Firm Profile: Louis BergerAECbytes Profile (April 11, 2017)

Louis Berger, an Engineering News-Record top-20 ranked global infrastructure and management consulting firm, shares its perspective on AEC technology in this Firm Profile.

What is the history and background of the firm?

Founded in 1953 by Dr. Louis Berger, a member of the engineering faculty at Pennsylvania State University and former Coast Guard commander, Louis Berger, Inc. began as a soils mechanics and foundations engineering firm with a single office in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The firm’s first major assignment was to design a large portion of the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the first turnpike in the United States. Since that time, Louis Berger has evolved into an ENR top 20 ranked, $1 billion global professional services corporation, with more than 6,000 engineers, economists, scientists and planners worldwide in more than 50 nations. It has a diverse client base comprising local, state and federal governments, multilateral institutions, and other public and private entities.

What is the firm's current focus? What are the key projects it is working on?

Louis Berger operates in nine major markets and numerous submarkets. Our primary markets include agriculture, buildings and facilities, defense and security, economic and institutional development, environment, mining and minerals, power and energy, transportation, and water. The firm also operates in 12 major technical service areas: alternative project delivery, architecture, capacity building and technical assistance, construction services, economics and financial services, emergency and disaster management, engineering, environmental services, heritage resource management, operations and maintenance, planning, and program management. We are a global company with offices and projects in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and North America. Some of the projects the firm is involved with are shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Some of Louis Berger’s projects for project management and/or construction management. Top left: World Trade Center Redevelopment. Top right: Riyadh Metro project. Lower left: Queen Alia International Airport, Amman, Jordan. Lower right: A-66 Highway Access to the City of Oviedo, Asturias, Spain.

When did the firm start using AEC technology, and how is it being used today? How important is AEC technology to the firm?

Louis Berger has strived to incorporate new technologies since our founding. Today, we have experts in Geographic Imaging System (GIS), Building Information Modeling (BIM), building engineering (MEP), CAD and Primavera (a construction scheduling software). Our Las Vegas BIM team created an excellent animation of our award-winning Dragon Bridge project: (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Modeling and animation used to show the construction sequence for the Dragon Bridge project.

We’re also using BIM in the Middle East on commercial and transportation projects, as well as in the U.S. on transportation and infrastructure.

Does the firm have a specific approach and/or philosophy to AEC technology? If so, what is it?

At the core of everything we do is the promise to provide solutions that have a positive impact on society. We follow through on this promise by focusing on client needs to deliver quality, safe, financially-successful projects with integrity. Encompassing everything we do is our passion for our work, our industry and for delivering on our promise to provide solutions for a better world. From our executive leadership to our teams in the field, we share a genuine sense of respect and stewardship for the places where we work and the people whose lives we impact.

Adaptability has always been a hallmark of Louis Berger’s project excellence. Today, we aim to be on the leading edge of our industry during a time of fast-paced innovation and advancement. We integrate diverse ideas and approaches on every project, using AEC technology as a tool for capitalizing on varieties of expertise. AEC technology helps propel us into the innovative, sustainable future we envision. We have a dedicated BIM and Visualization Services department in the firm to drive the implementation of new technologies (Figure 3).

Figure 3. 4D scheduling and clash detection on a project by the Louis Berger Group BIM and Visualization Services department.

What are some of the main challenges the firm faces in its implementation of AEC technology?

We provide tailored solutions to our clients’ often complex challenges. We operate in a variety of environments, from remote rural areas to dense urban environments. We understand that each project is unique, requiring a range of technologies and techniques that meet local needs.

A central challenge of AEC technology implementation is the ever increasing pace of its evolution. A new and novel approach for one project may be outdated for the next. We invest heavily in connecting our diverse teams to ensure that the employee with expertise in a particular technology is available as a resource.

How does the firm see AEC technology evolving in the future?

At Louis Berger, we pay attention to global technology trends, such as smart cities and transportation, renewable power and alternative fuels, and resilient infrastructure. Louis Berger has been an active participant in panels and conferences focused on innovation, including C40 summits. We believe that public-private partnerships are the key to technological progress and inventive solutions.

If the firm had a wish list for AEC technology, what would it be?

Our wish list includes AEC technology that allows us to incorporate sustainability, environment and safety concerns directly into the planning, design and construction process.

Already a leader in green design, Louis Berger understands that sustainability is a component of every project and seeks long-term environmental design solutions. We aim to advance our sustainable, resilient construction, engineering and architectural practices, adapting to our changing environment.

We also see the value in smart technology to improve problems like traffic flow, pollution, accessibility and road safety.

Any additional information/observations/insights on AEC technology implementation that the firm would like to share?

Louis Berger views AEC technology as an important tool for developing innovation for our clients. We see it as a way incorporate new ideas into a design and to demonstrate that they will be successful.  We also recognize that like any good mechanic, we need to know how to use a variety of tools together to perform complex tasks. As tools become easier to use, we can accomplish greater things together.

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