AEC Tech News (#289)

6 Apr, 2011 By: Cadalyst Staff

AutoCAD Helps Drive Infrastructure Design

Parsons Brinckerhoff uses AutoCAD to help design and visualize the Presidio Parkway project in San Francisco.

By David Cohn

Editor's note: Through a sponsorship by Autodesk, Cadalyst editors bring you this feature, part of a special series of articles that highlight the role of AutoCAD and 2D design in today's demanding CAD work flows. Watch for the next installment next month.

To say that Parsons Brinckerhoff is a large architecture, engineering, and construction management firm certainly would be an understatement. Founded in 1885 and headquartered in New York City, the firm employs more than 14,000 people and has 150 offices worldwide. One of the company's earliest projects was the original Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) line of the New York City subway. Today, Parsons Brinckerhoff is a leader in the design and operation of infrastructure, and its list of projects is huge — both in number and scope — and includes transit systems in Atlanta, San Francisco, and New Delhi; airports in Hong Kong and Washington, D.C.; the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) in Colorado; the H-3 highway in Hawaii; and the Detroit–Windsor Tunnel. Parsons Brinckerhoff also is a major Autodesk customer and runs its own in-house authorized training center.

To say that AutoCAD is a major factor in most Parsons Brinckerhoff projects, therefore, also would be an understatement. According to Rebecca Arsham, training manager at Parsons Brinckerhoff's CAD services group in San Francisco, Parsons Brinckerhoff uses "just about any and every product that we can in the Autodesk suite to get the job done." Nowhere is this integration of the wide array of Autodesk software more evident than it is in the Presidio Parkway project.

The Presidio Parkway project involves the replacement of the existing south access road to the Golden Gate Bridge. Originally built in 1938, the roadway known as Doyle Drive and Route 101 has reached the end of its useful life. (Image courtesy of the Presidio Parkway project.)
The Presidio Parkway project involves the replacement of the existing south access road to the Golden Gate Bridge. Originally built in 1938, the roadway known as Doyle Drive and Route 101 has reached the end of its useful life. (Image courtesy of the Presidio Parkway project.)

The Presidio Parkway project involves the replacement of the existing south access road to the iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The existing roadway, presently known as both Doyle Drive and Route 101, is structurally and seismically deficient and must be replaced. Each weekday, more than 100,000 vehicles travel between Marin County and San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge along the 1.5-mile-long Doyle Drive. The roadway is facing the same problem that threatens other parts of our nation's infrastructure — the ravages of time and continual use. Originally built in 1936, Doyle Drive has reached the end of its useful life. Read more »

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David Cohn is the technical publishing manager for 4D Technologies as well as a consultant and technical writer. A former senior editor of Cadalyst, he is the author of more than a dozen books about AutoCAD and is currently working on a book about the land speed record. He is based in Bellingham, Washington.

Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events


Webinar: Meet Vectorworks
April 14, 2011
2 p.m. ET
Vectorworks industry experts will lead this 30-minute presentation, introducing attendees to the world of Vectorworks CAD and BIM (building information modeling) software. Read more »

Autodesk 2012 Product Launch Virtual Event
April 20, 2011
8 a.m.–2 p.m. PT
During this online event, Autodesk Technical Evangelist Lynn Allen will explain the new capabilities of AutoCAD 2012 software. Lynn will demonstrate her favorite new tools in AutoCAD, including model documentation, reality capture, and 3D conceptual design, and she'll share an overview of AutoCAD for Mac. Read more »

Webinar: Data Mining and Quantitative Analysis in BIM for High-Performance
May 3, 2011
2 p.m. ET
In this webinar from Nemetschek Vectorworks, built-in tools, default reporting features, and custom worksheets will be demonstrated in Vectorworks Architect software. Read more »

GPU Technology Conference (GTC) 2011
October 11–14, 2011
San Jose, California
NVIDIA's GTC 2011 will feature more than 240 hours of technical sessions, tutorials, panels, and moderated roundtables, presented by senior programmers, researchers, and thought leaders from a range of fields. 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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Just How 3D Are We? Part 3
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AutoCAD 2012: Who Says 2D is Dead?
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Autodesk Unveils 2012 Product Line
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