American Society of Civil Engineers

Are Physical Mock-Ups Still Necessary to Complement Visual Models for the Realization of Design Intents?

by Roberto Pietroforte, (corresponding author), A.M.ASCE, (Associate Professor, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, 100 Institute Rd., Worcester, MA 01609. E-mail:, Paolo Tombesi, (Chair in Construction, Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning, Univ. of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia.), and Daniel D. Lebiedz, (Project Superintendent, Lee Kennedy Company, 1792 Dorchester Ave., Boston, MA 02124.)

Journal of Architectural Engineering, Vol. 18, No. 1, March 2012, pp. 34-41, (doi:

     Access full text
     Purchase Subscription
     Permissions for Reuse  

Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: Over time, the growing use of modern construction technologies with different tolerances and installation requirements for buildings has made reliance on full-size mock-ups essential for addressing the interfaces between design and construction. Three-dimensional (3D) and four-dimensional (4D) models have been introduced and developed over the past 10 years and are seen by some as eliminating the need for physical mock-ups. However, notwithstanding the recognized capabilities of digital models, mock-ups are still needed for capturing and eliciting the tacit knowledge that characterizes many construction operations, which cannot be visualized fully by the digital world. This argument is developed by illustrating the challenges experienced in the erection and testing of full-size mock-ups of curtain walls, particularly in constructability and functional requirements. It is argued that digital and physical models must be considered complementary tools in the realization of design intents.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Construction management

Author Keywords:
Scale models
Computer models
Shop drawings
Tacit knowledge
Explicit knowledge