Civil 3D Modeling Puts Exclamation Point on Site Design

October 21, 2014 by Russell Yeager

In the land development world, it’s few and far between that the civil design team gets an opportunity to flex their muscle in regard to 3-D modeling. At BIG RED DOG, our modeling effort is an exercise to increase efficiency and accuracy.

The Houston office of BIG RED DOG has recently had the opportunity to collaborate with Houston based design-build firm, Saber Construction, to design a 70,000 square-foot industrial office located within Harris County on approximately 45 acres.

For this particular project, the client requested that the detention facility be incorporated and designed as an aesthetic feature in the development rather than something that is typically masked. The result was a 2.94 acre-foot detention facility located at the front of the development with a permanent pool elevation otherwise known as a “wetpond”.

Pond 3D Model


Civil engineers and designers in Houston can tell you, the lack of topographic relief in the area is the primary challenge when designing gravity systems of any type. This case was no different as our team launched into the design phase of the project.

002.005_CGSP01_pond outfall structure

In effort to convey a visual representation of key components within the system, the BIG RED DOG design team created a 3-D model of this Detention/Wet Pond facility using Civil 3D Grading features and Pipe networks.  Design constraints included a standard 10’ safety bench at the water surface elevation, additional depth for detention capacity, and limited site topography to achieve a 100% gravity system.  The highlight of this design is the outfall structure which was modeled in Civil 3D and shown in the attached images.  Building Information Modeling (BIM) has long been utilized by architects, structural engineers, and MEP engineers but is typically overlooked in the civil engineering practice. Civil 3D modeling does require a bit more effort on the front end but it yields a dynamic design that is able to be manipulated much more efficiently and accurately when revisions are required.

002.005_CGSP01_pond view


When employing dynamic civil design and modeling practices, tasks such as adjusting finished floor elevations or proposed grades are typically achieved in half the time in comparison to when designed with more conventional drafting methods. Because the civil model is “smart”, tasks such as producing civil profiles, section, pipe network schedules, and earthwork volumes related to the model are achieved in a much more efficient and accurate manner.

Have questions about Civil 3D, BIM Models, or Site Development in Houston? We’re always happy to talk shop, just give us a call at (832) 730-1901.

Written by Russell Yeager

Russell Yeager

As Market Director for our Commercial Services practice, Russell Yeager is responsible for managing our Raving Fans and prospective clients, overseeing the performance of our project design teams, steering our brand marketing strategy, and spearheading our community outreach and volunteer efforts. Russell is a proud University of Texas graduate – Hook ‘Em! He and his wife Jordan live in Northwest San Antonio.