Victor Gil, P.E., R.P.L.S of Gil Engineering
Gil Engineering Associates, Inc., a five-person design firm with a multi-disciplinary staff in Austin, Texas, has provided their clients with technically sound and cost-effective solutions to engineering, design and environmental projects for over 30 years. Principal engineer for Gil Engineering, Victor Gil, P.E., R.P.L.S., believes that employing the right technology is key to servicing their customer base and maintaining their competitive edge.
“It is key to our business strategy to have technology we can rely upon,” explained Gil. “We like to be on the leading edge of technology, and we feel that SITEOPS is just that. It does exactly what it professes to do and you never have to fight the program to get an output; it’s robust in its features and easily utilized.”
Solutions for challenging design constraints
Gil Engineering specializes in school facility design and one important client is Comal Independent School District, who often buys land to develop in remote, topographically challenging areas to reduce costs.
“These days, many of our new projects incorporate very tricky elements,” said Gil. “This software is a necessity for us because we are able to design our sites faster and with better quality. You can always design something quickly, but designing the best solution for that site is key. With this technology, I’m confident that we are delivering that best solution to our clients. I don’t ever have to second-guess myself, but if I do, I can do so quickly with SITEOPS.”
In early 2010, the Comal Independent School District had begun designing their new $16 million elementary school in a subdivision north of San Antonio, Texas. The 18-acre Kinder Ranch Elementary School would be built in Texas Hill Country, where elevations range between 1,000 and 2,300 feet above sea level and topography conditions are rugged, hilly and rolling at best. The land parcel contained 30 to 40 feet of grade change and also housed layers of hard rock and limestone less than 12 inches below the topsoil. To avoid cutting into rock, the cut and fill analysis would be critical in minimizing the extent of earthwork needed.
“We won this job by utilizing SITEOPS to design the site,” Gil said. “The ability to quickly design and efficiently analyze the four proposed site configurations was paramount to the customer. We were able to conclude that through stair-stepping the building, we could achieve maximum cost savings.”
Grading can be a difficult aspect of site design, and sometimes, despite an engineer’s experience, dealing with difficult topography conditions in the schematic design phase can be incredibly time-consuming. SITEOPS helps to avoid these situations by quickly analyzing many different options.
“This is one thing that we really love about SITEOPS,” said Gil. “If you move the building over five feet, it generates a cost estimate immediately. We can tweak our design by another few feet and it generates another cost estimate. We can do the grading plan, calculate all the cut and fill, calculate the building pad requirements, etc. Customers are able to make decisions in real-time because we can give them true numbers very quickly.”
Increased productivity and solutions for “what-if” scenarios
With school site design also comes the need for bus- accessible parking lots. Owners are concerned with ensuring that buses can move as needed through the parking lot, yet it is hard for them to visualize the site plans in a true-scale environment. With SITEOPS® Swept Path Analysis Module, such concerns were eliminated as designers were able to demonstrate the and budget projections, the client moved forward on the project and Gil Engineering won the business. “With SITEOPS’ rapid prototyping and accurate cost comparisons, we are able to pinpoint a solution more quickly than ever before,” Gil said. “In the past, we would present a layout based on our best guess using our expertise in the field. The owner or architect would inevitably ask us, ‘What if we moved the building this way or that way.’ That resulted in regrouping, redrawing and determining a rough cost estimate. Very rarely would we attempt grading plans at that point because it was so time-consuming. Now our clients can fully understand their options and costs much earlier in the project—when it makes sense—and not when the project is too far down the road to economically make changes.”
“On any given job, I’d say we are 30-40% more productive with SITEOPS.”
exact wheel path by driving the bus on the site plan.
“In the past, it would have taken us three to four days of CAD prep time to get ready for a schematic design meeting,” estimated Gil. “Now it takes us one to two hours of SITEOPS time. That is an average cost savings of $3,000 per schematic design session. On any given job, I’d say we are 30-40% more productive. The guess work is taken out of the front end, so we are able to move from the schematic design phase into plan production much more quickly. Within two meetings, we can easily nail down a solution.”
Another school district, which owned property on a rocky, steep site, was concerned about the feasibility and cost of building a school on such difficult terrain. Gil Engineering modeled the new school in SITEOPS, showed the owner all potential options, and provided accurate cost estimates for each design. They were the only design firm capable of quickly answering “what-if” scenarios and proving to the client the feasibility of the site. Confident in the design options and budget projections, the client moved forward in the project and Gil Engineering won the business.