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Shaking Up Healthcare Architecture on Mac—How Architects Use Game-Like Technology In Practice

Architosh has published a firm profile story on the impressive work being done by multidiscipline design practice Levi + Wong Design Associates, a firm doing amazing things with a full BIM workflow using Apple’s Macs and iOS devices. Importantly, the firm has leveraged BIMx within their developed workflow to transform design processes for their many healthcare clients.

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Every once in awhile a software or technology company introduces something that can leave the market with a blah reaction. When I first saw the game-like navigation technology within GRAPHISOFT’s initial BIMx iOS application, the initial thought was “cool but what’s the big deal?”

Then all of that changes, suddenly, when you discover how someone is using that same technology to great results.

Shaking It Up In Concord—On Mac

Yesterday Architosh had the pleasure of publishing a profile story about Concord, Massachusetts, based architecture and design firm Levi + Wong Design Associates, an all-Macintosh practice pushing the technology envelope with particular good effect in the healthcare architecture market. Levi + Wong isn’t just another accomplished design firm, with a national presence, doing their thing on the Mac. What makes them special is that they hit upon a great use for that game-like technology found inside GRAPHISOFT’s BIMx application.

In essence—and you can read all about them and their noteworthy design work here—they are approaching the design process from the perspective of providing a kind of digital prototype that the intended occupants can digitally inhabit.

MORE: Firm Profile: Levi + Wong Design Associates—Virtualizing Healthcare Architecture

What this means is that when Levi + Wong Design Associates design healthcare facilities, such as acute care hospitals, they painstakingly model the entire environment, right down to the medical devices, beds, sheets, pillows, et cetera and render the entire facility out to a 3D model that their clients—doctors, nurses and facility heads—can then virtually inhabit by exploring the facility design using BIMx. They can even do this independently of the architects and their process.

04.1 - Boston Medical Center, Maternity Unit. Headwall in Postpartum Room.

01 – Boston Medical Center, Maternity Unit. Headwall in Postpartum Room. Designed by LWDA using GRAPHISOFT ArchiCAD and BIMx workflow. (image courtesy Levi + Wong Design Associates. All rights reserved)

“We can take them into the BIMx model environment and say, ‘this is your workspace,’ so it’s like a virtual approval of the project,” says Thomas C. Levi, AIA, President of Levi + Wong Design Associates. “By involving the client in our 3D virtual design process from the beginning and throughout the project they are able to understand the project more clearly and make better informed decisions.”

Time and Decisions

The ability to spend time virtually inside your planned facility (like a hospital) cannot be under-estimated, nor can the ability to make that experience easy, for those not trained in 3D CAD and BIM applications. While initially the use of the term “game-like” in the descriptions of GRAPHISOFT’s BIMx didn’t resonate as having much value—why would it?…architects already know how to navigate in 3D programs—the reality that BIMx can be used by doctors and medical staff and their administrators to easily view, verify and evaluate potential issues in the layouts and designs of critical care rooms, patient spaces, and all other support areas has tremendous impact.

And it’s easy to understand why. With BIMx medical staff can virtually walk around the entire 3D model as if in a 3D game, using BIMx’s intuitive walk-thru navigation technology. That technology, which has been awarded by this publication and others, is as simple and familiar as the common game machines found in living rooms. “Using BIMx has helped our clients because they can spend more time with the design in a way you can’t do with drawings or static 3D,” says Levi.

Optimizing healthcare delivery will partly come from optimizing healthcare facilities. It gives us at Architosh great pleasure to bring the story of Levi + Wong to our readers and to share how they are doing all of this great work on Mac using a well developed design process and workflow using ArchiCAD and BIMx. The firm is passionate about Apple’s technology, which they have been using for decades. They even have a bit of a mini Mac museum showing the evolution of the company’s progress and which machines they have utilized over the years.

To read more about this very accomplished Apple Mac and iOS based design firm, see, “Firm Profile: Levi + Wong Design Associates—Virtualizing Healthcare Architecture.”

[Editor’s note: We have made some small edits since the original publication time. 11:07 AM EDT.]

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