May 16, 2011
Freeform Modeling Comes to Archicad 15 Release
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News
Freeform Modeling Comes to Archicad 15 Release

By Susan Smith

Graphisoft was the first company to come up with the concept of building information modeling (BIM), an approach which has since become a defacto standard in the AEC industry. Graphisoft’s Archicad 15 takes on in the same release freeform modeling which in the past, has been often seen as a technology somewhat contrary to BIM as it is “freeform” where BIM is parametric.  Yet Graphisoft’s pairing of these two technologies in their newest Archicad release gives architects the opportunity to do all their modeling inside one product – from concept through to modeling to management. The release is geared to expanding the horizons of architects with its enriched architectural forms, parametric object building “shells,” and specific retrofit and renovation support.

Enriched Architectural Forms

Due to the popularity of unusual shapes and forms and the demand for unconventional approaches in some architectural projects, Archicad 15’s addition of enriched architectural forms brings new Shell structures to support a broad spectrum of architectural shapes and forms that have been resident in classical and modern architecture.  This type of approach is what we have come to know as “generative design” from other software companies, but this product offers this capability within the main flagship product, integrated with BIM.

The Shell Tool is a general modeling capability or a new element in Archicad that can be used both for building shells and architectural pieces and objects, according to Archicad director of marketing, Akos Pfemeter. What is unique for ArchiCAD 15 and the Shell structure is that it is inside the same product as BIM.  Most freeform modelers are one of two types: #1 either mass modeling tools without real structural attributes, #2 or nurb modelers that don’t have structural characteristics either. In ArchiCAD when you model the envelop of the building you are actually creating its shell structure and not only the mass.

“Another improvement in freeform forms related to traditional structure is the pitched roof which is the most versatile structure in any traditional building," said Pfemeter. "With building shells in Archicad 15 we greatly improved the roof capability and now it’s a very intelligent system helping architects create and modify very complex structures.”

Complex roofs help to model any conventional roof structure in a few clicks, according to Pfemeter. Shell Structures make it possible to design a wide range of architectural shapes including revolved, extruded and rules based geometries. Shell is a natural BIM element that fits organically into the design and documentation workflow with features including polygonal openings on any surface, in place profile editing or solid element operations correctly projected on floor plans.

Another improvement in terms of modeling capabilities is now you can put together primitive structural elements into larger structural systems.

SHELL, ARTechnic architects,, Photography: (C) Nacasa & Partners Inc.

Design Space Improvements

Pfemeter noted that although BIM has been available for two decades, most of the editing and creation in BIM such as floor plans, sections, and elevations is still being done in 2D. Archicad 15 introduces “a big improvement in modeling freedom,” allowing for some elements of design to be modeled in freeform and a whole new design environment for 3D. The new features are freely placeable editing planes that have accurate drafting in 3D plus very selectable 3D guidelines to help set up the frame work for complex structures in 3D.

These guidelines help users find their way in 3D views and create elements in relationship to other elements.The editing planes and the 3D guidelines make it possible to accurately sketch or create these relationships in just a few clicks.

New Renovation Workflows

Renovation and retrofit are a major focus for the architectural industry today. In Europe half of all building projects are renovations or retrofits, and in the U.S., almost all building projects are renovations of aging infrastructure. “If an architect needs to submit on these jobs they will need an integrated workflow,” said Pfemeter. “Next to design capabilities, the next area of importance is renovation and retrofit.”

Supporting renovation with Archicad 15 is done with BIM. Every element of drawings or documentation is created in the BIM workflow. Archicad supports all renovation standards around the world, and have a flexible set of options for CAD standards and local standards.

Archicad 15 includes Element Level Renovation Status, for existing, new and to be demolished structures, pre-configured renovation plan types that follow local CAD standards and customization options that facilitate renovation plan types using custom renovation filters.

Archicad 15 includes improvements in collaboration with other disciplines like structural and MEP.  ArchiCAD 15 includes improvements to its IFC interface, full 64-bit support for the Mac OS, and improvements to its parametric object libraries such as new objects for medical equipment and sustainability as well. Archicad’s parametric objects technology, GDL, supports highly complex objects. It also supports automated change management, and IFC basic improvements in the BIM model.

In addition, Archicad 15 manages large files easily, and supports the latest version of Graphisoft’s EcoDesigner building energy modeling application with support for green workflow for building. In Archicad 15 you can design your building to be compliant with green building standards such as LEED. You can also export a BIM model or data in a preferred format for further editing or evaluation. In Archicad, architects begin with the BIM model as a design tool rather than beginning in another program.

Retail price for Archicad is $4250.00 and it is available May 23, 2011, with all 26 local versions available until the end of Q3 2011.

Top News of the Week

Autodesk, Inc.
announced the Autodesk Buzzsaw Mobile app designed for iPhone and iPad. The app provides Autodesk Buzzsaw collaboration software users with more secure, remote access and exchange of building project information. Buzzsaw Mobile enables users to view DWF files, standard office documents and images, as well as upload project photos to a designated Buzzsaw project site.

Cadac Organice, Microsoft Partner Network member and developer of the Cadac Organice Product Suite (a SharePoint based solution for engineering document management and document control), introduces a SharePoint framework for the mining industry.

The Cadac Organice Product Suite offers solutions for engineering document management and document control and is entirely based on Microsoft SharePoint. Leveraging SharePoint as the platform for Enterprise Content Management and Collaboration, Cadac Organice is especially suitable for project-driven engineering industries like the mining industry.

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