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Edificio Vivo: transforming lives in a congested city

Edificio Vivo in Guatemala modeled in Tekla Structures

Aceros Arquitectónicos, a Central American family-owned engineering and construction company, used powerful structural software for detailing, fabricating, and erecting the steel of a visionary and award-winning building in Guatemala's capital

Guatemala City has grown a lot in recent decades. One can clearly see this when driving through the streets – it's not uncommon to spend two hours in traffic for just a few kilometers. Many people purchase used cars from the United States that end up in the country. Unfortunately, the streets of Guatemala’s capital cannot handle the traffic volume. 

This situation repeats itself in many Central American countries. Guatemala City is among several capitals addressing the problem by encouraging people to use public transportation or to move within walking distance of their workplaces.

Smart constructions projects for congested cities

Building for more efficient cities

Proper construction methods and building designs are critical in helping congested cities reduce traffic and pollution. When inner-city buildings are safe and attractive, people are more likely to move in to enjoy comfortable lives with less commuting.

Edificio Vivo 4 is a construction project doing its bit to reduce traffic chaos by making the most of urban space and attracting people into the city. The project comprises three towers that host apartments, shops, offices, and an automated garage. The development is just a few steps from multiple restaurants, banks, supermarkets, and public transportation routes. It’s also close to the city's historic center.

The apartments are compact units primarily designed for couples or small families. The project is constructed from a balanced combination of steel and concrete.

constructible modeling means better fabrication and project understanding

Accurate modeling means better fabrication and project understanding

Creating better structures required a precise detailing process, error-free fabrication, and flawless execution on site. Aceros Arquitéctonicos, a family company with over 65 years of experience, played an essential role in this project and trusted the structural software they have used for over ten years to do the work.  

The company was invited to participate in the project and went up against several other bidders. The company’s engineers used the structural Building Information Model (BIM) for the pre-modeling phase to ensure they had the right material quantities. The pre-model was not yet highly detailed, but it helped estimate their possible costs and determine the project's progress. This allowed the company to determine if the project was financially worth doing.

After winning the bid, they received the architectural and structural drawings in 2D, a common practice in the region. The engineers then created a truly constructible model. They used their own libraries and custom elements, reviewing every connection to make sure everything was in the right place before fabrication would begin.

The right software and the right experience 

Aceros Arquitectónicos is one of two companies pioneering the use of Tekla Structures in Central America. They have used the software for over ten years, modeling for internal jobs to fabricate in their own shop, and creating detailing drawings to send to other countries in the region.

This skillful use of powerful structural software has enabled the company to ensure that everything detailed and then fabricated is fit for purpose and measured accurately. Getting the geometry right is essential for the business, as steel mistakes are costly. This structural software is particularly useful when nesting and cutting. It lets structural engineers and fabricators accurately know the amount of steel they need, thereby avoiding manual miscalculations and expensive material waste.

The software also lets the company see the whole project and efficiently plan and schedule the fabrication process. They can be agile, fabricate the essential pieces first, move on to different stages, and work on various projects. Data can easily be transferred to their nesting software through an automatic process. 

Using a modern BIM collaboration platform has enhanced the company’s collaboration, too. When facing a tight project schedule, two or three people can efficiently work on the same model simultaneously and get the work done faster. When they work precisely and quickly, there are fewer additional costs related to reworking, waiting, or inefficient use of the detailers' time. 

The model is easy to share with various stakeholders, such as the client, even if these other parties don't have a license for that software. The 3D work can be viewed on-site with nothing more than an Android-enabled smartphone. This has helped with sharing information on the job site and with supervisors, for example, if they have any questions during the steel erection.

The company wins by winning more projects

Aceros Arquitectónicos has grown remarkably since its shift from CAD to BIM

"We went from being a 3,000 tons per-year factory to about 12,000 tons per month. This was a big shift, and the key to achieving it was our ability to use Tekla Structures software. We can now handle 30 to 40 projects in our shop"

Andrés Rivera Najera, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Aceros Arquitectónicos. 

Before, the company used CAD software that allowed engineers to do basic 3D modeling. When they started using this powerful structural BIM software, their design, detailing, and fabrication processes became significantly faster.

"The CAD program could not see what a beam was; important information was missing," 

Andrés Rivera Najera, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Aceros Arquitectónicos

When the detailers saw all the information they were getting and how fast the process was, this encouraged them to use the new software even more and learn how to use it faster. The detailers also quickly became familiar with the library, with creating beams, etc. The implementation went much more quickly than they had expected.  Software is easy to use, and they can now create and customize their own elements for different markets.

“In Guatemala, any shop that wants to be a key player in the steel fabrication industry must have the best technology.(...) We are glad that we made this shift. This is a family business, and I am the third generation. We are very proud of getting recognition in the North American Tekla BIM Awards competition. We are also proud to develop our business processes and become more professional. It gives us a sense that we are on the right path, and this software has helped us to do that!"

Andrés Rivera Najera, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Aceros Arquitectónicos

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