PADT 1.007 – Hard Questions
Can it really be done using existing programs?
Has Architectural Design Moved Beyond Legacy Software?
Long before Revit came out, I was a dealer for SoftPlan. It was a great residential design software and still exists today. It has many of the features we think of when using BIM applications: walls that join, doors and windows that cut walls, and much more. But when it first came out, it was mostly used for creating floorplans. You had add-ons like AutoCAD Architecture that did much of the same thing. I’ll admit I never got into the application because I found it too complicated. It looked like something where feature after feature was added and it became very difficult to know all the ins and outs.
Revit’s Different Approach
Revit came out and focused on creating 3D geometry AS you created the floorplans. It was also built on a relational database whose architectural objects were 2D and 3D representations of data. Much of its power, complexity, and frustration come from that approach. But it’s hard to argue with its success and moving an industry in new directions. However, over time it became clear that the approach of designing in 3D and having the application create the plans appeared to be the paradigm of the future. This was probably driven by the success of more pure 3D software such as 3ds Max, SketchUp, and Rhino.
Was it a Change in How Architects Thought About Design?
Most all architectural design does start with the floorplan. Rooms were sized and put into an orderly and efficient layout. The function of a building was driven by what when where. The 3D portion comes into play when the structure and look of the building is realized.
I’m afraid that many of the more “modern” applications are missing an important historical paradigm. You lay out Rooms by their size and location. Is this better done in 3D or 2D? I have always seen two dependent processes to architectural design. I’ve even seen this happen when a design must be done in a “charrette.” One team created a preliminary floorplan and handed it off to the team creating the 3D model and rendering. Often this process was not linked via software but more by word-of-mouth. “We need to change the location of this wall.”
Do We Need Both?
This brings me to the real question: Can a 3D modeling application be used for architectural design if it’s missing some of the basics? Is it enough to design in 3D and have it create the 2D plans? Does it need to have 2D features that create the 3D? Does it need to have both? These are the questions the current crop of architectural design software needs to answer.
What do you think? Until I decide to do another brain-dump –
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Dave Edwards has been in the CAD/BIM industry as a manager, developer, consultant, speaker, and author for almost 40 years. He has had 80 magazine articles published, written 3 international newsletters, reviewed over 300 CAD/BIM applications, and 3D modeled 2 Billion dollars worth of architectural projects. He is available for professional alpha/beta testing, application feature consulting, technical documentation support, seminar presentations, and voiceovers.
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