by Angela Sun and Priyank Patel
Technological development within the AECO industry has revolutionized in the last decade. Many expect the pace to continue, given the strong support from governments across the globe. The momentum that Building Information Modeling (BIM) has generated thus far is guaranteed to grow and continue to play an essential role in the built environment.
Major architectural and engineering firms have successfully positioned themselves ahead of the curve by adapting to BIM workflows years ago. With the rest of the AECO industry finally catching up and leveraging a wide range of BIM tools, the industry, as a whole, is collectively engaging and contributing to the movement.
Despite the fact that more and more projects are delivered on time and on budget thanks to the vast accessibility of new technology, the core process of architectural practice remains almost unchanged. Architects and designers around the world still approach each new project almost the same way they have for years. They must first study its programmatic requirements, propose potential overall massing options, and undergo countless iterations. They eventually arrive at one final design that not only fulfills the initial objective, but also positively adds to its surroundings.
This process is often known as “Phases of Design,” and is composed of several key milestones: Pre-Design, Schematic Design, Design Development, and Construction Documents. This design process was established to make sure that project teams analyze each problem critically and present a design solution that is carefully planned. It is a fundamental process that the industry has maintained for decades in order to ensure the intended quality of changes are actually inserted into the built environment.
Autodesk Revit is one of the many prominent software products that carry BIM capabilities. It has proven extremely effective throughout the design process and has now become a staple of many prominent firms’ design workflow. While one may consider Revit solely as a great documentation tool, one can also utilize it to explore geometric forms freely with the help of Dynamo, which is a visual programming extension to the software. This open source community-based platform allows designers to sculpt forms freely and adapts Revit starting from the very beginning of the project.
Many offices are also adopting Autodesk Revit and Navisworks together as a package in early design phases to guarantee existing site conditions are well documented and coordinated, saving time and cost by avoiding conflicts and issues before they arise.
In addition to Dynamo, visualization plugins for Revit such as Enscape, V-Ray, and Lumion provide real-time rendering capabilities and allow designers to keep up with the tight design to construction timeline and arrive at critical decisions faster.
The rise of 3D visualization software allows firms to redefine and streamline their design processes. Along with other commonly utilized software such as Autodesk AutoCAD, 3ds Max, Rhinoceros and SketchUp, designers are able to convey their vision more effortlessly and precisely.
Nowadays, software companies are also paying more attention to file formats and making an effort to increase interoperability. With less restrictions in file formatting, all parties on a project are able to share information more seamlessly.
Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies take 3D visualization one-step further by allowing individuals to experience 3D models at a full scale.
Technological advancements will continue to help redefine design practices by facilitating faster communication, allowing more collaboration and building projects more efficiently.
As designers contributing to AECO practices at a time of increasing BIM momentum and applications, it is exciting to see the wide range of tools that are available. Designs of the future will be more obtainable via continuous technological achievements and one should not feel limited by the options currently available on the market as many more will continue to emerge
Angela Sun, LEED AP O+M, is an architectural solution specialist and Priyank Patel, LEED AP is an AECO strategic implementation manager with Microdesk. Both are a Revit certified professionals.