AEC Tech News #149

14 Aug, 2005 By: Michael Dakan

Cadalyst AEC Tech News

Good News for Architects

AIA reports salaries are on the rise;
Also, some updates from Graphisoft

In this edition of AEC Tech News, I want to cover some recent news I've gathered over the past month that will interest the AEC community. The American Institute of Architects released its annual salary survey (and the news is good). Also, there's a lot happening at Graphisoft lately, so I want to bring you up to date on that.

AIA Releases Salary Survey for 2005
The 2005 AIA Compensation Report finds that average salaries in architectural firms are growing at a faster rate than that seen in other comparable professions. Average compensation in architectural firms has increased by about 10% over the past three years, or a compounded annual rate of 3.3%, while salaries in all professions rose at a 2.5% rate.

Of particular interest in the technology arena is that salaries for CAD managers in architectural firms grew by about 25% over the same time period, good news for people in those positions. Two-thirds of firms report that they offer a salary increase on completion of the ARE (Architect Registration Examination), and more than 40% offer higher salaries for master's degree holders. For more about the survey, go to

"What is interesting about this data is that salaries for architecture positions have increased more than 10% during the same time frame that there has been a recession in nonresidential construction," said AIA chief economist Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA. "During the recession of the early 1990s, compensation for architecture positions did not even keep pace with inflation. That is no longer the case, as evidenced by increased compensation for architecture positions totaling almost 50% between 1996 and 2005. This news is very encouraging for the architecture profession as a whole."

I didn't find an explanation for this anomaly in the executive summary of the AIA salary survey, but I would speculate that there's a link to the increasing use of technology in architectural firms. It's interesting to observe that the salary increase is happening at a time when investment in technology has been starting to pay off, as evidenced by productivity and profitability results like those reported by Graphisoft in a news item mentioned below.

Salary increases in architectural firms generally happen only in times of increased profitability, and perhaps this is a general trend in the architectural profession brought about through the increasing use of technology. What do you think? E-mail your comments to me at

Graphisoft Exits FM Market
Graphisoft last month transferred ownership of its DRAWBASE line of facilities management software to a newly formed company called Drawbase Software. Graphisoft will honor all maintenance contracts through their completion dates. Drawbase Software plans to release DRAWBASE v6.3 shortly. The new version will offer new security features, support for AutoCAD 2005 DWG file format, XML support for data exchange and improved HTML capabilities, according to the company. Drawbase Software will also continue to sell Move Manager, Maximo Link and MEP Manager.

Drawbase Software is based in Randolph, New Jersey, and comprises the former management and employees of Graphisoft's FM division. Evan Kontos, a DRAWBASE reseller for 17 years, is president of the new company. Graphisoft acquired the original Drawbase Software in April 2000 for close to $2 million.

More News from Graphisoft
Graphisoft released the ArchiCAD 9 Special Edition Library for the North American market. This object library contains U.S. doors and windows, storefronts, elevators, U.S.-standard multilayered wall types and more. It's available free to all licensed U.S. ArchiCAD users by clicking on the Check for Latest Library command in the Help menu directly in ArchiCAD 9.

Graphisoft reported that in a recent global Return on Investment Survey, ArchiCAD was found on average to contribute 12% to a firm's profit and increase productivity by 39%.

ArchiCAD also earned a Cadalyst All-Star award as one of the top-rated products released during the first half of 2005. To read the full article, go to You can read Cadalyst's full review of ArchiCAD 9 online at

Graphisoft also announced the availability of the MaxonForm free-form modeler for ArchiCAD. This GDL-based product can be used to design and visualize organic free-form shapes in ArchiCAD. To find out more, visit

Cadalyst reported recently that Graphisoft is working on Graphisoft Constructor, a combination of ArchiCAD and an estimating product, and on a complete MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) solution for ArchiCAD that will emphasize links to mechanical design analysis tools. This should be available this winter, about the same time as ArchiCAD 10, which is scheduled for beta testing this fall.

An MEP product would be a very welcome addition to the ArchiCAD product line and will fill what I see as a very big hole in ArchiCAD's overall BIM (building information modeling) solution. I've found it hard to accept that the company could claim to provide a complete building information model without including the critical components of a building's overall design, performance and lifecycle maintenance.

The only complete BIM package available from one developer at the current time, in my opinion, is Autodesk's Architectural Desktop and Building Systems, and Autodesk doesn't even market this as a BIM product. Instead, the company promotes its Revit 3D product as its BIM solution — yet Revit doesn't yet contain a complete MEP offering either. Go figure.

Michael Dakan is an author and independent CAD and information technology consultant. E-mail him at

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