A Sustainable Skyscraper, Powered by BIM: Tianjin Chow Tai Fook Financial Center

Skyscrapers aren’t exactly the picture of sustainability. But one firm– China Construction Eighth Engineering Division Corp., Ltd.– intends to change that. Their most recent project, Tianjin Chow Tai Fook Financial Center, brings together businesses, retail, luxury apartments, and a five-star hotel—and makes it all sustainable.


Designing Tianjin Chow Tai Fook Financial Center was an epic undertaking. Standing about 1,739 feet tall, 103 stories high, the skyscraper also features complex design details like a curved façade. It took 100 BIM designers to accomplish the task.


The usual approaches, says, project manager Su Yawu, had to be thrown out the window. “Before, we used a traditional construction approach by joining Excel files and the project files with other components for the project planning,” he says.


However, BIM quickly replaced that approach, making it easier to communicate with stakeholders, and share and alter models faster and with fewer errors.


In a team whose membership spans continents, working from one platform prevents misunderstandings. Of course, with a project at this dizzying level of complexity, “one platform” sounds simple—much simpler than it has been for the stakeholders. During the design process, the team created 1000 BIM models, with a total of 184,504 components.


Engineers also used BIM to design the prefabricated components that came together to produce the superstructure. The designs called for 2000 materials—but with BIM, they were able to cut waste before construction even began.


VR technology was put to work in safety training for workers. Plus, designers also used virtual reality to visualize the final product.


According to Su, BIM technology—supplemented by VR technology—“will change the way people build buildings and skyscrapers in China and around the world.”


Tianjin Chow Tai Fook Financial Center is scheduled to be completed in fall of 2019 but has already caught the imaginations of designers and design aficionados around the world. It recently won first place in Autodesk’s 2017 AEC Excellence Awards.


The project is in the running for some of China’s top design awards, including the Luban Prize and the Zhan Tianyou Prize. The project is also pursuing LEED Gold Certification standards.