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In the Wake of AIA San Francisco

The AIA’s National Convention was held this year in San Francisco. The event had boat-loads of news and key announcements. We summarize some items here, pointing the path we will take with our indepth coverage of the event.

So I have finally made it back to New England after a two-day voyage across the skies of America. There were severe thunderstorms clouded about my connecting cities that were the culprits of my delayed journey, but as I told many impatient travelers sitting next to me, I would rather be late than sorry. Thankfully the airline industry feels the same way and puts safety above everything else. 

What About Murphy’ Law

As usual when coming back from a busy show like the AIA my email inbox rains news press releases in several other industries. Architosh has much to cover in the next few days in order to catchup on several great news announcements, including items from general CAD software companies and even a good item from Filemaker. 

Our AIA news show reports will begin flowing in the next few days as well and go into the next two weeks with some special features from the show. I was fortunate to have many sit-downs at AIA and this caused me to miss out on visiting several smaller software vendors on the show floor. If I didn’t get around to you and your company my apologies. The time went by faster than I imagined. 

Highlights and Trends

The big buzzword at AIA this year was obviously sustainability. And that issue will likely dominate discussion for some time. There was a lot of focus on green design and building a future wherein the profession of architecture takes a leading role in regards to building a sustainable and eco-focused culture. Both Bentley and Graphisoft had announcements in the area of green design. And Autodesk’s booth was popular with sessions on its energy analysis tools. 

The AIA released new AIA documents that continue to march the profession forward towards BIM, which itself is a critical component of building an eco-focused profession. BIM is a necessity in the march towards a greener world with buildings not just because you can do full building simulations and analysis of energy much easier than in 2D tools, but because a large part of energy conservation comes after a building has been erected. With BIM a facilities manager or building owner can more fully monitor, maintain, and operate a building during its complete life-cycle. 

In regards to seeing buildings as objects with a life-cycle that often can outlast an architect’s own life, the emphasis on data produced by the architect is shifting from a world of solely communicating the requirements for construction to a world where you are obligated to communicate information useful to a building’s continued operation. This places the emphasis on 3D geometry so buildings can be “virtualized” for their continued maintenance. 

Because the industry is still wedded to the value of drawing and 2D methods of communication–both required within the creation and the life-cycle management of buildings–a challenge exist to both encourage and help architects move to a 3D world. Google’s SketchUp continues to draw attention to this issue by presenting to the industry a simplified way of learning and mastering 3D architectural and environment creation. However, hot on the tails of Google, legendary formZ software maker auto-des-sys, Inc., has released a rival to SketchUp called Bonzai 3D. Bonzai 3D is a significant milestone in the industry for several reasons.

Firstly, Bonzai 3D offers serious competition in the area of simplified 3D model creation. Competition is good because it keeps companies on their toes, moving the industry forward. Second,  Bonzai 3D offers the industry a direct scalable modeling path. You can start with a simple tool like Bonzai and take that data directly into an advanced NURBS-based modeler like formZ.  It should also be mentioned that Bonzai 3D is technically a NURBS modeler itself, enabling more sophisticated means to the same ends as SketchUp. Lastly, Bonzai 3D is compatible with SketchUp and numerous other 3D and CAD file formats, making it a solid choice for any production pipeline. 

We’ll have more news from AIA coming up!