Bridge project. McElhanney, playing a crucial role in providing Civil and Landscape services, contributes to the comprehensive design and realisation of the project. Fast + Epp, known for its structural engineering team, makes it an invaluable partner in realising the bridge's innovative design. Both teams understood the transformative potential of technology and leveraged it to deliver an efficient workflow.

Handling Collaboration with Speckle

At the project's inception, the Architecture team led the design process, collaborating closely with respective disciplines, exploring diverse concepts and envisioning the bridge's final form. The heart of this collaborative venture lies in the extensive use of computational design tools, primarily Grasshopper.

The latter was necessary when crafting the bridge's form and served as the digital canvas upon which the design narrative unfolded. Fast + Epp took charge of specific segments of the superstructure, most notably defining the curved lines that would shape the triangular profile arches, a critical structural element of the bridge's aesthetics and functionality.

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“Speckle served as the linchpin for seamless data exchange among team members and various disciplines. This integration was not merely a technological addition; it fundamentally altered the way we approached collaboration. Through Speckle, the bridge design became a living, breathing entity, constantly evolving and improving.” says Damola Michael from Perkins Eastman.

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Dynamics of Real-Time Data Exchange

Speckle's impact on collaboration enabled various teams to work more efficiently. The main deck is proof of this where both architects and structural engineers were able to easily coordinate on the two curves, deifning the overall deck geometries.

Speckle also had an impact with its real-time data exchange capabilities, enabling quick updates to the project models. This capability empowered multi-disciplinary teams to engage seamlessly with a network of fragmented scripts directly through Speckle. This resulted in accurate information sharing and consistently updated models.

Using Speckle and Grasshopper

In contrast to platforms like Revit, which can accommodate multiple collaborators in a central model, Grasshopper presented inherent limitations. Speckle acted as a bridge between these disparate workflows. This guaranteed that all members of the design and engineering teams were consistently equipped with the latest project information.

Beyond real-time updates, Speckle showcased its invaluable built-in version control, a robust feature that proved necessary in navigating the complexities of parametric design. This feature facilitated the tracking of changes and the review of previous iterations and provided a safety net in case of errors. It also served as a valuable resource for continuous learning and optimisation throughout the design process.

Grasshopper

Detailed Scripting from Macro to Micro

The parametric capabilities of Grasshopper enabled a systematic approach to detail, ensuring that every element, regardless of size, was considered within the broader design framework. Aside from the pinch plate detailing, other examples of this approach include the iterative refinement of cable spacing and arch angles, two pivotal design elements that underwent meticulous development.

The cable spacing, a crucial factor in structural and aesthetic considerations, underwent a series of refinements. Similarly, the arch angles, influencing the bridge's overall form and visual appeal, underwent an iterative refinement process. Speckle's bidirectional data exchange capabilities played a pivotal role in this process, enabling synchronised collaboration between the architecture and the structural teams.

The alternative approach, relying on traditional methods for detailing this type of complex geometry, could have introduced inconsistencies, delays, and potential errors in the Burnaby Lake Pedestrian Bridge's intricate design.

From Design to Documentation: The Nuanced Path from Grasshopper to Revit

The transformative aspect of streamlining the Burnaby Lake Pedestrian Bridge's transition from Grasshopper to Revit becomes even more pronounced when considering the ability to make drastic design changes, even in the detailed design phase. Converting Grasshopper elements into native Revit elements both optimised the model's size and presented lots of flexibility.

From Design to Documentation

This streamlined workflow eliminated the typical challenges associated with modifying detailed designs, providing the freedom to experiment and refine the bridge's form without hindering the documentation process. The collaborative integration of Speckle and Rhino.Inside.Revit further enhanced this flexibility, enabling the team to maintain precision in construction drawings while managing design changes.

Conclusion

Exploring the successes of AEC firms like Perkins Eastman, John Sisk & Son, Aurecon, AtkinsRéalis, and Arup, Speckle offers you and your team the opportunity to enhance productivity and improve internal workflows. Join our Community Forum to engage and learn, or contact us at [email protected] for tailored insights into how Speckle can transform your operations.

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