Ed has just completed and secured a permit for a  34,000 sq. ft. commercial building in Washington DC

This will be the first BIM project done for Chamberlain Construction Company & Central Storage

" Using Revit to create BIM Construction Documents.
Wednesday January 28th 4:00 -5:00 PM EST
On-line, desktop to desktop demonstration lesson on how HEGRA Architects uses REVIT Architecture to create its BIM Construction Documents (CDs).

Presented and moderated by Ed Goldberg.

REGISTER in advance and receive all conferencing instructions.


Ed Goldberg’s new Revit 2009 book is now available.

For information go to http://www.prenhall.com/
Purchase at discount from:



                                                                       Volume 2, Issue 1                     January 5,2009
Editor-in-Chief, H. Edward Goldberg

Copy Editor, Judith Goldberg

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In this Issue:

  • Autodesk University 2008
  • New VICO software will estimate with a combined Revit, ArchiCAD and Tekla model.
  • EcoBuild / AECST

Autodesk University 2008 .jpg

In December of 2008, Autodesk Inc. held its yearly public user forum event, Autodesk University (AU) at the Venetian Hotel Convention Center in Las Vegas where the company hosted 9,000 attendees for a four day education, exhibition, and marketing extravaganza. I was most interested in attending to get a sense of how the troubling economic climate is affecting the AEC industry generally and the software sector specifically.

First Impressions:
While crossing the Venetian’s vast gambling floor on my way to the convention area, it seemed that much of the trademark Las Vegas glitter was gone. The casino was eerily silent, with only the occasional whirr of a slot machine. As I glanced around, I estimated that only about 15% of the gaming tables were occupied. On the days that followed, regardless of the hour, the casino remained quiet. According to a recent article on TIME.com, The Good Times Stop Rolling , Las Vegas, with gaming industry income down 25% and no new casino projects planned for the next 5 years, is no longer a recession-proof oasis. 

The slump in the building industry and related trades is hitting home. On my first night at AU, I asked a fellow attendee what he did professionally, only to learn that, along with approximately 39 other staff, he had just received a pink slip from a well known architectural firm. What are concerns in the field? See this from Architect OnLine.  To be fair, most everyone else I talked to mentioned that they were OK … for now, as am I in my own practice. However, because of an uncertain future, even with a free press pass to AU and a free room, I had to think twice before shelling out the dollars for the airfare. I do think, however, that even in this economy, AU is the best buy for the buck in the use of Autodesk’s products and is well worth the cost.

The Event:
The event  included six hundred classes for users to become “experts” in multiple Autodesk products, along with seminars, networking meetings, parties, executive Q&A, product demonstrations, and forums as well as an exhibition floor featuring hardware and software products developed by allied companies. Although Autodesk offers classes for all its products, the Revit and related BIM classes were mobbed (some exceeding 400 persons). I heard very little mention about AutoCAD Architecture at AU; although there are presently, more installed seats of that product than of Revit.

I moderated a round table discussion about the history, present utilization and future potential of the Building Information Model or BIM. The consensus of opinion is that there are two different camps of BIM proponents—theoretical and practical. In the arena of theory, the government is the major player, with an eye towards standardizing all the information about its thousands of buildings in order to control the costs of facilities management.  For the hands on users, BIM software offers increased productivity and enables data mining for uses such as energy analysis and estimating. Panel participants agreed that while structural engineers who are proficient in 3D CAD and Revit Structure are available, it is harder to find an MEP professional using Revit MEP. This is especially true for small and mid-size architecture firms looking for subs at reasonable prices.

At AU, Autodesk showed a sneak preview of the next release of Revit, featuring freeform design tools and a ribbon bar interface.  Using many of their AEC and manufacturing products, Autodesk gave demonstrations of present cutting edge capabilities available for the AEC industry.  Also shared were projects that the company’s research & development arm (Autodesk Labs) is currently working on as well as a few sneak peeks into the future. Generally, Autodesk foresees greater interoperability of its AEC software with its software for the manufacturing industry.

Media Sessions:
During a special media question and answer session, Autodesk CEO Carl Bass stated that Autodesk spends 22% of its yearly two billion dollar revenues on research & development. Carl feels positive about the health of the company, which he emphasized has no debt and is enjoying steady sales. Autodesk may be one of the many entities whose stock price has fallen below its actual value due to volatile market conditions and recession worries rather than corporate realities. An indication that the company is still vigorous may be its continuing acquisition of software technology related to the AEC industry.

Carl also mentioned new trends that he sees in the software/hardware industry such as Software As A Service (SAAS) – where users rent software as needed, owning only a keyboard, and monitor. He also spoke about cloud computing, where users rent high processing power over the web. This is available from Amazon now. Carl didn’t make it clear if Autodesk was developing these areas for future profit, but if so, it would enable many firms to use Autodesk hardware and software in new ways.  

I attended a media round table with Jay Bhatt, Autodesk Senior Vice President of Architecture, Engineering & Construction and Jim Lynch, AEC VP of Marketing. According to Jim, there are approximately 350,000 Revit seats (including educational copies) and 550,000 AutoCAD Architecture seats in use at this time. The Revit and AutoCAD Architecture products are still on a 12 month update schedule, and most users are subscribers. Jay mentioned that Autodesk has been improving Revit’s performance, and that the company has recently introduced a 64 bit version.

In Conclusion:
I came away from Autodesk University feeling positive about the company, its management and its future possibilities. Hopefully, by the close of this year the economic pall will have lifted. In the meantime, downturns are always a good time to get current with new technology. I look forward to Autodesk U 2009. 


Carl Bass & Ed after the Media session



VICO Office, a new suite of estimating and scheduling applications, featured at AU, is targeted for release in March of 2009. I have been very excited about automated estimating and scheduling from the BIM, as this is one area which adds real value to the construction process. In my opinion, because of VICO’s experience in this arena, Office will be the most comprehensive BIM estimating and scheduling program available.

Approximately 2 years ago, VICO Software purchased Graphisoft’s Constructor and Estimator, based on ArchiCAD and originally developed in-house by a large Finnish construction firm. VICO is increasing its market reach by replacing Constructor and Estimator (repackaged as Vico’s Virtual Construction Suite) with a new product, VICO Office, a BIM neutral platform compatible with BIM industry standard authoring tools, Revit and Tekla in addition to their longstanding support of ArchiCAD. Vico executives stated that support for other popular authoring tools will follow, but no specific BIM products or file formats were named.  . Office will allow project stakeholders (designers, engineers, GCs, subs) to work with the BIM tools they like best along with model-based scheduling using Vico’s flowline concept (4D). VICO also claims to be the leader in 5D BIM, which is a complete extension of the 3D model to include 4D scheduling and 5D estimating, based on quantities, means and methods, and locations.

The same components that made up Vico’s Virtual Construction Suite will be part of the VICO Office to which files can be published from Revit, Tekla and ArchiCAD. For example, on the Revit toolbar, the user will select “Publish to Vico” to transfer the geometry, element types, and family names to the Vico database.  There’s no file type, no conversion, no import required, all properties are stored in the Vico database, ready for model-based estimating and model-based scheduling. Once in the Vico Office environment, the construction quantities are extracted based on the model geometry. 

VICO OFFICE pic1.jpg

After the Revit model is published into the Vico environment, the construction elements are identified and the accurate construction quantities are derived from the existing geometry.  For each element type (based on for example Families or Layers), the extracted quantities are automatically listed as Takeoff Items.  By selecting the Takeoff Item in the Takeoff Manager View (Office’s ‘Bill of Quantities’), the corresponding elements in the model are highlighted so users see exactly what they’re working on and which elements are adding to the selected Takeoff Item and Takeoff Quantities.

With the Quantity Takeoff completed, the user can deploy these in a conceptual or an element-based estimate, depending on the types of elements that are available in the model.  During the business development or pursuit phase, many GCs start with a square footage costing scheme, based on room square footage quantities.  The model’s granularity that gradually increases as more and more specifics, and thus BIM elements, are known about the project. Inside the Excel-like interface, the user can explode a cell to expose the Formula Editor.  Using the Formula Editor, the user can access the multiple quantity types in the model that are captured in the Takeoff Manager and customize their specific calculations to account for consumption rates, waste factors, and escalations.  Every line item in the estimate can be further refined with one or more additional breakdown layers, which provides for flexibility in the estimate.

Building this “living estimate” is key to helping the Owner make data-driven decisions that help keep the budget on track.  But Vico takes it one step further with customizable pane view that allows virtual construction teams to work closely with the owner.  These views utilize an intuitive Excel-like spreadsheet for the Estimator, a highly visual model for the other stakeholders, and a color-coded tree structure for the Owner.

VICO OFFICE pic2.jpg

VICO, Inc., based in Boulder, Colorado, has offices in Boston, London, Helsinki, and Budapest, a direct sales team in North America and a reseller network spanning the globe. According to CEO, Mark Sawyer, VICO has the most experienced BIM services team with over 250 completed 5D BIM projects under its belt. Its 300+ Customers include Turner, PCL, Webcor, Swinerton, Hensel Phelps, McCarthy Builders. Among its owner/developers clients are St. Joseph Health System, Optima, LA Unified School District, GSA, and Kaiser Permanente. Selected projects include Mission Hospital (Mission Viejo, CA), Kamppi Center (Helsinki, Finland), California Academy of Sciences (San Francisco, CA), Denver Justice Center, Ritz-Carlton Resort (Lake Tahoe) and the Pittsburgh Penguin’s Arena.


ECObuild & AEC-ST
The Ecobuild & AEC Science and Technology (AEC-ST) conference is a semiannual event held in California in the spring and Washington DC in the fall. The event I attended in December brought together both green building information and BIM technology. Because the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) and other such groups, are located in the District, the conference attempts to address the interests of these entities. Additionally, the government, various government departments, and the companies that serve them are target audiences. In my opinion, the BIM presentations tended to feature more theory than “hands on” information, which from my perspective can be somewhat pedantic. As a BIM user, I personally do not need theoretical information in order to make money in my private sector market niche.  However, the information may be of interest to those dealing with the government, or having a “futurist” bent.

I highly recommend the Ecobuild portion of the conference which featured many green building products, services and information. I believe we are all aware that green building technology is the wave of the future. To whit, according to an Autodesk spokesperson, the recent Greenbuild conference held in Boston from November 17-20, 2008 attracted 35,000 attendees. Again, I emphasize, becoming more fluent in green technology as well as BIM, during downtime at the office is a good investment.

Here’s looking forward to a more prosperous 2009!

About Ed:
Ed Goldberg, A.I.A., is a well known analyst in the AEC Industry, having been a journalist and lecturer in this arena for the past 13 years. In his primary occupation as an architect, Ed uses the cutting edge digital technology about which he writes. During his 30 year career, Ed has designed and/or built dozens of commercial, multifamily, and rehab projects. He also headed the CAD and Multimedia Department at Carroll Community College and the Industrial Design Department at Towson University. For many years Ed wrote the AEC column in CADALYST magazine. Ed has authored seven books on AutoCAD Architecture (formally Architectural Desktop), for publisher Prentice Hall. His Revit Architecture 2009 book is on sale now.

Ed continues to attend key industry events and keep abreast of the newest developments. If you see him at an event, please come over and chat; he would enjoy meeting you. You can recognize Ed by his trademark hat – black in winter, and white in summer.
 Please take a look at Ed’s Web Site:  http://www.hegra.org

© 2007 H. Edward Goldberg AIA, NCARB, Ed’s Independent Voice. All rights reserved