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Mary Moscarello
Mary Moscarello
Mary Moscarello has two decades of experience in the field of broadcasting and communications. She has served major broadcast news and cable networks in the New York market as a writer, producer and assignment editor. She has a strong journalism background in management of public relations and … More »

ArchiCAD Creates True Collaboration Between Architect and Structural Engineer

December 4th, 2013 by Mary Moscarello

Note from the editor:

This post was first published on the GRAPHISOFT blog “BIM Engine by ArchiCAD” shortly after the conclusion of the inaugural GRAPHISOFT BIM Conference 2013. It highlights the versatility of the software, its many applications and ability to create a truly collaborative, efficient workflow for architects and structural engineers. Definitely worth a read and absolutely worth a reprint.

Those Structural Engineers Using ArchiCAD Showed Up in San Diego

BIM Engine has featured the structural engineering firm Riverstone Structural Concepts before. Mary interviewed Patrick, the owner of this ArchiCAD using engineering firm, for a previous post. If you’re not familiar with Riverstone Structural Concepts, you might want to start by reading that post then returning here.

I had the opportunity to chat with Patrick a number of times throughout the 2013 BIM Conference in San Diego. Patrick and I sat next to each other during the presentation “Get Ahead & Stay Ahead: Learn the Strategic Value of ArchiCAD and How You Can Increase Profits” by Ransom Ratcliff & Monte Chapin (who are both former users turned Graphisoft employees). If you want photographic proof, you can see Patrick and me in the first image of this post—we’re in the third row on the right; I’m the one tweeting. Part way through the presentation Ransom and Monte started talking about (and showing off) the structural models from a Porsche dealership that Patrick’s team had worked on. It was fun to see Patrick’s surprised expression, as he wasn’t expecting to see his work up in front of everyone so soon. Patrick assumed no one would see the project until the next day when he would present it as part of the AEC Customer Case Study Panel.

Let me pause for a moment. This post might feel like it’s about to turn into an advertisement for Riverstone Structural Concepts, and in a way it is. But really it’s an advertisement for how they work and think. Much of what I’m applauding isn’t unique to Riverstone Structural Concepts; much of what impresses me can (and should) be emulated by architects and engineers alike. It just so happens that they to do these things really, really well.

Listening to Patrick talk, both one on one and in front of a room filled with ArchiCAD users, three things stood out.

These Guys Are the Future

Details — Riverstone Structural Concepts are using ArchiCAD to do some awesome drawings. They are using 3D Documents derived from fully modeled junctions to show all (or at least most) of their details. You can see some more examples here. Their live 3D details are not only beautiful but full of real value. They are connected to a model that houses both Architectural and Structural data. They are live and therefore both current and useful for designers (both architectural and structural) to respond to. These details are using the tool at hand (ArchiCAD) to improve communication. Instead of taking a powerful tool and “dumbing it down” to match what we used to do, RSC has evolved their documentation by utilizing what ArchiCAD can do.

Collaboration — Speaking of evolution, get Patrick talking about the value of ArchiCAD and you’ll be in for a treat. He finds ArchiCAD a powerful tool for documentation and modeling, but there’s one aspect he seems to love more than everything else. In fact, it seemed like that’s all he wanted to talk about! What part of ArchiCAD? Teamwork 2. At times Patrick seemed like a one-man proselytizer for Teamwork 2. Work with a structural engineer using ArchiCAD? Sure, that’s good. But Teamwork 2? Now that’s GREAT. Riverstone Structural Concepts happily works on servers hosted by their teammates, or lets their teammates work off of RSC servers (what a cool feature of a structural partner: file hosting). Patrick described their three ways of working: traditional 2D sharing, 3D model sharing, and 3D collaboration within one file. They do all three, but greatly prefer the later. Patrick’s opinions on Teamwork 2 are nicely summed up by this video he made for the conference:

The speed of collaboration and communication when using Teamwork 2 is unbeatable, whether it’s architect to architect or architect to structural engineer, or any other combination of people. The power of Teamwork 2 was further highlighted at the conference when Ransom Ratcliff gave a presentation on how it all works. I wish that had been recorded. On a Macbook Air, Ransom had three instances of ArchiCAD open, all in a Teamwork 2 file (of a 133,000 sq. ft. building) being run off a BIM Server on the same machine. Take that in for a moment: BIM Server, three instances of ArchiCAD all in the same file, substantial model, MAC BOOK AIR.

Business — Riverstone Structural Concepts has turned ArchiCAD into a money maker; ArchiCAD is an asset for getting business. In fact 90% of their architectural team mates are ArchiCAD users. The conference had a number of attendees who were happily working with RSC, and proud to discuss that connection. As an outsider, a few things were obvious. I want to find a project to work with RSC on and other engineers (structural or mechanical) would be wise to emulate Riverstone Structural Concepts. They have a captive, enthusiastic, and happy client base. I didn’t hear one negative word about working with RSC (to be fair, having met Patrick I know some of the magic is due to him and his team, and not just ArchiCAD). So again, this might seem like an advertisement for Patrick and his team, but it’s really about what they’ve done with ArchiCAD. They found a niche and filled it superbly. They use their knowledge of ArchiCAD to capture work and grow their business. And they are unabashed about proclaiming their love for their tools.

What’s Your Story?

Riverstone Structural Concepts is a great example of a firm using ArchiCAD to advance everything they do. As an ArchiCAD user how are you using ArchiCAD to sell your services and evolve your processes? What is the program doing for you that allows you to out perform your competition? Are you sharing with your clients and prospects how ArchiCAD and BIM are good for them? Is that piece of your service front and center on your website? How many ways have you already thought of to make BIMx Docs a little dollar bill printing machine? And before I’m accused of focusing on profits above service, all of this is about helping the client. BIMx Docs as a communication tool is unparalleled. Teamwork 2 as already stated is amazing for collaboration and communication. I’ve been talking about these issues for a long time now. If anyone heard my talks on Client Communications with BIM, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

For those of you who aren’t finding ways to make ArchiCAD one of your top profit generators, what’s getting in your way?


One of Riverstone Structural Concepts advantages is that they were a first mover. They are an engineering firm using a program that other firms don’t think to use, and as a result are ahead of the pack. They have used this uniqueness to their advantage. There is a need in our community for more consultant firms like them. So what do you say? Are you a new MEP firm looking to capture a niche? What about a civil firm? Or maybe another structural firm who wants to follow in RSC’s footsteps? We are ready for you. We are waiting.


So I sent the text of this blog post to Patrick to read before I shared it with everyone. I wanted to make sure I had all my notes correct. Here’s his abbreviated response:

“You have hit the nail on the head in more ways than one. The only thing I would comment on is that I am not afraid of the competition, I welcome it! Not from a competitive standpoint, but from a unified standpoint. The most amazing thing I have seen with regards to heavy AC users is that it is a community of like-minded people. It is nice to be a pioneer in this industry and platform, but I have a broader vision…to service the needs of architects.”

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