Focus - Education

A BIM class regarding the Midfield Terminal Building in session.

A BIM class regarding the Midfield Terminal Building in session.

MTB offers exemplary BIM knowhow

BIM experiences gained on the Midfield Terminal Building (MTB) of the Abu Dhabi International Airport have proved invaluable to students in a Master’s programme on BIM. ISSAM EL ABSI* shares details of the emplacement with Gulf Construction.

February 2020

The Midfield Terminal Building (MTB) of the Abu Dhabi International Airport is a striking example of a megaproject that has been developed entirely using building information modelling (BIM) methodology.

The project recently served as the chosen students’ emplacement for a Master’s programme in Global BIM Management for Infrastructure Projects, conducted by the Spain-based Zigurat, a global institute for architects, engineers, owners and developers.

This world-class building, which is to be completed this year, is designed to accommodate up to 27 million passengers annually (around 8,500 passenger capacity per hour) in order to meet the future needs of one of the fastest growing airports in the world.

Students who participated in the emplacement at the Midfield Terminal Building with project engineers.

Students who participated in the emplacement at the Midfield Terminal Building with project engineers.

The construction contract for the landmark project was signed between Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC) and TAV-Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC)-Arabtec joint venture. As the project tender requirements stipulated that the general contractor must develop, communicate and share a comprehensive BIM for all disciplines – involving all sub-contractors’ and manufacturers’ scope – the joint venture developed an approach based largely on the experience and expertise developed by CCC over the past decades.  CCC’s BIM processes have been developed entirely in-house, building on the needs of its core business and the control systems that had been established within the company.

Using BIM, CCC has acquired very valuable hands-on knowledge in the workflows, processes and IT tools that is transferred to all the students of the Zigurat programme who, with their participation in on-site visits to real projects, have become better prepared to handle the challenges that the increased demand for digitalisation of the construction industry has posed.

CCC is the academic partner for the Master’s in Global BIM Management for Infrastructure Projects, a programme which provides advanced education in the field of BIM and digital construction. It enables students to become fully capable to take BIM implementation to another level and gain expertise in leading infrastructure management software.

The Midfield Terminal Building project was chosen for the programme to celebrate the first International Student Week organised by CCC and Zigurat in the Middle East, in which 13 students of seven different nationalities had the opportunity to immerse themselves in one of the most complex projects and learn how CCC is implementing BIM in all the phases of construction.

The project is monitored from the first-ever BIM-Theatre, a tech-room where engineers work collaboratively through nine screens. From there, the participants of the Student Week could experience first-hand how a megaproject is planned and coordinated. 

The Midfield Terminal Building ... a challenging project.

The Midfield Terminal Building ... a challenging project.

The Midfield Terminal Building was and remains a very difficult project, with many technical obstacles, mainly because of the architectural surface, the shape of the roof and the overall building size. One of the requirements of the client to the architectural design team was to have an approach to the appearance of the building to resemble the beautiful dunes of the Arabian desert.

The terminal building is located between the north and south runways, allowing for more stands and a quicker, smoother experience for passengers. The building’s design includes a unique undulating roof that is expected to be visible from more than 1.5 km away, rising 52 m above aluminium roof cladding set on 84,000 tonnes of structural steel. The envelope also includes over 200,000 sq m of high-performance glass curtain-wall. The concrete works measure approximately 640,000 cu m, with 130,000 tons of reinforcement and over 1.5 million sq m of formwork required, and placement that peaked at 2,000 cu m per day.

Designed to render an open and spacious environment, the Midfield Terminal Building features large column-free zones with inclined steel arches supporting the soaring roof. A large hall leads passengers to the centre of the building, which contains a hotel, lounges, cultural outlets, stores and a park-like garden.



The complexity of the MTB project posed many challenges to the general contractor prior to and during the construction. Mitigating these challenges, ensuring the quality of the finished product and meeting the stringent demands of the BIM-driven project delivery mandated an enormous commitment from the joint venture of CCC, Arabtec and TAV in terms of pre-planning, technical understanding of the project and available resources. Indeed, it was felt that the only way to meet these demands and be prepared for project award was to initiate the BIM process prior to the project commencement.

The BIM implementation had to cover engineering and design (clash mitigation, design coordination, an RFI [Request for Information] system, shop drawings), project controls and planning (scheduling, cost estimation, progress, and 4D studies), contractual and quantity surveying (quantity take-off and measurements) and manufacturing (digital fabrication). Site logistics, temporary installation, scaffolding, and formwork were also to be BIM-driven.

Miltiadis Goudiras, one of the senior project BIM team members, joined the enterprise in 2012 and one of the major tasks that he was involved in was the general coordination of all the subcontractors. “With my team here, we try to have the subcontractors ready to submit the LOD 400 models and LOD 500 models on time, either for the extraction or the support of sub-drawings, or the extraction and support of the as-built drawings,” he explains.

Last year, the team started the handover phase where they are connecting the as-built models with all the related data. “It’s a very critical period, we have to communicate the comments of the client to the subcontractors, in order for all of us to succeed to have a federated model, a combined model for all the areas of the project,” Goudiras comments.



Guided by environmental objectives, the Abu Dhabi International Airport MTB is designed to meet the UAE’s Two Pearl rating for sustainable design. Towards this goal, the terminal limits the use of potable water by incorporating dry climate landscaping and uses low energy lighting supplemented by daylight, filtered through the transparent walls.

The project is challenging in terms of engineering, construction and procurement due to the unique nature of the design and the inherent complexities of its operation. Anticipating the challenges that such complexities posed, the owner, Abu Dhabi Airport Companies (ADAC), sought to promote technologies that would facilitate the delivery of the project and enhance its operation throughout its lifecycle. One such initiative was the requirement for BIM-integrated processes. This was enforced by a set of demanding, ambitious and quite unique specifications.



The construction site of the MTB of the Abu Dhabi Airport is nothing short of impressive. The success of the project is the result of the collective effort of 900 engineers and the workforce will peak at around 10,000 labourers.

Given that all the speakers and lecturers of the Student Week were engineers of different areas involved in the project, the students had the chance to discuss and ask questions about the practical side of the execution of such a big-scale project, for example, about the challenges the professionals had to solve along the way.

The five-day programme was tailor-made for the students of BIM infrastructure projects to give them insights about the functioning of a project of such magnitude.



Academic activities, cultural and dinner events were also programmed to offer a less formal environment and a chance to strengthen personal relationships. The students coming from Europe, North America, South Asia and the Middle East, who have carried out course projects together in a collaborative working environment, finally had a chance to meet each other in person.

The video team of Zigurat captured each and every one of the most celebrated moments for the Master’s students on film. They also cinematised the project engineers presenting the technical sessions and Zigurat representatives who travelled to Abu Dhabi to participate in the event. The result is an audio-visual piece that conveys the essence of this gathering.

[ImageDocumentary + link:]

It was a real privilege for the participants of the first International Student Week organised by CCC and Zigurat in Abu Dhabi to be able to set foot on this site when it is still a project under construction, only a few months before the terminal is set to open to millions of passengers daily.


* Issam El Absi is director of CCC Academy and the Master’s in Global BIM Management for Infrastructure Projects programme at Zigurat.  

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