DENVER, CO (AIA 2013), June 22, 2013 - ArchiCAD has been in the forefront of architecture software for some time. It is reputed to have practically coined BIM. It was doing 3D before Revit, the current market leader, was born.1 So I expected to see some gee-whiz, eye-popping glamorous new features in ArchiCAD 17, which had been released just days before biggest event for architects in the world, the AIA convention.
ArchiCAD 17's intelligent building materials ensure correct graphical representation in sections (cut fills), element surfaces in 3D views and thermal properties throughout the building energy evaluations
Let's see what's new, I tell Ransom Ratcliff, who is BIM consultant for Graphisoft, the Hungarian company that makes ArchiCAD. Ransom, who works in the Newton, MA office, all in black, looks very much like he belongs at the AIA. I'm learning to spot architects. I have only half an hour and ArchiCAD is a major release so I need Ransom to tell me "what's the biggest news about ArchiCAD 17?"
Intelligent building materials," says Ransom, without blinking. What, not 3D. No visuals of high rises in holograms? No cloud technology? But I forge ahead, in case there is still something cool.
"Architects still work a lot in 2D," says Ransom. "Details and elevations are very important." Intelligent Building Materials make smart connections. For example, if you pick concrete, ArchiCAD will update the section views showing proper connections. "Before this, materials were like contact paper," says Ransom. "Now, they go deeper."
It is a return to productivity, enhancements to wow the proletariat, the working architects, not so much the partners in the firms, the visionaries. It's the sort of return to normalcy serious architects will applaud.
Yet, as beneficial as intelligent building materials seem to be, and so useful, Graphisoft is not about to ram it down user throats. Those who upgrade to ArchiCAD 17 will, by default, be working in a "legacy mode," as if it was ArchiCAD 16, only faster. ArchiCAD 17 adds multithreading and background processing. Users can turn on ArchiCAD 17 enhancements on one at a time, as needed. Why take a chance on 'breaking" an already working BIM? The user can walk through the model, and if there is a change that is needed, one that would benefit from intelligent building materials, the user can apply it. Smart.
1. A Brief History of BIM, by Michael S. Bergin, Arch Daily, Dec 7, 2012