South Florida embraces new construction technologies

From left: Ryan Shear, Marlins Stadium construction and Brad Meltzer
From left: Ryan Shear, Marlins Stadium construction and Brad Meltzer

UPDATED 5:04 p.m., Sept. 16: South Florida developers and construction companies are using new technologies that let them build more efficiently than ever before. 

Nearly every development-related business across the region has retooled its building process between 2006 and now. Some invested in new technologies and even sent their employees back to college to brush up, said Hector Camps, president of Miami-based tech consulting firm PHI Cubed.

“The building industry is notoriously known for not competing in technology,” Camps told The Real Deal. “They’re deeply rooted in tradition. Now you’re seeing that change.”

One of the most widely used is called building information modeling, or BIM, which lets a company create a 3-D model in the design phase of a complex development — a hospital, for example — and virtually plan each stage of the project before ground even is broken.

“By the end of 2010, when the economy was better, we saw building owners couldn’t afford to be as wasteful,” said Camps, who also chairs the nonprofit BuildingSMART Alliance. “There is greater pressure from ownership to reduce waste and costs.”

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

Camps points to the $640 million Marlins Stadium project in Miami as one of the best local uses of the technology. Moss Construction linked a model to its construction schedule. Software helped prevent three trades from being on site at the same time and helped coordinate deliveries of construction equipment. The ballpark at 501 Marlins Way opened last year.

“The more prudent we can be up front, the more efficient we can be in the field,” said Brad Meltzer, president of the Miami operations of New York-based Plaza Construction.

Plaza also relies on a visual documentation software, called Multivista, to pinpoint problems or errors during the building process. Multivista technicians take photos at the same location during each construction milestone so that the developer has a record of the work. The record lets a supervisor track the order of construction — whether the pipes were insulated before the drywall was installed, for example.

Not every developer, though, is embracing BIM. Property Markets Group is high on technology, but only for homebuyers. The company’s high-end condominiums Echo Aventura and Echo Brickell will be wired for iPads, iPods and other home electronics — what managing partner Ryan Shear calls the “Apple package,” which is included in the asking price.

“Our technology,” Shear told TRD, “is for ease of the buyer — not for ease of construction.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the construction firm on the Marlins Stadium project in Miami. The company is Moss Construction.