VDC Comes to Life on Lanphier High School Project 1229 0

VDC Comes to Life on Lanphier High School Project

Bridget Ingebrigtsen
/ Categories: Lean

Lanphier High School, part of Springfield School District 186, was built in 1936 as a project of the Work Progress Administration (WPA), a federal agency created during the Great Depression to provide paying jobs for unemployed workers. Since that time, the building has undergone several renovation and expansion projects.

O’Shea Builders is currently serving as Construction Manager for Lanphier’s three-year “reconstruction” project, which includes demolition, additions, new construction, renovations and site work. This case study highlights how The O’Shea Team used technology to navigate the challenges associated with working within an aging structure.


Renovating older buildings like Lanphier can be challenging due to the different methods of construction used previously. How the building systems tied together from their mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP) systems to architectural and structural connection elements was uncertain.

“Modern materials such as gypsum board and metal wall studs are night and day different from the plaster walls. When the two systems meet, it can be challenging to make the two systems look like one continuous finished system,” says Adam Schmidt, O’Shea Project Manager.

When it comes to major renovations, construction plans have traditionally been issued in 2D on paper, like a road map. Naturally, multiple items may be shown in the same 2D location between various systems like fire protection, plumbing, HVAC and electrical.

“While this may seem like a glaring conflict, it is usually not because we work in 3D. Things can be stacked vertically in the Z direction of an XY coordinate,” Adam points out.

However, by only showing this in 2D and assuming that the conflict is avoided by utilizing the third vertical direction, some risks often go unnoticed. Since equipment conflicts aren’t always corrected by simply raising or lowering the differing equipment, design teams may need to resolve a conflict, which can cause significant time wasted waiting on answers.

During the Lanphier project, certain items presented constraints to other MEP systems, including track systems for operable partition walls and the duct in the theater room.

To mitigate these issues from the start, O’Shea utilized VDC, which stands for Virtual Design and Construction. VDC is a technology that creates digital models of buildings and project sites and uses 3D BIM models and other information to digitally plan out all aspects of a construction project.


VDC has been one of the main factors that has driven our success at Lanphier,” Adam says. “For this project, that has taken shape in the form of BIM coordination, which has been no small undertaking.”

With Building Point Midwest serving as the main facilitator of VDC, weekly coordination meetings are held for all trade partners to review clashes. Building Point Midwest collaborates closely with O’Shea in-house VDC coordinator Evan Sharp. Pertinent RFIs are then sent to the design team.

A major selling point for utilizing VDC is that it helps to reduce or eliminate wait times. When the designers model their equipment in a 3D software, the clashes that appear on the 2D plans are able to be fully coordinated in a 3D space prior to the work being put in place — or even before the trade partner mobilizes to the site.

“Finding out just how much space was really available for the systems in the 3D environment gave the team confidence that they would fabricate the elements and install them in the field with limited issues,” says Todd Ellsworth, VDC Project Engineer for Building Point Midwest.

This has been crucial for several key projects at Lanphier, including the installation of track systems for operable partition walls. Evan was able to model this track system and all corresponding unistrut supports, ensuring there isn’t an unforeseen clash between MEP systems and the supports.

O’Shea also leveraged VDC to resolve issues regarding additional modeling/coordination of structural members and MEP elements in Lanphier’s Theater.

In Lanphier High, the Theater has a catwalk system suspended from a complex roof structure. A major challenge was figuring out how ductwork would pass through large joists while also avoiding the catwalk framing. Previously, the typical process would begin with the foreman ordering a large amount of duct from their fabrication shop, which didn’t take into consideration the fact that other mechanical equipment might be in the way.

“If there was a conflict, the foreman would have to measure and sketch out how to avoid the conflict, whether that’s dipping below or shifting to the side of the object,” Adam explains. “Once the plan has been finalized, it gets sent to the fabrication shop where it is produced in the order that is received, which might be days or weeks depending on the workload of the shop. All the while, the foreman cannot continue progress on that run of ductwork.”

Using VDC, conflict aversion is remedied on the front end by BIM modelers. The ductwork plans are sent straight to the shop, fabricated and then installed upon delivery. This process completely eliminates extra workload for the foreman and wait times for additional fabrication.

“To heighten the issue in the theater, the ductwork is a fabric material – meaning that it needs to be installed in straight runs, which is a very significant constraint,” Adam shares. “With Evan’s help using VDC, we can now visually see what we are up against and how we can solve the clashes in the plans.”


Before the Lanphier project was even complete, it was obvious that “the effort put into the VDC coordination already paid dividends,” Adam says.

Using VDC, MEP trade partners have been able to prefabricate material per the model, which has “turbocharged” the speed of installation.

And by coordinating early and removing roadblocks far before installation, the team hasn’t experienced any unforeseen clashes that would have delayed them. In other construction projects where VDC wasn’t used, such clashes halted progress for days or weeks.

Because the entire project has been done in phases, there is an evolving construction schedule, which forced the project team to work on several items or areas at once. But by coordinating multiple areas with VDC, the field team could clearly see what areas they could work on at what time, moving the project timeline along as planned.

“The coordination effort focused on not just making sure an area of work was ready for the field team but also making sure how that area tied into future areas was understood to avoid coordination issues when that additional area could be worked on,” Todd says.

Project Partners 

  • BLDD Architects
  • Henson Robinson Company
  • Anderson Electric
  • EL Pruitt Mechanical Contractors