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The Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN®) Knowledge Community develops knowledge and information to benefit architects who are engaged in, or who are interested in learning more about, custom residential practice. CRAN® presents information and facilitates the exchange of knowledge and expertise to promote the professional development of its  members via discussion forums, national symposia and conventions, publications, and local activities.

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ArchiCAD and the Bigger Question

  • 1.  ArchiCAD and the Bigger Question

    Posted 07-20-2017 05:48

    I've been an ardent ArchiCAD user since verion 6.5. However, the recent update of ArchiCAD 20 and the upgrade to version 21 has tested my faith. For anyone using ArchiCAD Teamworks/BIM Server on a Macintosh system – please stay away for now!

    This software contains a bug that disconnects the server from all workstations. After discovering this issue I contacted my local colleagues and had expected Graphisoft to issue a notice to all users. Unfortunately, that notice never came, and while Graphisoft provided me with a few temporary work-arounds, I have experienced little improvement. In fact my billable production hours for the past month have decreased by 30%. Last week Graphisoft promised an update in a few days, but instead they have simply stopped responding to my inquiries.

    This brings up the bigger question about how architects can protect their business from failing software. When I first started my practice, the worst production slow-down might be a broken Mayline cable. In 15 minutes that workstation would be up and running again. Today, however, what happens when the software we depend on fails? We are beholden to a software company. And in my case, one that seems to simply shrug its shoulders as I struggle to maintain an ability to design and document my projects.

    ArchiCAD is an amazingly beautiful and powerful software program, but I wonder if it has grown beyond Graphisoft's ability to provide a stable working platform. I suspect they are also pressured (like all companies) to release a new version each year to justify their subscription cost - ready or not. Regardless of which company architects have partnered with, I wonder if my experience might be the first sign of a new reality?

    I once wrote about how I had gulped down the ArchiCAD Koolaid. Well that drink now has an awfully bitter taste. Obviously we cannot go back to paper and pen, but what perils await us in the world of increasingly complex software, and how can we minimize the impact on our architectural practices?

    John Black AIA
    Lapis Design Partners LLC
    Honolulu HI

  • 2.  RE: ArchiCAD and the Bigger Question

    Posted 07-24-2017 18:06
    Switch to Vectorworks. Very similar to ArchiCad. Also Mac based but seamlessly compatible w/ Windows. You can even buy old versions from 3rd parties, legally.

    A. Atkinson AIA
    A. Gordon Atkinson, Architect
    San Francisco CA

  • 3.  RE: ArchiCAD and the Bigger Question

    Posted 07-25-2017 17:30
    Is Vectorworks owned by the Nemetschek Group, which also owns Graphisoft (Archicad) ?

    John Linnert AIA
    Architect Sole Proprietor
    J Linnert architecture
    Corona Del Mar CA

  • 4.  RE: ArchiCAD and the Bigger Question

    Posted 07-26-2017 17:22
    Yes, Nemetschek owns both companies Vectorworks and Graphisoft as well as Bluebeam and other software companies.

    Daniel Alter, AIA

  • 5.  RE: ArchiCAD and the Bigger Question

    Posted 07-31-2017 12:13
    Yes it is. They bought it when it was called Minicad 15-20 years ago.

    A. Atkinson AIA
    A. Gordon Atkinson, Architect
    San Francisco CA

  • 6.  RE: ArchiCAD and the Bigger Question

    Posted 07-27-2017 18:03
    I'm not familiar with ArchiCAD...but....we are looking to change over to REVIT...any thoughts, warnings, issues we should be aware of? It seems a bit much for residential so we're looking at REVIT for commercial and Chief Architect for residential (with Autocad for details and elevations)...I'd appreciate any input...Thanks

    Stedmann McCollough AIA
    McCollough Architecture, Inc.
    Gulf Shores AL

  • 7.  RE: ArchiCAD and the Bigger Question

    Posted 07-28-2017 17:24
    ArchiCAD is better.


    Noel F. Cross AIA, CGBP

    Noel Cross+Architects

    148 E. Virginia Street #2

    San Jose, CA  95112-5881

    phone (408) 216-0222

    cell (408) 591-5795

     please consider the environment before printing this email

  • 8.  RE: ArchiCAD and the Bigger Question

    Posted 07-28-2017 17:26
    Why use two different kinds of software?  Take a look at Vectorworks. It will do everything you need for commercial and residential work.

    Judith Repp AIA
    Evergreen CO

  • 9.  RE: ArchiCAD and the Bigger Question

    Posted 07-28-2017 17:43
    Archidad was written by architects, for architects, and costs less than Rivet.  Year-to-year I think you can save some money using Archicad.  Then there is the learning curve - are you currently good at or using one of the products you mentioned?  And lots of residential architects use SketchUp with Layout.

    Nicholas Peckham FAIA
    Peckham Architecture
    Columbia MO

  • 10.  RE: ArchiCAD and the Bigger Question

    Posted 07-28-2017 17:47
    I'm super biased in favor of ARCHICAD-it's wonderful for both commercial and residential, small and large, low detail and hyper-detailed, small groups and mammoth teams.

    Some thoughts:

    1) Talk to users of the software. Don't just listen to the party line. Talk to ARCHICAD users who are doing commercial and residential, talk to REVIT users who are doing both, talk to Chief Architect users who are using that software. Find people who talk your language. Find people, near or far, that can support you. And make sure to talk to other architects, not just salespeople, drafters, etc.

    2) Use one software. As I said, I'm 100% a diehard ARCHICAD user and am always happy to talk to anyone about it via e-mail, in person, or over the phone. I don't just drink the Koolaid, I help make it. BUT....Find the ONE software that's right for your firm and use that. Don't use two. Or three. Revit can do everything you want to do, both 2D and 3D. ARCHICAD can do everything you want to do, both 2D and 3D. Vectorworks can too. Just pick one (or look at another complete BIM software). One software package, regardless of what it is, is a better business decision than relying on 2 or 3 different ones. For larger firms, they might have multiple BIM programs in the office for various reasons. But for most of us, we need to focus on one. We need all our employees to be able to speak the same language. We need them to be able to jump from project to project and help each other. And it's best to have a software expert in-house. The more programs you have the more demand you put on that person (or persons if they can't be a master of multiple overlapping production software).

    3) If you have the capacity, try out multiple programs. Give each a chance.

    4) Pick the software that works best for your firm and your employees. Don't pick a software based on popularity.

    Jared Banks AIA
    Shoegnome, LLC
    Seattle, WA

    If you're not following CRAN on Twitter ( ) or Facebook ( ), you should. We post lots of news and interesting stuff pretty much daily.

  • 11.  RE: ArchiCAD and the Bigger Question

    Posted 07-28-2017 18:09
    Lloyd Architects is a 12 person Custom Residential firm and we have moved our workflow to ArchiCad from Revit (and previously Vectorworks). We made the move to utilize the full potential of BimX modeling in our production software. As a Mac based office, we were also tired of dealing with VM Ware, or Parallels to run a windows based program. We have been SO satisfied with the results. Our CD sets are better coordinated, and our clients love the ability to have a viewable 3b model early on in the design process.
    I was concerned about training of staff, and it was definitely a learning curve for our existing staff to become efficient the ArchiCad, but  in just over a year into it we are happy with the results and feel that we communicate better with our clients to visualize ideas. 
    The program is not cheap. but if you evaluate your total labor costs, having a well engineered tool like saves in the long haul. 
    I can recommend that you demo a version to evaluate.   Good luck,







    801.328.3245  /  c 801.541.2055

    573 East 600 South

    Salt Lake City, UT 84102

    Website / Instagram / Building from Here

  • 12.  RE: ArchiCAD and the Bigger Question

    Posted 07-29-2017 11:10
    I've been using archicad for over 20 years for mainly residential work, but it has all the capabilities for any type of project. It seems counterintuitive to me to use multiple programs that can do the same thing. Archicad has great modeling as well as 2D tools for documentation.

    Sent via the Samsung Galaxy S® 6, an AT&T 4G LTE smartphone

  • 13.  RE: ArchiCAD and the Bigger Question

    Posted 07-30-2017 09:25

    I have successfully been using Chief Architect for my residential and light commercial practice for 6 years now.  It is fairly easy to get up to speed on and is an all inclusive software package for rendering and CAD work, so no need to be drawing in other software.  Also you can import older details drawn in AutoCAD and you can export out to AutoCAD format if needed.



    Mike Dolce




  • 14.  RE: ArchiCAD and the Bigger Question

    Posted 07-31-2017 00:35
    I have used Vectorworks for 15 years and really l like the 3d modeling capability, the sheet layers, the layer system in  general, the intuitive commands. What I don't love about Vectorworks is the transition from 3d to 2d; working drawings look a lot better in AutoCAD, which I use for projects which I don't model. Do any of you all who have experience with both ArchiCAD and Vectorworks think that ArchiCAD is better at this? Or have any advice in making the transition from 3d to 2d?

    Barbara Richter, AIA
    Principal Architect
    Richter-Norton Architecture, PLLC
    Chapel Hill, NC

  • 15.  RE: ArchiCAD and the Bigger Question

    Posted 07-31-2017 20:44
    It seems we may be in the minority, but we use Revit.  We are a primarily residential practice of 5 and all efficient with Revit (and Sketchup).  It is expensive and there is a steep learning curve....especially in the residential practice.  However, it has helped us streamline how we design and execute our drawings.  We have been able to develop ways in which we work with our clients during presentations....using Revit and its 3-D capabilities to explain challenges, test options and document final decisions...all in front of our clients.  As compared to previous CAD software, our final construction documents take half the time to execute and look much more sophisticated.  I have not tried other software, but I believe taking advantage of BIM and 3-D presentation (whatever your software of choice) is  priceless in today's practice.

    Matt Tindall AIA
    Tindall Architecture Workshop
    Greenville SC

  • 16.  RE: ArchiCAD and the Bigger Question

    Posted 08-01-2017 17:28

    I am also a Vectorworks user. I've been using the software for about 3 1/2 years now, since release 2013. It has been a game changer for me, especially as a small firm. One of the things that I have enjoyed most is the flexibility to work seamlessly in 2D and 3D simultaneously. To address your comment about drawing production and appearance, it sounds like you need to spend a little time getting used to classes and how they can be modified via the Viewport on a sheet layer. Your working drawings only look better in Autocad because you have a standard set up so that line weights appear as you want them. This same thing can be achieved in Vectorworks, you simply have to set up the standard.

    I personally would never go back to Autocad. The time that I save just in drawing coordination between plan, elevation, section and schedule is invaluable. Bottom line, BIM is the new CAD. Work to get your line weights where they need to be and ditch Autocad.

    Best of luck.

    Jeremiah Russell, AIA, NCARB
    Rogue Architecture
    Little Rock, Arkansas

  • 17.  RE: ArchiCAD and the Bigger Question

    Posted 08-01-2017 19:43


    I agree with Jeremiah. I'm an ARCHICAD user, but I did use Vectorworks back in 2004 for a bit at a firm in Houston. We did some of the most beautiful black and white drawings I've ever seen (side comment: I know do everything in full color in ARCHICAD, but that's a conversation for another day). We didn't use Vectorworks to the fullest, but did produce gorgeous drawings. So I know it's possible. Perhaps you can get some time with another Vectorworks using architect and learn their secrets. Beautiful drawings shouldn't be hard to produce or something tangential to our 3D models. 

    Jared Banks AIA
    Shoegnome, LLC
    Seattle, WA

    If you're not following CRAN on Twitter ( ) or Facebook ( ), you should. We post lots of news and interesting stuff pretty much daily.

  • 18.  RE: ArchiCAD and the Bigger Question

    Posted 08-03-2017 19:56
    I've been using Vectorworks since it was Minicad, back in the 1990's. My opinion is that the condocs look much better than AutoCad drawings with much less work. I'm not sure why Barbara thinks otherwise. Vectorworks is an object-based software, much like Revit, though much less expensive and simpler to use. All my draftsmen come in having used primarily Autocad and, to a person, will never go back after learning Vectorworks.

    A. Atkinson AIA
    A. Gordon Atkinson, Architect
    San Francisco CA

  • 19.  RE: ArchiCAD and the Bigger Question

    Posted 08-01-2017 20:00
    After I produce the drawings in Vectorworks I use the sketch style for drawings including construction documents.

    Robert Emert AIA
    Component past president
    Robert G. Emert Architect, Inc.
    Livingston NJ

  • 20.  RE: ArchiCAD and the Bigger Question

    Posted 08-01-2017 18:23
    This is a a timely discussion for me.

    I'm a longtime AutoCAD user, slogging my way through the learning curve for Revit.
    I had an extremely frustrating experience with Autodesk in late June/early July when both AutoCAD and Revit refused to open; it took over two weeks of emaill exchanges with their tech support until I was offered a time slot for a phone conversation with a tech support rep who then took over  my laptop and after about 90 minutes discovered that a MS windows update that installed current .NET file interfered with Autodesk. I was satisfied with the tech rep, and he stuck with the problem until he'd solved it, but by then I had fallen weeks  behind on my work load... Was already irritated with AutoDesk's plan to phase out perpetual licenses to move to a subscription-only model.

    Anyway, sorry for the long story.
    I saw a demonstration of ArchiCAD 20 a couple weeks ago, and was impressed. I'm curious to hear from Archicad users about their experience importing or exporting DWG files; availability of vendor-provided models ('families' in Revit) of doors, windows, fixtures, etc.; and , of course, the learning curve.

    Thank you.

    Susan Rensted
    Annapolis MD

  • 21.  RE: ArchiCAD and the Bigger Question

    Posted 08-01-2017 19:49

    DWGs are easy. Just drag and drop them into ARCHICAD. The same with a lot of other external content, including PDFs (which can be exploded into linework). There is not as much 3D native content available for ARCHICAD as there is for REVIT. BUT...ARCHICAD works differently so we have a strong out of the box library which covers most of what we need. And since ARCHICAD can import so many other file types, it's easy to find other things needed for more specific 3D visualization. In short the lack of an avalanche of native 3D content from manufacturers is really a non-issue.

    Learning curve... here's my advice on that: Like all new software it's about committing to it and slogging through some frustration and less than pretty models and drawings to start. Some people pick it up extremely fast (weeks); others I've seen struggle for years. I imagine though that's like just about any complex program.

    Jared Banks AIA
    Shoegnome, LLC
    Seattle, WA

    If you're not following CRAN on Twitter ( ) or Facebook ( ), you should. We post lots of news and interesting stuff pretty much daily.