BIM Project Management at Heathrow Airport


Grimshaw responds to the needs and resources of the contemporary world. The buildings they produce come from a detailed understanding of the functions they must fulfil, the conditions they have to provide and the materials from which they are constructed.


Grimshaw is an architecture, planning and industrial design firm that boasts a staff of over 650 employees with 200 international design awards. They were contracted by Heathrow Airport Limited to provide architectural design services for Masterplanning, Terminal Facilities, Public Transport Interchanges, Airport Supporting Development, Community Facilities and Public amenity spaces. The varying scale of work as well as the integration of different information types like GIS, Civil 3D and Revit, however, required staff augmentation beyond what Grimshaw had available.


This new construction would increase capacity by approximately 60 mppa (Million Passengers Per Annum) to roughly 140 mppa by 2050. Heathrow is the premier airport in Europe, and with new airports being built of ultra-high capacity, Heathrow needs to expand and stay abreast of the European rivals to maintain its “go-to” status. The concept to consultation stage took approximately three years, however the project has been a large political, economic and social discussion for over 30 years. The expansion requires a new terminal facilities, transport links, highway diversions, river diversions and a 20-thousand parking increase in the first stage alone. Grimshaw dedicated around 100 staff to manage several task orders, including public consultation and design guardians, but further expertise in cross-functional coordination and civil design was required.


Symetri provided a BIM Manager, 1-year engagement, and BIM Coordinator, 4-month engagement, to lead the master planning and support the project design technology team comprised of computational designers, GIS coordinators and ER specialists. Starting with GIS integration into normal master and urban planning workflows and Revit modeling, Symetri developed custom applications that enhanced planning, decision making and public consultation for Civil 3D verified views. These custom applications/workflows became the standard for the BIM lifecycle and gave the client a robust roadmap for the 25-year project duration. As a global consultancy with a mission toward client success, Symetri also ensured Grimshaw was left with a higher level of ability, skills, processes and expertise.

Project coordination involved the creation of a team structure that was easily accessed and understood by the wider team, allowing for a shared understanding of goals, smooth communication and cross-discipline innovation. A BIM Execution Plan was also developed and coordinated to craft unique and collective workflows.

Finally, Symetri engaged in just-in-time training for Grimshaw staff to ensure the team was fully leveraging the latest AECO software and integrations.


Symetri brought project management expertise that enhanced collaboration, connected varying disciplines and streamlined overall processes. With the help of Symetri’s BIM manager, bringing over eight years of aviation knowledge, and a BIM coordinator with computational design and multi-platform integration experience, Grimshaw delivered three terminal Revit models, 13 borough community Civil 3D models, Civil 3D and Esri GIS integrations and five master planning scopes to Heathrow Airport. The partnership allowed Grimshaw to maintain momentum on the project and hone a foundation of expertise in civil and urban design that will not only integrate disciplines but also drive ongoing innovation and inefficiencies.

Related Cases