July 02, 2007
Pre-Design Tool for Revit and ArchiCAD BIM Tools
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News

Pre-Design Tool for Revit and ArchiCAD BIM Tools

by Susan Smith

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Affinity 2D Schematic Design allows the designer to build multiple design scenarios by dragging and dropping Program Items (spaces, equipment and furnishings and openings) from the left-hand pane onto the Story ‘palette”. Full details are visible in the right-hand pane.

What happens before building information modeling?

In the planning of a building of any scope, there is a pre-design phase of information gathering and storing the necessary information in a database. Last year, Trelligence, a small company that has been around for a few years, introduced its Affinity 4.0 product which focuses on the pre-design phases of a building project, for the commercial architectural market. Formerly, Trelligence had focused on the residential market.

With the advent of BIM, there is a need for a product to address the pre-design aspect of the design-to-operations and maintenance lifecycle of a building. As the definition of BIM expands and shifts, the need to include more perspectives becomes evident. BIM encompasses not only 3D but all the data behind it. According to Carole Kernohan, VP Business Development, "BIM is not necessarily one model, but a combination of models, each with its own unique view, yet it can be pulled together. So if someone needs that whole view they can get to it via an electronic representation."

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Affinity 3D Viewer provides 3D views of the project design, as one of several tools for visualizing the conceptual design.

Affinity 5.0, debuting this year at AIA, offers integration with the Autodesk Revit 9.1 design tool, enhances integration with Graphisoft Archicad 9 and 10, and delivers new functionality. The software provides another view into the building model, one that begins before Revit or ArchiCAD. "Affinity has access to the initial planning and programming even as you’re progressing with that model in Revit," noted Kernohan.

The main functional areas of the Affinity 5.0 release are:

1) Planning and programming for a new project or refitting an old building. Trelligence provides a number tools to gather information needed at the beginning of a large project. Affinity 5.0 is very focused and very applicable to larger, more complex building projects.

"Architects will go through a series of interviews at beginning of process, gathering information, storing and managing it in a database that is available and accessible throughout the design process," Kernohan explained. "Typically they will use Excel, but Excel doesn’t translate into anything you can use in a design. One of the key issues noted by the AIA is the non-productivity in marketplace, because in each phase there is data that must be re-created each time. We’re saying we can store that initial information, we can give tools to build the space program and then transition that electronically into the schematic design phase, which is the second thing we do, then

transition that into the CAD or BIM environment electronically."

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Affinity Programming provides a simple-to-use interface to capture client requirements and build the Space Program. This is an example of a program for an Art Gallery
2) Affinity transitions the data into the schematic design phase, and it provides tools to allow the designer to do a number of design scenarios and work with the client. The designer can do what-if scenarios such as, if we make these design decisions, this is how it will impact square footage, quantities, types of spaces, or estimated cost. Once a schematic is agreed upon, the designer can transition that schematic straight into AutoCAD. The designer can export a DXF file, or transition it into ArchiCAD or Revit. Affinity provides bi-directional integration to do the program, schematic design, and then open that in ArchiCAD or Revit and continue to work with it, but at the same time be
able to put the design back into Affinity so that you can keep checking that you’re meeting program or owner requirements. The bi-directional integration is only in ArchiCAD and Revit (it is also available in Bentley BIM but Affinity has not yet integrated that product line). "We have the full analysis engine within Affinity that allows you to do bi-directional integration," said Kernohan. "Make a change in Revit it will be reflected in Affinity, or make a change in Affinity and it will be reflected in the Revit project."

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Affinity for Revit provides 2-way integration with Autodesk Revit Architecture®, allowing the designer to continue analyzing compliance of the design to the original program requirements. In this example, red highlights show where the design does not meet the program targets.

Trelligence has customers who have already started projects in Revit and are in the detail design phase. They have purchased Affinity because they want to continue tracking changes and comparing those to the program requirements to make sure they’re still on track. "They’ve come to us with a Revit project that we brought into Affinity and generated Affinity schematic design and layout from that project, added in program information so they can run reports. They can do the analysis, cost, constraints, and other processes."

3) New Template Editor desktop and toolkit – Affinity is template driven, which means if a firm does a lot of healthcare facilities, they would build up over time many templates which would contain standards for healthcare facilities. You can put a lot into the template reflecting your standards and processes. That information is maintained in a template. In release 5.0 Affinity adds a new template desktop on the PC so you can edit everything in the template.

4) Improved schematic design object manipulation and visualization – In release 5.0, more data is shown in the schematic design desktop. It’s designed to be easy to use. There is a new right hand information panel added to the schematic design section of 5.0, so when you click on a space or object in your layout, on the right hand side you have properties, components, requirements, or pages of notes that you can add. You can zoom into your schematic design and read a whole label even if it’s a small one, because the font will adjust according to where you are in your zoom.

5) Enhanced space planning functionality, including support for multi-phased programs, multiple buildings and department-level planning. Adding phasing to projects is key to office interior projects, where they want to do programming for three phases in the future.

The question arose as to why ArchiCAD was the first BIM tool to make use of Affinity bi-directional integration. "When we were developing Affinity release 4.0, Graphisoft’s ArchiCAD was the only available BIM tool that offered an open interface (API) which we could use in our Affinity bi-directional integration," explained Larry Ciscon, CEO of Trelligence. "Now, of course Autodesk Revit also offers an open interface, which we have used to deliver Affinity for Revit in our release 5.0."

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-- Susan Smith, AECCafe.com Managing Editor.


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