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Architosh awards 4th ‘BEST of SHOW’ honors for software and technology vendors at AIA Atlanta

Architosh announces its 2015 AIA National BEST of SHOW honors for the national convention and expo in Atlanta, Georgia. The awards highlight and draw attention to software and hardware technologies of note exhibited on the show floor.


Architosh, the leading online publication devoted to Mac and iOS CAD and 3D software professionals and students worldwide, has announced its 4th annual BEST of SHOW award honors for the AIA National Convention and Exhibition in Atlanta, Georgia, in mid May 2015.

The BEST of SHOW awards are designed to recognize the most interesting computer technologies making, or destined to make, an impact on architectural practice here in the United States and abroad.

Winners of these small honors receive digital BEST of SHOW placards for display in marketing and promotions, a small promotional package by Architosh, and placement onto Architosh’s BEST of SHOW winners roster page.

A companion “perspectives” article—as in previous years—will provide an overview narrative behind this year’s winners as well as discuss the larger themes of technology in architectural practice. Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA, LEED AP, editor-in-chief, and Pete Evans, AIA, senior associate editor, Architosh, walked the show floor, attended several key meetings, and spoke to various industry peers in an effort to suss out what technologies were most deserving of focus and attention at this year’s show in Atlanta.


This year saw many outstanding technologies at AIA Atlanta, and it substantially challenged the editors to determine category winners. Additionally, there were technologies at the show that were tremendous improvements to product lines and yet they did not meet eligibility requirements—the most important of which is ship date.

Both the V-Ray folks and the Vectorworks folks were showing superb new advancements to their products that will not ship until later in the year. This really challenged the core name of the program, which is titled “BEST of SHOW.” The arbitrary nature of 3 months from date of show may change in the future to simply be ship by ‘year-end.’

This year we start by calling our BEST of SHOW honorees by starting with the Innovation and BIM category awards first.


BEST of SHOW — Innovation Category

This category was designed to focus on answering the question: “what was the most innovative and promising new IT technology shown at the AIA National and why?” The honor goes to two winners:

Winner: CL3VER

CL3VER was really the application that encapsulated this pivot point of things to come: A very disruptive platform leveraging ubiquitous HTML5 and WebGL through a very seamless web UI. “It appears to be a staightforward drag-and-drop web app supporting model based design for interactive 3D web presentation and project review,” said Pete Evans, AIA. “But it has realtime cloud-based rendering with automatic (very) high-quality light mapping with an overlay of 2D project information and animation in a very elegant UX! And then with almost unlimited potential for extended web capabilities… envision live data feeds, or portals to different project waypoints, callouts to trigger actual fabrications, construction robotics or ambient events…”


Winner: irisVR

The second winner in the Innovation category goes to irisVR. “VR headsets were all the rage at this year’s AIA National in Atlanta,” says Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA LEED AP, “while there were many rival offerings, we felt irisVR had the right formula in providing BIM and CAD programs with a plugin-route. Even a native IFC version.” “The VR revolution is just around the bend and we think the irisVR folks will be an exciting company to watch in a crowded field. VR is also a technology that will help push architects stuck in 2D-land…it’s that fantastic.”

Runner-Up:  MassMotion by OASYS


BEST of SHOW — BIM Category

This category addresses tools there are BIM-centric in nature or contribute value in specific BIM workflows emerging in the field. A significant trend is “performance based design” and front-ending computational analytics in the design process. Other key trends including integrating computation-based, visual scripting parametric modeling to solve complex form problems directly into BIM workflows. BIM authoring tools are becoming larger more complex platforms, able to host ever increasing sized building projects with geographically disparate teams and stakeholders all engaged. As such, core performance capacities are still a mandated area for innovation.

Winner:  ArchiCAD 19

ArchiCAD 19 was only announced weeks ago but has already garnered impressive reaction within the industry,” says Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA LEED AP. “Graphisoft is relentless in its attack on its competitors in the area of raw horse-power, recognizing the limitations of sizable BIM models and the need for ever faster performance by tapping into the trend lines of microprocessor evolution.”  Pete Evans, AIA adds, “Graphisoft’s new “predictive background processing” is very accomplished for a BIM tool. Refining the timing (through this patented technology) between the user and the software interaction is critical for fluid design and production. I’m very impressed!”


Winner:  Autodesk Dynamo Studio 

“Autodesk has opened up its visual scripting parametric modeling tool and de-coupled its dependency on Revit in this all new stand-alone package.” says Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA LEED AP. “Dynamo Studio aims to bring scriptable parametrics across disciplines (not just architecture) into a computational open platform so that it plug into engineering tool-chains, the result being an embedment of Dynamo into the BIM workflow at a higher level. Behind the scenes Autodesk has taken the first steps at making Dynamo more accessible across platforms, something it will add to its quiver against rival systems.” notes Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA LEED AP.

Runner-Up:  Trimble Connect

Runner-Up:  Autodesk Revit Architecture 2016


BEST of SHOW — Mobile Category

Mobile winners are solutions that give substantial value to the use of mobile devices (smartphone and tablets) and their unique strengths as light-weight, often cloud-connected, with specific hardware capabilities different than laptop computers. These devices with the right software: transform analog workflow and create or invent new digital workflows and solutions. This year’s winners meet this criteria and exemplify our larger program tenants.

Winner: Autodesk FormIt 360 Pro

Autodesk FormIt 360 Pro adds new analysis and collaboration tools for the early stages of design. Also added is a Converter tool for importing SketchUp and Revit models for further editing across mobile devices and desktop browsers. “Being able to work with early design across mobile platforms in such a fluid manner with data immediately present–energy costing, benchmarking, orientation analysis–significantly adds to the early digital staging tools that an architect needs today,” said Pete Evans, AIA. “It is also very exceptional that on a mobile device today you can concurrently work with others on a mobile platform or desktop browser together to solve early conceptual AEC design work.”


Winner: PlanGrid 

PlanGrid attacks a core problem in AEC, which is getting to that single-source of truth out in the field,” notes Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA, LEED AP. “PlanGrid is one of those apps that really gives an iPad a big role out at the job site and their new RFI tools add even more value to the application.” PlanGrid has been out in the market for a few years and has quickly become popular on the construction side. “A strength in mobile apps is their laser like focus, they turn devices into necessary field equipment,” added Frausto-Robledo. PlanGrid is one of those types apps.

Winner: Vectorworks Nomad 3.0 

Nomad 3.0 gained a lot more power when the Vectorworks Graphics Module (VGM) technology was ported to the iOS environment, powering its new game-like 3D navigation with excellent rendering capacity.” remarked Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA, LEED AP. “This added much to an already solid cloud-driven solution that allows for dissemination of information, mark-up, and round-tripping information back to the CAD/BIM environment.”

Runner-Up:  BIMx Pro

Runner-Up:  PunchPro


BEST of SHOW — Desktop Category

Originally created to promote cross-platform excellence, we created this category with “platforms” in mind for the desktop. That meant Mac OS X and Windows. As we move forward we will likely change this to expand upon web-based solutions which do a type of end-run around the development limitations of OS-specific code development.

The leading cross-platform desktop software shown at AIA Atlanta all utilize both Mac and Windows platforms very well, provide superior cross-platform compatibility, and take advantages of the underlying operating systems in specific ways. So choosing a winner was really tough. When it came down to it however, one company had the distinction of taking advantages of developments at the display level and had a recent perfect score at the product review level.


Winner:  Vectorworks Designer 2015 

“Vectorworks 2015 garned a perfect score in our reviews earlier in the year due to it bounty of new tools and features,” says Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA, LEED AP, “While the news of its 2016 features may have stole some thunder from its currently shipping product, version 2015 packs a big punch in the area of visualization and rendering options. And Vectorworks 2015 gave an official ‘thumbs up’ for 4K displays, something its peers have not yet done.” The Vectorworks Designer 2015 package is the same price as its leading rivals in the market and provides industry-leading landscape architecture tools in addition to some excellent new site modeling capabilities.

Runner-Up:  ArchiCAD 19

Runner-Up:  SketchUp 2015


Jury and Closing Comments

Architosh will be releasing a companion “Perspectives…” article on the technology shown at AIA Atlanta this year and more remarks about its winners and runner-up applications and solutions. This will be published later this week.

The Architosh BEST of SHOW honors at AIA National each year, are aimed at focusing readers’ attention on key and emerging technologies that will have a large impact on architectural practice and AEC workflows. The Best of SHOW and the many AIA reports help complete a picture of the AIA conference for readers who cannot attend the national conference for architects each year. Winners are encouraged to copy the graphics (this year they mark the host city) for marketing purposes and to contact us for further comments. Comments and quotable material for some runner-ups will be found in the forthcoming “perspectives” feature article to be published later this week.

Winners of the BEST of SHOW honors will be contacted shortly via email.


This year’s jury:

Pete Evans, AIA, senior associate editor

Mr. Evans is a practicing architect with over 15 years of professional experience working in Des Moines, Iowa and the midwest, and is involved in academia teaching architecture, design communications, CAD/CAM and has been contributing to the national AIA Technology in Architectural Practice BIM Awards since 2007. He also consults as a design fabricator partnering with area artists and fabrication studios. He has also taught and presented in numerous conferences, including the Iowa AIA, National AIA and ICC conferences and workshops.

A passionate Mac user in practice, Mr. Evans has worked laterally with Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA, LEED AP, on numerous publishing and research activities for, including co-publishing the Architosh 2010 BIM survey reports. His technology-focused articles have been published in the AIA This Week online as well as several PDF-related articles for Architosh’s ToshLetter publication. His full bio on Architosh is here.

Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA, LEED AP, editor-in-chief

Anthony Frausto-Robledo AIA LEED AP, is a practicing architect in Massachusetts with more than 25 years of professional experience working nationally and abroad. He is also the founder and editor-in-chief of which celebrates 16 years in publication this year. Mr. Frausto-Robledo is the recipient of the Boston Architectural College 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award for his contribution to the profession at the intersection of computer technology and the design process, informing the global architecture, engineering and construction communities. A longtime champion of and advocate for architects practicing architecture on the Apple Mac platform, he attends conferences and symposia in the CAD industries and has spoken at events pertaining to topics of interest and expertise, including the Mac in professional 3D at the 3D New York Users Group and web-based digital tools in practice at ABX Boston 2012. He is an IT consultant for select AEC clients and provides strategic market analysis and guidance for software companies and start-ups in the architectural market.

Anthony has authored hundreds of articles within the CAD and 3D industry and has written or co-written several industry reports, most recently co-authoring the Architosh 2010 BIM Survey reports with Pete Evans, AIA. For his full bio on Architosh go here.

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