AEC Tech News #193

21 Mar, 2007 By: Kenneth Wong

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Going to Work at 20,000 Leagues

A Design-Build Firm Uses BIM Technology to Create a Custom Fantasy Workplace.

A tabletop Christmas tree, a foldable table inspired by roaring flames, a surfboard-shaped acrylic bar counter with droplet patterns -- they're just a few of the fanciful items produced by Because We Can, a design and fabrication shop owned and operated by Jeffrey McGrew and Jillian Northrup. Looking at the objects' asymmetrical shapes, spiraling contours and ornate edges, you might think Jeffrey and Jillian primarily use a vector drawing program like Adobe Illustrator or a Nurbs modeler like form.Z or Rhino. People are often surprised to learn that the creative pair at Because We Can uses Autodesk Revit, a parametric BIM (building information modeling) product -- not just because they can, but because it's the most suitable program for what they do, they say.

Reconstructing Jules Verne's Nautilus

Three Rings, a startup computer game developer that has hit the treasure trove with Puzzle Pirates, gave Jeffrey and Jillian an irresistible challenge: design and fabricate their office space into a whimsical environment inspired by Jules Verne's fictional underwater vessel Nautilus. In addition to the elaborate separation screens and arches, the ambitious project called for each workspace to be customized for the artist moving into it. While one might choose an octopus with outstretched tentacles as the outlines of the back and side panels, another might opt for a ghostly galleon thrashing about in the waves.

Jeffrey and Jillian designed the basic individual workspace in 3D in Revit, then broke it into Adobe Illustrator templates. The 2D vector templates defined the spatial confines of the desk's back, sides and legs. They then gave the templates to the Three Rings artists and told them, "As long as you stay within these boundaries, you can go to town." They did, by importing the drawings into Flash and tracing whatever narrative scenes or symbolic objects they liked. Afterward, Jeffery and Jillian cleaned up the drawing files and fed them into the CNC software ArtCAM Insignia.Read more>>

AEC in Focus -- Plant and Piping Software Design

By H. Edward Goldberg, AIA

Plant and piping software has reached an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, stage. With much of today's industry dependent on processes involving the movement of liquids and gases, there's an ever-increasing need for this type of software to design the infrastructures that carry these commodities. Plant and piping software developers were early adopters of 3D modeling. These software offerings fall into two broad groups -- 2D schematics, such as P&IDs (piping and instrument diagrams) and instrument and electrical diagrams, and the physical design comprising 2D and 3D deliverables. What's notable is that more 3D-based design packages at all price levels are available, and they automatically produce the 2D deliverables, reports and BOMs (bills of materials) that were available only in high-priced offerings in the past. Read more>>

Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events

FIATECH Annual Technology Conference and Showcase
April 9-12, 2007 
Washington, DC
The goal of the FIATECH Annual Technology Conference and Showcase, themed "Where the Best Get Better," is to share and demonstrate emerging technologies that will significantly improve the capital projects industry. The conference presentations and the Technology Showcase will focus on these new, emerging technologies. Read more

For Cadalyst's full calendar of events, click here.

what's new at

Archicad Insights: Creating Concise Documentation, Part 3
In Archicad, one of the most important parts in completing efficient construction documentation is to set up your model views correctly. This simply controls how you view the model for documentation. Read all about it at

CAD Manager Column: Building Your Workplace Action Plan
Cadalyst's Robert Green offers advice for improving productivity and decreasing frustration by analyzing -- and fixing -- problems. Read more

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