A star is born: how building information modeling is helping to build Shangai Planetarium

Planetariums not only help us understand our place in the universe — they also present complex architectural and design challenges that require forward-thinking solutions. That’s why Shanghai Planetarium partnered with Bureau Veritas to implement its building information modeling (BIM) management services from conception on.

Slated to open in 2020, Shanghai Planetarium will become the world’s largest planetarium. It is presently under construction and will serve as a museum, observatory, educational center and cultural landmark, offering visitors insight into everything from the historical achievements of Chinese astronomy to the future of the national space exploration program.

Recognized with an international award for its design, Shanghai Planetarium’s oval-shaped structure reflects the astronomical orbits of planetary bodies, while its impressive dome spans more than 387,000 square feet. But the design’s curved surfaces and massive scope pose challenges for construction.

To address these challenges and ensure successful execution BIM, or building information modeling technology, has proven key. BIM technology and management services assist in large-scale building and infrastructure projects. Shanghai Planetarium relied on BIM management services provided by Bureau Veritas for the full life cycle of its construction.

In the design phase, BIM creates functional digital simulations for everything from evacuation route planning to the understanding of outdoor wind environments. Envisioning the details of design prior to breaking ground minimizes architectural changes, shortens construction time and helps manage construction-site safety. BIM collaboration offers centralized building data, which also increases efficiency in the operation and maintenance phases.

China actively promotes collaborative BIM technology for the development and construction of large-scale building and infrastructure projects, notably through the creation of the BIM Center of Expertise, which assisted in the Shanghai Planetarium project.

The project was recognized with the RICS Annual Best BIM Application Award of 2018.