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Case study: Mexico City International Airport project

The case study demonstrates the importance of BIM in large projects in terms of time, cost, waste management.
DR GAMA: I’ve always been intrigued by Mexico due to its rich culture and its history of engineering excellence.
In 2010, I was lucky enough to visit this fascinating country to present a paper at a conference. As I landed at Mexico City Airport, I was overwhelmed by just how busy it was, an airport which was clearly working to capacity. I was right. In 2014, the Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto, announced that a new and truly innovative airport would be built as a national symbol of pride and to illustrate the country’s ambitious development plans. What captivated me most about this announcement though, was that the project would use Building Information Modelling, or BIM, to reach its goal. The new 770,000 square metre airport promises to transform airport design.
Its construction, which began in 2015 supported an aim to meet BIM level of detail 300 by the end of the project in 2020. BIM has supported this project by creating work plans, analysing engineering works, enabling visualisation of the structure and programme space use, aiding review of the designs where necessary, enhancing early clash detection and assisting with thermal load calculations. As a result, BIM has reduced the project cost by enabling one and a half times reduction of labour. BIM has also made information more accessible for all team members leading to time saving when making alterations to the building plans and cost estimates. With BIM, large volumes of data are exchanged among the people involved in a project.
In this new, Mexico Airport project, consultants are involved in frequent exchange of models, email communications, discussions through meetings, workshops and virtual conferences in order to meet the goal of creating a new airport of the future.

In this section, we introduce you to two case studies of BIM adoption in Mexico and the UK. You will also consider how BIM implementation may not lead to desired productivity improvements.

In this video, Dr Effie Mpakati Gama outlines the benefits that BIM offers to large-scale projects using Mexico Airport as an example.

The Mexico Airport BIM was masterminded by NACO (Netherlands Airport Consultants), part of Royal HaskoningDHV. NACO, a design partner of master architects Foster + Partners and FR-EE, was involved at all stages of the design process of this 770,000 square meters airport.

NACO, well known for its expertise with BIM, was considered most able to undertake functional planning, IT and baggage handling system model design for the new passenger terminal building, as well as the control tower, area control centre and the ground transportation centre.

In total, 50,000 virtual model elements were created for the project using BIM.

‘it’s estimated that 1.5 times more staff would be needed to produce the same amount of drawings without BIM’ (Royal Haskoning DHV, 2018)
With BIM:
  • Labour costs were reduced;
  • Access to information was improved; and
  • Time was saved when making alterations.
You may also be interested in the project site of the architects, Foster + Partners.

Your task

There are many projects worldwide where BIM has been incorporated.
Can you add some examples from your own locality?
In your analysis include these details:
  • Location
  • Type of building
  • Savings that were made
Please share any links that relate to your example(s).


Mexico City International Airport wins prestigious AEC Excellence Award (2017). Mexico City International Airport wins prestigious AEC Excellence Award. [online] Available at: .

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An Introduction to Building Information Modelling

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