Bay Bridge W2 Footing Oakland, CA
1:4.5 scale 52" x 41" x 74"

The lead engineer at Caltrans, in charge of the construction of the new San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge, was convinced that the best way to save costs was to find and resolve all of the potential design constructability issues that would normally get resolved in the field ahead of time.  Having us construct the model, document our assembly process, resolve issues as we encountered them, and ultimately send a design package out to bid was an integral part of their plan.  The W-2 Footing was the first contract of the entire bridge construction.  As you can see, the rebar was packed so tightly that lopping off a piece of that doesn’t fit was not an option; the engineers would have had to recalculate.  These adjustments are common in the construction of an overpass or bridge and vary depending on the sequence of assembly, but the sheer magnitude and cost of this project had the person in charge thinking outside the box.  There was initial skepticism among the engineers on the project as to the efficacy of such an exercise, but our first meeting in the early days of construction revealed a series of hidden conflicts and dispelled all doubt.  Over the last several years, the engineering team has thought of dozens of ways to utilize this ‘build it first’ approach to thoroughly test design buildability or accessibility issues that might significantly impact cost.  The modeling process was deemed a great success, saving both time and money in the field and with California taxpayers.