Smart hotels using new technologies to cater to guests are becoming expected and demanded by travellers. When it comes to the construction of these next-gen hotels however, an important but hidden “smart” revolution is taking place in the building process itself. Contractors in the United States are partnering with tech companies to build better, smarter hotels in less time and at a lower cost.
BIM (Building Information Modeling) Technology is at the core of the hotel construction revolution, and is one of the most promising developments in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry to date. BIM technology, when combined with Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) practices, allows architects to input their design into a software program that can model a virtual replica of the finished building. With highly accurate models available to the design team at the earliest stages, the entire teams can have all systems pre-coordinated during the design phase. This eliminates both risk and rework during the assembly process, ultimately boosting the bottom line.
The Hyatt House at Belmar in Lakewood, Colorado, which opened in early 2016, is one example of a constructed with this next-generation technique. The company partnered with Prescient, a Denver-based software design and structural system manufacturing company, which has been adding hotels to the list of building projects using its design, engineering, and construction platform. The 135-room, 96,000-sq.ft., Hyatt House at Belmar includes a podium-level and five stories using the Prescient structure, as well as amenity spaces on the first floor for a pool, workout room, and large gathering spaces.
Finding cost, labor & time savings
Today, many hotels are being constructed out of prefabricated steel framing systems rather than traditional wood or expensive and time consuming concrete. The biggest difference with steel-framed buildings – especially ones constructed off-site to precise specifications – is that they require significantly less manpower and materials, not only for the installation of the structure itself, but also for the installation of other building systems and finishes. For example, in a wood frame structure, MEP rough-in crews cannot begin work until the full structure is complete and loaded due to the planned ¾” – 1” of compression of the wood frame. This makes the construction process much more expensive, time consuming and less efficient. With a steel-based prefabricated structure, the rough-in crews can begin working on a floor as soon as the framer has moved to the next level. This makes for a much more cost-effective and timely approach that speeds up the entire project.
In some cases, companies are preassembling framing components, ductwork, electrical assemblies and plumbing to be shipped to the construction site. With today’s BIM models and structural systems, hotels can be assembled very quickly with parts that are simply bolted together. This means the construction team requires fewer skilled laborers which effectively reduces the risk of labor shortages and related delays. The stackable and highly repetitious nature of hotels makes them ideally suited for steel framing systems with preassembled parts. The result is a faster, more efficient and higher quality building than would be possible with another material like wood or concrete. Once the foundation of the building is completed, the use of BIM technology, VDC processes and preassembled components allow the installation of the steel-based structure to be completed in a matter of weeks, not months.
Not only does the use of BIM and a steel-based structure take a great deal of risk out of building, it improves the bottom line. As 3D building technology continues to improve, we will see an increase in major hotel chains adopting this new method to build, as companies like Hyatt already have. The future of hotel construction is all about a smarter and faster way of building.