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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Autodesk AEC Media Summit Report

May 28th, 2015 by Susan Smith

Last week media trekked to Autodesk’s new Innovation and Design Building in the heart of Boston for the Autodesk AEC Media Summit. While the previous LEED Gold headquarters in Waltham, Mass. was a testament to the company’s commitment to sustainable design, the Innovation and Design Building speaks to their branching out in their innovative capacities.

"As if It Were Already There" - sculpture by Janet Echelman in Rose Greenway Park

“As if It Were Already There” – sculpture by Janet Echelman in Rose F. Kennedy Greenway

Senior director, AEC Strategy and Marketing of Autodesk, Nicholas Mangon, opened the discussions with information on the construction industry today. Construction output will grow from $10T today to $20T in 2020.

“A typical investment in IT has changed the economics of productivity,” said Mangon. “You don’t need to do BIM only on large projects.”

There are also many global BIM mandates such as one in Singapore and the UK. Today 66% of urban projects are on time on budget in the UK using BIM. The cost is 40% less of the total building cost. 7-15% is the time reduced on the project using BIM.

The Future of Making Things

Amar Hanspal, senior vice president, showed slides of the Dome of the Parthenon that was constructed without scaffolding. The builders mixed in layers of volcanic rock, making the dome lighter, and pumice stone used for structural support. “For its time it was disruptive innovation,” noted Hanspal.

In today’s world, three things changing at same time:

A360 Collaboration for Revit

A360 Collaboration for Revit

Means of production – fabrication for automating the construction process. The way things are made and conceived is undergoing a huge change. These ways include simulation, CFD technology, enabled via cloud computing, or mixtures of additive manufacturing, form finding, and cloud computing. Other technologies and methods include modular construction, CNC milling, bulldozer with GPS driven by TIN models, and a Civil 3D model moving earth.

Demand – Clients expect to interact with a project in a particular way. “The whole social network era ushers in a desire to know what’s going on with their project in the backyard.” Some of the technologies include Sensors, QR codes (highly tracked) RFID tags, drones.

In large scale projects, many people outside the main stakeholders get involved. And in looking at operations and management, products can continue to improve after they’re delivered.

Projects –

The way to achieve outcomes nowadays begins with the end in mind. The design + build way of looking at things had a partition between design and building.

“Big data is the substrate through all this, and informs all this,” Hanspal said. “We are seeing 3D models move from engineering without the user doing anything. Skyscraper is the beginning of a cloud based data management system for AEC.”

This Skyscraper will manage BIM objects in a shared work environment. InfraWorks will also be connected at some point in time.

Begin with the end in mind to generate alternatives in program driven design. Customers can make some tradeoffs, integrating building simulation in FormIt or Revit, daylight analysis, all integrated so you know exactly where things are.

“The future of the way buildings are assembled in future will look more like how ships are built, fabricating offsite,” said Hanspal.

Big data – In the built environment, we’re looking at physical environment and all collected data sources such as optical information, that really informs all decision making in “Scan-to-BIM.”

The inclusion of GIS data, zoning, population, and urban canvas datasets in a SimCity look are used for buildings that have real data, occupancy, heights, etc. Every firm has their own set of big data. “We’re trying to unlock big data within the company, so they can search across it,” said Hanspal. “As you are doing BIM design it can be informed by other things other colleagues have done on other projects.”

The physical experience of the buildings is a new way of being with a building where we can sense experience – collect all data and overlay with visual information that includes predictive analysis. The contractor wants to get into the service business and manage maintenance, which is a shifting business model.

How do you show that industry areas like asset management are more exciting? The “smart city” idea does generate interest. “Millennials want to live in urban environments, but they want to interact with that environment in a smarter way,” Hanspal said. “The driverless car stuff can’t be fully scaled up without smart infrastructure.”



Recap and Momento

What’s the sweet spot to Autodesk? In reality computing, one use case is in tracking progress of construction projects. People really want to track and recap tools that can do it. The other one is the early design phase to get constraints of space to lay things out. Some people are doing Scan-to-BIM for factories.

Contractors are still the fastest at adopting BIM. BIM mandates from governments are applying pressure to governments and owners plus medium sized companies to adopt.

Developing nations have an advantage. On one side they have leapt over developed nations with the Internet, mobile phones and connectivity. One challenge is that labor is cheap in developing nations. They are able to organize rapidly and create amazing structures. The Smart City Initiative is big in countries like China, Thailand, Indonesia, etc.

Jim Lynch, vice president , Building and Collaboration Products talked about “Innovation” and the increasingly complex projects, aggressive schedules, and distributed teams around the globe. “Project performance” is key to Autodesk around these challenges. Four things stand out for project performance:

  • Platform scalability – around Revit, etc.
  • Seamless conceptual to Constructable BIM –
  • Extend architecture/MEP/Structure
  • Team

“Platform scalability is about sharing data, not computing every piece of geometry, about being smart about what we compute. There is no need to redraw the whole scene if it’s not in the viewpoint itself. This makes things run faster, using parallel computing..” said Lynch. “Our customers are modeling a much greater level of detail than they have ever done before.”

Comparing Revit 2016 to NavisWorks Autodesk is smart about how they redraw the model in the window. The idea is to able to manipulate and rotate the model and not have to wait and sit for it to catch up.

“Revit 2016 is significantly faster than Revit 2015 because of how Autodesk is computing,” said Lynch. “Our performance work isn’t just in Revit alone, it is also in Advanced Steel, recalculating the level of detail. This is new in Advanced Steel 2016. Customers say you can really notice the difference particular in large complex models.”

In driving BIM to the Concept Level, Lynch said that things you create in FormIt flow seamlessly into Revit. You can reuse content you’ve created in Revit in the FormIt model. Integrated analysis energy and lighting are right there in the conceptual model.

Although performance is front and foremost, collaboration is right there with it, and probably the word heard most during the two-day event.

With FormIt multiple users can collaborate on the same model. The idea is to extend BIM back into conceptual design.

Story Telling

Customers need to experience projects, and share early ideas and concepts with clients. In working with the product Stingray from the Entertainment arm of Autodesk, users can use a Revit model in a Stingray environment loaded in the cloud to create a presentation for stakeholders. It is then processed and ready to go. Furniture for the model can be designed in Fusion, with background scenes provided by InfraWorks.

The computational design tool Dynamo is currently able to be used by architects, engineers and contractors. Customers are driving Dynamo through to fabrication.

Revit 2016

Features of Revit 2016 include:

  • Perspective view editing
  • PDF Hyperlinks – have linking on sheet and being able to jump to other sheets
  • Linked IFC – further our support of IFC, can bring one in, dimension to it, snap to it, reference it, if it changes and comes into Revit, Revit updates accordingly all references back to model.
  • BIM evolution – really represent how the project comes together and is constructed.
  • Create workflow from design through MEP and into design and construction
  • Automatic hangar placements change them according to model changes.
  • Pre-release – the ability to use connection information from Advanced Steel in the Revit model.

Coming Attractions

While virtually all the primary Autodesk products are experiencing the 2016 upgrades, the A360 Collaboration for Revit (Skyscraper) (public cloud – AWS) is a gateway to other solutions. This product gives distributed teams model access anywhere in the world and allows change management between them.

A360 Model Viewing will allow those who are not Revit users to see, view and interact with the model.

BIM 360 Scheduling (not available yet) will provide cloud-based scheduling.

BIM 360 Plan runs on the iPad, identify tasks for the week, and the system tracks information that is shared and connected, and the schedule is connected to the production plan.

BIM 360 Docs to Field (not available yet) will provide project teams with a place to go to get up-to-date project information and be able to query it, see a 3D view, mark it up and share.

Enterprise Insight (BIM 360) will also be released later this year.

BioGen has built their own cogeneration plant to provide efficient energy to all buildings on their Cambridge campus. The plant converts natural gas fuel into electricity. The waste heat generated by making electricity creates steam used to heat and cool their buildings.

BioGen has built their own cogeneration plant to provide efficient energy to all buildings on their Cambridge campus. The plant converts natural gas fuel into electricity. The waste heat generated by making electricity creates steam used to heat and cool their buildings.

Customer Site Visits

On our second day of the Summit, Autodesk bussed the media to two Cambridge customers, Gilbane and BioGen.

BioGen has built their own cogeneration plant to provide efficient energy to all buildings on their Cambridge campus.

We toured the interior of one office building constructed by customer Gilbane that was still receiving the finishing touches.

Media sat beneath “As if it Were Already Here” — Janet Echelman’s sculpture on the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway for lunch after the tours.

Janet Echelman's sculpture in Autodesk Maya

Janet Echelman’s sculpture in Autodesk Maya

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Categories: 2D, 3D, 3D PDF, 3D printing, AEC, AECCafe, AIA Convention 2015, architecture, AutoCAD, Autodesk, Bentley Systems, BIM, building information modeling, Cloud, collaboration, construction, engineering, field, field solutions, file sharing, IES, IFC, infrastructure, MEP, mobile, point clouds, project management, site planning, sustainable design

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