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Building Toward BIM, Part 1

March 7, 2016 Leave a comment

A small architectural firm shores up business with a move to Revit LT.

By Cameron Kruger, ArcWest Architects

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series sponsored by Autodesk, highlighting how Autodesk® Revit LT is improving the design workflow and overall success of small architectural firms.

Walking down the streets of Denver, peeking past the small gaps in the covered chain link fence of a construction site, you can’t help but notice a sense of vitality in the hard concrete surfaces and piles of bent steel around the unfinished building. Life has yet to begin in this building, but you seem so aware of the energy the building was designed to project. I was walking toward the building when it hit me: The energy is coming from the thin sheet of vinyl wrapping the chain link fence, which reads, “Future home of. …” Above the text, an image shows a building yet to exist, a 3D rendering produced through a computer program that gives life to this area even before the occupants arrive.
The software programs that produce these images are a driving force in architectural documentation today. Pursuing the opportunity to accurately represent a design through many phases, model components faster, and compete with larger firms, our small firm was committed to taking on the challenges associated with implementing the new building information modeling (BIM).

With the obvious market forces driving the industry toward BIM, it was becoming more difficult for our company, ArcWest Architects, to market our work, compete with firms that had already adopted the technology, and convey design concepts to our clients at a reasonable cost to them. And with the Internet providing access to many BIM-based projects, clients were expecting to see more from start to finish. Floor plans and elevations were no longer good enough. No one wanted to see a project develop in two dimensions — those flat, stagnant shapes that an architect calls a building.

We needed to move to BIM, and Revit was the clear industry leader. We opted to rent Autodesk® Revit LT, which was more affordable than full Revit, yet extremely capable. With the ability to model designs in 3D space, Revit LT would allow us to move toward a much more efficient and accurate workflow.

One of the challenges associated with changing the AutoCAD-based design workflow of an entire company was the knowledge required to operate the new software. Before the transition, ArcWest comprised only three partners, all with experience in AutoCAD. Filling their time with running a business and keeping projects moving through the door, they were unable to obtain the required knowledge to operate Revit LT. At that point, the firm began to grow, as the new workflow required a new set of talents. With architectural education recognizing BIM as the new standard for the AEC industry, more professionals are entering the field with the required skill sets, so talent was easy to find. This in turn allowed the partners to develop a business strategy that allowed them to have more time to run the business while their BIM-savvy associates did the production work.

Vista Pointe - Revit LT Rendering

Assisting with design and engineering of a new multi-use commercial building
in Bloomfield, Colorado, ArcWest Architects is using Autodesk Revit LT
to produce 3D renderings as well as 2D documentation.

The justification to move toward a Revit LT workflow was obvious to us, and should be to any other small firm as well.  With BIM, you can grow as a company, compete with larger firms, and improve overall client satisfaction. Being able to provide clients with all they could ask for is invaluable — from final renderings placed at construction sites to raise awareness of their future building, to final as-built models the client can reference and build upon in the future — switching to Autodesk Revit LT will open many opportunities for ArcWest.

In my next post, I will look into the firm’s transition from CAD to BIM and how we implemented Revit LT into our workflow.


Cameron Kruger 1-cropped

About the author:  Cameron Kruger is an architectural associate at
ArcWest Architects in Denver.

Expert Interview with Viktor Nordstrom of CL3VER

April 2, 2015 Leave a comment

Viktor Nordstrom understands that the future of CAD exists on the cloud. His company, CL3VER, provides a cloud-based platform for interactive 3D presentations for the web and mobile devices to help AEC and manufacturing professionals to engage customers and stakeholders. CL3VER 3.0, released on March 11, was presented at the GPU Technology Conference together with the integration of CL3VER with Lightworks’ iray+ photorealistic rendering solution that enables users to explore a CL3VER presentation via a web browser and generate a photorealistic rendered image of a specific point of view using iray.

In this interview, Nordstrom discusses the future of CAD and how it is changing along with technology.

In what ways does a cloud-based platform enhance the CAD process?

A cloud-based platform enhances the CAD process by making the time to market products and projects faster, thanks to the possibility of accessing information in real-time from any location around the globe and at any time. The cloud also provides infinite computer power available on an “on-demand basis,” thereby cutting costs traditionally associated with the requirements for expensive hardware and software maintenance.

How do you bring CAD to life on all devices?

The CL3VER proprietary 3D engine makes use of HTML5 and WebGL technology to enable interactive 3D visualization on any device without the need to install any plugin. In addition, a native iOS App provides an immersive experience on iPad and iPhone in high definition. During the next months, we will also improve the current offline viewing system.

How does CL3VER democratize the creation of real-time 3D?

The CL3VER editor interface allows a user to add interactivity to a 3D scene without the need for programming, making real-time 3D accessible to any 3D designer who doesn’t have specific programming skills. The content created is then distributed via the web and made accessible from any device.

CL3VER is headquartered in Barcelona, Spain, and has offices in Palo Alto, California. Do you see a difference in CAD use or experiences between the United States and Europe?

BIM software adoption and penetration in any country is influenced by several factors such as the country’s laws, the industry technology trends and the industry competition, to name a few. In this scenario, we see that in North America, the use of 3D in the CAD industry is widely adopted when compared with Europe. As a matter of fact, that makes U.S. users more skilled and experienced.

Can you comment on the role of CAD workstations in the 3D workflow?

Workstations normally have 2 multicore processors (36 threads, for example) for rendering outputs. The best experience for real-time 3D environments is based on the GPU rather than the processors, meaning the more powerful GPU that is installed in a workstation (more RAM or cores), the better the viewing and working experience will be.

CL3VER does not require a high performing dedicated GPU for its standard use; an integrated graphics card is enough. For professional use, having an AMD or NVIDIA dedicated graphics card brings the production workflow and the viewing experience to a higher level.

Where do you see CL3VER going in three to five years?

We see in the 3D visualization industry a clear trend for real-time solutions. Especially in the AEC and manufacturing industries, the way a project, product or solution is presented is a key element of differentiation that directly affects sales revenues and competitiveness. Top architecture, engineering and manufacturing firms are already using real-time techniques, and we are seeing a great acceptance of CL3VER for its unique fast workflow to produce interactive 3D presentations for any device.

Based on those facts, we see CL3VER in three years from now to be the leading platform for architects, engineers, manufacturers, and any 3D professional to communicate their designs. The platform will allow a super fast production workflow of browser based real-time interactive 3D with a photorealistic quality that runs fast on any device.

Follow CL3VER on Facebook and Twitter.