A Constructability Review Ontology To Support Automated Rule Checking Leveraging Building Information Models

Open Access
Jiang, Li
Graduate Program:
Architectural Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
October 16, 2015
Committee Members:
  • Robert Michael Leicht, Dissertation Advisor
  • Robert Michael Leicht, Committee Chair
  • John Messner, Committee Member
  • Chinemelu Jidenka Anumba, Committee Member
  • Gul Kremer, Committee Member
  • constructability
  • constructability review
  • ontology
  • design
  • construction
  • integrated
  • BIM
  • automated checking
  • constraints
Constructability review has been an ongoing area of research to support integrated design and construction processes for decades. Computer-based tools, knowledge-based systems and quantitative analysis systems, have been developed to facilitate the review process and constructability implementation. Limited by technological capabilities, the scope of analysis, timing of constructability knowledge input, and visual representation of design restrain the application value of those tools. As the evolution of Building Information-modeling (BIM) shows great potential to motivate integrated design and delivery, the current manual review process, which is time-consuming and error-prone, is facing a transformation with the adoption of advanced technology in a more collaborative environment. The current work applies a BIM-enabled rule-based approach to automate a constructability review through the support of the developed constructability ontology. The ontology for the automated review explicitly reveals the interdependencies between design and construction and supports proactive constructability feedback for more informed design decision-making. To achieve the transformation of a constructability review, this study presents four stages of development: exploratory study, knowledge elicitation, ontology development, and validation. As primarily qualitative research, research techniques include document analysis, interviews, information modeling, and rule-based checking. Together with an in-depth literature review, the feasibility and the requirements for the automated constructability review were investigated through a case study. Focusing on reinforced concrete structural elements, constructability knowledge was captured to develop a constructability ontology to provide the foundation for automating the constructability review. Underlying interdependencies between design and construction were identified, along with the associated information requirements to pursue automated constructability reasoning. The constructability relationships with associated information requirements and its applicability were validated through a series of expert interviews and a case study. The expectations and the challenges of the automated constructability review are also presented. This study contributes by: (1) developing an ontology-based approach to capture and define the interdependencies between design and construction information; (2) defining the constructability relationships with associated information at different levels of detail; (3) prototyping constructability relationships with available model content for automated reasoning, and (4) enabling the transformation of the currently manual constructability review process into an automated process.