How BIM Helps ROJO Architecture Save Time and Focus on Design

Profiled Firm: ROJO Architecture |  Location: Tampa, Florida (USA)
Florida Orthopaedic lobby interior

The team of architects and interior designers at ROJO Architecture, based in Tampa, Florida, designs both residential and commercial buildings for many different types of industries, including hospitality, retail, medical, religious, military, and education.

The firm transformed a 27,550-square-foot bookstore into a space conducive to orthopedic care, education, and research for the Florida Orthopaedic Institute. Because the site was once a large, open space with little privacy and no natural light, ROJO was challenged to meet the functional needs of the medical facility, while transforming the entryway into a welcoming destination.

Vectorworks Architect confirmed our design decisions and saved us an incredible amount of time.

Rob Glisson, Co-founder and Principal

Florida Orthopaedic sign

Saving Time and Money with BIM

As an early embracer of technology, ROJO has employed Vectorworks Architect software as a Building Information Modeling (BIM) tool for several of its projects, including the Florida Orthopaedic Institute. The firm modeled the design in the software from the beginning, adding far more detail than necessary for initial client signoff. "The better we can show our designs, the better we can sell them," says Co-founder and Principal Rob Glisson. "And it works." 

Operating in a BIM workflow also significantly reduces the firm's backend work, saving hundreds of hours. "Even though clients often look at 2D drawings, we have everything backed up in a 3D model,” says Co-founder and Principal John Saldana.“We know a lot more about their space than it appears."

Florida Orthopaedic interior elevations

The ROJO team also encourages its contractors to use BIM. "Precise quantities can save 10 percent on wasted materials," says Glisson. "Passing these savings along to clients clinches more bids. It's a win-win for all."

The result of the firm’s efforts is a space that replicates the vibe of an upscale hotel lobby. A glass wall features a cascading waterfall behind the facility's nameplate. Cutting through the space, a winding path of sophisticated gray and gold carpet complements wood-lined walls with recessed shelving for artwork and plush upholstered furniture with modern industrial lighting.

Solving Problems with Software

ROJO also implemented a BIM workflow in its design of The Portland building in St. Petersburg, Florida. This government-funded, 78,000-square-foot residential project features 12 stories with 68 units. ROJO's interpretation of Portland, Oregon's seaside cliffs are portrayed on the face of the building and its elevator tower, with striations and a peeling exterior that reveals glass and metalwork with rich blues and greens. The tower’s diagonal lines draw the eye upward and the windows change shape as they ascend.

Inside, reclaimed barn wood, modern black and white leather furniture, and magenta and black spotted carpet set an upscale, modern tone. And in a nod to Portland's claim as the "City of Roses," larger-than-life sculptural rose cutouts appear to climb the outer walls of the building.

We can put 100 percent of our time into the design, rather than documenting and drafting, and provide more accurate bidding.

John Saldana, Co-founder and Principal

ROJO Architecture The Portland building exterior

One challenge ROJO faced during the project was the lot's small size. Exploring different scenarios in Vectorworks Architect proved critical to optimizing the space, including its three levels of parking. 

"I don't know how we would have done the vertical stacking without a tool like Vectorworks Architect," Glisson says. "We needed to evaluate if certain geometries were going to be more conducive to the unit placement. The software confirmed our design decisions and saved us an incredible amount of time."

Saldana also credits Vectorworks’ presentation capabilities for enabling the project's smooth approval process by the State of Florida, the City of St. Petersburg, and a private developer. "We're only as good as we can communicate to the client, and Vectorworks Architect helped us communicate our ideas effectively."

ROJO Architecture The Portland building interior

A Bright Future with BIM

Looking ahead, ROJO's founders envision more streamlined workflows with BIM. Glisson asserts that as subcontractors develop BIM models for their millwork, HVAC, and other products, architecture firms will be able to work directly with subcontractors and contractors. 

"We don't need to create a BIM model and then have them BIM again," he says. "The subcontractors can just BIM their work first and bring it back into our model. That's going to be a lot of fun to work with." Glisson and his team hope to leverage their experience with BIM to help the contractors they work with make process improvements within five years.

Saldana also sees huge timesaving opportunities with more prevalent BIM adoption. "Contractors can input our model into their shop drawings,” he says.“Then, we can put 100 percent of our time into the design, rather than documenting and drafting, and provide more accurate bidding." That sounds like progress for everyone.

Images courtesy of ROJO Architecture, Mark Borosch