AEC Tech News (#269)

6 May, 2010 By: Cadalyst Staff

Building a More Sustainable Print Paradigm

With help from Océ, HGA Architects and Engineers is reconciling its demand for large-format printing with its commitment to environmental stewardship.

By Cyrena Respini-Irwin

In recent decades, technology's march has yielded new ways of visualizing and communicating designs: e-mail, PDF files, expansive monitors, touch-sensitive display surfaces. Despite the proliferation of electronic options, however, print remains an integral part of the building process, from conceptualization through construction. "There's just a time when you need a piece of paper," said Patrick Thibaudeau, vice-president of HGA Architects and Engineers. "Print facilitates a different kind of communication."

HGA, a full-service firm that incorporates architecture, engineering, interior design, and landscape architecture, has a constant need for communication — with clients, contractors, and among its half-dozen offices. It does so by employing a combination of electronic and print methods, Thibaudeau said. "We use each of those for their maximum benefit ... they both have their place."

Printed documents encourage interaction and collaboration, Thibaudeau explained, especially when large groups of project participants need to evaluate and mark up a design. Viewers can also scan printed designs quickly and take in more information than they can through a monitor's "narrow viewport," he said. "Somehow that helps people's understanding, helps them conceive of the entirety of [the design]." This attribute is especially useful at the beginning and end of the design process, Thibaudeau noted, when working with clients who are new to visualizing designs or with submittals for construction. In addition, he explained, print retains its relevance for a more prosaic reason: "The legal contract is still the hard-copy printout [of the building design] that's got a wet signature on it."

Alongside its dependence on printing, HGA has a deep commitment to sustainability — a business need and an ethic that seemingly conflict with each other. To help reconcile the two, a growing HGA partnered with printing solutions provider Océ to implement new monochrome and color printing and scanning equipment and workflows. Read more »

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Cyrena Respini-Irwin is Cadalyst's senior editor.

Newforma Project Center Seventh Edition Beefs Up E-mail Support, Server Power, and Remote User Functionality

Project information management solution works with any CAD or BIM option to facilitate integrated project delivery for AEC.

By Nancy Spurling Johnson

Newforma just released the latest version of its Project Center information-management solution for architecture, engineering, and construction firms. With Newforma Project Center Seventh Edition, the company aims to streamline AEC workflows while maintaining the core product functionality of organizing, locating, and sharing project information among the design team as well as with the broader project team, said Bob Batcheler, vice-president, industry marketing and product management.

Newforma categorizes Project Center as project information management (PIM). It can be used in conjunction with any CAD or BIM (building information modeling) software. Together, Newforma explains, PIM and BIM comprise IPD, or integrated project delivery. Alphabet soup aside, that helps AEC firms manage data inside as well as outside their building models and supports collaboration among all project stakeholders throughout the design and construction process.

What's new in Project Center Seventh Edition? "The big news is we now support any mainstream e-mail server environment that's IMAP-based," said Batcheler. That is, e-mail management capabilities now expand beyond Microsoft Office Outlook to include Novell Groupwise, Google Gmail, Lotus Notes, and Domino Server, and other platforms employing IMAP-compatible servers. Read more »

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Nancy Spurling Johnson is Cadalyst's editor in chief.

Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events

SEI Architecture Technology User Network 2010 Conference
May 17–21, 2010
Minneapolis, Minnesota
At the SATURN Conference, architecture practitioners and researchers meet to share ideas, network, and learn about new and current architecture technologies and practices. Read more »

Webinar: WinEst Technology for Construction
June 3–24, 2010
Various times
WinEstimator is making its WinEst University seminar series, "State-of-the-Art Technology for the AEC Industry," available via free, two-part webinars. Topics include a preview of a new building information modeling estimating tool currently in development. Read more »

AIA 2010 National Convention
June 10–12, 2010
Miami, Florida
More than 22,000 architects and building industry professionals will gather at this convention to learn about the latest design and construction industry products and services. The 2010 theme, Design for the New Decade, will highlight how design, knowledge, vision, and leadership are essential in creating buildings and cities. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


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