August 29, 2005
Virtual Building Meets Organic Modeling
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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About this Issue…

Welcome to AECWeekly! In recent years we have heard more about organic architectural modeling, as such tools have become more available as add-ons to existing CAD software - but pricing has been prohibitive for all but the most exclusive architectural firms. Now, Graphisoft's MaxonForm Add-on to ArchiCAD, offered at US$595, will allow architects to make any shape they want in their Virtual Building model with organic modeling tools. Read about MaxonForm in this week's Industry News.

AECWeekly is a news magazine featuring important industry news profiles, a summary of recently published AEC product and company news, customer wins, and coming events. Brought to you by AECCafe.

AECWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, Education, Awards, Wins, New Products, Around the Web and Upcoming Events.

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Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

Virtual Building Meets Organic Modeling

By Susan Smith

Imagination cannot be limited, as we know. It can soar and wrap itself around the most seemingly impossible concepts. Without it, architectural design would remain dull, featureless - restrained by iterative components. Although computer-aided design has been a huge advancement in the world of architectural design, it has had some limitations in so far as allowing architects to create organic models of buildings, particularly those buildings that lend themselves to unusual shapes or are filled with one-off component features.

In recent years we have heard more about organic architectural modeling, as such tools have become more available as add-ons to existing CAD software - but pricing has been prohibitive for all but the most exclusive architectural firms. Now, Graphisoft's MaxonForm Add-on to ArchiCAD, offered at US$595, will allow architects to make any shape they want in their Virtual Building model with organic modeling tools.

According to Akos Bezegh, ArchiCAD Product Manager, MaxonForm is the result of the combined efforts of MAXON Computer GmbH, makers of leading free-form modeling and animation software CINEMA 4D, and Graphisoft, a leader in Virtual Building architectural solutions. "MaxonForm, seamlessly integrated into ArchiCAD, is the first solution that allows the architect to push the boundaries of conventional design and deliver the benefits of the Virtual Building," he explains.

CINEMA 4D has been a well known organic modeler on the market for years with powerful modeling, animation and rendering capabilities. MaxonForm, licensed by Graphisoft from MAXON Computers, was developed expressly for ArchiCAD and contains the modeling capabilities of CINEMA 4D without the animation, time and rendering features.

A typical workflow with MaxonForm goes like this - the user starts to work on her Virtual Building in ArchiCAD, and at some point realizes that she might need a shape that is organic which she cannot model with the internal ArchiCAD tools. So she goes over to MaxonForm, where the Virtual Building is still visible. She can see what she's been working on previously in ArchiCAD and continues to model within the MaxonForm environment. "The ArchiCAD-MaxonForm tie-up follows the natural architectural workflow," says Bezegh. "You do free-form modeling in the context of the building, and remain within the context of the building throughout the whole design process."

This integration takes a click, so when she's working in ArchiCAD and needs a particular organic shape, it's only one click from the ArchiCAD 3D window. Everything is then automatically taken to MaxonForm, which launches itself with the model set and ready for developing.

She builds organic forms, or whatever she needs, and then with one click the form she's created is imported into ArchiCAD as a GDL object - because GDL can easily handle the parameters that are built in during the process

There's also correct 2D representation and correct section of the element brought in. The user can set the horizontal cut plane where she wants to cut this element. If the user assigns colors to this organic form in MaxonForm, then these will become parametric materials in ArchiCAD so it can be set later any time. "Also, if the user wants to edit this object again, just select it, and with a single click take the object back to MaxonForm to manipulate it with the organic modeling tools. Of course, after editing an object the materials are retained and the new object is automatically placed into the Virtual Building," explains Bezegh.

Architects: SCAU - Macary/Delamain, Parc des Expositions a Angouleme (France)

How does it work? Graphisoft created an add-on for ArchiCAD and a plug-in for CINEMA 4D. "The powerful add-on and plug-in allow the communication between these two applications," Bezegh notes. In the past, customers could export something from CINEMA 4D to ArchiCAD and vice versa, but that meant saving to separate file formats. "You had to go through a tedious export-import process. But now for MaxonForm users the communication is a lot smoother, easier and faster with a better result." The MaxonForm communication add-on and plug-in have been built solely for this MaxonForm package, specifically for ArchiCAD.

So who wanted organic modeling for ArchiCAD? "We asked our customers what they were using in a survey, and it turned out many were already working with CINEMA 4D for organic modeling," Bezegh says. He also believes that besides architects, who have long been hampered in their design freedom, architectural students will be a big market for MaxonForm as they do not have to conform to as many real-world constraints as other designers. Students are always looking for ways to be completely creative with form. "What's more," Bezegh concludes. "MaxonForm allows users all the modeling fun they'd expect - and we all know organic modeling is addictive - and yet it still turns in a well-documented


Autodesk, Inc. announced the acquisition of Solid Dynamics, SA, a French company whose kinematics/dynamics technology enables designers in the manufacturing market to simulate, analyze, test and optimize physical motion and loading in mechanical assemblies, a process known as motion simulation and analysis. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

netGuru, Inc. (Company) has entered into an asset purchase agreement to sell its Research Engineers International (REI) business and STAAD product lines to privately held Bentley Systems, Incorporated, Exton, Pa., for $23.5 million in cash.

The sale is subject to various closing conditions, including approval by netGuru stockholders and compliance with regulatory requirements. If approved, the sale is expected to close before the end of 2005. A portion of the sale proceeds is expected to be allocated to transaction costs, applicable taxes, and the retirement of outstanding debt.
This business includes the market-leading STAAD.Pro structural analysis and design product line. At the time of the acquisition, Santanu Das, netGuru's chief operating officer, will join Bentley.

AirClic®, a provider of mobile process automation and optimization solutions, announced that Oce North America (Oce), a provider of digital document management technology and services, has selected AirClic MP® to streamline its parts inventory tracking. When fully deployed, up to 1,000 Oce service technicians will use AirClic MP to record shipment and receipt and return of service parts in the field.

Informative Graphics Corp. (IGC), a provider of content visualization, secure publishing and collaboration technology, announced that it has entered into an IGC International Distributor Partner agreement with Fuji Xerox Asia Pacific Pte Ltd (Malaysia). Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, Fuji Xerox's Asia Pacific regional headquarters in Shanghai, China, supports and coordinates the activities of 12 operating companies in Singapore, Australia, China, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

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-- Susan Smith, Managing Editor.


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