AEC Tech News (#260)

4 Nov, 2009 By: Cadalyst Staff

Dedicated Computing Power Improves Rendering Efficiency

When an Indiana AEC firm struggles with a cobbled-together rendering farm, Avatech Solutions prescribes new hardware and software.

By Kevin Breslin

There aren't many types of work within the built environment that American Structurepoint doesn't perform. The Indianapolis, Indiana–based company offers services in disciplines including highway and bridge design, architecture, construction inspection, environmental site assessment, wastewater treatment, master planning, landscape architecture, investigative engineering, surveying, site development, and information technology. Since it was founded in 1966, the company's staff members — now numbering nearly 300 — have won multiple awards for their work. American Structurepoint has taken on projects such as Hyperfix and Super 70, which are major interstate rehabilitation projects in Indianapolis; the Anson residential and commercial development in northwest Indianapolis; and the Keystone Parkway reconstruction project in Carmel, Indiana, which features six roundabout interchanges — a first for the Midwest.

Rendering Taxes CPU Resources

To communicate to clients how projects look and work, the American Structurepoint team relies on high-detail, photorealistic renderings and animations. Preparing these presentations, however, is a very CPU-intensive process. Until recently, the firm relied on a makeshift rendering farm, grabbing CPU minutes from dozens of PCs whenever they sat idle.

This unreliable setup meant renderings were slow; creating a single still image often required more than four hours. "The farm was crashing and jobs were mired in delays," said Cash Canfield, manager in charge of the graphics department at American Structurepoint. "If we were going to produce animations, we had to get serious about supporting that process." Read more »

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Kevin Breslin is responsible for managing professional services for civil engineering, GIS, and survey customers at Avatech Solutions.



Indian Utility Taps Modeling Software to Solve Water Crisis

By Cyrena Respini-Irwin

Last month, infrastructure solutions provider Bentley Systems welcomed a group of its software users to the Be Inspired: Infrastructure Best Practices Symposium and Awards in Charlotte, North Carolina. The event included keynote addresses and updates about acquisitions and product innovations, but the real draw was the attendees themselves. The finalists of the 2009 Be Inspired Awards gave presentations describing the methods used to execute their projects — and the challenges they encountered along the way.

Creating a digital city map, designing a stadium, or expanding an airport is never a single-dimensional task. Projects on this scale can be complicated by a variety of obstacles: geological, financial, environmental, or even political. Earlier this year, the Water Supply and Sanitation Department of Maharashtra, India — winner of the Innovation in Water, Wastewater, and Stormwater Networks award — faced a water supply problem so severe that it spawned civil unrest in 13 municipalities.

Madhuri Mulay, deputy engineer for the department (known as Maharashtra Jeevan Pradhikaran [MJP]), explained that the problem stemmed from a Supreme Court ruling that restricted the distribution of water from the Krishna River, the main water source for 17 million people in the Mumbai metropolitan area. Although the water restriction was intended to last for only one day per week, the downstream network of pipelines and storage tanks took an unexpectedly long time to refill after the dam was reopened. Some cities did not receive water for an additional 30 hours

Read more »


Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events


75th AIA Minnesota Annual Convention and Product Exposition
November 10–13, 2009
Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, in partnership with AIA Minnesota, is offering “Old is the New Green: Preservation as Sustainable Design,” as a convention four-session track exploring the connection between sustainable design and historic preservation. Read more »

Autodesk University Virtual
December 1–4, 2009
Various times
Autodesk University (AU) Virtual is a web-based event that brings some of the best of AU directly to your desktop. AU Virtual features streaming classes, keynotes, insider interviews, and roundtable discussions. Read more »

Test Drive ArchiCAD and Learn BIM
Through December 18, 2009
Various cities
With upcoming dates in Oakland, California, and Seattle, Washington, this seminar from Graphisoft is designed for those interested in learning about building information modeling (BIM). Read more »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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