AEC Tech Trends: 2D to 3D #9

26 Jan, 2005 By: Arnie Williams

Cadalyst AEC Tech News

Reaping the Advantages of 3D

Burt Hill improves design process, client service in move from AutoCAD to Revit

Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates draws on a 65-year history and a staff of some 340 employees in seven locations to provide multidisciplinary architecture and engineering solutions. With clients in every area of building design — including residential, restoration, commercial, hospitality, education, government, interiors, lab design and site design — there's no project that the company isn't prepared to tackle.

Efficiency a Top Concern
One factor a firm of this size must keep uppermost in mind, however, is efficiency. Projects must stay on track, on schedule and on budget with the most efficient deployment of staff.

Doing so can be a challenge — especially in the case of a recent project that required a combination of conversion and reconstruction for a Philadelphia-area owner. Burt Hill was hired to convert the Carnegie Tower, originally built by Kaiser Aluminum as a heavy-industrial wire factory, to 17 stories of high-end condominiums.

The complexity of the project was daunting, according to project coordinator Mike DeOrsey. Five of the top floors had to be taken down, but then replaced with eight floors. By project's end, the building would gain 60,000 ft², for a total of 190,000 ft².

From AutoCAD to Revit
Long-time users of AutoCAD, Burt Hill elected to use Autodesk Revit on the project, primarily to take advantage of the system's building information modeling features. Initial plans called for creating a digital representation of all the structural and reinforcing steel. The designers would then be able to analyze and present multiple design scenarios, generate drawings on the fly to study building conditions in-depth, prepare fully rendered views and walkthroughs, determine which steel could be safely removed and coordinate the massive HVAC systems.

Burt Hill staffers view the move to a building information model as a complete success. Fewer designers were needed on the project, and yet with the parametric power of Autodesk Revit, the smaller team had the flexibility to run more design scenarios than a 2D approach would have allowed. The team was also able to make changes more efficiently with the assurance that all modifications were automatically reflected throughout the model. And working in 3D brought time and money savings as well as reduced staffing needs, notes DeOrsey.

Better Process, Better Service
Steven J. Brittan, one of Burt Hill's principals, sums up the results of the project this way: "Burt Hill fosters an innovative working environment that allows us to quickly evaluate complex construction and design."

"Autodesk Revit allows us to better serve our clients with accurate and completely coordinated design documentation and building information," he says, "Giving us more time and better information to explore quality design solutions. Most of the value we bring to our clients is in the predevelopment planning stages. Revit provides a platform to create rapid solutions and test scenarios so we can make choices for clients and save them costly decisions down the road."

Web sites
Burt Hill Kosar Rittelmann Associates
Autodesk Revit

This special edition of AEC Tech News examines the real-world experiences of architects and builders as they move from 2D drafting to 3D modeling. If you have suggestions about companies or issues you'd like to see covered here, please e-mail us at