Meet the 2019 AEC Innovator of the Year:
Director of Virtual Design & Construction
Amr Raafat has an unparalleled passion for pushing the envelope of what is possible. He is renowned for creating groundbreaking virtual experiences that support the efficiency and execution of Windover Construction projects, all while mitigating risk and increasing client satisfaction. His vision is to creatively integrate the most innovative applications, using the power of Autodesk technology, to offer unprecedented insight and solutions to the construction process. As a shining example, Amr’s innovative approach to modular construction has quite literally transformed the offsite design and prefabrication process for Windover and its partners.
1. Transforming Modular and Prefabrication Construction Planning - Combining Drone Mapping, Laser Scanning and BIM Coordination
211 Rantoul is a 153,000 square-foot, mixed-use residential project in Beverly, Massachusetts. The innovative design features 126 luxury apartments built from 184 modular units assembled in site into two buildings. For this project, two structural systems and building methods were used – the lower two floors are structural steel supporting the upper six floors of prefabricated, wood-framed modular units. The core openings between the two structural systems on the third floor had to be precisely coordinated to avoid expensive conflicts between the systems when modular units arrived onsite for placement.
Amr’s Innovative VDC Approach:
After erection of each structural steel section, Amr performed drone flyovers to capture and create an aerial Point Cloud model of the steel with ground survey points. This provided a highly accurate representation of the as-built steel. He also utilized a laser scanner to capture any ground-based data that was not clearly visible in the drone aerial view. By combining both Point Cloud models in reality capture software, Amr created a complete data set of existing conditions onsite. He then modeled both in Revit along with the plumbing on the lower two floors, the third-floor core openings, and the plumbing on the upper four floors of modular units. Next, Amr appended the mechanical openings for clash detection in Navisworks. Amr led coordination meetings with the modular unit supplier in Canada, RCM Modulaire, and the team to address the identified conflicts and resolve them.
The entire process had to be completed in an exceedingly short timeframe for the modular factory to adjust their drawings in time for fabrication to meet the schedule. Amr was able to perform this process in six phases over a condensed, four-month period.
Amr also applied an innovative and completely unprecedented approach by using Autodesk software and Laser scans point clouds to document, visualize, and communicate spot elevations of the entire elevation. This helped detect areas that required modification to strapping thickness or girt size to eliminate issues as the sider went up and down the building, Amr’s work supported envelope work and ensured we delivered best in-class façade work aligned with the design intent.
Amr utilized the Microsoft HoloLens, leading the project team on an Augmented Reality site walk through. By overlaying the third-floor modular units above the existing second floor structural steel as hologram, Amr was able to provide our team, the designer, and the client an unprecedented visual representation of how the building elements would come together in a never-before-experienced immersive mixed reality environment. Having the ability to detect potential conflicts onsite in real-time in this immersive experience, the project team was able to field-verify potential conflicts before fabrication and installation, saving the project countless hours and dollars of rework.
2. Combining Drone Mapping + Virtual Reality: An innovative method for using immersive virtual reality to support a real-life project lighting study
After completing a state-of-the-art athletic facility in New England, it was determined that the stadium lights were too bright for an adjacent building during night games. A light study was performed to identify methods of reducing the amount of lighting.
Amr Leverages VDC for Accuracy and Clarity:
Amr performed a drone flyover of the athletic field and surrounding site to capture and map a detailed 3D model. The data collected included elevations and dimensional information. By importing the site model into 3ds Studio MAX, Amr was able to model the stadium light pole in Revit exactly as it was shown in the cut sheets from the manufacturer. Amr then added the exact light intensity and distance, creating the virtual reality environment base for the light study. Windover’s team was then able to explore several different and creative methods to reduce the light entering the adjacent building. Options included everything from planting evergreen trees to using different light shade fabrics. All options were modeled in Revit and exported to 3ds Max in the immersive virtual environment.
Ultimately, this process helped determine that light shades would serve as the best option to mitigate the light overflow. By using the elevation data captured by the drone and represented in the 3D model, they were able to identify precise fabric dimensions, color, and positioning. Combining drone mapping with the 3D model in this completely new and innovative manner helped the team provide a solution very efficiently and quickly, resulting in high client satisfaction.
3. Virtual Reality for Construction Safety Training
For the past two years during Safety & Wellness Week at Windover Construction, Amr single handedly developed innovative and immersive Virtual Reality site safety environments to engage, teach, and make a longstanding impact on how our employees view safety. Individuals can explore virtual models of different jobsites wearing the Oculus Rift and, as part of a safety training game, are asked to detect up to 10 OSHA Violations within the virtual environment. To develop the VR experience, Amr sat with Windover’s experienced field experts to learn the most common and critical safety risks onsite. He then used Revit to model those exact site scenarios. The result provides an innovative, one-of-a-kind method for training employees on construction site safety without ever having to step foot outside their safe, physical office environment.
Windover presented this safety VR experience in the Immersive Visualization at ABX 2017 in Boston, MA.
4. 4D Construction Animations using Drone Captured Site 3D Model
Combining gaming technology and engineering expertise, Amr has created 4D animations (visual schedule) to depict construction sequence phasing, site logistics, and safety planning. Amr is implementing Drone mapping into 4D planning to capture accurate, updated 3d model that has all elevation data. as a base for construction sequence.
Using 3ds Studio Max, Amr’s 4D animation timeline supports Windover’s project teams, clients, and business development. BIM visuals/data are created in Revit for 3D components including foundations, structural steel, and building envelopes. They are then linked to the P6 schedule in a custom interface that communicates each project story in a visually compelling manner.
5. Mentorship for the Furniture Trust Eco-Carpentry Challenge
Earlier this year, Amr volunteered as a mentor at the Furniture Trust Eco-Carpentry Challenge. The annual Eco-Carpentry Challenge promotes resourcefulness and recycling and provides an opportunity for students to develop their creative carpentry skills by creating new products from used office furniture. Amr worked with high school students using Revit and 3ds Max to develop and design a 3D model of a new playground constructed from the “upcycled” office furniture. At completion, the playground will be donated to a local children’s daycare facility.
Meet Amr Raafat
Amr has over 16 years’ experience combining architectural, construction, and engineering expertise to leverage cutting-edge technologies for construction projects.
As Director of Virtual Design and Construction at Windover, Amr oversees the creation of 4D animations, 3D realistic renderings, and the integration of Building Information Modeling (BIM), MEP coordination, virtual reality (VR) and graphic/visual art techniques to assist Windover’s clients and project teams in enhanced planning, change management, scheduling, construction logistics, safety planning, and visualization throughout all construction phases.
Prior to joining Windover, Amr single handedly brought to life Shawmut Design and Construction’s Virtual Studio. There, he led the development of BIM technology, VR, Augmented Reality capabilities, 4D animations, 3D construction logistics planning, realistic renderings, safety planning, and determined how to enhance the RFP process with 3D BIM visuals/data for Business Development.
Amr began his design career in 2004 working with world–renowned aquarium architect Peter Chermayeff, FAIA, in Boston, Massachusetts. Amr worked on the programming, conceptual design, BIM management of multiple international aquarium projects including the National Aquarium in Baltimore Expansion, Maryland; the Virginia Aquarium Mammal Pavilion; the Trieste Aquarium in Italy, and the expansion of Nausicaä Centre National de la Mer in Boulogne Sur Mer, France.
In 2009 he received the Boston Architectural College Kronich Practice Award for Outstanding Professional Practice in an Architectural Office. He is a regular speaker at construction technology conferences including AEC-Next Spar 3D, NFMT, Boston Design Week, 2019 BIM Forum, Procore Groundbreak 2019 and Chicago Build Expo on BIM, Drone Mapping, and Virtual Reality.
Amr Raafat received his Master of Architecture degree from The Boston Architectural College and is FAA Airman Certified / Remote Pilot-in-Command.
He lives with his wife and two young daughters in the Boston area.