Gambling On 3D Coordination: Hardstone Construction Bets Big, Wins Big

By Akio

Pat Henderson, President, Hardstone Construction

Pat Henderson, the outspoken president of Hardstone Construction, defied industry tradition to apply 3D techniques pioneered in discrete manufacturing to the challenges of a commercial project.

In the process, he proved that cost overruns are not a necessary evil of construction … and that some risks are well worth taking.

Before he founded Hardstone Construction, a Las Vegas-based general contracting firm, Pat Henderson led $3 billion in projects at two of the largest U.S.-based construction companies.

Despite 30 years of experience, however, certain aspects of the industry still puzzle him.

For example, why does the industry accept 20% cost overruns as a normal part of doing business? << Click to Tweet

And why do construction companies resist the 3D design technologies proven in countless other industries – technologies that could eliminate the overruns?

Getting answers to those questions is important to Henderson because he wants to leave his employees and his daughter, whom he is grooming to take over the company, a stronger, more profitable, and less frustrating industry than the one he has known.

“I am convinced 3D has the power to eliminate the problems that abound in the construction industry,” the forthright Henderson said. “I believe it will reduce waste in construction by upwards of 10%. When you consider the trillions of dollars spent on construction in the U.S. alone, that is a very significant savings.”


Henderson’s chance to test his theories finally arrived when Hardstone Construction was named general contractor for the multi-phased Tivoli Village mixed-use project in Las Vegas.

With 2 million square feet of retail, office and parking space, the risks of delays and cost overruns were enormous – especially after the lead architects, structural engineer and mechanical/electrical/plumbing (MEP) engineer abandoned the project.

The owner subsequently asked Hardstone Construction to pick up their duties, in addition to the company’s original construction coordination assignment.

On the Tivoli Village project in Las Vegas, Hardstone managed in-house coordination of all trades and brought the $300 million project in on time with zero dollars in contractor or subcontractor claims.

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The daunting challenge was also an opportunity.

If Hardstone Construction could use the same advanced 3D technology that has transformed the discrete manufacturing industries to salvage the Tivoli Village project, Henderson knew he could prove his point beyond a doubt.


Henderson believed that creating a highly accurate 3D model of a virtual Tivoli Village would allow his team to recognize and eliminate risks with low-cost bits and bytes rather than high-cost physical materials. By improving coordination, Henderson also bet that 3D modeling would make the workplace smarter, safer and more efficient by enabling all stakeholders to collaborate more effectively.

By the time the first phase of Tivoli Village opened in 2011, Henderson had his proof.

Hardstone managed in-house coordination of all trades and brought the $300 million project in on time with zero dollars in contractor or subcontractor claims. Henderson estimates savings totaled between $500,000 and $1 million in potential framing cost overruns alone, and between $2 million and $3 million overall.


Hardstone Construction Tivoli Village project

Because construction industry experience with the advanced 3D application he chose is limited, Henderson relied on a diverse trio of 3D modeling experts on the Tivoli Village project:

  • Patrick L’Heureux, an expert in aerospace technical construction who previously worked for Pratt & Whitney;
  • Nicolas Cantin, a mechanical engineer who previously worked for Bombardier; and
  • Becher Neme, an architect and urban designer who previously worked for renowned architect Frank Gehry.

Working as senior project members with a small support staff, the three-man team modeled the entire architectural envelope, structure, and MEP systems in-house.

The team also produced highly coordinated shop drawings for the construction teams directly from the linked 3D models.


One key advantage on the project was that repetitive 3D geometry did not need to be modeled manually.

Instead, variations on individual components were generated by entering parameters – drawn from spreadsheets and design tables supplied by the architect – into basic component templates.

“It was a truly unique advantage,” Cantin said. “These tasks would have been time-consuming and subject to high risk of human error if they were modeled manually. In fact, without the automation process, most builders would not model them in the first place, which could lead to mistakes, rework and cost overruns.”

Neme estimates that repeated iterations between initial design and final shop drawing production allowed Hardstone to optimize the MEP routing to reduce materials by 30%. “That is good for the budget, but also for the environment,” Neme said. “Because we order everything to fit based on the model, there is no waste.”

On a framing budget of $5 million, change orders might easily add 20% or more – an additional $1 million. At Tivoli Village, the cost for change orders was zero. “We were obsessed with finding ways to apply manufacturing processes to construction,” Cantin said.


Because construction workers on the Tivoli project could see the models in 3D, they easily understood exactly how different systems came together, the order in which they needed to be installed, and the importance of doing their work in ways that left room for the next trade’s installations.

“There was practically no time wasted on resolving conflicts between different trades on-site during construction,” L’Heureux said. “We simply didn’t have conflicts.”

With Phase 1 of the $300 million project complete, Henderson is so convinced that the application has the potential to transform the construction industry that he has arranged for his daughter to learn the program.

“She is going to be in this business long after I am,” Henderson said. “I want her to have the best solutions at her fingertips. I am convinced it should be the future of this industry.”

Pat Henderson, quote

By Greg Rice. This article originally appeared on Compass, the 3DEXPERIENCE Magazine.

SOLIDWORKS Partners with FABLABS and FAB Academies

By Marie

SOLIDWORKS partners with FAB Foundation to sponsor the global network of FABLABS and FAB Academies.  At FAB10 Conference, Disseny Hub Barcelona, I have been fortunate to work with Sherry Lassiter, director of FAB Foundation and to meet many FABLAB coordinators from around the world.

#FAB10 Barcelona

The FAB Foundation facilitates and supports the growth of the international FABLAB network.


The first FABLAB started at MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms under the direction of Neil Gershenfeld.  FABLAB’s mission is “to provide access to the tools, the knowledge and the financial means to educate, innovate and invent using technology and digital fabrication to allow anyone to make (almost) anything.”

#Fab10 Audience

FABLABs and FAB Academies impact is felt everywhere and shared this week at the FAB10 Conference.  Helping to create new jobs, educating the young and the not so young, developing the entrepreneurial spirit, FABLABs growth rate is exploding – doubling every 18 months.

FAB10 Fashion

SOLIDWORKS 3D Design software will be an integral part of the FABLABs and FAB Academies registered with FAB Foundation.  SOLIDWORKS supports the FAB Foundation’s efforts in 3D design, manufacturing, teaching and learning.

FAB10 Kid's Fest

This post originally appeared on the SOLIDWORKS Education Blog.

Marie PLANCHARD is Director of the Education Community for SOLIDWORKS. You can reach her @mplanchard1.

A Bottom-Up Approach to Lean Construction: Increase Business Opportunities for Subs, Value for Owners

By Akio

Trade contractors that have thought about going Lean but are still waiting for the “right” project to come along may be missing major opportunities.

It’s true that as Lean first moved from manufacturing into the construction arena, its use was typically driven by a project owner’s desire to keep costs from running over budget and ensure project milestones were reached on time.

Pioneering owners led the formation of integrated teams and required everyone (construction managers, architects, engineers, GCs, and major subcontractors) to apply lean project delivery methodologies

Today, however, even a single project contributor who adopts Lean Construction practices to improve business processes will ultimately deliver increased value to the customer.


Trade contractors that adopt Lean on their own initiative are able to offer highly competitive bids while still providing safe, quality work.

In fact, improved safety is seen by trade contractors as one of the biggest benefits of Lean.

Whether from specifically implementing more ergonomic processes, or generally better managing a safety culture with integrated task hazard analysis, subs report seeing as much as a 15% improvement over industry safety averages.

Often, simply adopting reliable planning and controls will reduce the frequency of executing unplanned work with inherent safety risks.

ROI and Profit

Many subcontractors wait for top-down direction from construction managers or general contractors on “Lean” projects due to the upfront costs of collaborative scheduling and planning requirements.

However, those costs generally are recouped by overall reductions in wasted resources, materials, and time.

In addition, trade contractors that adopt Lean report seeing more consistent, reliable profit on their projects.

Positive Influence

3DS partner CornerCube reports that taking a Lean approach even to a non-Lean project can positively affect the processes and behaviors of non-Lean practitioners, driving overall project efficiency and delivering value to the owner.


According to Lean Construction: Advanced Project Delivery for the AEC Industry, a whitepaper by CornerCube,

Lean Construction can enable subcontractors to have greater control over their work—avoiding change orders and other challenges—by improving communications and collaboration among all parties.

Subcontractors that are adopting the tools related to Lean—including modeling and prefabrication—are earning reputations as “super subs.”

Many owners today are looking for trade contractors already familiar with Lean to serve as a resource early in the project.

One contractor states in the report that owners are looking for super-subs with which they can establish long-term relationships that go beyond the construction window and into the building’s operation.

By going Lean now, trade contractors can become a resource for owners and win a steady backlog for the future.


Further Reading:


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