Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel: Firm Profile

What is the history and background of the firm?

Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel (ACPV) is an international architecture and cross-disciplinary firm headquartered in Milan, Italy, founded by architects Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel.

Active since the seventies, the firm is currently involved in many projects across the globe, embracing different scales of intervention – from master planning to mixed-use developments, to residential and commercial buildings, corporate headquarters, and hotels - in collaboration with a qualified network of specialist consultants.

The office has a staff of more than 100 people, coordinated by eight partners.

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

Some of ACPV’s recent works include luxury hotels in Europe, China and the Middle East such as the Bvlgari Hotel in Rome, Italy, and the Taipei Sky Tower, a hotel and mixed-use high-rise building in downtown Taipei, Taiwan; office buildings such as NOVE in Munich, Germany, which won the German Design Award in the Excellent Architecture category, and Fastweb’s new headquarters in Milan, Italy; and residential buildings including Arte, a sculptural, eleven-story beachfront condominium in Miami Beach, US, and Treasure Garden, a slender and geometrically intricate residential tower that is the new landmark of the 7th District in Taichung, Taiwan. These projects are illustrated in Figure 1.

Another high-profile project that ACPV recently completed was the renovation of San Babila Business Center, of Galleria San Carlo, and of Galleria Passerella 2, in the heart of Milan's historic center (Figure 2). The project involved transforming a 21,000 sqm block of buildings designed in the Fifties into a flexible and sustainable space, taking a careful approach to the conservation of the buildings’ original details, while elevating their character and integrating the architecture in the surrounding urban context.

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

Since 2008, our firm has been designing exclusively with the use of BIM. We have more than seventy designers working with BIM digital design tools, along with 13 BIM Coordinators, one BIM Manager and a Deputy BIM Manager. Each project is supervised by one of them, working harmoniously with the rest of the team to deliver a project with state-of-the-art tools and methods.

A good example of our level of BIM implementation can be gauged from how we used it for one of our most recent projects, the San Babila Redevelopment that was shown in Figure 2. This was the first time BIM was used at our firm for the restoration of existing heritage structures. The project was developed entirely in BIM with a collaboration process equal to a BIM Level 2. The survey was done using topographical instrumentation and 3D laser scanning technology with point cloud generation (Figure 3). From this, the existing Asset Information Model was reconstructed by evaluating the accuracy of each individual component of the model.

While it took a lot of work to model the existing structure, it provided us with a solid foundation on which to carry out a design minimizing the risks of an imperfect knowledge of the artifact at the geometric/dimensional level. This reduced design errors and allowed a more accurate clash detection activity in the design phase, thus minimizing the clashes that would be found on the construction site. The use of a shared platform, BIM Tracks, for the resolution of clashes, has allowed for excellent coordination with consultants, especially in a complex context such as that of an entire block of five buildings (Figure 4).

We were also able to use the BIM model to directly extract all the documentation needed for building permits and presentation to authorities, along with various additional requirements such as the management of demolitions/constructions, for the verification of aero-lighting ratios (RAI) in a computational manner, and for the calculation of the required surfaces (Figure 5).

Another example of our use of BIM is in the creation of photorealistic visualizations, as shown in Figure 6, where the Revit model was rendered in real time with Enscape.

Overall, the use of BIM allows us to provide our clients with coordinated geometrical models that include performance, quantities, and information data, delivered in less time when compared to the use of traditional design processes.

We see the continued use of technology as critical. Extensive and focused training programs on technology are constantly held at all levels, from partners to the staff, in order to allow the firm to constantly increase knowledge and improve workflows.

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

ACPV believes in BIM as a tool for cooperation between all stakeholders of the building. One of our main goals in approaching Digital tools for AEC is to enable and enhance collaboration between architects, interior designers, engineers and a wide range of design professionals and bring them to a single, shared digital space while managing the complexity of a shared model—the federated approach. Individual disciplinary models are created separately and subsequently brought together in a collaborative 3D environment.

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

At first, we had to advocate for the benefits of AEC technologies with our clients. This also concerns our consultants, who we managed to involve in our way of thinking, developing increasingly efficient processes as we worked together.

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

There is a shift from the traditional design to a data driven design. There will be a moment in the future when we will no longer be sharing models but data. We can already collect data from our past projects - we can learn lessons now by extracting information from our models while, not long ago, we learned these lessons by looking at drawings.

In the near future, that data can also be integrated with real time information sourced from Digital Twins. All this data can then be analyzed through Artificial Intelligence and form the basis for a better understanding of the built environment, which can lead to increased project performances.

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

Integration, open-source, and data-sharing. We believe that in the immediate future, the importance of data will forcefully enter the world of construction as it has done in our lives. For this reason, it will be very important to be able to dialogue with all the stakeholders of the process at the same level, without having to suffer penalties based on the tools used.

Whichever way it goes, ACPV will always continue to seek innovative design methodologies, exploiting all the potential of modern technologies.

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