New 3D house plans and BIM (Building Information Modeling) features are soon to be added to Rand Soellner Architect’s workflow. The firm has conducted an exhaustive analysis of three-dimensional modeling and BIM functionality of various software packages available and is about to make a choice.
In fact, there is a final frontrunner, that won’t be announced until the acquisition is finalized. The latest version of the software has amazing enhancements adding tremendous functionality to the architectural firm’s offered services. The firm who makes the software has been in business for about 3 decades and is a born & bred USA company.
The new software includes several amazing features, like near-photo realistic views of the architectural design, actual manufacturer’s catalog items like light fixtures, cabinets, appliances, windows, doors and many other items.
Regarding BIM (Building Information Model data): there is a helpful near-automated bill of materials that can, with some input, create a list of the materials needed in the construction of the project, along with a nearly automated costing (assuming the individual cost inputs were accurate for the location of the project), along with the manufacturer’s ID of the make & model number.
In addition, the 3D Model allows automated extension of the foundation walls down to sloping terrain, which is highly desirable in mountainous topography. Also, the software allows the architect to show clients built in lighting, and turn the fixtures off or on in the views presented. Landscaping design is available, including species associated with any given climate throughout the United States, and to see the plantings when new and after several years of growth.
The idea is to give clients, the architect, and the construction contractor, a better understanding of the design so that, hopefully the client’s objectives can be better met. Also, the architectural and engineering professions are undergoing a “quite evolution” in how they create their work, to be integrated with each other and contractors to result in a more seamless delivery. This sharing of information is intended to help all members of the design and construction team have few surprises and better adherence to the design intent. Hand in hand with this, the owners have the added obligation of continuing the services of the team members to allow them to continue to coordinate on the owner’s behalf.
The new software is very expensive and complicated and demanding to use. Simply sitting down with no architectural knowledge and trying to use it is sort of like a child stepping into the cockpit of an Air Force fighter jet, having the engines started for him or her, then given the command: “okay, Fly!” So, simply acquiring the software won’t do untrained people much good and is sure to result in aborted attempts and much frustration. Even for skilled, licensed architects, extensive training is required. “It’s a lot different from drawing with a pencil,” said Rand Soellner, AIA/NCARB, “Or even than drawing with the typical 2D CAD programs that we’ve been using for the last 20 years. This requires a high level of organization. You have to understand what you are drawing, where it is in 3-dimensional space and what it’s properties are.” And, Soellner added, you have to know what to do when you have a problem. You can’t just throw your hands up. You have projects to design and document. You have to solve the problems and create the wonderful designs and properly document them in an efficient manner. And Soellner said that the new way of working in 3D can be exhilarating. “It is exciting and often breathtaking to see what your design looks like, as you literally build it in virtual reality. We are now designing with the digital equivalents of the building systems the contractor uses to physically build the project. We assemble the buildings we design now, the way it will be built.”
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