CellBIM: BIM Inside Excel

The use of Excel is pretty much ubiquitous in most industries including AEC, and the idea of being able to open up a BIM model inside Excel and work with its data is brilliant in its simplicity. This review explores a new application, CellBIM, which actually does this. With it, you can bring a BIM model into Excel, work directly with its elements, query it, perform calculations, take-off quantities, and explore any aspect of the design visually.

URL: https://www.aecbytes.com/review/2022/CellBIM.html

Spaces: iPad App for Conceptual Design

As far back as in 2015 in the article, “Why Isn’t There a Smarter BIM Tool for Building Design, Yet?,” I had bemoaned the lack of a smart conceptual design tool for architecture, asking:

Is there nothing else we can do to make the process of conceptualizing a building smarter, more intuitive, more fun? Why can’t we simply be able to sketch out a building design — say a floor plan or a façade — and automatically get a fully detailed, structurally sound, constructable BIM without actually having to model every bit of it? Is this too much to ask for?

Well, it’s been 7 years, but we finally have the start of something like this. It is the new Spaces iPad app, developed by a startup company, Cerulean Labs.

URL: https://www.aecbytes.com/review/2022/Spaces.html

Enscape: Real-Time Design Visualization

This review explores Enscape, a real-time photorealistic rendering application that connects directly to Revit, Archicad, SketchUp, Rhino, and Vectorworks, allowing designers to see their models in real time and present them to clients. Advanced presentation capabilities include panoramic views, animations, and stand-alone executables that allow clients to explore the design on their own.

URL: https://www.aecbytes.com/review/2022/Enscape.html

Nearmap: Aerial Imagery for AEC

This article provides an overview of Nearmap, which provides frequently-updated aerial imagery of most of the populated areas in North America, Australia, and New Zealand for use in building and infrastructure design. In addition to annotating and measuring the imagery, it also includes AI-enabled automatic feature detection capabilities that can save hours of tedious, manual labor in making sense of the imagery.

URL: https://www.aecbytes.com/review/2021/Nearmap.html

Allplan 2022

The new 2022 version of Allplan, the flagship AEC application from the Nemetschek Group, is notable not just for its many new features and enhancements for Allplan’s core markets of architecture and engineering, but also for its growing expansion to infrastructure as well as inroads into construction and buildability. Also noteworthy are the enhancements specifically for the US market, including standards and best practices, which should help to expand the scope and reach of the application, not only in the US but also in many other countries around the world where US standards are adopted.

URL: https://www.aecbytes.com/review/2021/Allplan2022.html

Archicad 25

Graphisoft unveiled the latest versions of its three main products a few weeks ago: its flagship BIM application, Archicad; its cloud collaboration solution, BIMcloud; and its mobile and web model viewing app, BIMx. This year is a special one for Graphisoft as it marks the release of the 25th version of Archicad. Right from the launch of version 1.0 in 1984, Archicad included 3D in addition to traditional 2D CAD, and it has continued to cement its position as a leading BIM application with breakthrough enhancements such as server-based collaboration, bidirectional integration with Grasshopper for design scripting, and rule-based design in subsequent releases.

This review explores the new capabilities and enhancements of Archicad 25, including the ability to quickly navigate between 2D and 3D, more parametric object libraries, improved visualization with surface textures and customizable graphic overrides, native support for RVT and RFA files, better support to automatically structural analysis models, and many more.

URL: https://www.aecbytes.com/review/2021/Archicad25.html

ENVIRONMENT for Revit: Extending BIM to Landscape Architecture

The AEC technology industry has been seeing increasing momentum in the extension of the model-based concept of BIM to the design and development of infrastructure projects such as roads, railways, and bridges, with several tools targeted towards civil engineers. However, tools that extend BIM to the comparatively smaller domain of landscape architecture are still non-existent. For the most part, landscape architects are still working in 2D CAD, even if the corresponding building design has been done using BIM. Not only does this prevent landscape architects from availing of the many benefits of BIM that their architectural and engineering colleagues are enjoying, it also makes it difficult for them to be an integral part of the building team early on when the most critical decisions about the building design are made. 

This review looks at Environment, a plug-in to Revit that extends its capabilities for site and landscape design. It includes tools for modeling terrain from scratch, visualizing and analyzing topography, creating outdoor walls and railings quickly along sloped surfaces, and other useful tasks routinely performed by landscape architects.

URL: https://www.aecbytes.com/review/2021/EnvironmentforRevit.html

VisiLean: BIM Integrated Lean Construction Planning

This review explores VisiLean, a cloud-based construction planning and scheduling application incorporating lean principles, which integrates with BIM. Its strength as a lean planning tool comes from its ability to merge the top-down approach (using, for example, the traditional Gantt Schedule) with the bottom-up approach (using the Last Planner System® that follows lean construction principles). Thus, it can be used for the entire range of scheduling activities, from the high-level planning in the office all the way down to the individual construction tasks in the field, for which there is a VisiLean mobile app. The BIM integration allows the construction schedule — including the individual tasks as well as the overall progress — to be better visualized, providing a clearer understanding of the critical issues and bottlenecks so that they can be dealt with and accounted for as the construction progresses.

URL: https://www.aecbytes.com/review/2021/VisiLean.html

Understanding BIM (Book Review)

Given the large number of books on BIM that have been — and continue to be — published, what makes Understanding BIM stand out is that it is authored by someone who actually developed the precursor to modern BIM applications. This was an application called SONATA and it was developed by Jonathan Ingram — in true Silicon Valley start-up style — in his attic (rather than a garage as it would be in Silicon Valley!) in England. SONATA became REfLEX, which then became ProReflex, which was acquired by PTC (Parametric Technology Corporation), from which Revit emerged as a start-up, which was then acquired by Autodesk — and then of course, as they say, the rest is history. It is fascinating to be able to look back at the origins of BIM from someone who not only had a front row seat to the game, but who actually played it — and not just played it, but actually drafted many of its rules.

URL: https://www.aecbytes.com/review/2021/UnderstandingBIM-BookReview.html

BEXEL Manager

This review explores BEXEL Manager, a sophisticated application for construction planning and scheduling with a wide range of capabilities including coordinating the multiple disciplinary BIM models in IFC format (3D BIM), construction planning and scheduling (4D BIM), quantity take-off and estimating (5D BIM), and finally, extending the use of the model to FM (6D BIM). In particular, it provides an integrated 4D/5D platform, which means that the scheduling and the costing are not done separately but in conjunction with each other.

URL: http://www.aecbytes.com/review/2020/BEXEL-Manager.html