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AIA24: Architosh 10th ‘BEST of SHOW’ honors for digital technologies at AIA National Washington DC

The 2024 AIA National BEST of SHOW honors for the most interesting and compelling software and digital technologies at AIA24. 


BIM, visualization, cloud, and innovation are all on tap as Architosh announces its 10th BEST of SHOW honors for digital technology, shown at the AIA National Convention in Washington, DC. The awards highlight and draw attention to digital technologies of note displayed on the show floor or in a session. 

Winners of these small honors receive digital BEST of SHOW placards for display in marketing and promotion, placement on Architosh’s BEST of SHOW winners roster page, and a complimentary advertising package to be used during either Q4 2024 or Q1 2025. 

AIA24—Thematic Issues

Over the years, we have stepped back and written a “perspectives” feature about the honorees and the trajectory of digital technologies for architects. This year we are publishing that feature on the same day as the BEST of SHOW announcement. 

Our perspectives feature has three themes relevant to this year’s conference as well as to the state of digital technology for architecture. You can read more on that here [link soon!] and as we touch on themes in the notes on the winner below. 

And now the honors for the best tech we saw this year at AIA24. But first an overview of our award categories and criteria.

Award Categories and Criteria

Our award categories are designed to be broad and flexible, enabling us to honorably note a product across a range of categories if so warranted.

  • Emergent Technology (emTech) Category Award — acknowledges industry potential for bleeding edge technology implementations that will offer “thematic” change for practice or create convergent technology paths and drive at synergistic directions for the industry.
  • Innovation Category Award — acknowledges the most “promising” companies and products that are heralding innovative new directions in AEC software or hardware technologies, as measured by: (a) implementation quality, (b) acceleration of quality of solution, (c) quality of attack on addressing “pain points” in practice, and (d) fitting convergent technology paths and driving at synergistic directions for the industry.
  • BIM Category Award — acknowledges both new or mature companies and products serving the BIM workflow industry transformation, touching down at any segment of the MacLeamy Curve where value gets added, as measured by: (a) implementation quality, (b) acceleration of quality of solution, (c) quality of attack on addressing “pain points” in BIM workflows, (d) adoption, extension and commitment to Open BIM philosophies so that data and toolchains are social and democratized to their fullest extent, and (e) fitting convergent technology paths and driving at synergistic directions for the industry.
  • Cloud Category Award  — acknowledges technology solutions (software or hardware) driving at full utilization of synergistic and maturing “cloud-to-mobile” and “cloud-to-web” technology stacks, exhibited or seen at the AIA convention, as measured by: (a) implementation quality and novelty, (b) acceleration of quality of solution, (c) quality of attack on addressing pain-points in AEC, and (d) fitting convergent technology paths and driving at synergistic directions for the industry.
  • Visualization Category Award  — acknowledges the most compelling visualization solutions and technologies that are transforming the architect’s workflow, heralding new ways of seeing architecture for all stakeholders and not just clients, accelerating design optioneering, material, and light discovery, design problem solving, and design collaboration, as measured by:  (a) implementation quality, (b) acceleration of quality of solution, including rendering speeds and image qualities, (c) quality of attack at addressing “pain points” in practice, and (d) fitting convergent technology paths and addressing synergist directions in the industry.
  • The Economics Prize — reflecting an important shift within the architectural industry to acknowledge the extent of poor economics for architects and a newfound demand for better working conditions and pay, the Economics Prize is awarded to digital technology that shines in the direction of better economics for architects, as measured by:  (a) sizeable process improvements to common industry deliverables via creative disruption (ie, Uber-ize a known process), (b) notable value disruption by a vendor via license cost comparison without “bundling,” (c) notable outsized release update delivering exceptional value increase for users, and finally (d) performance capture due to innovative, leading-edge hardware solutions.  


Congratulations to the 2024 AIA BEST of SHOW honorees listed below.



Winners in this category represent emergent technologies (emTech) that are far from “center-market” and much closer to “edge-of-market.” This means they have the potential for bending the trajectory of technologies near them—including creating a convergence of disparate tech—or offering completely alternative thematic change within the industry. An example of such a thematic change would be node-based visual programming tools like Generative Components or Grasshopper when they first emerged. They both bent the trajectory of existing technologies and offered a wholesale thematic change in terms of how architects can work.

Winner:  Graphisoft BIMx on Vision Pro

The Emergent Technology (emTech) category award winner this year provides a clear example of what is embodied in this honor—a focus on a bleeding-edge technology implementation capable of a thematic change for practice. Building on a prior multiple award-winning application in Graphisoft’s BIMx platform, Graphisoft continues to push the boundaries of this tool by being the first to implement a 3D AEC tool on the new Apple Vision Pro immersive technology platform. BIMx BIM Experience was available within one week of the release of the groundbreaking Apple Vision Pro this year. As demonstrated on the floor of the AIA24 Expo, the software company continued exploration and development around immersive technologies for AEC/O. 

AIA - BIM - Design - Visualization : BEST of SHOW awards by Architosh.

Graphisoft wins the BEST of SHOW award for Emergent Technology for BIMx on Apple Vision Pro.

“As a new spatial computing platform, the Apple Vision Pro sets a new bar for an immersive operating system with a groundbreaking user interface and user experience, says Pete Evans, AIA, Senior Associate Editor, Architosh. “Graphisoft was able to showcase how a nimble AEC industry software developer can deploy BIMx’s unique capabilities into new areas of computing and visualization. BIMx advantages the 2D and 3D capabilities of this spatial platform, fluidly wrapping the immersive 3D view from the 2D layouts. Graphisoft did something really exceptional here,” says Pete Evans, AIA, Senior Associate Editor, Architosh. “Being able to rapidly deliver BIMx and exhibit its potential through this brand new technology from Apple is compelling.”   



Innovation category winners deliver novel formulations around existing technologies or synthesize established technologies with emergent technologies. We also look for convergent technology paths and solutions, and directions that drive synergistic outcomes for the profession. This broad category allows us freedom to acknowledge interesting directions, as duly noted in our award to the Nemetschek Group this year. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is at the core of this honor. 

Winner: Nemetschek Group — AV Visualizer Technologies

The Innovation award category heralds “promising” new directions in AEC software and hardware technologies, including “driving at synergistic directions,” and this year, both Autodesk and the Nemetschek Group announced a new API sharing partnership that will help teams working across large projects work more seamlessly together across both companies’ tools. While nothing concrete has been announced yet, the Nemetschek Group itself has taken a similar internal approach within its Group of Solutions.

AIA - BIM - Design - Visualization : BEST of SHOW awards by Architosh.

The Nemetschek Group wins the BEST of SHOW award for Innovation for its “cooperation + competition strategy” within and outside the group and AI Visualizer as its first example.

“We want to acknowledge and encourage this burgeoning era of ‘coopetition’ (cooperation + competition) because the whole industry knows that data translation and interoperability are the AEC/O industry’s biggest roadblock to more efficient days ahead,” says Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA, editor-in-chief, Architosh. “The Nemetschek Group is already demonstrating this spirit with its AI Visualizer technologies that began at Graphisoft and are being shared with both ALLPLAN and Vectorworks, offering users cutting-edge AI-powered visualization features. This diffusion of ‘lighthouse technologies’—tech and features that can draw in prospective users and signal safe harbor in fast-changing times—amongst relevant Group solutions is a brilliant and long overdue strategy.”

The Nemetschek Group aims to leverage and diffuse newer emergent technologies like artificial intelligence. As echoed in the Autodesk + Nemetschek Group API announcements, the diffusion and sharing of key technologies signal less interest in moving firms to other platforms and more emphasis on enhancing the workflows they currently have. “This honor is really directed at the Group’s strategic shift as much as the AI Visualizer technologies themselves,” adds Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA, editor-in-chief, Architosh. “Nemetschek has signaled confidence and maturity that puts customers first both internally amongst its own rival daughter companies and outward with its API partnership with Autodesk. An era of ‘coopetition’ is an era that not only indexes market maturities but points to a possible future where tools become more specialized, effective, and interoperable with all other tools.”



Thanks to Forma’s APIs, architects can connect Rhino design workflows and push that geometry into Forma for environmental impact and site analysis, better informing their designs.



Winner: Autodesk Forma

Autodesk Forma is another winner in the Innovation category, winning a nod two years in a row. Representing the era of BIM 2.0, Forma democratizes access to key new technologies being delivered in the cloud. “Autodesk Forma continues to plow ahead in the areas of sustainable design with new embodied carbon capabilities, helping architects further understand the energy impacts of their building designs at the stage where they can make the largest changes,” says Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA, editor-in-chief, Architosh. 

AIA - BIM - Design - Visualization : BEST of SHOW awards by Architosh.

Autodesk Forma again wins the BEST of SHOW award for Innovation for its industry cloud for AEC/O, delivering compelling early design stage comprehensive analysis with API connectivity to industry-leading design tools like Rhino plus new embodied carbon analysis.

Forma has added many new features since last year, including a growing set of API connections, new labels for leaving notes in collaboration with stakeholders, and more detailed analysis information. “Thanks to Forma’s APIs, architects can connect Rhino design workflows and push that geometry into Forma for environmental impact and site analysis, better informing their designs,” adds Frausto-Robledo, AIA, editor-in-chief. The editors of Architosh are hopeful that the new Autodesk + Nemetschek Group API partnership begins with Forma connections to BIM stalwarts in the Nemetschek Group, where legions of architecture firms could leverage Forma’s early design stage analysis tools along with energy analysis features. (see our Perspectives feature for further discussion around “coopetition” as a theme change in the AEC IT landscape.)


BEST of SHOW — BIM Category

As noted before, BIM solutions today are quite mature and, in some cases, based on extremely mature underlying technologies. We are mindful of the industry’s frustrations with the pace of innovation in this area and are ever more concerned about looking for areas of progress speed-up. As noted last year, this can come about by chip transformations, GPU accelerations, or new connections to the cloud (for desktop legacy BIM in particular). With a slew of promising new Windows for ARM (Microsoft Copilot+ PCs) flooding the market this year, 2024 is not yet the year to lay emphasis on underlying chip optimization, as next year will be more interesting. We look instead to ‘value’ and ‘expertise’ touching down at any segment of the MacLeamy Curve. 


Winner: dRofus

This may have been the first year we have seen dRofus at AIA convention, and the application is very impressive. dRofus is unlike any other solution in the AEC/O software market, focusing on the “I” in BIM and thus providing a data-centric approach to BIM workflows to meet the needs of building owners (particularly public building owners). dRofus helps building owners/operators and their design and engineering teams to better plan for their facility, capturing client requirements down to the smallest of details. Managing the data for facilities begins by utilizing smart modules that organize data into room overviews, room data sheets, items, finishes, systems, function program, procurement, delivery, and IFC/BIM. Used extensively in healthcare facilities, colleges, and corporate campuses, dRofus has become essential for building owners and is a key component of Nemetschek’s digital twins strategy.

AIA - BIM - Design - Visualization : BEST of SHOW awards by Architosh.

dRofus wins the BEST of SHOW for BIM for its industry-leading data-centric BIM solution supporting the data management needs for large and complex building types, including future support for data centers and super connectivity to Revit and Archicad and IFC-based cloud-connected tools.

The application—which has one of the more attractive and well-laid out user interfaces we’ve seen—runs on the desktop (Windows only) or on the web (dRofus Web), and plugins for Autodesk Revit and Graphisoft Archicad provide data panes inside these BIM solutions so when you work with objects and rooms inside BIM models your dRofus data attached to these items is fully displayed and able to be managed. “dRofus is impressive for its comprehensive focus on data-centric BIM with sophisticated plugins that bring in that data management inside leading BIM authoring tools,” says, “Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA, editor-in-chief, Architosh. “Users gain 3D BIM model viewing inside the dRofus app and on the web version. There is even a mobile version for smartphones that enables dRofus to even function as a punch list tool while in the field.” “With the embedded property panel, dRofus data can be accessed directly inside other BIM tools with IFC support, including tools like Solibri,” adds Frausto-Robledo. “What distinguishes dRofus is that nondesign tool users can play a significant role in BIM data, enriching the BIM model through a simplified approach to data management.”



What distinguishes dRofus is that nondesign tool users can play a significant role in BIM data, enriching the BIM model through a simplified approach to data management.



Winner: Vectorworks Architect 2024

Vectorworks 2024 is very deserving of the BIM honor this year, already scoring a Superb 5/5 review score at Architosh plus a “Best in Class” Architizer Award earlier this year. “BIM authoring platforms are quite mature in the industry and the Revit versus Archicad rivalry—reminiscent of Windows versus Mac in bygone years—has the tendency to underestimate other BIM developments and players, including Vectorworks Architect. Version 2024 was not just feature-packed but introduced really cool and very useful features, with the Viewport Styles and implementation of the new modern UI updates being chief standouts,” says Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA, editor-in-chief, Architosh. 

Other notable features in version 2024 included the industry-first bidirectional and cross-platform Excel support in a BIM platform. Its Wall Closure Sets technology is also very interesting and useful, even in its first pass stage. 

AIA - BIM - Design - Visualization : BEST of SHOW awards by Architosh.

Vectorworks Architect 2024 wins BEST of SHOW for its complete and innovative BIM features built on top of an industry-leading technology stack designed to leverage the best technologies from Microsoft, Apple, and Google across a range of devices. This is the BIM most likely to first arrive natively on the new powerful Microsoft Copilot+ PCs on ARM processors.

“What’s noteworthy about Vectorworks is how solid their underlying technology is, having led the entire industry in the ARM-chip transition,” adds Frausto-Robledo, AIA. “Parasolid, Unity, ARM and Intel, Mac and Windows, iOS and Android, everything they have built is ready for the fast-changing future we are now facing. And that is not something you can say about some of the biggest tools in the industry. Having listened to some of the huge enthusiasm from the Dell folks over at the Dell booth at AIA24 this year about their upcoming Microsoft Copilot+ PCs—which are ‘Windows on ARM’ machines—we think that “readiness” to address and leverage key developments in the computer industry is a standout feature.



BEST of SHOW —  CLOUD Category

Due to the cloud, architectural practices have been liberated from CAD/BIM workstations and desks to anywhere, anytime, on any device access to your data or SSoT (single source of truth). Of particular note, this category evaluates CDE (common data environment) applications that are central to democratized access to a single source of truth (SSoT) as well as new forms of collaboration for remote teams and stakeholders. In this last regard, our sole winner is leveraging the cloud for exactly these kinds of workflows but also distributing innovative visualization and superb interactivity for 3D visuals. 


Winner:   SketchUp 2024

This year’s Cloud Category Award goes to 2024 Trimble SketchUp. “The SketchUp team has significantly advanced its 3D engine, resulting in an 8X performance improvement,” says Pete Evans, AIA, Senior Associate Editor, Architosh.  “This enhancement notably impacts web and mobile computing for large AEC designs and models. The latest release also introduces impressive new visualization and collaboration features, showcased at AIA24.”

In a cloud-based “link share,” designers and clients can collaborate beyond traditional screen-sharing. The model is accessible for sharing scenes, with navigation controlled by the designer through a scene-based slideshow or directly by the client. This advanced spatial communication via SketchUp remains user-friendly. Designers can adjust the geometry and re-save it to the cloud, with updates appearing for the client within moments, depending on internet speed. The designer controls the link, which can remain live for client review until the designer ends it. This dynamic allows designers to manage the link while providing clients with extended access to investigate the 3D model through “saved scene-based navigation.” 

AIA - BIM - Design - Visualization : BEST of SHOW awards by Architosh.

Trimble Sketchup 2024 wins BEST of SHOW for the Cloud honor for its innovative cloud-based collaboration features and excellent new graphics engine updates.

SketchUp’s new graphics engine delivers impressive new ambient occlusion with various degrees of visual impact, all controlled through simple slider interface widgets. Users can adjust the distance and intensity in 3D view, giving designs a deeper sense of space. While ambient occlusion has been available in advanced rendering engines for several years, SketchUp’s implementation showcases significant advancements possible with AEC/O tools over the internet (cloud). Furthermore, in a private meeting, we were treated to further impressive future advancements in rendering technology due to the completely new graphics engine along with future cloud benefits.

“These new capabilities from SketchUp are powerful and seamlessly integrated into its intuitive interface, providing robust communication tools for web and mobile releases as a core part of the SketchUp ecosystem. It’s an impressive implementation!” says Pete Evans, AIA, Senior Associate Editor at Architosh. “What we saw today and what’s coming soon highlight the ongoing advantages SketchUp offers in visualization and cloud-based collaboration.” 




Architectural visualization continues to benefit from stronger real-time technologies and deep integrations throughout the larger ecosystem of design tools. The real winners in the industry are the users who have a plethora of choices. However, in terms of real-time interactive renderers, there are only a few games in town, with Enscape, Lumion, and Twinmotion dominating this sector of the market. While AI-based visualization tools are growing in usage, they are still immature and cannot fully meet the needs of architecture firms who need full spectrum capabilities—from early-stage visualization done by architects to cinematic-level animations done by dedicated archviz studios. There is more to visualization than just the look of the building and spaces; visualization can focus on “energy visualization” and Radiance-level “light visualization.” 


Winner: Chaos – Enscape

Chaos delivered Enscape 4 earlier this year, announcing its first true cross-platform Mac-Win release, scoring kudos for democratizing its leading-edge interactive rendering technologies for Mac-based architects. But the big news was the enhanced integration with the entire Chaos ecosystem via the new V-Ray scene exporter. This technology breaks down the barriers between architecture and visualization professionals (or between “design” and “creative,” to use Chaos’ terms). Known as (.vrscene), architects working in Enscape can package up all model data, including assets, lights, and materials, and send them on their way to more photoreal workflows done by other professionals, inside or outside the architecture firm.

AIA - BIM - Design - Visualization : BEST of SHOW awards by Architosh.

Chaos Enscape wins the BEST of SHOW for Visualization for its bridge technologies connecting real-time rendering (Enscape) to more photo-real rendering pipelines with its V-Ray Scene technology, plus upcoming AI features and IES energy visualization later this year.

“The Chaos Enscape team is solving common visualization workflow challenges at multiple levels, “says Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA, editor-in-chief, Architosh. “by democratizing archviz to more design professionals through an ‘Enscape everywhere’ distribution, and then by enabling a superior handoff to DCC (digital content creation) tools used by dedicated visualization professionals.” V-Ray scene files can be imported into top DCC tools like Autodesk 3ds Max or Maxon’s Cinema 4D. This builds on the Enscape to V-Ray bridge connectivity Chaos already delivered to the market. Furthermore, Chaos showed us upcoming (in-development) features, including IES-based energy visualization (building performance viz) and AI technologies that up-sample people and plants, areas that traditionally suffer in renderings. “Chaos’ partnership with IES is interesting and will help architects understand energy impacts from their design thinking early on in the building design process,” says Frausto-Robledo. “The integration of building performance visualization with general visualization puts this all-important subject front and center into the design workflow where it needs to be top-of-mind for all architects.”



BEST of SHOW —  The Economics Prize

This new award category will go to only one winner each year, delivering to market a product that can prove its economic value across one or more of the metrics defined for this honor. 


Winner: No winner this year. 


[Editor’s note: We wish to make clear that there are multiple winners in some categories, and we eliminated the honorable mentions this year. See our show reports for more apps seen at AIA24, starting with this first report here.]


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