[ Back ]   [ More News ]   [ Home ]
October 13, 2008
Visualizing the Impact of Urban Infrastructure Designs on Cityscapes
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!

Welcome to AECWeekly!

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, Top News of the Week, Acquisitions/Agreements/Alliances, Announcements, Financials, New Products, Around the Web and Upcoming Events.

AECWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think.
Please send me your comments

Best wishes,

Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

Digital Cities: Visualizing the Impact of Urban Infrastructure Designs on Cityscapes

By Susan Smith

Salzburg, Austria, is the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and the setting for parts of the musical and film, “The Sound of Music,” starring Julie Andrews. It is also world famous for its "Old Town" which boasts exquisite baroque architecture and is noted as one of the best-preserved city centers north of the Alps, and was listed in 1997 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A city that takes obvious pride in preserving its inherent culture, beauty and history, Salzburg was chosen this summer to work with Autodesk as the first pilot city in its new Digital Cities initiative.

Salzburg will use Autodesk to help them integrate their city data into a detailed 3D model of their city. The model will be comprised of city data coupled with realistic visualization and simulation tools so that city planners can view, and work with the cityscape interactively, plus run analysis of the impact of future urban planning, the effects of economic development and tourism projects before beginning the building process.

“The digital city model will help cities like ours better understand the impact of proposed urban projects,” said Dr. Heinz Schaden, Mayor of the City of Salzburg, when he announced the initiative with Autodesk at the AGIT 2008 conference in Salzburg. “This type of pilot program will help us better understand how we can create an attractive and sustainable future for Salzburg and its people.”

In August, Autodesk announced its acquisition of almost all of the assets of 3D Geo GmbH of Potsdam, Germany, the privately held maker of intelligent 3D urban modeling software. This acquisition will extend Autodesk’s ability to offer software for their “Digital Cities Initiative.”

Doug Eberhard, senior director and industry evangelist for Autodesk, explained that the Autodesk vision for Digital Cities forms around four basic ideas –
  • as an intelligent and interoperable digital visual model of a city, its communities and its infrastructure,
  • it is a digital platform that allows users to aggregate or synthesize, analyze, simulate and communicate both existing and proposed environments.
  • Offers improvement to the workflow that allows agencies and developers designer professionals and the public to better communicate, coordinate and collaborate around proposed projects,
  • Provides a smarter way to plan, design and deliver sustainable projects for cities by incorporating CAD, GIS and BIM and design visualization models.

  • The variety of software tools that the Digital Cities initiative will include is broad. Particularly in the government space, Eberhard noted, there is a heavy investment in many different tools, data types and processes. “The last thing we want to do is create a new standard,” he said. “This is really about working with existing tools and content in the planning, design and even through asset management space, and creating a better environment to really bring (data) together and use it in a more engaging and interactive way, beyond what we’re getting with Google Earth and Virtual Earth today.” Eberhard is quick to point out that those are “great
    tools,” as they have helped to democratize visualization, communication and access to information but they are sort of a “one way publishing environment.”

    “They are great for things above ground, but what about infrastructure that’s below ground? Or what about the insides of buildings where we may not need to see doorknobs and the light switch covers, but where we do need more information about building interior spaces or building land use, and then we need to be able to bring in more of the details that are being created by architects and engineers in the design process.”

    Much of that information gets thrown out or flattened in the form of CAD files or basic GIS once it gets brought into a more of an enterprise environment, said Eberhard. Even within Autodesk, Eberhard noted that AutoCAD is used as a pervasive standard. Tools like Revit and NavisWorks are leveraging the use of 3D models and intelligent BIM within the design construction. Yet the deliverables that come from those models are still traditional CAD drawings.

    “It’s still wet stamped paper drawings that are the contractual deliverables for the industry today,” Eberhard declared. “The models are sort of a means to get to that paper quicker and with less risk. We’re starting to see customers who recognize the value that these building information models have for design visualization models which are exact replicas of visual replicas of the existing or proposed environment.”

    Visualization tools like 3ds Max and Maya don’t deal with real world or geospatial coordinates, but are great for visualization. The Digital Cities platform allows heterogeneous 2D, 3D and 4D temporal data to be brought together in a more sustainable way, “not for just an individual project the way it’s done today but longer term throughout an entire city or collection of cities, as you get into more regional information models.”

    The potential for being able to share data throughout the workflow is there, but will people embrace an ‘uber model’, or will they prefer to maintain they own databases and only share them when they are paid to do so?

    Salzburg is the first city Autodesk can officially announce, where PhD students at the University of Salzburg’s Center of Geoinformation (Z_GIS) are working on pulling together the data that they’ve been capturing for quite some time. They are also teaching and researching ways to work with higher detailed, higher fidelity information models that can be used in city planning and operations. Autodesk is also connected with the city IT, facility management, planning and public works departments, where they are helping to guide the development of specific tools and workflows to allow them to better manage their city. The goal is to bring content together and also share that
    content between the various departments, which would eliminate the replication of effort and information that occurs in cities today.

    “In this case everyone’s looking toward this highly detailed city model that’s a mixture of CAD, GIS and BIM and visualization data that can be brought together and shared across the city enterprise,” said Eberhard. “Being tied in with the local university helps us look at the longer term issue of educating tomorrow’s leaders. We look at gaming technology to bring it all together to help users experience it.”

    Eberhard said that as they look toward longer term management of the data, many cities and infrastructure owners have moved over to Topobase as a way to manage their geospatial engineering data that goes into designing and operating the infrastructure.

    “The next logical evolution is to be able to manage these 3D assets in the same sort of way where the Digital Cities initiative isn’t going to be the database. Engineering and design information says where it’s created, and that will still happen in Topobase with Revit, Map, and AutoCAD,” Eberhard pointed out. “But the initiative will provide the environment to be able to aggregate that into useable models that can be used for collaboration and communication both with internal teams as well as with the public and other agencies and stakeholders. It’s really building a new platform out that allows all this data that’s being created or managed
    in other applications to then be brought together, shared and visualized in a secure but highly interactive way.”

    Eberhard said this is a shift not only from 2D to 3D but more importantly to a model based design environment. Usually analysis is done at the end of a project instead of up front. Now, with the ability to bring data together in the early planning stages, effective analysis can be done that informs decision making much earlier in the process.

    “If you look at some large public works and infrastructure projects, it takes 20-30 years to build out a major transit system because you’ve got to plan the right-of-way and do early environmental studies, then you’ve got to purchase the right-of-way before you can even let the contractors do the detailed design,” explained Eberhard. “A lot of that is tied to public or federal funding of the projects, so by being able to bring this rich information together in a more accurate, engaging and sharable way up front, we predict it will help shorten the delivery cycle, while bringing the broader constituency into the process.”

    With the city of Salzburg, Autodesk has created the ability for users in a Revit environment to bring that Revit model directly into the Digital City form. “While you look at the MEP and structural systems and all the details – some Revit models are just huge and there’s way more information than you would ever need for a planning exercise or to show a proposed building from within a modeled environment,” said Eberhard. “Part of this is looking to the BIM community in Revit and Civil 3D to see how those models are being developed and organized, and developing the right functionality that allows those models to be brought in without having to translate
    them. You also need to be able to filter out the information that would be useful to a city planner or a mechanical engineer, for example. The goal is to create interoperability with those tools but without impacting the core of the business. Therefore, if you want to add a couple of floors to a building – the question is do you do that in the Digital City environment or do you go back into Revit and add those floors?”

    The AIA and the design profession as a whole are looking at how to include BIMs as a deliverable, and the language to articulate the contractual liability around the model, issues about ownership of the model, and intellectual property.

    Although a client pays for a building, they don’t pay for a digital model of the building, even though that’s part of the process. The Digital Cities environment presents a lot of the same challenges and opportunities to help shape the way the industry works together. “Inevitably it’s going to come down to owners and cities having to mandate at some point, this is the CAD format, these are the layers and standards I want,” said Eberhard.

    “The kinds of models cities need for urban planning, emergency response and asset maintenance management are going to be different than the models used in design and construction, class detection, and the quantity take off phase. We’re trying to encompass the broadest community of users of this Digital City ecosystem that involves everyone including the public, the people who use these facilities and pay the taxes to build them.”

    Eberhard said Autodesk is working with a number of different cities that already have parts of their city models built out on a variety of platforms. “We’re trying to reveal that there’s already a digital cities marketplace out there today, we just don’t look at it that way,” he said. “Lots of people who build models on the AEC and BIM side, are driving the conversation into the geospatial world. People want to know how to pull models into tools they’re using. We have to talk within industries and industry groups on how they manage their models so they can be shared quickly and efficiently.”

    Top News of the Week

    Autodesk, Inc. announced that versions of its Revit software applications for Building Information Modeling (BIM) specifically designed for personal computers using Windows 64-bit operating systems are now available. This marks the company's first venture into 64-bit BIM applications and applies to Revit Architecture 2009, Revit Structure 2009 and Revit MEP 2009. The 64-bit versions are now available to existing Revit platform software subscribers. Customer beta testers reported that the new software applications offer significantly improved performance and stability for memory intensive tasks such as rendering, printing, model upgrading and file importing and


    Meridian Systems, the Plan-Build-Operate technology solutions leader for project-based organizations, announced a new Independent Software Vendor (ISV) relationship with Horizontal LLC, a leader in technology planning, Building Information Modeling (BIM) and implementation services.

    Horizontal brings value to architecture, engineering, construction companies and building owners through information modeling and management solutions. By integrating BIM with construction project management and infrastructure lifecycle management (ILM) solutions, project stakeholders can realize business value across the entire project lifecycle and gain new efficiencies for the organization.

    Graphisoft, the global leader in Virtual Building solutions, has announced that Metro Systems Corporation, Thailand's leading software supplier, will distribute Graphisoft's award-winning suite of 3D architectural design products in Thailand.


    InterSpec Inc. announced that it will begin shipping Building Product Manufacturer's (BPM) proprietary BIM and specification content with its e-SPECS for Revit software solutions. The requirements and functionality have been established together with the company's lead Charter Customer, USG Corporation, a leading manufacturer and distributor of high-performance building systems.


    Highlights of Oce third quarter:

    Total revenues Euro 700.1 million (-1.5% organically, excluding fax)

    Normalized operating income Euro 16.8 million (2007: Euro 21.2 million)

    One-off items of Euro 28.0 million lead to operating income of - Euro 11.2 million

    Cost reduction program on track

    Color increases to 26% of revenues (2007: 20%) See
    press release

    Avatech Solutions, Inc. announced financial results for its fiscal fourth quarter and year ended June 30, 2008. See
    press release

    New Products

    LightWork Design, supplier of rendering solutions for developers of advanced 3D computer graphics software, announced the release of the latest version of LightWorks, the company's industry-leading rendering engine. LightWorks 7. 9 focuses on introducing new ambient occlusion functionality to the LightWorks product set as well as improving support for real-world materials in both hardware and software rendering.

    ArchVision Revit video tutorials are designed to provide users with tips and tricks for everyday workflow. Revit 2009 users have access to over 100 licensed RPC Trees, Shrubs and Grasses and may easily access ArchVision Revit video tutorials via the Autodesk Communication Channel. ArchVision Revit video tutorials focus on a variety of topics including rendering with mental ray, swapping and modifying RPC Content, and placing RPC Content.

    Computer Guidance Corporation, the developer of financial and project management software solutions for the commercial construction industry, announced the newest release of its flagship financial application, eCMS 3.7.

    The eCMS software suite from Computer Guidance is a browser-based interface with 30 unified applications that help construction businesses manage accounting, projects, personnel, operations and equipment. eCMS provides improved monitoring and analysis of not only financial, but also operating performance, with advanced functions for tracking subcontractor performance, document compliance and contract management. The suite includes a comprehensive set of specialty applications and complimentary productivity tools such as document imaging, electronic workflow, and electronic forms management.

    Reed Construction Data, a provider of construction information and BIM solutions, announced the launch of (
    SmartBuilding Index (SBI)), an integrated and search engine optimized Web directory that offers knowledge and resources for the entire Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) community.

    Contex and Vidar, a brand of Contex announced the global availability of a new upgrade to Nextimage multi-function scanning and copying software. This upgrade, available in 10 languages, includes innovations that extend the value and capabilities of installed first release Nextimage.

    SmartDraw.com, maker of business graphics software, announced the release of SmartDraw 2009, containing dramatically enhanced functionality and exclusive new features that help business people improve communications, better organize ideas, refine their operations and simply work smarter. “Business people understand that a picture is worth a thousand words when trying to express key ideas,” said Paul Stannard, SmartDraw.com CEO.

    Informative Graphics Corporation (IGC), announced that its Brava! Enterprise product is now available through EMC Select. EMC Select helps customers easily acquire all the components that comprise an information infrastructure. EMC customers are now able to purchase a complete document viewing, collaboration and redaction solution directly from EMC.

    Nemetschek North America is pleased to announce that it has partnered with Monrovia, the leading grower of premium ornamental plants, to enhance the plant database in Vectorworks Landmark 2009. This long-awaited addition has more than doubled the number of plants in the Vectorworks plant database as well as improved the geographic coverage of plants in regions such as Florida and California.

    Around the Web

    Groovy AutoCAD Plant 3D "Stella" Alpha 1


    Date: October 12 - 14, 2008
    Place: Hyatt Regency Hotel (Embarcadero area)

    San Francisco, CA USA
    The Conference theme for 2008 is "Developing Excellence Through Leadership." Session topics can focus on business management, PM, current construction trends, technology, BIM, negotiating skills, career progression, cost estimating, and other areas.
    Date: October 12 - 14, 2008
    Place: San Francisco, CA USA

    Only 60 industry suppliers will have the opportunity to reach out to this critical audience through the CMAA Trade Show.  Whether you offer hardware, software, procurement systems, tax and financial planning, marketing, consulting, CM services, equipment, insurance, human resources, recruiting, A/E services, publishing, forensic auditing, or business development, this is the year’s best opportunity to show it, explain it,

    and sell it.
    Date: October 12 - 14, 2008
    Place: Hyatt Regency Embarcadero

    San Francisco, CA USA

    When a major earthquake destroyed San Francisco in 1906 – leaving only 303 of its 28,000 buildings standing – the city became an American phoenix,” rising out of the ashes and rebuilding to become one of the country’s most populated and fascinating cities.

    Date: October 13, 2008
    Place: ACE Conference Center

    800 Ridge Pike, Lafayette Hill, PA 19444 USA

    Learn about innovative advances in the new Autodesk 2009 product line and supporting third-party products.  A must for CAD professionals in Manufacturing, Architecture, Civil Engineering, and Geospatial.
  • Hear from Synergis, Autodesk, and industry experts
  • Join Robert Green for a three-tier technical, business, and strategy track for CAD Managers
  • Spend time face-to-face with industry professionals
  • Stay at the forefront and remain competitive with the latest trends
  • Date: October 15 - 17, 2008
    Place: Dallas Convention Center

    Dallas, TX USA

    IFMA’s World Workplace Conference & Expo represents a multi-national, multi-disciplined discussion on the built environment, addressing challenges universal to the facility management profession in order to help you find the best solutions for your workplace
    Date: October 15 - 17, 2008
    Place: Hilton Ft Lauderdale Beach Resort

    Ft. Lauderdale Beach, FL USA

    This annual event presents you with countless opportunities to learn about the newest technologies and methodologies influencing how capital projects are delivered.

    Presenters and attendees represent professionals from the nation’s biggest owner organizations, construction companies, architecture and engineering firms, consulting firms, and academia.
    Date: October 15 - 17, 2008
    Place: Plac Defilad 1, 00-901

    Warsaw , Poland


    The INFRASTRUCTURE Trade Fair is a B2B event, during which products and services, including state-of-the-art technological solutions for municipal and road infrastructure are presented. The trade-related events, such as conferences, symposia, and debates constitute a perfect opportunity not only for broadening one’s knowledge, but – first of all – for discussions that tackle the business’ nagging issues, and looking for best solutions. It is a place for initiating the dialogue between the representatives of private and public sector, including the decision makers responsible for allocating the funds for the development of
    infrastructure in our country.
    Date: October 16 - 17, 2008
    Place: San Francisco, CA USA

    Major revitalization and alignment initiatives in the academic medical and health sciences arena are being built on new integrated planning models for financial, facility, and academic programs, and on the creation of successful new linkages between research, education, and clinical care programs. Successful outcomes are being achieved in the production of more highly trained healthcare professionals, faster translation of research to patient treatment, and improved financial performance.
    Date: October 16, 2008
    Place: Red Lion Hotel Downtowner

    1800 Fairview Avenue, Boise, ID 83702 USA

    AUGI CAD Camp - Boise is packed with interesting courses and offers plenty of opportunities to network with fellow “campers” and browse the exhibit area. Wrapping up a day of learning and sharing, attendees can enjoy the fun evening and the giveaways.

    Date: October 17 - 18, 2008
    Place: Don Shula Resort

    Miami, FL USA

    AIA Florida involves members in a statewide proactive, organized, unified effort to benefit the profession. To accomplish its mission to "unite, educate and position architects to lead the shaping of Florida's future" the state association:

    Is Well Organized. Headed by a 50-person board of directors representing the 13 chapters in Florida, a staff of eight professional executives and staff support personnel keeps the organization operating and responding to member needs.
    Date: October 21, 2008
    Place: USA

    This Webinar demonstrates how small practices can use the Start Edition's building information modeling (BIM) technology to develop their concepts, compete for business more effectively and boost business efficiency.

    The ArchiCAD Start Edition is an amazing combination of the latest technology at a sensationally low price!
    Date: October 23 - 25, 2008
    Place: Fort Worth Convention Center


    Throughout history, people have marked their achievements and triumphs by performing public sacraments, honoring with solemn ceremony and reveling through joyous festival. Holy days, revolution, anniversaries, seasonal change, myth and tradition have all been reasons for public commemoration and jubilation.
    Date: October 23, 2008
    Place: USA

    This informative and free seminar is developed expressly for those new to ArchiCAD.

    Discover ArchiCAD 12. This live seminar introduces the basic concepts and tools of ArchiCAD. Learn how to work in a Virtual Building™ environment and how to use ArchiCAD's 2-D and 3-D tools
    Date: October 23 - 25, 2008
    Place: Portland, OR USA

    Whether online or at industry events, Axium provides the solutions you need to improve your productivity and profitability. Join us at the following events to learn more about our products and services.
    Date: October 26 - 30, 2008
    Place: NEC Birmingham

    Birmingham, United Kingdom

    If you want to see all the latest innovations in building, Interbuild is the place to be. Here, you’ll find hundreds of exhibitors displaying thousands of products that cover every aspect of construction – many of them with brand new products being launched right here at the show.
    Date: October 27 - 28, 2008
    Place: San Diego , USA

    New research and science teaching facility initiatives (new construction and renovation) are fueling the growth of academic science programs across the country, trimming capital costs, raising productivity, and creating sustainable infrastructure. These initiatives feature facility modernization and visibility for recruiting and high-requirement science; high space-utilization and shared resources to get more academic program per capital dollar; cost efficiency through lower energy and operating costs; and sustainability and flexibility for reduced environmental impact and long-term viability.
    Date: October 27 - 30, 2008
    Place: Las Vegas, NV USA

    The 28th IRMI Construction Risk Conference will be held October 27-30, 2008, in Las Vegas. Register now to experience first-hand the exceptional educational value and unparalleled networking opportunities the IRMI Construction Risk Conference offers! This is the premier forum for sharing ideas and techniques for improving the ways we manage and insure construction risks.
    Date: October 29 - 30, 2008
    Place: Baltimore Convention Center

    Baltimore, MD USA
    More than 250 exhibitors, more than 30 CEU-accredited seminars and association forums, keynote speakers, new products, innovative design, and building resources and materials all at your fingertips.
    Date: November 3 - 5, 2008
    Place: Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino

    Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas , USA

    DBIA is working hard to make the 2008 Design-Build Conference & Expo in Las Vegas the biggest and best ever. Scheduled from Nov. 3-5 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino right on Las Vegas Boulevard, DBIA is already working on a stellar lineup of speakers and events to get the most of this prime meeting spot.
    Date: November 4, 2008
    Place: Hafele Showroom

    151 Vermont St. Suite # 9, San Francisco, CA USA

    When visualizing a building or an interior space, designers often show soft illustrations in the early design phase and realistic renderings in the final phase. This seminar will review technologies that allow the designer to use a 3D model to produce both illustration, photo-realistic renderings and simulated light. We will review the pros and cons of each software program as well as strategies for how to use this technology as part of the design process.
    Date: November 4, 2008
    Place: USA

    This Webinar demonstrates how small practices can use the Start Edition's building information modeling (BIM) technology to develop their concepts, compete for business more effectively and boost business efficiency.

    The ArchiCAD Start Edition is an amazing combination of the latest technology at a sensationally low price!
    Date: November 6, 2008
    Place: National MotorCycle Museum

    Coventry Road, Bickenhill, Solihull, Birmingham, United Kingdom

    The LCI-UK Summit 2008 "Lean Logistics in Integrated Project Delivery" will take place at the National Motorcycle Museum as part of LCI-UK's stated aim of disseminating global good practice in lean thinking applied to construction and construction-related activities.
    Date: November 6 - 8, 2008
    Place: Gaylord Texan

    Grapevine, TX USA

    The Texas Association of Builders and the Sunbelt Builders ShowTM are pleased to announce that we are continuing our tradition of providing you with the very latest in green building expertise. From products to best practices to the nation's green experts, we have even more to offer you in 2008!
    Date: November 12 - 14, 2008
    Place: Greater Richmond Convention Center

    VA USA

    More than 100 schools in the United States and Canada offer professional degrees in architecture, and three of these are in Virginia. The vast demands of society and the profession, and the corresponding range of programs dealing with these issues, provide the entering student with an excellent opportunity for finding the program best suited to his/her talents and interests.

    You can find the full AECCafe event calendar here.

    To read more news, click here.

    -- Susan Smith, AECCafe.com Managing Editor.