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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

From the Exhibit Floor: AIA Convention 2016

May 26th, 2016 by Susan Smith

At the AIA Convention 2016 held in Philadelphia last week, the Exhibit Hall showcased software, hardware and all types of building materials.

Emphasis for AEC technology this year is on reality capture or modeling, building information modeling, zero carbon energy initiatives, conceptual modeling and the inclusion of metadata in projects.

Building Exterior

Bring your stories to life in animated 3D environments, rich with wind-swept plants, seasonal trees, rolling clouds, rippling water, deep shadows and beautiful light.

Solutions executive, Andy Smith, of Bentley Systems talked about four things that they were demonstrating at AIA this year:

  • SiteOps
  • Concept Capture
  • LumenRT
  • AECOsim Building Designer

Dave Settermeier, SiteOps Design for Buildings manager, talked about the SaaS SiteOps that enables users to move beyond engineering to “optioneering”, i.e. taking the concept of a building and putting it on a site. From there the user can do rapid feasibility analysis and start the model AECOsim Building Designer. Now users can do many conceptual designs for architectural by taking advantage of increased bandwidth. SiteOps has a large Autodesk user base, according to Settermeier.

AECOsim Building Designer provides BIM advancements so that users can analyze, design, document and visualize buildings of any size. Interoperability allows users to pull pieces of a project together. AECOsim is scalable and now supports DWG 2016 and IFC.


Rapidly deliver attention grabbing presentations from Revit, Archicad or AECOsim Building Designer with Bentley LumenRT’s advanced real-time rendering.

Bentley’s ContextCapture can also be used as an immersive environment in which to start design, and can also bring in Bing maps where needed. LumenRT allows users to create professional videos and interactive experiences.

Smith said the new Connect Edition (previously called V8i) will include 64 bit, and ribbon bar interface.

Ransom Ratcliff, BIM consultant for Graphisoft, treated me to a look at Archicad 20 which is at the time of this writing, in Beta. Archicad builds on the speed of its predecessor and uses the processor more efficiently now. There is a different interface, and the icons are now vector-based. “The old icons don’t enlarge as the vector ones do,” said Ratcliff. In addition, the new release features adaptations for retina screens with greater resolution.


Two other big features of the upcoming release are the addition of more metadata, such as the fire rating of a wall, the manufacturer, etc. that will populate all model elements.

Graphisoft makes objects themselves, and also makes use of generic, out-of-the-box objects that can be obtained from manufacturers.

The new Archicad 20 sports the following primary features:

  • Data in and out
  • Graphical user interface with object select
  • Presentation whether fly through or drawings
  • New Cinema 4D functionality.

BIMx is available to send markup tools to Archicad BIM Server where it goes to a central repository. Those who don’t use Archicad can use it.

Autodesk’s senior product manager for the Building Performance Analysis group, Ian Molloy, spoke of Autodesk’s announcement at AIA about the release of a new, collaboratively developed tool that will automate the AIA 2030 Commitment data reporting to the Design Data Exchange (DDx).

Scenarios are powerful aspect of Insight 360; allowing you to compare cost and performance information across different design options. For example, you can use scenarios to save different window-to-wall ratio options and compare the impact each option will have.

Scenarios are powerful aspect of Insight 360; allowing you to compare cost and performance information across different design options. For example, you can use scenarios to save different window-to-wall ratio options and compare the impact each option will have.

This new automated connection will allow the more than 350 AIA 2030 committed firms to report their project and portfolio performance to the DDx directly from Autodesk Insight 360, encouraging performance analysis and more frequent reporting throughout the design process instead of annually.

This collaboration has resulted in an open Automated Program Interface (API) to the DDx, available to any energy modeling software vendor, reducing the duplication of effort using the existing process. Everyone who is modeling in Autodesk FormIt 360 Pro or Revit can report their performance to the DDx. Autodesk Insight 360 is included in both FormIt 360 Pro and Revit.

This automated process between Insight 360 and DDx will eliminate the need for manual data entry and eliminates duplication of effort encouraging performance analysis and more frequent reporting throughout the design process instead of annually. The DDx interface is open source with the ability to connect with other energy modeling software providers. Additional vendors are welcome to link up with the DDx system

“Users can’t hit targets for energy project and portfolio performance unless they are doing modeling,” Molloy pointed out.


Biplap Sarkar, newly appointed CEO of Vectorworks, spoke about the upcoming features for the new version of Vectorworks coming out in September.

  • Sprinkler system design feature for house, golf courses, etc. This system creates a network where users can select manufacturing data and will give velocity, water pressures, using CFD equations. This is part of the product Landmark.
  • Architect – structural elements network, that have built in intelligence.
  • Virtual Reality – Users will be able to export virtual scenes and it will automatically create a link to be viewed in any browser. This feature will also include buttons on the floor to be used with Google and Oculus glasses.
  • Cloud Services – These services are now made available to all users and as a result, designs can be shared with others who are not users. Previously this feature was restricted to subscribers only.
  • Vectorworks drawings used to be stored on the CPU. When you are drafting now in the new version, everything – the entire model- will be stored in the GPU. This will lead to a performance improvement hopefully by 2018.
  • Flat roof – Flat roof design has added drainage capability.

Other architectural features include the ability to move slabs separately from walls or to be open or partially covered by walls.

“There is no change to the interface,” said Sarkar. “The shell is what people see, the core is the center. We have separated them so that we can change the core without disrupting the shell.”

SketchUp with the Microsoft Hololens demo

SketchUp with the Microsoft Hololens demo


Trimble SketchUp showed their SketchUp Pro 2016’s AEC abilities and “how to model everything in SketchUp.”

A big show-stopper in the Trimble booth was the demo of the use of reality capture alpha-level application work, with the Microsoft Hololens and SketchUp, showing how to maneuver and make changes in a 3D immersive environment.

We would like to congratulate AECCafe’s KindleFire winner this year: Aline Halle, marketing coordinator and social media manager with Acoustic Distinctions. Aline coordinates marketing efforts as well as manages AD’s social media program and on-line presence. Acoustic Distinctions is an Acoustics and AV system specialty consulting firm that works in built environments. As an integrated design partner working with owners, architects, engineers and contractors, AD provides expertise centered on enabling spaces to enhance the end-user experience.

Aline Halle, AECCafe Kindlefire winner

Aline Halle, AECCafe KindleFire winner

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Categories: 2D, 3D, AEC, AECCafe, apps, Archicad, architecture, AutoCAD, Autodesk, Bentley Systems, BIM, building information modeling, buildingSMART, Civil 3D, Cloud, collaboration, construction, data archiving, display wall, engineering, field solutions, file sharing, holograms, IES, IFC, infrastructure, mobile, site planning, SITEOPS, SketchUp, Trimble, Vectorworks, video, virtual reality, visualization

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