AEC Tech News (#220)

20 Feb, 2008 By: Heather Livingston

A Thorn in AEC's Side

Despite the range of available solutions, many firms have yet to adopt a good document management system.

By Heather Livingston

Heather Livingston photo

In its American Institute of Architects Best Practices contribution, Victor O. Schinnerer & Co. stated, “The volume and complexity of construction project records are increasing; electronic information is rapidly replacing written documentation; and the demands of document ownership, confidentiality, and security are becoming paramount. Records management is essential to project management. While good records management may help protect firms from liability claims, it may also enable them to manage their profitability better and enhance their marketing efforts.” As the AIA’s Commended Professional Liability Insurer, CNA/Schinnerer knows how important document storage can be, and what a complicated issue it has become in recent years.

Once upon a time, the business world -- AEC firms included -- revolved around the filing cabinet, that ubiquitous receptacle of knowledge and, if a project turns litigant, blame. These days, the file cabinet is little more than a place to put that desiccated poinsettia left over from Christmas. E-mail has become the primary method for project submittals and data storage, with file cabinets predominant in the virtual rather than physical realm. However, due to the proprietary nature of e-mail, key information is not always made available for the entire team.

Over the last two months, Cadalyst conducted an online poll on how project e-mails are managed. The poll asked two questions: how does your firm manage project e-mails and what is the biggest challenge to managing project e-mails? More than 50% of the respondents reported that their firm tracks project e-mails through the in-box. With the recent emphasis on integrated project delivery, I had anticipated that more readers would use shared document management software like Newforma’s Project Center or ColumbiaSoft’s Document Locator, but only 22 out of 97 respondents do so. A dozen respondents have no project e-mail management system, and a mere eight respondents still employ the file cabinet.

The In-Box: A Big Problem
The two greatest challenges of project e-mail management, according to our respondents, are organizing and coding the files so that they are easily retrievable by the design team (30% of respondents) and finding the time to do these activities (29%). Read more »

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Cadalyst contributing editor Heather Livingston is a Vermont-based freelance writer specializing in design, sustainability, and architectural technology. She can be reached at


First Look Review:
AcceliArch with AcceliCAD

By Ron LaFon

Many Cadalyst readers will be familiar with ArchT from Autodsys, an easy-to-use, add-in application for creating construction drawings and architectural models. ArchT has been available for IntelliCAD and AutoCAD for some time, but the recently released AcceliArch (formerly called ArchT 2008) works with IntelliCAD v6.2 and later, as well as with Autodsys' low-cost AcceliCAD application. The latter combination provides capabilities that are comparable to AutoCAD with AcceliArch, making it a low-cost and flexible alternative that is DWG-compatible and can be used either alongside or in place of AutoCAD.

AcceliArch for AcceliCAD includes some features -- such as sections, elevations, 2D projections, and the automatic assignment of rendering materials -- that previously were available only in the AutoCAD version. Other new features include a curtain-wall object that allows the creation of fenestrations of mullions containing both glass and doors. The AcceliArch Styles Toolbar lets users easily create and modify walls, windows, doors, and other objects. Read more»


Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events

Using Revit Architecture to Facilitate Energy Code Compliance Calculations
March 7, 2008
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The calculating and reporting of the areas of building components is a very time-consuming part of the process in building energy code compliance. In this month’s sustainable lecture, Peter Vanko of Bower Lewis Thrower Architects will discuss how to use the tools in Revit Architecture to streamline the entire process. Read more

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on