Event Report: AIA Convention, Part 1

19 Jun, 2006 By: Nancy Spurling Johnson

Vendors at the American Institute of Architects Convention showcased new CAD and related technologies for AEC

AIA (American Institute of Architects) reports that it drew 24,860 registrants to the 2006 National Convention and Design Exposition in Los Angeles on June 8-10. Sustainable design was the hot topic this year in keynote presentations and in the seminar line-up, overshadowing one of last year's popular themes, BIM (building information modeling) technology. However, the latest technology was indeed to be found in the exhibit hall, and in this article I'll take a look at vendors' new wares for AEC. In Part 2 of this report later this week, I'll review the discussion from the one BIM seminar in the AIA 2006 continuing education line-up, as well as share a few general comments brought forth about the state of CAD technology in the AEC world.

What's New
Graphisoft showcased its new ArchiCAD 10 ($4,250) for architectural design, now available for Windows and Macintosh operating systems. New features are reportedly designed to improve three basic functions: modeling freedom, workflow and interaction. Click here for Cadalyst's full preview.

Cadzation launched AcroPlot Repro, a new tool for printing PDF and DWF files on large-format plotters and copiers. The company reports that the new tool can replace the Ghostscript utility used in certain plotting software as well as other applications.

InterSpec announced that e-SPECS now supports Autodesk Revit and Revit Structure, as well as Revit Building, for BIM. e-SPECS software helps automate the architectural specifications process by extracting product and materials requirements directly from project drawings.

ARCOM, publisher of AIA's MASTERSPEC, launched three new products in its SPECWARE family of specification software, developed in alliance with InterSpec: e-SPECS for AutoCAD with MASTERSPEC, e-SPECS for Revit with MASTERSPEC and e-SPECS Linx with MASTERSPEC. The new products offer editing capabilities, project manual management tools, and integration of MASTERSPEC with drawings and models within a single application, helping ensure that construction drawings agree with specifications.

The new form.Z 6.0 was on display by auto-des-sys. This latest version introduces object-centric animation and 3D printing with color textures.

Nemetschek North America announced that Los Angeles firm and VectorWorks Architect user tec Architecture won a 2006 AIA LA Design Honor Award for its Inotera headquarters in Taiwan, Taipei.

Entourage Arts introduced three NPR (nonphotorealistic rendering) Entourage volumes: NPR Resort People Volume 1 ($159), NPR Tropical Trees & Plants Volume 1 ($159) and WANG Collection NPR People Volume 1 ($139). The volumes are available in high-resolution PNG format or medium-resolution, low-polygon SKP format, and images are also available for purchase individually.

Hanson Brick & Tile introduced downloadable high-resolution texture maps for architects who specify bricks in their designs. Designers use Autodesk's i-Drop plugin to apply a skin to 3D images and see instantly the impact that a variety of Hanson brick faces can have on the overall look of a project. The i-Drop modeling tool works with Autodesk VIZ and 3ds Max, but the texture maps can be applied in any application that uses images as model surfaces, the company reports.

Google, the company that earlier this year acquired @Last Software and its SketchUp 3D modeling technology, previewed Grizzly, a pre-beta product that the company touts as a digital version of the traditional, paper-based architectural presentation. Grizzly would allow users to embed "live" 3D SketchUp models in a 2D presentation along with text and other photographs and graphics. A release date for Grizzly is not yet available. Being under the Google umbrella is sitting well with @Last Software cofounder Brad Schell, who told Cadalyst, "The reach (of SketchUp) is incredible now. Being on the Google side and having that exposure is huge."

Autodesk previewed Impression (formerly code-named Vespa). Impression is a presentation graphics application designed for customers who want a compromise between a simple 2D blueprint-type representation of a design and high-end 3D photorealistic renderings that come from applications such as Autodesk VIZ and 3ds Max. Now in beta testing with an anticipated release in the fall, Impression can import any DWG or DWF file from AutoCAD, Architectural Desktop, Revit or other Autodesk application. It will ship with prebuilt styles -- skies, textures, trees and so forth -- or users can create their own so, for example, every tree in a drawing could be different.

Excelize, a provider of design, drafting services and technology solutions, released Excelize Detail Manager version 2.0. The software centralizes all architectural drawings, components and details in a searchable, customizable database to facilitate retrieval and reuse.

Trelligence launched its brand-new product, Affinity, which integrates with CAD and other design tools to bring the benefits of BIM into the predesign stage of a building project. CEO Larry Ciscon said, "We have designed an underlying engine that continuously evaluates design options against the project, site and building requirements. This allows the stakeholders to evaluate a range of design and cost options based on the specific expertise of each team member." Affinity ($1,000 per named user) is available as a stand-alone tool for Windows and as a bidirectional add-on for Graphisoft ArchiCAD, and it can be imported into other CAD estimating tools. An Autodesk Revit version will be available this summer, the company reports, followed by a version for users of Macintosh computers as well as other CAD applications.

CyberCity 3D showcased its 3D city models for PC-based planners, architects, engineers and others. Users can import models from Autodesk 3ds Max, 3D AutoCAD and Maya to visualize the design among existing structures. The models are said to be more realistic and include more data -- everything is georeferenced -- than the models that are possible using Google Earth. Users purchase and own the database for models of cities or regions.

ArchVision introduced its Discovery Viewer, which allows users to view SketchUp and RPC models in Microsoft Office applications, including PowerPoint, or via Internet Explorer on Windows-based PCs. Discovery Viewer Desktop ($129) and Server ($499) versions are the publishing tools; the free Discovery Viewer is also available.

IMAGINiT Technologies, a provider of CAD/CAM/CAE design solutions, introduced its AIM (Assured Implementation Method) service designed to guide clients through the transition to new technology and help increase the odds of success.

Green Building Studio, a sustainability analysis software and services company, released version 2.0 of the Green Building Studio Web service. The release includes new functionality designed to support sustainability design decisions and make detailed comparisons between different building design and equipment measures. It is designed for architects to use at the earliest phase of design to understand the cost-effective opportunities to maximize a building's sustainability by analyzing various changes to their building design, including orientation, glazing options, envelope constructions, lighting technologies and HVAC technologies. Manufacturer products can now be applied with a click to understand how specific building products perform when included in a building design.

About the Author: Nancy Spurling Johnson

More News and Resources from Cadalyst Partners

For Mold Designers! Cadalyst has an area of our site focused on technologies and resources specific to the mold design professional. Sponsored by Siemens NX.  Visit the Equipped Mold Designer here!

For Architects! Cadalyst has an area of our site focused on technologies and resources specific to the building design professional. Sponsored by HP.  Visit the Equipped Architect here!