Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Civil, Environmental & Architectural Engineering

First Advisor

Paul M. Goodrum

Second Advisor

Matthew R. Hallowell

Third Advisor

Keith R. Molenaar


With the increased usage of Building Information Modeling (BIM) in the construction industry, new pre-construction processes are emerging. This is the case of 4D animation that brings together the 3D model of a building and its construction schedule to visualize construction process in a virtual manner. This technologically advanced approach in the pre-construction phase contrasts with the unanticipated overstaffing on the worksite, which results in losses of productivity. This research provides a framework to help bridge this gap, by integrating the knowledge of work envelope requirements on piping and steel construction to prevent overstaffing and reduce productivity losses. Initial efforts to identify the way that work envelope requirements were defined in the literature revealed that if many possible usages are considered, very little was found on how to automatically assess the exact work envelope requirement. Thus the work envelope was first defined through five in-depth interviews with experienced superintendents on steel and piping projects. Their thought process, when presented with common situations, was recorded and general rules where extracted. Those rules were then summarized in 16 decision trees, describing the required work envelope in specific steel and piping construction situations. Most of those work envelope definitions include dimensions relative to the body parts. This lead to assess the absolute dimensions of the work envelope, using anthropomorphic data, to compare the level of work envelope overlap between worldwide populations. The results show that some work envelope requirements, identified through the interviews, have a limited tolerance and are more sensitive to body dimension changes. It was found that in such situation the population anthropomorphic characteristics significantly impact the work envelope requirements. This research contributes to the body of knowledge by defining the characteristics of the work envelope on construction projects. Specifically it stresses the independence horizontal and vertical components of the work envelope; identifies the specific factors impacting those two components; and describe how not considering the anthropomorphic data would impact the space planning on site.