The AIA Technology in Architectural Practice Knowledge Community (TAP) serves as a resource for AIA members, the profession, and the public in the deployment of computer technology in the practice of architecture. TAP leaders monitor the development of computer technology and its impact on architecture practice and the entire building life cycle, including design, construction, facility management, and retirement or reuse.
I have been using ArchiCAD for 25 years, starting with version 4, now using ArchiCAD 23 and would give it a 4.7 out of 5. I chaired the Baltimore ArchiCAD User Group for many years, where about a dozen firms would meet to share their experiences to see how others used ArchiCAD and solve problems and prioritize the list of fixes and wish lists to Graphisoft... some which resulted in the folder hierachy (aka: organizer/navigator) that is so important today. Most of ArchiCAD's tools and "addons" are great, especially if you are starting a design from scratch and want to design on the fly and produce multiple schemes, and eventually turn the design into construction documents all in the same program.I tried Revit and even took a series of classes along with others from my old firm, since they reasoned that it was easier to get more Revit hires than ArchiCAD users. By the time the classes were over, I think the professor was glad to see me go…. because I was constantly showing him and others how easy it was to do things in ArchiCAD compared to Revit.
Revit required too many steps to create and design on the fly…. For example, ArchiCAD allows stretching of an entire portion of the design across multiple stories and push/pull/stretch manipulation in 3D and even allows you to stretch a window or door to any size you want on the fly and even change grid/mullion patterns, materials, thickness from the same window/door… not like Revit that requires you to create a new "family member" of that window just so you can alter the width.
I think the best thing I saw from Revit was the stair tool for creating scissor egress stairs, but not custom stairs. Eventually ArchiCAD updated their stair and rail tool to make custom stairs which improved quite a bit, but still needs a few tweaks for simplifying editing. Like all programs, ArchiCAD has a few items that need tweaking like the Revision mark-up tool and being able to schedule the doors that are part of a curtain wall, but considering the intuitive nature of the tools and ease of use and some great features like solid element operations and profiler tool features that make it possible to quickly manipulate and create.
As for the Revit & Families issue, it's a problem that doesn't really exist in Archicad. The out of the box available Objects are more than good enough for the vast majority of projects and needs. Some users go down the path of building custom objects (either as dumb 3D elements or scripted GDL objects that are super powerful) or finding/purchasing 3rd party Objects, but the typical user never needs to bother with that.Regardless of software, the need to better understand buildings while modeling is definitely a hurdle for younger staff. It's easy to draw some lines and not know what you're showing. Much harder to model a wall assembly or floor structure. But limited 3d content and the need to understand how a building goes together isn't what's holding things back.
I agree with James that owners and AHJs could transform the industry by demanding different output (permitting based off an IFC file for instance). Contractors could also be pushing it to, by being open to building off things other than black and white print outs covered in dirt.BUT... the fault also lies with architects. There's very little financial incentive for architects to migrate from 2D to BIM. A firm that's making a profit off a traditional workflow has very little incentive to dismantle their business model and create a new one. We can all go on and on about the benefits of BIM, but if the typical firm doesn't understand how BIM will make them more money, then they are not going to switch. Many of us reading this of course know all the reasons BIM is more profitable, leads to better buildings, reduces errors, etc. etc. But the average firm hasn't been convinced that a transformation to BIM (and it is a transformation of a business, not just a switch of production methods) will make them more money. And why would a firm change what they are doing if they think it won't make them money?Until that happens, the BIM revolution will continue to progress slowly as some legacy firms switch to BIM, others go out of business, and more new firms start out with BIM than not. Eventually that combination will create an atmosphere where the majority of architects and firms use and believe in BIM. But it's a long way off. Architects often don't hit their creative stride until middle age and work well past the time other people retire.
Regardless of what AHJs and/or owner requirements for 2D or 3D drawings, BIM has improved my firms internal design processes and coordination. I cannot go back to a 2D production mode. I do not desire going back to layer management and endless mouse clicking, trimming and extending lines, and updating plans, sections, elevations and RCPs separately.
Also, I always hear the excuse that implementing BIM in a small office doesn't make sense, or it doesn't make sense on small projects, etc. I use it for house additions, bath remodels and kitchen remodels. I don't feel that it's a burden based on size of projects. It allows me to explore design options and present 3D images to clients and just enhances the overall design process and keeps everyone engaged. And it makes architecture a lot more fun.
I know change is hard, I was there once, but the pains are worth it as it pays back in major dividends. One of them being "your time".
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