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February 18, 2008
Autodesk World Press Day 2008 Coverage
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on AECcafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
Each AEC Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the AEC industry, AEC product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by AECCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

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Industry News

Autodesk World Press Day 2008 Coverage

by Susan Smith

Everybody loves a story. That’s what Autodesk is betting on with their intent to weave products from the entertainment industry into the fabric of architectural and engineering design.

But that’s not all: Inventor, Autodesk’s 3D digital prototyping software, is already being used in some A/E processes. And to top it off, we’re hearing about adding an “emotional component” to design, making use of cinematic qualities for the creation of presentations and virtual environments.

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Autodesk CEO Carl Bass
Autodesk World Press Day 2008, held at the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins in San Francisco February 12th and 13th, drew a large crowd of press from all over the world. The press-only event is designed to give the technology press a look at some of the latest product releases and also cement in their minds the company’s direction.

CEO Carl Bass opened the General Session on Tuesday by outlining the challenges faced by designers and engineers. He said that a combination of what’s going on in the world and what’s available for meeting new challenges will shape the technology of design innovation.

The usual list of Autodesk successes followed: 9 million users of Autodesk worldwide (and Bass was quick to add these are actual registered users, who knows how many have AutoCAD and have not paid for it):

- 98% of the Fortune 500 companies use Autodesk products.

- Autodesk celebrates 25 years of financial success.

- The company’s net revenue is expected to exceed $2B this year.

- Cash and equivalents exceeds $800M

- No debt

Bass spoke of a new “convergence of technology across multiple disciplines,” which we would soon learn would mean that more architectural users might embrace Inventor solid modeling software for parametric rules based design and that Maya would move out of the somewhat exclusive realm of computer graphics and entertainment to be used in the building of infrastructure.

Some new ideas were introduced: such as the idea of a building having a story that may need to be told in an entertaining, engaging and possibly emotional way in order to appeal to a new, younger audience.

Four big macroeconomic trends are driving product development:

Digital life – Everything has gone from analog to digital: the way we communicate, and entertain, according to Bass. Bass pointed to the image of kids listening to an iPod while talking on the cell phone, and that this may be a way of creating information. On YouTube, 100 million videos are downloaded every day, and there are 65,000 new videos uploaded every day.

“The largest analog collection of data is probably in Library of Congress,” said Bass. “Google has already indexed about 1,000 terabytes of data per day - 100,000 times more than what’s in the Library of Congress.”

The method by which people obtain their information has changed, and now the way we educate children and train a workforce must keep pace with that change. Bass looks to the entertainment industry as the industry to follow in terms of providing information in fresh and interesting ways. The entertainment industry has always tracked things emotional content that generally exist at a more subliminal level in architectural, engineering, and even automotive design.

Globalization – The digital life is a large driver of the next big trend – globalization. New business models need to be explored to deal with the growing commoditization, cultural change and slackening of trade rules.

The first two trends have led to the third one:

Infrastructure Boom – There is a boom to rebuild, build and repair the world’s infrastructure. Over the next decade, China plans to build over 30 new airports. Aging infrastructure needs to be rebuilt or replaced all over the world.

Global Climate Change – The rising cost of energy coupled with the rising use of energy. There is a need to find better ways to produce energy and get smarter about consuming it. Buildings are huge consumers of electricity and natural resources, but with more effective designs we can be producing zero carbon footprint buildings (see Architecture 2030)

Bass said almost jokingly that the thing that spurs most invention is making mistakes, so it’s important to have tools to allow you make more mistakes less expensively.

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Chicago Spire
Because of the fusing of several different technologies that have remained somewhat separate and vertical, I am presenting here examples that wouldn’t ordinarily appear in an AECWeekly article: one from building, one from entertainment, and an example of the use of entertainment techniques in a sales video for the Chicago Spire architectural design.

Customer Profiles

Liard Landis, senior engineer, virtual design and construction worldwide facilities, General Motors Corp., pointed out that GM is one of Autodesk’s largest accounts.

They have used building information modeling to build state of the art facilities. As a result of BIM, their Flint, MI facility was constructed in nine months. Landis said that there is traditionally a large amount of waste on a construction site. When you compare it to the current manufacturing process, there is far more waste in construction.

In the building of the facility at Lansing Delta Township, size: 1,574,400 sq ft, 249,653 KWh/yr was the amount of energy saved. This building avoided 118.3 tons/yr of emissions. Quantifying this amount, Landis said that “we could ride on the Queen Mary cruise ship for about 2 hours, or you could power 250 homes based on the energy saved in the building of this facility.”

The building was the first facility in the world to obtain LEED certified gold status, and it took two years to get to the point of design, review, submit and to obtain certification.

“Through having BIM, we have found our sites are quiet and organized because we know when stuff is going in and out,” said Landis. “No changes during installation improves morale. Everything is budgeted so there’s virtually no over time, a very orchestrated construction setting.”

- GM constructs buildings 25% faster

- saving with BIM 10-15% total construction cost

- safety records are setting industry records

Brady Nadell, senior engineer with Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB), is an engineer for the $9B Oakland-Bay Bridge retrofit project.

The bridge, which had suffered massive destruction during the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, had to be kept open in part while the rebuilding process continued. PB needed to educate the public as to why they were doing it this way and to demonstrate to the public what the bridge would look like when completed. On Labor Day 2007, the construction crew had to close bridge for two days to replace a section of bridge the size of a football field.

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Bay Bridge retrofit
Using 3D modeling and design software, the resulting images and animation spurred the media to run several stories, and as a result, audiences understood the message better. The bridge was handed over to the construction team 40 minutes earlier. Bay area freeways were almost empty on that day. CALTRANS can now consider closing critical arteries because of this success.

NavisWorks was used to create a 4D time model that allowed contractors to communicate complex and simultaneous building activities of the bridge. Three major contractors are building three megaprojects associated with the bridge within a small space on Yerba Buena Island.

The company that has brought us Spiderman, Surf’s Up, Polar Express and Beowulf, to name a few, holds the top box office position with all ten of their 2007 films. George Joblove of Sony Pictures Imageworks said all their top movies were animated or assisted with special effects. Global gross revenues for 2007 topped US$6,737,900,000.

click to enlarge [

Bay Bridge retrofit
With this much said, they use Maya and Flame for their visual effects, animation and compositing.

Joblove said that the line between animation and reality is becoming “increasingly blurred.”

What are driving forces for the entertainment industry?

-audience sophistication

-movie going experience

-new generation of filmmakers

-artistic and technology advancement

Each year, more animation and visual effects are added to existing topics. Techniques employed include live action filmmaking, which involves a hand held camera tracking system, an image motion capture system that captures live action which combines real actors and animation to make animated characters appear realistic. This technique was used in Polar Express and Beowulf. It can capture 20 actors, simultaneously including all their expressions and physical movements. Joblove said the film industry is influenced by “a new generation of film directors who are digitally oriented, influenced by music videos and playing video games.”

Visualization and animation have played an important role in selling architectural projects to the public. Sheena Duggal, special effects supervisor for Imageworks, Lightstream Pictures, created the Chicago Spire film, “Imagined by Calatrava,” featuring a 2,000 foot tall spire scheduled for completion in 2011. Architect Calatrava spoke as though the spire was a living thing, a building “built for man by man.” The movie is a story without words.

Duggal said that the film made use of the same techniques used for blockbuster movies, and she felt it was important to include elements of nature as a backdrop for Spire, along with layered music to create tone.

Jeff Kowalski, CTO, brought up the point that the digital model’s role and value has changed and grown: now there is information in the model that we didn’t put in it originally. As a result of some of the features of that model, such as clash detection, information is mediated and refined to a point of accuracy that was not possible in the past.

Another interesting observation is that now the digital model can move beyond visualization to impart an emotional component of an experience, much like what you would find in a movie. The HumanIK solution from Autodesk gives characters intelligent reactions and interact realistically with their environment.

According to Kowalski, architects and designers are becoming directors as well. “As graphics technology goes mainstream, more people are using 3D technology to communicate their ideas. You can understand a building better by placing it in its environment.”

3ds Max Design is being launched specifically for architects and designers. The customer Smooth has created animations using humorous characters to populate their architectural models to tell a story about a building that has yet to built, giving planners a more interactive, immersive experience.

BIM/AEC Industry Workshop

Autodesk has a number of favorite themes, and one of their favorites, “visualize, simulate and analyze” projects before they’re real, was showcased during the BIM/AEC Industry Workshop.

All the announcements of 2009 product releases were saved until Wednesday’s workshops. In the BIM/AEC Industry Workshop senior vice president of AEC Solutions, Jay Bhatt listed the product lineup for that group:

Revit Architecture

Revit Structure

Revit MEP

AutoCAD Civil 3D

Autodesk Buzzsaw

Autodesk Constructware

Autodesk Inventor

Autodesk 3ds Max

Autodesk Maya

Autodesk has acquired NavisWorks, Intelisolve, Carmel Software, Green Building Studio, and Robobat.

Inventor and Maya were touted by Autodesk as tools to help you explore conceptual design before going into production. Inventor, a parametric 3D modeler, offers control over finite elements so it can be used to do some form rationalization, break the building down into smaller parts to produce some area calculations.

Maya offers a freeform approach to conceptual design. With Maya, a freeform surface is created, finalizing design; you can select all surfaces or space frames and apply a surface on top of it. The push and pull environment demonstrated could be very useful to architects, as Maya eliminates all geometric barriers.

An “integrated workflow demo” of a library project in Rio de Janiero was shown, built using BIM. The model was taken virtually through construction into fabrication.

Technically, the architect started out in Revit Architecture 2009, using the improved user interface and mental ray rendering capabilities from 3ds Max which are in the new release.

The civil engineer laid out the preliminary design in Civil 3D. Additional analysis tools were needed to make the design better, so he used the new tool, Hydroflow, to automatically update Civil 3D objects.

Using Revit Structural, the structural engineer needed a lot of open space for this project. By using BIM they can create one model to visualize these spaces and design the required substantial truss on either side of building that is cantilevered.

It’s common for the structural engineer to create more than one analysis model for any structure. Revit includes the material properties, supports and actual sizes of parts, and can be linked with Robot Millennium. The structure can be analyzed based on loads.

The MEP can leverage room information provided by the architect. New to Revit MEP is a feature that allows you to automatically convert those rooms to MEP spaces. Can then by leveraged by Carmel Software, which does load calculations, such as calculating peak heating and cooling loads so you can accurately size HVAC ductwork. Using worst case scenarios for winter and summer months combined with real world weather data tables, you can identify components that affect the energy performance of the building.

You can save energy by reducing overall electrical needs of the building.

The MEP can go back into Revit to decide what type of systems to design.

MEP and structural design is often contracted out, but by using NavisWorks you can combine structural, MEP, civil and all different formats from different sources into a single model environment. This model can then be shared with all project stakeholders.

Clash results can issue change orders back to subs or the design team. The clash report can be uploaded to Constructware, and NavisWorks will load the latest revisions.

Constructware will route that report to the proper recipient on the project team, and will include the steps to take to resolve the clash. Then the design team will reroute the ducting to resolve the clash. The cost to complete report is in Constructware, which has come from the BIM.

Design data can be extended to fabrication using AutoCAD Structural Detail, which can export an entire structure from Revit. You can then start creating detail information that you need to erect steel.

To work on a particular part of the building such as a louver system, you can bring part of the assembly back into Inventor to simulate fabrication of the one part, simulating the milling process. This takes place while design continues.


Autodesk’s story shows how the different products might work together, and doesn’t focus so much on individual characteristics of the new product releases. Those you can read about in the press releases, also included in part in this newsletter and on GISCafe. What I heard said was that in years to come, Autodesk may not focus so much on vertical industry sectors, but could reorganize in a different way, according to what customers do with it. This would free up thinking to consider using Maya for architectural design or Inventor for road construction.

For those story lovers among us, one thing is for sure: the plot thickens.

Geospatial for utilities will be covered in my
GISWeekly coverage.

Top News of the Week

At its World Press Days event, Autodesk, Inc. announced updates to its comprehensive software solutions for building information modeling (BIM) including Revit Architecture, Revit Structure, Revit MEP, AutoCAD Civil 3D, and Autodesk NavisWorks. BIM is an integrated workflow built on coordinated, reliable information about a project from design through construction and into operations. By adopting BIM, architects, engineers, contractors and owners can easily create coordinated, digital design information and documentation; use that information to accurately predict performance, appearance and cost; and reliably deliver the project faster, more economically and with reduced environmental

Autodesk, Inc. announced the AutoCAD 2009 family of software including AutoCAD 2009, for conceptual design, drafting and detailing. The latest release's significant user interface enhancements help AutoCAD customers of all levels work more productively toward competitive design ideas and compelling presentations.

AutoCAD 2009 includes the first task-based user interface in a computer-aided design (CAD) application, allowing new and veteran AutoCAD customers to experience greater efficiency. The new version also delivers automation tools that do not require programming knowledge, and new 3D navigational tools. In addition, AutoCAD 2009 subscription customers will receive Autodesk Impression illustration software for the creation of presentation-ready graphics.

Autodesk, Inc. announced two new versions of its Autodesk 3ds Max modeling, animation and rendering software -- the leading asset creation tool for game development. The company launched Autodesk 3ds Max 2009 software for entertainment professionals, and debuted 3ds Max Design 2009 software, a tailored 3D application for architects, designers and visualization specialists. Both versions of the software offer new rendering capabilities, improved interoperability with industry-standard products including Revit software, as well as additional time-saving animation and mapping workflow tools. 3ds Max Design 2009 further provides lighting simulation and analysis technology.


Autodesk, Inc. is expanding its portfolio of software solutions to support sustainable design in the architecture, engineering & construction (AEC) markets with the acquisition of technology assets of two energy analysis software companies. Autodesk announced that it has signed an agreement to acquire substantially all the assets of Green Building Studio, an innovative provider of web-based building energy analysis that enables architects and engineers to easily perform whole building energy analysis early in the design process. Autodesk also announced that it has acquired substantially all the assets of Carmel Software Corporation, a
developer of HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) mechanical engineering software that enables engineers and architects to analyze their mechanical designs and help ensure sustainability goals are achieved. Terms of the acquisitions were not disclosed.


Autodesk, Inc. announced increased activity and commitment in global education programs and sponsorships through new Centers of Excellence (COEs) in China, India, and Russia, new and expanded partnerships with education organizations, and the growth of the Student Engineering and Design Community to more than 225,000 students and educators worldwide. With the looming shortage of qualified engineers in the U.S., as well as the need for more skilled talent to support rapidly emerging economies, Autodesk is committed to supporting educators in preparing the next generation design professionals.

ARCHIBUS Inc. will be holding its annual International ARCHIBUS Users’ Conference from April 13th through April 16th at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Conference program and registration information available at:

ArchiCAD East (ACE) is proud to announce the second annual ArchiCAD University, designed to get new users more productive with ArchiCAD 11, and expert users familiar with a wider range of working methods.

The event will take place April 4-6, 2008 at the Drake Hotel in downtown Toronto, Canada. There will be two concurrent sessions; an Expert Forum and a General Session which will accommodate ArchiCAD users of all skill levels.

For more information and registration details go to
http://www.archicad.ca  or call 1-877-272-6041.


Avatech Solutions, Inc. announced financial results for its second fiscal quarter ended December 31, 2007.

For the second quarter of fiscal 2008, the Company reported revenues of $12,931,000 compared to $12,412,000 in the prior-year period. The Company reported net income of $855,000, or $0.04 per fully diluted share, compared to net income of $507,000, or $0.02 per fully diluted share, in the same period of the prior year.

New Products

When Dexter + Chaney refers to the online help system for its Spectrum Construction Software, it can now use the term “award-winning” to describe it. The company recently won a Merit Award for the product in the annual awards competition of the Puget Sound Chapter of the Society for Technical Communications (STC).

Sage Software unveiled new Data Conversion services for contractors to easily upgrade from QuickBooks to Sage Master Builder and new lower pricing aimed at making the switch to construction-specific software even easier. The announcement was made at National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) International Builders' Show. The IBS is the housing industry's largest annual light construction trade show and exhibition, held Feb. 13 - 16, 2008, at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla.

AVEVA , supplier of engineering IT systems for the plant and marine industries, released its new collaborative tool for 3D engineering model review, AVEVA ReviewShare, to its customer base, following successful product previews in Europe, the US and Asia Pacific.

Eagle Point Software Corporation announced the introduction of its revolutionary SMI 2008 field survey software. Data Collection is the first product to be released under the SMI 2008 product line.

Built to run on most devices running Windows Mobile and Windows CE, SMI 2008 allows land surveyors to operate it in whichever way they feel comfortable, whether it be from the device keyboard or the touch screen.

Hard Dollar Corporation, provider of budget - and performance-based project management solutions, launched the latest version of its Enterprise and Workgroups editions. Construction teams using Hard Dollar version 2008.1 will further simplify the transfer of project information between departments through additional integration points with Primavera and Microsoft.

Informative Graphics Corporation (IGC), a leader in content visualization, collaboration and redaction technology announced that the latest release of its Brava!(R) Enterprise web-based viewer has been integrated to EMC Documentum Webtop. This integration supports both Webtop 5.3 and 6.0.

Used by thousands of companies worldwide, Brava Enterprise offers web-based, enterprise-class viewing and collaboration for virtually any format, including Microsoft Word, TIFF, PDF and CAD formats like AutoCAD. Brava has been integrated into EMC since 1995 and offers consistent, quality view and annotation capabilities to EMC customers.

Design Master Software released Design Master HVAC 6.0, an update to its integrated HVAC design and drafting program, on December 3, 2007. Notable new features in this release include:

* A simplified command to export 3D ductwork. The exported ductwork can be imported into all of the leading architectural building information modeling programs, including NavisWorks, AutoCAD Architecture, Revit Architecture, ArchiCAD, and Bentley Architecture.

* More metric duct labeling options to provide better documentation for HVAC designs done outside of the United States.

* More ventilation calculation methods. Ventilation in zones can be calculated using either ASHRAE 62.1-2004 or 2006 International Mechanical Code. A ventilation report can be generated to allow plan reviewers to verify the calculations.


Date: February 20 - 22, 2008
Place: 90 Broad Street 11th Floor

New York, NY USA
Unleash the power of VectorWorks

If you want to get the most out of VectorWorks, then our classroom training is just what you've been looking for! Hands-on classroom-based seminars are designed to be informative and affordable. New users, get up to speed and learn the in-and-outs of the program.

Already familiar with VectorWorks?

Take a seminar and become a power user! These seminars will help you unleash the power of VectorWorks and make you more productive and efficient.
Date: February 22 - 25, 2008
Place: San Diego

User Conference 2008 will, for the first time, show you how to combine the function of estimating and bidding with real-time field data tracking across the enterprise. The result of this combination is a new paradigm in construction management software – one that will allow you to achieve higher success rates in the bids you submit, increased profitability in the jobs you win and greater control over your entire business.
Date: March 3 - 5, 2008
Place: InterContinental Hotel

Houston, TX USA
SPAR 2008 serves up fresh ideas from the smartest, most experienced people we can find on how to apply surveying, dimensional control and position measurement technology to the design, construction and operations of capital assets. Conference topics range from making the business case for using new technologies such as laser scanning, to integrating laser scanning, total station, GPS/RTK and airborne LIDAR data with design, fabrication, construction and operations databases.
Date: March 3, 2008
Place: Radisson Plaza- Warwick Hotel

1701 Locust St, Philadelphia, PA 19103 USA
The calculating and reporting of the areas of building components is a very time-consuming part of the process in building energy code compliance. Wouldn’t you want to hear about more efficient ways to handle this crucial analysis? Join us for this month’s Sustainable lecture featuring Peter Vanko of Bower Lewis Thrower Architects. Peter will be discussing how to use the tools in Revit Architecture to streamline the entire process.

• Experience how using BIM can aid in creating takeoffs, schedules and calculations for building envelope code compliance.

• See the ease in which you can perform calculations of windows, doors, slabs, roofs, skylights and exterior wall areas as well as calculations of window to wall area ratios.

• Gain some insight into how these reports and schedules are pulling data from the actual model. See how they update to any changes to the model in real time, and facilitate quick design iterations for energy use optimization.


Date: Friday, February 29
Time: 5:00 – 7:00pm
Location: Radisson Plaza- Warwick Hotel
1701 Locust St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Date: March 10 - 14, 2008

Join us in Las Vegas for our most exciting Convention to date! The 2008 Annual Convention will be held in conjunction with CONEXPO-CON/AGG – one of the largest construction-related trade shows in the country.
Date: March 11 - 15, 2008
Place: Las Vegas, USA
CONEXPO-CON/AGG is the only place to go to see new construction equipment and technology for your industry.

CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2008 will be the ultimate in comparison shopping and deal-making. No where else in 2008 will you be able to see more of the world’s suppliers, leading manufacturers and service providers all in one place. With exhibitors grouped by product concentration areas, it’s easy to find what you want to see.

You can find the full AECCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, AECCafe.com Managing Editor.