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Issue #818 |  May 13, 2014
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In This Issue


1. Q&As from the Nikken Sekkei Visit

   ArchiCAD the core for 1,200 architects


2. Letters to the Editor

    What IntelliCAD 8 consist of, actually


From the editor: I will be at Solid Edge University 2014 all day Tuesday, in Atlanta GA.


Q&A from the Nikken Sekkei Visit

Graphisoft took us CAD journalists on a morning visit to Tokyo's Nikken Sekkei (established 1900), an international one-stop architecture firm working primarily in Asia with 1,200 architects. The firm began trying BIM ten years ago, and then made BIM the company standard three years ago. ArchiCAD is their main program. It is the core of the design process, although other software is used as well.


Last year, Nikken began partnering with Graphisoft directly to make ArchiCAD better, and so some of the new functions are the result of this practical advice. Eight Nikken Sekkei employees liaise on product development with Graphisoft. After an introductory talk about the firm and some of its newest projects (see Figures 1 and 2), the principals answered questions from the CAD journalists.


Figure 1: A dramatic architectural design by Nikken for a bank client in China (image credit: Nikken)


Q: Why Graphisoft?
They are flexible in adapting to Japan, listening to our issues, and cooperating. What was crucial to us is that they adopted the OpenBIM concept. If BIM is closed, it disturbs our work, because Japanese standards are unique in the world.


Q: Who in the firm uses BIM, the actual architects or their assistants?
We call it "Self BIM." The architects use BIM themselves for architectural, MEP [mechanical, electrical, plumbing] and structural design, with help from the support center.


The front loading from BIM makes more work for architects [initially], but with training and learning and better connection with the other software we use, the learning curve becomes less harsh. For instance, ArchiCAD is assisted by our Digital Design Lab that operates the computational design and simulation software.


We use Rhino primarily, along with T-splines and Grasshopper for conceptual design. These models are fed into ArchiCAD. Many other packages are used for lighting, sound, people movement, air circulation, analysis, documentation, and so on.


Q: How big are your projects using ArchiCAD?
We have seven BIM Teamwork servers; typical project sizes range from 100MB to 2GB. We have an average of 10 users online at a time [per server], working on an average of three projects at a time. [The company totals 200 projects a year.]


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Q&A from the Nikken Sekkei Visit, continued...


Q: Do you do FM [facilities management]?
We are interested in it, and are strongly investigating it. When our clients hear "BIM," they are very interested in what we do. We are looking at software to connect with the BIM model. FM does not tend to be in 3D; most of it is done by 2D, text, or spreadsheet. But since we produce 3D models, we think 3D FM is possible.


Q: What is the benefit to 3D FM?
Then we would not have to generate 2D drawings. If we run FM in 3D, we can get more information on how the buildings operate, to help us design better ones in the future.


Figure 2: The Yamaha tower in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district includes a concert hall designed by Nikken (image credit: Nikken)


Q: How do you capture as-builts?
Maybe in the future, we will use laser scans. The contractor used laser scans to document the Skytree tower [designed by Nikken], but this is not normal practice now.


Q: How do you create the as-built models?
We supervise the construction site; it is the rule in Japan that the architect supervises. Through this, we get the as-builts from the contractor. The clients ask us to store the model for them, especially when it is a precise 2GB model!


Q: During the shop drawing phase, the drawings are 2D. So, part of your team converts the shop drawings back to 3D BIM?
: We can specify that the contractor document construction changes in the BIM model to an LOD [level of detail] of 1:300 (design drawing) or 1:400 (construction drawings).


Q: What about energy analysis and estimation?
We do an analysis from the BIM model with BEST (Japanese made) software and Thermo. It is a very natural process for us here in Japan: as soon as we have a shape in Rhino, we perform an energy analysis. CFD [computational fluid dynamics] is 3D, and BIM is 3D, so it works well. I was surprised to learn American firms mostly use 2D CFD analysis.


Q: What document management system do you use?
Our own internal system. We use in-house software for earthquake analysis, because Japan has its own standard, which other programs don't do.


Q: Do you trust other people's files, or is there group responsibility?
We are now starting to encounter this problem. We use a trusted overseas partner to remodel it in BIM, because it would be very expensive in Japan. IFCs [industry foundation classes] sound very nice, but it causes very many problems. Maybe one day there will be a standard in Japan; we asked Graphisoft to add our standard to their program. The Japanese government this week announced a BIM standard for their own buildings. But they are nervous of a national standard, because a similar effort for civil engineering failed a few year ago.


Summing up: "It is not easy to implement as a standard for everyone, but we want it to grow as fast as possible, with the main objective being cost and quality."



[Disclosure: Graphisoft provided me with airfare, accommodation, and some meals.]


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Letters to the Editor

Re: ANSYS Buys Spaceclaim

Venture money poured into SpaceClaim is $49M, according to Crunchbase. Evan Yares is off by $10M. Here is the link, http://www.crunchbase.com/organization/spaceclaim
      - Siddhartha Oza, product manager


The editor replies: "Hmmm.. Evan says he got his numbers from adding them up from SEC filings. I wonder if this might be more accurate that what TechCrunch is reporting?"


Re: What I Saw at COFES 2014

I think I'm a techno-realist, which I would define as someone who really believes that the latest technology is amazing, productivity-boosting, and headed toward a somewhat promising future -- for the thin slice at the very center of the target customer group at which they are aiming.


The rest of us get to "eat the crumbs that fall from the master's table," often due to that word you brought up last week -- compatibility! Even with a program as open and configurable as AutoCAD, I often find I have to wait five years or longer to implement some new feature into my CAD development, because of incompatibility with legacy files, or because of users who just don't seem to want to increase productivity ("we've always done it that way"), or who can't afford to work on the current DWG format, or sometimes just because of one tiny facet of a feature that ruins it for my particular industry.
      - R. P.


The editor replies: Now, that' a good third stance.



Attached is the scan I made of the English side of Masao Morito's business card.
     - Bill Cochell, director of custom applications
       Design Parametrics


The editor replies: I had lost Mr Morito's buisness card, and so did not remember his name for my mention of iCAD. Three readers sprang to my assistance!



Thank you for introducing me and our product in your article. And please allow me to correct a word in your article: CGM is not the name of our kernel, CSG (Constructive Solid Geometry) is the method we use for our own kernel.
      - Masao Morito, senior manager
        Strategic Marketing & Technology Division, iCAD Ltd.


Re: What's Inside? IntelliCAD 8

In your recent IntelliCAD 8 review posted on your blog [at http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com/blog/2014/04/whats-inside-intellicad-8exclusive-coverage-now-that-the-intellicad-technical-consortium-is-over-the-huge-multi-year-hurdl.html] you sated the following:

Now that the IntelliCAD Technical Consortium is over the huge, multi-year hurdle of rewriting IntelliCAD 7 (so as to remove all Microsoft-owned code found in IntellICAD 6 and earlier)

This is not the case. Our goal for IntelliCAD 7 was not to remove existing Visio-Microsoft-owned code, but to refactor our usage of the ODA [Open Design Alliance] libraries. Previously, in IntelliCAD 6, we used the ODA libraries only for read/write of DWG files; we maintained our own internal database. This caused a lot of delay when porting to new ODA updates, as it required us to make huge modifications to our core database code, and did not allow us to properly handle custom objects.


We redesigned IntelliCAD 7 to utilize ODA as our internal database, so we now:

This effort took a lot of time and resources, as all internal commands were refactored. It also completely changed our entire graphics engine. Nevertheless, we still have a lot of original code in IntelliCAD as there are hundreds of man years of experience/work that would be senseless to rewrite.

Again, we did not remove code under Microsoft's copyright; legally we cannot do that. It's clear that our existing code is a derivative of the original code the ITC received from Microsoft. Our new code was created by the same team, slowly deriving from the original code to properly use the redesigned ODA libraries – but we must maintain the original Microsoft copyrights and declare that new portions are a derivative.

      - Dave Lorenzo, development director
        IntelliCAD Technology Consortium


The editor replies: I must have misunderstood one of the technical sessions at an ITC conference. Thank you for correcting my wrong impression.

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      - B. G.

Notable Quotable

"We tried to explain that loving Apple products wasn't part of my job description, but that never registered."
      - Miguel Helft, Fortune magazine, speaking of Katie Cotton, Apple vp of worldwide corporate communications



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Entire contents copyright 2014 by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. All rights reserved worldwide. Letters sent to the editor are subject to publication. Article reprint fee: $840. All trademarks belong to their respective holders. "upFront.eZine," "The Business of CAD," and "WorldCAD Access" are trademarks of upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. Letters to the editor may be edited for clarity and brevity. Translations and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd.


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