VIRTUAL MASTER: THE EVOLVING ROLE OF VDC
In the early days of virtual design and construction (VDC), it was seen as a differentiator, an edge for firms like Pavarini McGovern (PMG), who were pushing the limits of technology and innovation. But times have changed. Today’s clients have come to expect VDC in every stage of the project. From site logistics and safety plans, to construction sequencing and field coordination, clients, stakeholders and permitting agencies want to understand more about projects than ever before, and they are relying on the construction managers to share that information in an easy, visual way.
When PMG wanted to expand their VDC capabilities, they looked to the field to find someone with the right combination of technical skills and construction management experience to do the job. Enter Victoria Della-Peruta. Here we speak with her about the path that brought her to virtual construction, how it’s changing things at PMG and where she sees this technology headed next.
Q:How did you get into the construction industry, and into VDC specifically?
A: I come from a construction family, and since I was a kid I’ve always been fascinated by the industry. I studied architecture in school and focused on digital media. Between school terms, I interned with PMG, learning the ropes by assisting with RFIs, shop drawings and submittals and other work of that nature. Upon graduating, I stayed on with PMG as a full-time assistant project manager. I found that with my architecture background and CADD skills, I could manipulate plans and documents directly from the field, which helped save the time normally needed for rounds of revisions and reviews. After seeing a couple of projects through to completion—330 Hudson Street, a major commercial office repositioning, and 100 East 53rd Street, a new 62-story luxury condominium tower—I realized I was ready to take on more responsibility and opportunities to use VDC. At the same time, PMG intended to enhance our VDC offerings by creating a leadership position. It was a perfect storm!
Q: Describe your role.
A: I am PMG’s VDC coordinator. The job is structured a little differently than what people might expect. We’re involving visualization throughout the entire lifecycle of the project—starting with the proposal. I work with marketing, the general super and the project team to bring the project approach and schedule to life through 3- and 4-D visualizations, including logistics and sequencing at various project stages. These realistic visualizations help us demonstrate our thoughtfulness and professionalism, and help us win work.
During preconstruction, I help coordinate the BIM models with our design team and subs to make sure we tackle any clashes or issues before we get into the field. I also help with site safety plans for the DOB and DOT, and logistics models for neighborhood communications plans.
Q: What kinds of projects are you working on?
A: I have been helping with visualization and coordination for clients like RFR, Hines, Brookfield and SJP, to name a few. As a recent example, Brookfield required an immediate turn-around on an overall site logistics plan for their entire city block at Manhattan West. I worked directly with the project team to coordinate their revisions right away, which helped streamline the whole process.
Q: What do you think are the next innovations in VDC?
A: Virtual and augmented reality has already begun popping up in our industry. It’s amazing how quickly this industry is advancing before our eyes. When I began using these programs, virtual and augmented reality were not as prevalent or accessible. Now, practically every house with a child between 10 and 20 has a headset for their PS4 or phone. At PMG, I would like to start using it more to visualize tight spaces and difficult conditions in the field and plan how we’ll manage those before construction begins. We’re also starting to see robots becoming more of a reality. Robots are already being used for layout and 3D scanning of as-built conditions. I expect these kinds of innovations will only continue to automate even more of the process.