Turner Improves Project Efficiency with Development and Implementation of Customized Google SketchUp Plug-in Applications

SketchUp On Site: World Trade Center Transportation Hub

To meet the accelerated schedule for the World Trade Center Transportation Hub Project, Turner turned to Google SketchUp. The project is a complex matrix of building system and structural elements and requires detailed phasing of demolition and construction to avoid interference with the six major subway lines within the project extents. Coordination models are essential while planning the phasing, and coordinating locations, of not only permanent site structures, but temporary construction items such as formwork, shoring, and bracing. 

A custom Turner plug-in for exporting images to PowerPoint automates weekly work in place presentation updates, and gives Turner the opportunity to automatically combine constructability studies with graphic information about schedule and clearly represent this information to the project team.

Interoperability is key for engineers at Turner. SketchUp Pro's ability to import and save to exchange file formats allows the team to compile models from multiple disciplines, regardless of the model’s software origin. In this way, the team can quickly study complex details and integrate additional information with an existing model.

Custom Turner Plug-ins for Modeling, Estimating & Model Analysis
The Turner VDC team has developed several SketchUp plugins in Ruby to bring existing and evolving VDC processes into the simple, efficient and visual environment of SketchUp. A proprietary plug-in for steel modeling and tracking was created to accelerate the use of BIM at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub. The tool was written to batch convert single line framing plans into 3d steel sizes, using a standard library of parts. This tool was also expanded to report steel takeoffs and is used throughout Turner to support estimating and preconstruction services. By developing our own tools on top of the intuitive interface of SketchUp we can continue to increase operational efficiencies. The place tool is a great example of streamlining the modeling process by reviewing the process of modeling steel, standardizing the modeling of stock pieces, and integrating that database information into SketchUp to reduce redundant rework and reduce the opportunity for dimensional errors in steel sizing.

Working with Turner, a takeoff plugin was developed to support Turner’s current approach to “Control Quantity Models” and “Gross Square Foot” takeoffs. This tool allows for SketchUp models to be built for different purposes, using client or business unit standards and still achieve consistent and accurate takeoffs of square footage, count, length and SketchUp Pro’s Solid entity volumes. 

Understanding and supporting Turner’s evolving estimating expertise, a plugin was developed to accelerate the takeoff process for conceptual estimates where design information is still in its infancy and rapidly changing. This tool allows for rapid creation of space and room plans and the detailed takeoff information that is required for estimates. These two plugins work together to seamlessly streamline the quantity takeoff process developed by estimators in SketchUp. At Turner, we look at opportunities to develop existing processes & workfl ows using new tools. In this way, we aren’t teaching new workfl ows based on new tools as they come along (a very disruptive process for any business). Rather, we are able to leverage the skillsets and broad knowledge bases of our VDC team to build streamlined versions of existing workflows into new tools.

Safety Training at Turner starts with SketchUp
Turner takes advantage of SketchUp’s ease of use, friendly environment and diverse 3D warehouse as a fundamental tool for introducing Turner engineers,superintendents, and safety managers to VDC as a tool and process for construction and preconstruction. Turner training courses begin with the learning of SketchUp. Many VDC concepts are taught through SketchUp. SketchUp is also a core tool and foundational step towards Turner’s advanced VDC tools and processes. We fi nd that SketchUp is a great tool for introducing fundamental modeling and analysis skills to all construction families. At Turner, we include SketchUp Pro as part of the standard program installation package on all computers. This makes SketchUp just a click away for all users.


  • Jim Barrett

    Vice President, Chief Innovation Officer

    (212) 229-6000

Turner International

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