I may have mentioned this before, but some of you know I’ve been working on taking my practice into the 21st Century and the wonderful world of BIM. It should also come as no surprise to many of you that I am not a huge fan of Autodesk, having been a Autocad user for the last 13+ years I’ve seen many ups and downs…mostly downs. But now that BIM is taking the world by storm I figure it’s time to at least get up to the curve, if not completely ahead of it.
In this quest to find the best BIM platform for my practice I’ve spent way more hours scouring the internet for web articles and comparison reviews than I care to admit to. The three giants of the BIM world, in my opinion are Revit, Archicad, and Vectorworks. The overwhelming consensus that I’ve found seems to be that there is no “right answer” when it comes to BIM software, but rather it comes down to several factors.
1. the types of projects you create – i.e. large commercial and institutional projects or single family residences or renovations and tenant improvements or government work, etc.
2. the size of your practice – i.e. 1-2 people versus multiple teams across multiple disciplines working in conjunction.
3. how you practice – do you plan to work 100% BIM or keep a large portion of your detailing and production work in 2D
While any software comes with its limitations and benefits, what I’m finding is that the majority of the big names out there are relatively uniform. Personally, from what I’ve gathered in my reading and my very limited experience, Archicad is the choice over Revit for those more interested in design and production in 3D. Revit, from what I can gather, can be rather clunky and is geared more towards larger projects that are more heavily engineered than designed (this is a gross generalization based solely on the opinions of others). This has really always been true of Autodesk, even with ADT, now Autocad Architecture – it’s more “BIM Production” rather than “BIM Design”. I’m sure my bias is showing *blushes*, but to me Archicad seems a more sexy design tool as well as a production powerhouse. Not to mention with new IFC exporting protocols you can share across almost any platform you want to. So, the idea of not being able to collaborate with other BIM platforms or other disciplines is out the window for any of the above mentioned platforms.
in-progress screen shot of a bungalow I’m designing in Archicad 14
At the end of the day the only real bummer of BIM is that it’s taken so long to be popular in the industry. When Graphisoft came out with their first release of Archicad nearly 30 years ago, it should have been the beginning of a new frontier for architectural design and production. Instead it was pushed out in favor of Autocad which was nothing more than fancy hand drafting on a computer.
So, lesson learned. BIM is here. It’s here to stay and if you think that it’s not for you or not for your practice…well, either you don’t plan on practicing much longer or….yeah, I got nothin else.
BIM. It’s what’s for dinner. Or something.