AEC Tech News (#337)

4 Jun, 2014 By: Cadalyst Staff

By the Revit Users, for the Revit Users, Part 1

Now in its tenth year, the independent Revit Technology Conference serves three continents and is still growing — but cautiously.

By Cyrena Respini-Irwin

The Revit Technology Conference (RTC) bears some similarity to another Australian native, the platypus. Although they are composed of familiar elements, the end result is unmistakably unique. "We've never found another event of this nature that is driven by its users," said Wesley Benn, director of RTC Events Management.

RTC is a conference for users of Autodesk Revit building information modeling (BIM) software that comprises networking opportunities, keynote addresses, technical sessions and labs, and an exhibit hall. Unlike most events of its kind, however, RTC is put on by users, rather than the software developer or a reseller.

According to the conference organizers, that independence helps attendees to freely discuss deficiencies in the software and their workflows, and to get "unvarnished" advice from peers. "You don't have to fight the marketing message," said Benn. That doesn't mean that users attend RTC to gripe, but rather that they can openly explore problems in order to find solutions and determine best practices. For example, in 2009 one attendee's particularly blunt criticism of Revit content spurred the development of the Australian and New Zealand Revit Standards (ANZRS), which predated Autodesk's Revit Model Content Style Guide.

From User Group to User Conference

RTC was born in 2005, hatched from the Revit User Group Sydney, which was founded by Benn. A weekend away together promised to increase camaraderie, as well as knowledge, among what was then a small user base. The first RTC consisted of a dozen classes and fewer than 100 attendees, but it served its intended purpose, "and it just grew from there," said Benn.

Although the event has grown larger over the past decade, organizers are determined to maintain the atmosphere and benefits of a smaller event, where speakers are accessible, attendees recognize each other in the hallways, and the plenary session speakers share inside jokes with the audience. Autodesk University, billed as "the world's largest gathering for Autodesk software users," offers "enormous breadth of possibility — but it's completely impersonal," Benn opined. "RTC in some ways is a response to that."

RTC Australasia, held May 29-31 in Melbourne, drew about 350 delegates, and Benn expects a total of approximately 1,200 attendees at the three RTC events this year. If the North American conference draws 500, a registration cap will freeze attendance at that level and allow organizers to determine whether a larger group should be allowed in the future. "Can I see [attendance] growing past 700, 750? No," said Benn. "Intimacy is a vital aspect of the event." Read more »

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Cyrena Respini-Irwin is Cadalyst's editor in chief.


Tech Trends: Route to a Dream Home

Designer's imagination pushes EnRoute sign-making software beyond its typical applications.

By Michael Reidy

Dan Sawatzky's Imagination Corporation undertakes a variety of design, sign, and sculpture work featuring colorful relief and full 3D work. His projects run the full spectrum, from a sign for a local business to redesigning a theme park. Every project is one of a kind and a delight to those who see them around the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

So it's no surprise that Sawatzky took the same approach in designing his own home. "When my wife, Janis, and I started dreaming of our new house, we knew it would be anything but ordinary," Sawatzky explained. "The house had to be fun!

"While we liked the idea of a storybook house, we also had to be practical. It would be near a busy road, so we could use it to promote our small shop at the rear of the property. It also needed to be quiet and weather the wind, rain, and snow that characterize our region," he said, referring to the town of Chilliwack in southern British Columbia, Canada. The Sawatzkys also wanted a house that spoke of their interests and told a story, and it had to appear to be handcrafted and made of wood.

The dream home's design began in Sawatzky's sketchbook and underwent countless revisions over the course of nearly two decades. The couple found the ideal parcel of land and worked with a home designer to draw up the building plans that were presented to the city.

The HP Designjet T120 supports roll media as well as sheets.
The exterior of the Sawatzkys' fairy-tale home features fabricated trees that serve as structural and design elements.

Read more »

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Michael Reidy is editorial director at Bespoke, a public relations and communications agency in the United Kingdom.


Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events

North American Revit Technology Conference (RTC)
June 19–21, 2014
Chicago, Illinois
At this fourth annual independent event, architects, engineers, visualization artists, and other professionals can explore trends, share ideas with peers, and learn from instructors and industry experts. Read more »

ESRI International User Conference 2014
July 14–18, 2014
San Diego, California
This conference provides five days of technical instruction, geographic information systems (GIS) training, and networking with peers at special interest group meetings and regional user group meetings. Read more »

AVEVA World Summit 2014
October 14–16, 2014
Berlin, Germany
The AVEVA World Summit will provide an opportunity for delegates to learn about new developments at AVEVA and to share their own experiences with colleagues from EPC contractors, owner–operators, and shipbuilding firms. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


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About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

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