BIM 360 info & Autodesk 360 Viewer

BIM 360 info & Autodesk 360 Viewer

A sneak peek at the new Autodesk 360 viewer

For those of you who have signed up for the Autodesk 360 Technical Preview, you may well have already gotten a taste for its new viewing capability. Upload a 3D model of pretty much any format (the list is pretty exhaustive and goes well beyond Autodesk’s own formats, but you might try with DWG, RVT, IAM, IPT, NWD and DWF, to name a few to get you started) and you’ll see the viewer enabled for that model:

Autodesk 360

Before we go on, please bear in mind that this is very much still in Beta: it’s early days and the team is ironing out wrinkles on a regular basis. You’ll also need a WebGL-enabled browser to make this work, of course (as mentioned in yesterday’s post, this is built using Three.js which in turn uses WebGL). With all that said, hopefully you’ll see that this technology is pretty darn cool.

One other thing, be sure to read up about the new Autodesk 360 viewer at Ken Walmsley’s Through the Interface blog. I’ve had a good play with this & its very impressive.

BIM 360 info & Autodesk 360 Viewer

BIM 360 info & Autodesk 360 Viewer

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Our Mission: To offer the best integration of Architecture and Engineering solutions thereby consistently being in focus of what the clients need. Our zeal to excel in the technology inputs and providing consistently credible output shall be the strong points of our services at all times.

Our Vision: To be a forerunner in our field with the drive to provide valuable services to the clients. To be part of the solutions through sustainable engineering and architectural designs that keep in mind the future. To be quality driven in our approach to cater to our clients with emphasis on balancing their needs and the environment.


Supertall Buildings: How High Can They Go?

Burj Dubai
Burj Dubai

Chicago, IL – Skyscrapers were the invention of New York City, and the Empire State Building held the title of “world’s tallest building” for 87 years. However, cities across the country around the globe have since been testing the limits to see just how high they can go.

An organization known as the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat(CTBUH) has defined the “super tall category” of skyscrapers as any building taller than 984 feet. To be categorized as “mega tall,” the building must reach 2,600 feet in height. The height of a building is measured from the sidewalk to the structural top, including spires, but not antennas or flag poles.

For reference, the Empire State Building is 1,250 feet tall, the Willis (Sears) Tower is 1,451 feet tall, and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai is 2,716 feet tall. The Chinese broke ground on Changsha’s Sky City, which is expected to stand about 2,750 feet tall by mid-2014. At this time, there are 73 supertall buildings and 2 megatall buildings on Earth. From an architectural and engineering standpoint, several factors set these buildings apart from their less-impressive counterparts.

Structural System

In the mid-1960s, an engineer, Fazlur Khan, introduced a structural system known as the “tube.”By replacing the internal steel frame of a traditional building with a series of inter-connected columns, Khan ensured that the strongest part of the building was on the outside. One a building exceeds 40 stories, wind becomes more of a concern than gravity.

But the tube design was abandoned  in the late 1990s, as Bill Baker and Adrian Smith created a “stayed mast” design for Chicago’s 7 South Dearborn. This design featured a centered core, surrounded by eight large columns. Dozens of “post tube” designs emerged in the following years. However, Baker and Smith’s “buttress core” design, which involved a central hexagonal concrete core with triangular buttresses on three sides, secured Dubai’s Burj Khalifa as the tallest building in the world.

Building Materials

Today’s super tall buildings are unique in both design and composition. Although engineers once built high-rise buildings with steel, modern buildings contain a complex cocktail of chemicals and microfibers. Concrete is generally preferable to steel because a concrete tower can be thinner, without sacrificing wind resistance, and concrete towers don’t need fireproofing. Carbon-fiber materials, similar to those in jet airplanes and racing bikes, are promising but pose challenges of their own. Not only is carbon-fiber expensive, but its lightness and flexibility could feel insecure to people inside the building.

Use and Purpose


Although super tall buildings were once reserved for offices, they are being utilized for condos, hotels, restaurants, and shopping centers. Chicago’s Willis Tower is considered a single-function building because more than 85% of its total floor area is dedicated to office space. On the other hand, Chicago’s John Hancock Center is categorized as a mixed-use building because it has nearly equal parts office and residential space, with a large section for parking as well. Super tall buildings are trending towards mixed-use, especially as space becomes a rare commodity in overcrowded cities.

So aside from bragging rights, what do super tall buildings have to offer for the future? “Vanity height” is such a big deal that CTBUH recently produced a new report examining the egotistical side of skyscraper construction. Shockingly, the report found that 44 of the world’s 72 super tall buildings would lose their “super tall status” without their unusable, uninhabitable spires.

Statistical experts have predicted that the world’s population will surpass nine billion by 2050, and around 70% of  these people will live in cities. Supertall buildings posit a solution to extreme urbanization growth, while regarding environmental concerns. For city-dwellers, they present the opportunity to go ice skating, see a movie, eat dinner, and get a night’s rest without ever taking a breath of fresh air. Despite terrorist attacks, anti-urbanization movements, and architectural challenges, supertall buildings have nowhere to go but up. Saudi Arabia’s 3,280-foot Kingdom Tower is set to open in 2017, but what’s next and how high will it go? Reference viatechnik for more information about our services then click here.

Modeling Methods versus Project File Size

Modeling Methods versus Project File Size

In-place models do have it’s place in Revit. However, the overuse of in-place models will have a detrimental effect on your overall project file size, as well as the performance of your hardware.

Often times users create in-place models due to time constraints or to better visualize the object in the project context. There is nothing wrong with that. However, where the problem starts to rear its head, is when one forgets to convert the in-place model to a family after the design has been finalized. 

I often tell my students: Rather try and do things properly from the start, than trying to reverse engineer a model when you desperately need to get your CD’s out. 

To demonstrate this, I have created two scenarios where the contribution to file size is compared between an in-place model and a family.

The first comparison uses a 2.5 m x 2.5 m x 2.5 m Cube.

Modeling Methods

Now, in the example above, there does not seem to be a big difference between a Revit family and an in-place model. Remember though: a cube is not a complex piece of geometry. There isn’t that much data for Revit to process.

The second comparison will use one of each available forms in Revit: Extrusion, Blend, Revolve, Sweep and Swept Blend.

Modeling Methods

The more complex geometry data Revit needs to process, the higher the project file size will become. In the last scenario, there is a 54.3 MB difference between the Revit family and in-place model. Reference by Herman Solomon.

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Accuracy of BIM Quantity Takeoff and consequently material procurement!!!

Accuracy of BIM Quantity Takeoff and consequently material procurement!!!

If the estimation is not correct on a project, it will affect the business negatively. While underestimation of the cost leads to loss of money, the overestimation may result in failure at the bidding phase. Even though the direct victim of this issue in traditional fixed price contracts is contractor, the impact of poor estimation will be seen in the entire project.

The typical pain areas for BOQ’s industry wide are:

  • As quantity take-off from 2D drafting is not connected to the resulting BOQ dynamically, the surveying team has to take many days in order to visualize the construction from 2D drafting.
  • Even though BOQ industry needs the cost and resource loaded schedule. It is not in the hierarchical structure of the BOQ.
  • There are different methods to estimate cost codes and schedule resources at various levels of details.
  • BOQ or the schedule is not the structure for cost controlling and cost capture. But a third structure should be mapped to these two for cost controlling and cost capture.

Estimating Process

A baseline of cost required at the various stages of project development is called cost estimation. The cost engineer or estimator predicts an amount at a given stage, based on the data available. Even though several types of cost estimation methods exist, Bill of Quantities (BOQ) Unit costs is the most commonly used. In this approach, the bill of quantities assigns a unit cost to each of the components or tasks. If you sum the quantities that are multiplied by the corresponding unit costs, you will get the total cost of the project.  Unit cost method is based on a simple arithmetical principle and is very accurate in estimating. But proper application is essential. However, there are three key factors that decide the success of this method.

estimating process

  • First and most important factor is that BOQ should be accurate
  • There should be a well-defined framework for the construction procedure, which is commonly called asStandard Method of Measurement (SMM) or Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). The framework should contain a series of tasks with the allocation of quantities to those tasks.
  • Estimating tools are the third factor. They are used to calculate cost accurately based on WBS and BOQ and report the expecting estimates in client defined formats.

Besides the three main factors, there are many other fixed or variable factors like inflation, consumption rates, taxes, currency fluctuations and contingencies etc., which should be considered by the estimator.

Generating accurate BIM quantity takeoff:

The best way to get an accurate BOQ is nothing but adoption of Building Information Modeling services. The possibilities of common errors in BOQs are minimal in the projects that use BIM Process and technology. BIM represents a single and accurate design model instead of providing several drawings. A BIM model can create a bim quantity takeoff automatically, which means it has in-built intelligence to know about each building element and with what it is made of. Therefore, it any change occurred in the design of a model, the BOQ will also be updated.

Example of Building information modeling services quantity comparison:

Costing is one of the most important aspect of a project to the owners of the project. Controlling cost escalation and managing material is one issue that cannot be compromised.

Quantities for architectural and structural components are extracted at schematic, tender, Good-For-Construction (GFC) and construction stage. At the schematic stage it is used for budgeting. While tendering, the BIM quantities are compared against the tender costs. As the design is refined at GFC stage, the revised quantities are used for evaluating change requests. On completion of execution, the bim quantity take offs from the model are used for bill verification.

At every stage, the accuracy of BIM quantities exceeds the accuracy of conventional thumb rule calculation. Overall adoption of building information modeling services helps control cost escalation and disputes during the checking process.

On an average while comparing the benefit of BIM for Accurate Quantification and material procurement it can be summarized through our project experiences that

  • Time taken to calculate quantity from BIM -1 day
  • Time taken to calculate quantity by site team -1 week

The difference in the quantities is anywhere between 1% – 8%.

quantity takeoff

bim quantity takeoff


BIM solutions application and Benefits to Stakeholders:

The availability of software packages that can help prepare bills of quantities is increasing day to day. Bills of quantities are produced with the help of building information modeling services. They do this task using the information contained within the model. The benefits of integrated BIM solutions are several and they are beneficial for everybody in a construction industry including owners, cost consultants, project managers and contractors.

Building information modeling services help owners take a ‘hands-on’ approach to manage investors, stakeholders and contractors. Using this technology, the project managers and architects can provide their services on behalf of their clients. Cost consultants can provide various services like rapid and credible cost planning, energy analysis and procurement services etc. BIM helps contractors support revaluation amendments. Reference bim forum

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Nanotechnology in the Construction Industry

Nanotechnology in the Construction Industry

Mention the word “nanotechnology” and people think of nano robots. After all, that’s how Hollywood has portrayed it. Microscopic sized robots that crawl around accomplishing whatever nefarious task their creator programmed them to do. Mention nanotechnology in construction and they look at you strange, as if you’re a character from a science fiction movie.

Carbon Nanotube Structure
Carbon Nanotube Structure

Nevertheless, researchers are hard at work applying nanotechnology to the materials used in construction. While it sounds incredibly high tech, nanotechnology is actually just a type of materials science. By definition, it deals with materials that are less than 100 nano meters in length. To put that in perspective, the smallest thing the human eye can see is about 10,000 nano meters long.

Something interesting happens to materials at that size. Normal things like gravity don’t matter, and others, like electromagnetism function differently. Nano materials react differently with other materials than we’re used to, creating new compounds with surprising capabilities.

One of the things that make nano materials so effective is that they have a much higher surface area to weight ratio than other materials. This drastically increases their ability to chemically bond to other materials, creating compounds that are much stronger and lighter. These materials also possess unique properties that aren’t available in other materials.

One of the most promising nanomaterials is carbon nanotubes. These are able to be produced in a ratio of 1,000,000 to 1, creating an incredibly strong, incredibly lightweight fibrous material for use as an additive in materials as diverse as car tires and concrete, increasing both compressive and flexural strength.

There are four basic areas in which nanomaterials are being studied for use in construction:

  • Structural materials – Nano materials, such as the carbon nano tubes are making materials stronger, reducing labor required in construction, and reducing wear on materials.
  • Surfaces and surface coatings – Nano materials used as surface coatings can make buildings self-cleaning. This can include self-cleaning glass and coatings for concrete structures that break down and decompose organic materials, so that rain water will wash them off.
  • Thermal performance – Improving insulation values of materials to reduce energy costs required for heating and cooling structures.
  • Energy efficiency – Window coatings are being created to increase the R-value of windows, reduce ultraviolet light transmission and the clarity automatically to match ambient light levels.

Much of this is still largely in the experimental stage, as the whole field of nanotechnology is still relatively new. Moving these new materials from the laboratory to the job site is the work of years.

Part of the problem in implementing these new nano materials is their relative high cost. Being new, they don’t yet show an effective return for their cost. Added to this is the construction industry’s general mistrust of new technologies, preferring to stay with materials and methods that they know and trust. With the long life expectancy of buildings, proving the benefits of nano materials is a slow process.

Nevertheless, there are construction materials currently in use that utilize nanotechnology. In most cases, the manufacturer doesn’t label their products as such, as there is no clear marketing benefit in doing so. Architects and contractors are more interested in the actual advantage that the nanotechnology provides, than they are in the technology itself. Reference viatechnik for more information about our services click here.

Upcoming Webcast: From Paper to Cloud: A Lean Construction Case Study Featuring Whiting-Turner

Upcoming Webcast: From Paper to Cloud: A Lean Construction Case Study Featuring Whiting-Turner


Making the step to deploying Lean for your production planning process is a major undertaking. Once you have made the transition to leveraging the Last Planner methodology to manage the tasks, commitments and dependencies during your planning meetings, you need an efficient way to capture, manage, visualize and collaborate against the data you collect. While spread sheets and sticky notes are the current standard, cloud and mobile technology like BIM 360 Plan reduce the manual data entry process while automatically collecting and articulating productivity reports for process improvement.

Join PhoenixEOS, BIM and Autodesk Lean Construction Specialist, Project Manager at PhoenixEOS, to learn about their journey to improve their production planning process. You’ll hear how they were able to:

  • Replace traditional reactive scheduling methods with a proactive one that is supported by the agility of robust software and daily check-ins.
  • Integrate the master schedule and production management processes.
  • Create a collaborative planning environment.
  • Use metrics and standard processes to drive continuous improvement and accountability. Reference Upcoming Webcast: From Paper to Cloud: A Lean Construction Case Study Featuring Whiting-Turner by Julie Jacobson.

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Formit – Conceptual BIM

Formit – Conceptual BIM

I recently watched a video on Autodesk University Online called AB6516: Take a Deep Dive into Conceptual BIM. This was a good over view of what Formit can do. This was a round table discussion class taught by Tom Vollaro, Sean Burke, Ryan Cameron, and Anthony Caputo. In their presentation they did a great job explaining how they use Formit on a daily basis. I though the presentation was short, but it showed a lot. On a side note I like how AU Online has changed this year. I really hope it sticks. It looks like you can now watch any of the video, and you only need an AU account to download the handouts, or to download the video. Yes I said download the Video this years it looks like they gave us back the ability to download videos yeah.

Formit - Conceptual BIM

Formit is a conceptual modeler much like Sketchup. Biggest difference is that it was initially designed for the iPad, they have since come out with a Android and Web version. (I wish they had a Windows tablet version that could be used like the iPad, and Android versions.) Another difference is that it creates native Revit files. There is a workflow to bring Revit files back into Formit but that seems really convoluted. To use take a Revit file back into Formit you will need theRevit to Formit converter tool, the problem with this add-in it’s for Revit 2015 not 2016. (Autodesk has been really slow this year in updating their Add-in for Revit)

Formit - Conceptual BIM

I first learned about Formit 2 years ago, and it has evolved a lot since then. At the time I was looking for a way to do Sketch up on my iPad, and this was the solution. Since then Autodesk has added some energy analysis tools. Now like Sketch up there is a paid and free version, the free version gives me every thing I need, but the paid version gives the ability to do the energy analysis, and some collaboration tools. (One thing that would be nice would be to role Formit into the Building Design Suite.). Reference Formit – Conceptual BIM by Mathew Miller.

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Autodesk 3ds team looking for Revit Users interested or using 3ds Max Design for visualizing Projects!

Autodesk 3ds team looking for Revit Users interested or using 3ds Max Design for visualizing Projects!

Autodesk 3ds

Autodesk M&E 3ds Max Gunslinger summit is a design-focused participatory event in Montreal (Canada) between our users and members of the Autodesk 3ds Max product management, development and design teams. The event is comprised of a series of workshops, design reviews, validation discussions, design charrettes, and more.

3ds Max and 3ds Max Design tools and technology have been used by visualization experts to tell the story of a design in dynamic presentations and won many awards in the entertainment industry.   Clients consistently respond to exploring their project or product in context, within their existing surroundings and bustling with life.  They, and other stakeholders, also find that video helps them understand complex information about the design.   This could be anything from construction logistics, complex function (such as a sliding roof), the impact of design options, or visualization of traffic, weather, stress, airflow and energy.    Cinematic storytelling techniques can convincingly evoke emotions and convey these messages with style.   Unfortunately, in the past, you’d need a large budget to deliver presentations that include these elements.   There are many ways to solve these issues but your feedback is essential.  This is why we’d like to meet with you in person.

We are looking to locate people who would be interested or available in attending.   The Gunslinger is by invitation only as we can only accommodate so many, and other than travel, all shuttles, hotel, and meals are included by Autodesk.   The meeting would be 4 days, Sept 16-19.    It is an opportunity to meet our team and influence tools that could help you improve the way you communicate your designs.  

If you are interested in the Gunslinger please let us know by completing a short survey.  We will then be reviewing the submissions for selecting users but if you are unable to attend this specific Gunslinger but are interested in future events please do fill out the survey. Reference by  David Light.

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Proven Benefits from CPM Scheduling

Proven Benefits from CPM Scheduling

Critical Path Method (CPM) Scheduling has been in use in construction for a number of years, although not everyone uses it. However, there are a wide range of benefits to using CPM Scheduling; benefits that can make any construction project run smoother.

While CPM scheduling may not have wide acceptance in construction, project managers in other fields have used it for years. The time taken to determine the critical path and develop the schedule around it is seen as time well spent, speeding the project towards completion, with less problems.

Any project has a critical path, whether you think of it or not. These are the list of tasks that have to be started and completed on time, in order for the project to be completed on time. Other tasks may have some leeway in the schedule, but not these. In many cases, you may actually be looking at that critical path and planning your work load around it in your head, without doing so formally.

So, what are the benefits of taking to time to do a critical path analysis and define the critical path for a project?

  • It helps define the minimum total project duration in a logical manner.
  • It helps the project manager define actual start dates for each subcontractor and phase of the project, providing more accurate scheduling information. This in turn helps prevent delays.  By determining the relationships between different tasks, it is easier to ensure that they are properly scheduled for maximum effectiveness and minimum delay.
  • Determines what float or lag time exists on parts of the project. Knowing that allows some flexibility in scheduling and prevents wasting time on fixing a scheduling problem that doesn’t exist (fighting a problem that the lag time eliminates).
  • Helps the project management team know where to focus their efforts, by knowing which tasks are critical to the overall project.
  • Identifies which tasks can be run in parallel with each other, without causing problems.
  • Helps identify which tasks are dependent upon each other, so that it is easier to determine the impact of problems.
  • Provides a clear project schedule, so that the project management team can know at any point in time how they are doing in comparison to the overall schedule.
  • Demonstrates is there are multiple critical paths, or if the critical path has changed due to a task being completed early.
  • By developing a long-range plan through CPM everyone involved in the project has a better understanding of where their part fits into the overall schedule.
  • Helps reduce waste by providing the ability to schedule more economically.

As you can see, there is an extensive list of advantages of using CPM. There are a number of software programs which have been created to make the CPM process easier. You can also define it in any project management software package, which will print a PERT chart (CPM map) and also define it on the GANTT chart. Reference viatechnik for more information about our services click here.

curtain panel windows, pots and planting

Curtain Wall Mullion Types

Curtain Wall Mullion Types

This blog entry will focus on the different Curtain Wall Mullion Types we have access to in the default Revit program. Additional to the Rectangular and Circular curtain wall mullions, we also have access to different types of Corner mullions, namely:

– L Corner Mullion
– Quad Corner Mullion
– Trapezoid Corner Mullion
– V Corner Mullion

curtain wall mullions


I have created a very simple greenhouse using sloped glazing for the roof. V Corner Mullions were applied to the roof ridges.

greenhouse using sloped glazing for the roof


As always, one tends to get diverted when playing around with Revit. I aimed to create a very short introduction to the different types of mullions, and ended up adding parametric open able curtain panel windows, pots and planting. Such is life.

curtain panel windows, pots and planting



curtain panel windows, pots and planting

Our Mission:To offer the best integration of Architecture and Engineering solutions thereby consistently being in focus of what the clients need. Our zeal to excel in the technology inputs and providing consistently credible output shall be the strong points of our services at all times.

Our Vision:To be a forerunner in our field with the drive to provide valuable services to the clients. To be part of the solutions through sustainable engineering and architectural designs that keep in mind the future. To be quality driven in our approach to cater to our clients with emphasis on balancing their needs and the environment.

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