Interviews

Gerard Courtrier, buildingSMART VC, talks BIM

Gerard Couturier is the Branch Director of Oger International in Abu Dhabi, the engineering arm of the Saudi Oger Group and currently serves as the vice chairman of the BuildingSMART ME UAE forum.   How valuable is BuildingSMART UAE to the construction industry? “BuildingSMART has a significant role to play in the region’s construction industry […]

Gerard Couturier is the Branch Director of Oger International in Abu Dhabi, the engineering arm of the Saudi Oger Group and currently serves as the vice chairman of the BuildingSMART ME UAE forum.

 

How valuable is BuildingSMART UAE to the construction industry?

“BuildingSMART has a significant role to play in the region’s construction industry as a mechanism to raise awareness and establish best practices of building information modelling, and also as point of contact for industry professionals seeking practical support and guidance in integrating BIM processes. As a not-for-profit and software-neutral organisation buildingSMART has already established a reputation, at an international level, of credibility and leading industry knowledge. We would like to see that being taken up more strongly by governments, industry bodies and commercial organisation in the Middle East.

How has it changed practices and what are the main benefits it provides to its members?

buildingSMART promotes integrated and collaborative processes based on OpenBIM standards. These standards, which are ISO certified, enable the exchange of information between project parties in a neutral format; not bound to any particular software. This ‘open’ strategy has numerous benefits to the industry; most notably, enhanced project communication and information exchange. buildingSMART supports its member in adopting these standards and processes through its user groups, conferences,  seminars and the provision of excellent resource material and other support services.

What particular benefits will the forum will bring to Jordan?

I imagine the Jordan forum will bring many of the same benefits that we have seen arising from the UAE forum. This includes raising awareness in the construction industry not just of BIM, but of OpenBIM standards and collaborative processes. We also hope to see the emergence of BIM user groups and other forums that encourage the interaction of industry professionals and general raises the level of BIM competency in Jordan and the broader region.

What are the primary issues, unique to Jordan, that the new forum can address?

Tahir Sharif, Founding President of buildingSMART MENA & India, is probably better placed to comment on the unique challenges of the Jordan forum compared to other forums within the chapter, however I would add that it is encouraging to see that the Jordan forum is supported by two significant industry bodies; the Kingdom of Jordan’s Ministry of Public Works and Housing (MPWH) and Jordan Engineers Association (JEA). It is a bold step and sets a significant precedent in the region.

In the UAE we are seeing projects come to tender that have stringent BIM requirements. However this is largely unregulated. There are no consistent BIM standards, processes or even terminologies that are recognised across the construction industry. This is something that buildingSMART is seeking to remedy, however it really takes the commitment of a government or industry body for these efforts to gain traction. With the support of the MPWH and the JEA in Jordon I could imagine the Jordanian construction industry seeing great achievement in this regard.

On behalf of the buildingSMART UAE forum we wish the Jordan forum the greatest success and look forward to engaging in joint activities to increase the awareness and practice of buildingSMART OpenBIM processes.

 

Gerard Couturier

Gerard Couturier is the Branch Director of Oger International in Abu Dhabi, the engineering arm of the Saudi Oger Group and currently serves as the Vice Chairman of the BuildingSMART ME UAE forum.

He has a Masters in Engineering from INSA Lyon and he is also a graduate from the special military school of Saint-Cyr (ESM Saint-Cyr).

Gerard began his career in the construction industry with Setec International, a French engineering corporation; he was assigned as a resident engineer for a major project in Iran ‘Les Jardins de Vanack’, the first high-rise building complex in Tehran.

In 1975, Gerard moved to the U.A.E. as the general manager of Montenay Gulf LLC, where he oversaw operations in the U.A.E. and Qatar.

In 1979, he joined Sheikh Raffic B. Hariri’s Saudi Oger Group as the Area Manager for operations in the Eastern Provence of K.S.A.  He subsequently founded, at the request of Sheikh Raffic B. Hariri, the Maintenance Company of the Group and was the General Manager.  At the time of his departure, the company employed 3,500 technicians.

From 1984, he worked for the Texan Developer J.D. SIMS & Co, USA, as a General Partner, where he provided a vital link between the Middle Eastern and French investors in the corporation.

In 1989, he joined Coteba Management and was assigned to the Disneyland Paris Project as the Construction Manager for the Resort, which comprised 6 hotels, an entertainment village, golf course, staff accommodation, etc.

In 1992, he joined Disney where he was the ‘Co-Gerant’ of EDLI Sarl, the engineering arm of the Walt Disney Group for the development of theme parks in France.  Furthermore, he was the ‘Gerant’ of Setemo Imagineering, the engineering arm of Euro Disneyland SCA.  He managed the development of major projects including The Val d’Europe Commercial Centre and The Walt Disney Studios Theme Park.

Since 2007, when Gerard joined Oger International, the architectural and engineering arm of the Saudi Oger Group, as the Branch Director for the UAE, he has successfully managed two iconic projects: the Paris Sorbonne University of Abu Dhabi (100,000m2) and the new financial services district, Sowwah Square (500,000m2), which includes the Abu Dhabi Stock Exchange, due for completion in the third quarter of 2011.

Since January 2010 Oger International Abu Dhabi has been a corporate member of BuildingSMART ME, with Gerard Couturier serving as an active board member.

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