2006-12-12

Why My Firm is Switching to Revit

In recently sitting on an Industry Advisory Board session at a local technical college, the head of the department brought up a decision to look into an architecturally specific CAD package to add to their curriculum. They'd recently added Inventor to their mechanical courses and it was a big success.

There was only one person sitting on the board who actually worked in Architecture. He's good at what he does, but he's busy. (sound like anyone you know? ok... put down the mirror now) He advised them to add Architectural Desktop (ADT)... he admitted his primary reason was that he, the CAD Manager, didn't have the time or training resources (ie... $$) to learn an entirely different program like Revit.

Now, I am not an Architect, I've never been an architectural designer or drafter. I do remember my reaction the first time that I saw Revit, though. AU2003. I remember it well... I was broke and needed to eat that night and there was a mixer. :-) You heard it, I was at the Revit Mixer, not to mix, but, to eat their appetizers and drink their beverages. BUT! once I was there, I was totally blown away.

I said, I really think you should look into Revit, I really believe it's the future.

Why?

Well... uuuuum...

And, as usual when I'm away from a keyboard, coherent words deserted me. It has been awhile since that product usage survey on AUGI, so I could pretty much discount the results of that to prove my point that Revit usage is growing quickly.

I did know that there was a very popular Revit PowerTrack at AU this year, so I sent an email off to my friend, Bill Condon, an IT Manager in Orlando Florida, who was at AU this year because his firm is making the switch to Revit right now.

Once I read his response, I thought I should share it with you, and he has kindly granted me permission. This is just a regular joe, not a salesperson, not an 'early adopter reviteer'. Just a vanilla AutoCAD user trying out something totally different, and here's why:

What makes the adoption of this product into our office necessary is a market competition issue. Other firms have this capability in-house already and are using it to win projects we are also competing for.
This product has the ability to reduce the amount of staff we need to assign to projects. Properly designed workflow would dictate 3 people where we might have 5 assigned now.

Many people think that Building Information Modeling did not exist prior to Revit, but that really isn’t true… it was possible with products like Microstation and ArchiCad and can also be done in ADT. The Building Information Model can provide more and different kinds of information because the building is smart, not just a compilation of lines in a 2 D drawing set. Energy calcs, interference checking, true renderings, etc. Facilities managers will be able to take the model and use it to maintain an updated building plan.

A random Cad Manager is likely looking at what it would take to support 2 different ways of thinking and all of the legacy stuff he has in Autocad and it is way simpler and easier for him to just say NO and move on. Or, he may not see it as a good fit in your institution, and he could be right. There are certain sized companies that work a certain way that would not be able to move to a product like Revit easily, it would change their entire working dynamic (who does what).

Autodesk Pres. Carl Bass stated at AU that Revit is their flagship BIM product. They see ADT as a feature rich, industry specific drafting product and did not market ADT as a BIM product in anything I have seen or heard lately.

I think if a school really wanted to provide a tangible service to
their students, they would provide Revit Training. There is a boom right now of people looking at it much harder than they have in the past, many more seats being sold… that would create demand for trained Revit techs and would likely result in a higher employment rate and salary rate for those students.

The industry is defining a new tool, they will need operators. I believe Revit still has issues to resolve to be truly great, but I sure don’t see it going anywhere, I see it taking more and more market share. My 2 cents… FWIW


Also interesting might be some very good commentary on this year's Autodesk University by
AECbytes' Lachmi Khemlani...

snip The dramatic upward trend of attendance in a user conference like AU is an unmistakable sign of the increasing importance of software technology in all the different industries Autodesk caters to, including AEC, manufacturing, and infrastructure. The ongoing move from 2D to 3D in these fields accounts for most of this increased criticality of technology.

The efficiencies and benefits to be gained by implementing intelligent, 3D, discipline-specific technologies like BIM in AEC are so significant that more and more firms are being forced to pay more attention to their technology implementations and re-think their business processes and practices. And to its credit, Autodesk has started encouraging this trend by talking less and less about its traditional cash cow, AutoCAD, at AU each year to the point where I barely heard it mentioned in this year's AU at all, at least in the general session and Building Industry sessions.

snip
The next two examples were from the building industry and were intended to highlight the use of BIM for creating sustainable design, which is emerging as one of the key focus areas for Autodesk in AEC. snip LivingHomes has the distinction of developing the first and only residential project in the country that has achieved platinum LEED certification.

The company has developed an integrated system based on Revit Building for its modular designs, and also uses Revit Systems for the MEP engineering. For energy analysis, which is such a critical element of the design, LivingHomes relies on the integration between Revit Systems and IES, an advanced building performance assessment solution. This lets LivingHomes easily perform a room by room energy analysis, determine the heating and cooling loads, and design the MEP system accordingly.
snip
Revit platform is rapidly gaining momentum with a 94% year/year growth in seat revenue; and Revit's installed base is now 125,000 seats, of which 18,000 were shipped in the last quarter. It was not disclosed if the installed base of ADT is growing like Revit's or if it is in decline.
snip
While the BSD executives continued to emphasize the importance of both types of solutions and pledged to continue supporting and enhancing ADT and ABS, it is clear that Revit forms the centerpiece of Autodesk's BIM vision.

The company has focused on building Revit as a complete platform for architectural, structural, and MEP design and now that all the corresponding discipline-specific applications—Revit Building, Revit Structure, and Revit Systems applications respectively—have been released, it is working on integrating them with analysis tools. No similar effort to integrate analysis tools is underway for ADT or ABS. Once the building industry moves to embrace BIM more fully and make analysis mandatory rather than optional, it is difficult to see how applications like ADT or ABS can continue to be useful and relevant.
snip

We were shown how Revit Structure can link bi-directionally to leading structural analysis tools such as RISA Floor for gravity analysis, ETABS for lateral analysis, and ROBOT Millennium for isolated analysis of a part of a structure such as a truss (see my recent review of Revit Structure 4 for more details on how it works).
snip
Autodesk is not developing any specific Revit-based construction solution at the moment (such as Graphisoft's Virtual Construction solutions developed for contractors, that were described in AECbytes Newsletter #15). Autodesk's take on this so far has been that a separate application for construction is not needed as Revit Building is being used by contractors for phasing and 4D scheduling right off the box. It will continue to make Revit Building more suitable for contractors with features such as the Material Take-off in Revit Building 9 and by supporting third-party efforts such as Innovaya's Visual Estimating.
snip
Autodesk does have a dedicated facilities management tool, FMDesktop, which it acquired from Applied Spatial Technologies earlier this year, which can now read DWFs published from Revit and automatically interpret space and room data.
snip
For Microsoft, this included showing some features of Windows Vista, integration of Revit with the upcoming version of Microsoft Project, Microsoft's Virtual Earth technology that competes with Google Earth
snip


Check out the rest of her article, there is some great stuff in there, as always.

I'm not saying that I believe everyone should go out and learn Revit or one of it's verticals right this minute, but, I am saying that I believe this type of program is the future of design, and many firms will get there, with us or without us folks who learned on dos-based AutoCAD before a fraction of the population even knew what GUI meant.
We can only benefit from keeping an eye on the trends and keeping ourselves as educated as we possibly can.
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