About: Nader Elhajj - Director
Nader Elhajj – Director of Middle East and Africa, FrameCad Solutions, Upper Marlboro, MD - Prior to his current position he was a project manager at the National Association of Home Builders Research Center, overseeing the research and development of alternative building materials and emerging technologies.
1. How has the changed dynamics of structure designing helped evolve construction in Middle East vis-à-vis global arena?
The rapid growth of some countries in the Middle East has accelerated the introduction of innovative construction methods and materials. The advancement in technology which led to the development of advanced engineering and detailing tools for steel has made it easier to be introduced in the Middle East market.
Engineering and construction firms are responding to owners demanding faster project completion with innovations in prefabrication, building information modeling (BIM), integrated project delivery and design-build practices. With rapid expansion of design build practices, general contractors have acquired or contracted design capabilities to move into upstream phases, offering Owners a single contract and a single point of contact to deal with.
2. Steel Building structures have a list of benefits. What are the challenges faced in a large scale construction projects using such construction methods?
Owner’s acceptance of steel modular construction, building code compliance and local municipality’s acceptance, logistics and transportation aspects, perceived design limitations and restrictions are usually the troubling areas of construction while imbibing these methods.
When construction methods, steel material and temporary structures are not clearly known to architects or designers, it may lead to discrepancy between the planned and factual delivery of the project. It also requires high initial investment in automated factory (machines, software, etc.).
3. How does modular construction and prefabrication construction modules project different from traditional construction?
Economy of scale through repetitive manufacturing and lower self-weight leading to foundation savings are known to have been better along with rapid installation and erection on site with superior level of quality control in factory production can be achieved.
It is also suitable for projects with site constraints and where methods of working require more off-site manufacture. Limited disruption in the vicinity of the construction site, excellent fire and acoustic insulation, reduced exposure and potential delays due to weather constraints (heat, snow, wind, etc.), adaptable for future extensions, and ability to be dismantled easily and moved if required are some of the known benefits.
Also, stability of tall buildings by a braced steel core robustness can be achieved by attaching the modular units together at their corners and improved construction schedule reflect effective risk management capabilities.
4. What are the latest advancements in developing steel frame design and build process minimizing cost overrun and time delays?
Greater use of prefabrication, preassembly, modularization, and off-site fabrication techniques and processes has led to widespread deployment and use of interoperable technology applications, also called Building Information Modeling (BIM). Introduction of high strength steels improves its efficiency and reduces construction cost to a great extent.
It is also known to have improved job-site efficiency through more effective interfacing of people, processes, materials, equipment, and information (FRAMECAD system), increased recyclability content of steel improving environmentally friendly aspect and reduced construction waste through automated design and fabrication (and therefore reduced costs).
5. What are your expectations from the summit and how do you rate the topics of the discussion at the summit?
The summit has been rightly planned with the right kind of audience of board. Attendees will get to have better understanding of steel modular construction and the platform will help increase awareness of the steel material and construction methods.