Smart Start

By on August 5, 2009

J. D. Edwards building at Englewood, CaliforniaDenver-based  architectural firm Fentress Bradburn has initiated an enterprise-wide roll-out of  WorkPlace System Solutions’ ProjectWise technology.

Contextual regionalism—a contextual, historical, cultural and environmental philosophy of design fostered by Curt Fentress, principal in charge of design at Fentress Bradburn Architects—is the cornerstone of the of the Denver-based firm’s world-renowned portfolio. Some of its most recognizable contributions to the Colorado landscape include the Denver International Airport Passenger Terminal—an iconographic symbol of Denver with its tensile-membrane roof—and the Colorado Convention Complex. The firm’s diverse work is not contained solely within Colorado’s borders, however; other prestigious projects include the new Inchon International Airport Passenger Terminal Complex and Wyoming’s National Museum of Wildlife Art, whose ruined stone façade suggests natural integration.

But Fentress Bradburn’s design convictions are only part of what helps to separate it from the rest of the architectural crowd. The firm also proactively adopts the latest technology, taking advantage of advancements in computer-aided design, personal computing and Internet technologies.

“We are very serious about ensuring every individual in the company has the tools he or she needs to do the job,” says Mark Rothman, a registered architect and director of information technology at the firm. “We see technology as one of our key advantages and we use it to improve our practice and the architecture practice at large.”

Rothman says that Fentress Bradburn has made the Internet a key element of its new IT and project management structure. He foresees the day when clients will use only a Web browser on their desktop to review progress of a project and gain a better understanding of it. It is for this reason that the firm is working with WorkPlace System Solutions, a Bentley Strategic Affiliate, to implement a ProjectWise extranet for its latest project—the J.D. Edwards corporate campus. This endeavor marks the initiation of Fentress Bradburn’s planned enterprise-wide rollout of ProjectWise.

The heart of the matter

Mark Rothman, a registered architect and director of information technology at Fnetress BradburnThe ProjectWise extranet is a secure Web site that acts as the heart of the project, allowing Fentress Bradburn, J.D. Edwards and other project participants to access information in a single, central location. This includes accessing and updating design files, site photographs, reports, schedules and other documentation (depending on permissions; see sidebar).

Bentley’s ModelServer Publisher, a server-based “publisher” of engineering documents, is an essential part of ProjectWise. In fact, Rothman says that the affiliation of Bentley and WorkPlace was an important factor in its decision to implement ProjectWise.

“As a Bentley Strategic Affiliate, WorkPlace delivers solutions that meet our expectations for quality and are compatible with our existing Bentley technology,” he explains. “Working with WorkPlace allows us to leverage our relationship with Bentley and get the most out of our current investments in MicroStation products. We picked ProjectWise because we enjoy working with Bentley for single-source technology and support.”

Another key component in ProjectWise is a document viewing and control engine that handles over 100 file types and simplifies project management by associating drawings with related documents.

“If someone wants to see the latest layout of a computer room or conference room, he or she can simply pull it up on the Web,” says Rothman. “As the core and shell of the building begin construction, other phases of design continue. For instance, the interiors of the building will continue to evolve. The documentation of those changes can and is being utilized over the Web today.”

Rothman says the convenience of posting drawings eliminates more costly methods of communication with the client.

“ProjectWise increases our ability to provide project collaboration,” he says. “It’s much more convenient than attending weekly meetings, sending faxes and express mailings.”

When asked how the client has responded to this new way of architect/client project collaboration, Rothman replies, “I think they are just now beginning to understand how much information they can actually retrieve with this method. As the Java and Windows clients become more refined, I expect the client to be uploading documents and using the site as the tool to see what’s happening at any moment in time.”


Rothman says the firm chose client J.D. Edwards as the first client with which to use ProjectWise for several reasons.

“J.D. Edwards has such a sophisticated technology base that we thought they’d be a good match for this high-level, yet easy-to-use solution,” he explains.

J.D. Edwards is one of the world’s leading providers of enterprise business applications solutions. The 68-acre parcel on which seven buildings will be erected currently has one completed structure; the design of the second building is complete, and ground has been broken for the third—all designed by Fentress Bradburn. It is also designing the interiors for buildings two and three. Rothman says Fentress Bradburn is working very closely with the client.

“The design of these buildings is in tune with the client’s corporate identity,” he explains. “As owners, they approve every aspect of the building and we work under their guidelines. This makes a solution like ProjectWise invaluable, as we can provide project collaboration from the outset. In addition, the ProjectWise will assist in sharing as-built information and non-graphic information from contractors for the lifetime of the project.”

The ProjectWise rapid deployment team got the project extranet off the ground quickly, setting up the system at Fentress Bradburn with minimal impact on project operations and resources (see sidebar). This was imperative, as move-in schedules demanded an extremely aggressive design and construction plan. The entire process (from start of design to move-in for each of the three buildings) is as short as 15 months.

Leading the way

Fentress Bradburn prides itself in being on the cutting edge of technology, as opposed to scrambling to meet the evolving needs of its clients. Rothman says Fentress Bradburn has adopted ProjectWise as part of its commitment to leverage technology growth in the Internet.

“For some projects, it’s a requirement to have a project Web site; for other projects, it is a value-added service. In order to remain competitive, we must be able to provide these types of services.”

Rothman says that Fentress Bradburn’s goal is to roll out ProjectWise across the board.

“It is our intention to implement ProjectWise on an enterprise-wide basis,” he concludes. “Therefore, as each new project begins, it will automatically be part of the ProjectWise data management process. It’s not a matter of which project should be a part of ProjectWise—every project must be a part of ProjectWise.”

Award-wining architectural firm Fentress Bradburn of Denver, Colorado embraces the latest of technology to enhance its business and the quality of service it can deliver to its clients. Fentress Bradburn is using WorkPlace System Solutions’ ProjectWise technology.

The J.D. Edwards project was the first to be conducted with ProjectWise, which  will eventually be involved with all projects throughout the firm.

ProjectWise Solutions

Rapidly deployable project information management solutions that enable project management and collaboration among global project team members including engineers, architects, designers, drafters, project managers, construction managers, suppliers, project developers and owners.

ProjectWise Solutions come in two flavors, Extranet and Workgroup.

ProjectWise Extranet is based on ModelServer TeamMate technology and uses a private Web site as the central repository for all engineering information.

ProjectWise Workgroup is also based on ModelServer TeamMate technology. but does not have any Web components. It can be scaled-up when required.

Bentley Systems Proactive Engineering Success AwardBentley Systems Proactive Engineering Success Awards

The inaugural presentation of these awards were made during the Bentley Proactive Engineering Symposium in Philadelphia in October 1998.

Fentress Bradburn was presented with an award for the “Best Deployment of the Bentley Continuum” .

CADinfo.NET editor Tony Zilles was honored to be included among the judges for the 1998 awards.

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