Autodesk Pushes AEC Modernization, Part 2: Generative Design and BIM28 Nov, 2020 By: Cadalyst Staff
Autodesk University 2020 announcements include improved Revit interoperability, the acquisition of a site-planning platform featuring generative design technology, and more.
Editor’s Note: See Part 1 of this article for information about Autodesk’s new Construction Cloud tools and the launch of Autodesk Tandem for digital twins.
Making Space for Generative Design
During Autodesk University (AU) 2020, Autodesk announced its acquisition of Norway-based Spacemaker, a developer of cloud-based, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered site-planning software. According to Spacemaker, its software is designed to help architects and urban designers generate, optimize, and iterate on design options, while factoring in elements such as terrain, wind, lighting, and traffic.
Spacemaker enables users to evaluate site-impacting factors such as noise (above) and wind (below). Image source: Autodesk.
“Put simply, Spacemaker’s technology is generative design for urban design that lets you analyze dozens of criteria and how they might play out in your design, all in real time and all in the cloud,” said Amy Bunszel, senior vice president of Autodesk’s AEC Design Solutions group.
Nicolas Mangon, Autodesk’s vice president of AEC business strategy and marketing, compared the latest acquisition to a much older one: “I was at Autodesk when we acquired Revit, and I remember the excitement about how Revit would change design forever — and it did! Spacemaker is the same,” he said. “It’s going to benefit all of you — architects, engineers, contractors, developers, and owners. Spacemaker’s data-driven approach is going to accelerate the AEC digital transformation. Spacemaker’s strength in AI and machine learning is an investment in our vision for the future of design.”
Improved Revit Interoperability and Other BIM Boosts
“BIM [building information modeling] is a process based on an intelligent 3D model and built on a cloud platform,” Mangon said. “It’s at the heart of digital transformation for AEC. BIM connects data and teams across design, construction, operations, and beyond.”
Autodesk President and CEO Andrew Anagnost also described BIM as a key part of Autodesk’s vision for a more tightly connected future for AEC: “BIM is more important today than ever, so we’re building on the functionality in our design tools, to make BIM creation more scalable and more automated. Not just in building design, but in infrastructure design too,” he said.
Schneider collaboration aims for broader BIM adoption. According to Autodesk, electrical engineers are lagging behind mechanical engineers in migrating to BIM. Autodesk’s partnership with energy management specialist Schneider Electric, which began five years ago, is fostering the creation of “a more comprehensive BIM offering for electrical designers, engineers, and contractors,” said Anagnost. “It’s going to radically improve your design process with generative design, and it’s going to empower you to deliver more sustainable projects,” he continued.
Schneider is building a new cloud-based service on Autodesk’s Forge cloud-based developer platform that will bolster Revit’s electrical design workflows. Thanks to machine learning and generative design technologies, the solution in development will have the capability to propose an optimal infrastructure network from existing building plans. Users will be able to address key design capabilities, including load distribution mapping, power balancing, equipment sizing, and single line diagramming, according to Autodesk.
Revving up Revit interoperability. “We’re committed to making your data more interoperable, accessible, and more open,” said Anagnost. “We’ve partnered with the Open Design Alliance [ODA] to make Revit IFC4-compliant. This will enable workflows with non-Autodesk tools. By January, BIM 360 Docs will support ISO 19650–compliant workflows, and Autodesk Docs will soon follow.”
Mangon noted that “interoperability is essential to you and the way you work. There are many disciplines on all of your projects, and you are using many different types of software. ... No matter what mix of tools your project team chooses to use, we are committed to ensuring that Autodesk software connects your data into the broad ecosystem of AEC software.”
In addition to investing in open data exchange by joining ODA, Mangon pointed out that “we continue our work with OpenBIM and buildingSMART, where we are original founders.”
More Cloud Capabilities for AEC Professionals
Construction Cloud wasn’t the only beneficiary of new cloud announcements (see Part 1). Autodesk also announced a “notable cloud update to support our customers in fully transitioning to digital, remote collaboration workflows while continuing to work in the design products they use most.” This update for design professionals includes:
The addition of cloud-enabled document management to the AEC Collection. Next year, AEC Collection subscribers will gain access to Autodesk Docs, which will enable users to share, manage, and review designs and models in the cloud in more than 50 formats. “This will enable cloud collaboration as the way you and your stakeholders work by default,” said Frank.
BIM 360 Design changed to Autodesk BIM Collaborate Pro. With this change, customers will retain access to existing cloud collaboration capabilities (Design Collaboration, Revit Cloud Worksharing, and Collaboration for Civil 3D and Plant 3D), and will gain access to model coordination and the Insights data analysis tool, and connections to the Autodesk Construction Cloud. Autodesk BIM Collaborate Pro launches next year.