Case study: Robinson-Falconio Residence Hall

University dorm rehab uses clash prevention to coordinate fire sprinklers.


A complete renovation was finished on this St. Bonaventure University (N.Y.) dormitory building of approximately 85,000 sq ft, including replacing a majority of the domestic water and waste systems as well as the addition of a sprinkler system conforming with NFPA 13R; Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems in Low-Rise Residential Occupancies. For this project, the process of clash prevention was used for BIM coordination.

Figure 6: Coordinated sections were placed on drawings to aid the contractor in locating the various mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems in tight, congested areas.With a floor-to-floor elevation of 8 ft 8.5 in., the structural concrete building allowed for 7.5 in. of space above a 7 ft corridor ceiling height. In the adjacent rooms, a decreased slab thickness and an exposed ceiling allowed for a clear height of 8 ft 3 in. Soffits with sidewall sprinkler heads were used for protecting these rooms, while concealed pendent sprinkler heads were located in corridors and community spaces with ceilings.

With tight clearances and the need to maintain constructability, even a 1-in. sprinkler branch pipe needed to be routed where it would not cross over an electrical fixture or light mounted in the ceiling. Other areas of the building needed extra attention as well, such as the shower rooms where downlights in each stall needed to be offset to allow clearance for exhaust ductwork and the drain p-trap from the floor above.

Thorough clash prevention was performed throughout the design of the building, including holding coordination meetings, with all work and coordination accomplished in Autodesk Revit software. As a result, there was only one request for information during construction for the plumbing and fire protection design: An existing wall that was chosen to install a flush-mount fire department connection was not viable, so a free-standing fire department connection was used instead.

Derek Main is a plumbing engineer and BIM development leader at CannonDesign with 9 years of experience in educational, health care, and grocery markets. In addition, he is responsible for managing and advancing the digital practice/design processes for the firm’s plumbing group.

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