Augmenta: Automated Building Design Using Generative AI

This review explores Augmenta, a new AEC technology solution being developed for automating building design in Revit that is using the breakthrough technology of generative AI. It is focused on the different engineering disciplines — electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and structural — for which it can automatically create detailed, code-compliant, and constructible designs that satisfy the specified criteria. Since it works as a plugin to Revit, designers already using Revit for detailed design and BIM modeling can continue to work within it and still use Augmenta as a smart design tool within their existing workflows.


Newforma Project Center

Newforma Project Center is the earliest “project information management” solution for architects and engineers. In fact, Newforma was the first vendor to coin that term to describe what exactly its solution does — which is to manage the large volumes of information associated with the design and/or construction of a project. In addition to the actual design documents such as drawings, models, specifications, etc., a project information management (PIM) solution captures all the back-and-forth communication between the different members of the project team as they are working on finalizing the design, including submittals, transmittals, RFIs, markups, emails, etc.

I first had a chance to explore Newforma Project Center back in 2007 when it was in its fourth edition. Needless to say, while the application has expanded its capabilities considerably since then, I would say that its fundamental value proposition remains the same — organizing the vast amount of information that is constantly being generated for a project, to not only make it easier to manage but also to be able to instantly search for a required item, as well as maintain a complete record of how the project has progressed from start to finish.


ConCntric: Dedicated Platform for Preconstruction

The AEC technology industry is teeming with solutions that seem to be addressing every conceivable process and workflow — we have solutions for each of individual design disciplines, design visualization, analysis and simulation tools, multidisciplinary design collaboration and coordination, reality modeling, project management, project information management, construction planning, construction management, estimating, scheduling, construction field management, as well as post-construction facility management. But as I recently learnt, there is one aspect of the process that is still underserved by technology, and this is the preconstruction process, which is where the cost, schedule, planning, and logistics of a project are nailed down before the construction can begin.

ConCntric is a new web-based collaborative platform specifically developed to manage preconstruction in a more advanced way, allowing all the stakeholders that are involved at this stage to jointly strategize on what exactly will be built and how.


Allplan 2023

This review explores the key updates in the new version of Allplan, including the integration of full BIM for Precast capabilities, expansion of its 3D site planning capabilities, improved support for point clouds, a live connection to Solibri for issue management, a live link with Lumion for visualization, expanded connection design and automated reinforcement for engineering, and several enhancements to its dedicated bridge application, Allplan Bridge.


Trimble Connect

Trimble is one of the leading technology vendors serving the AEC industry today. While it started off being primarily focused on construction — it was founded as Trimble Navigation in 1978 and subsequently changed its name to Trimble Inc. — it has, over the years, acquired many leading applications in design and engineering including SketchUp and Tekla. In 2014, it acquired Gehry Technologies, a spin-off technology firm from Gehry Partners, and continued to develop Gehry Technologies’ GTeam cloud-based project management and collaboration platform, rebranding it as Trimble Connect to facilitate what it calls “connected construction.”

While there is no dearth of cloud-based collaboration platforms in the AEC industry that provide a CDE (Common Data Environment) for project drawings, models, and other documents — examples include Autodesk BIM 360, Graphisoft BIMcloud, Allplan Bimplus, Bentley ProjectWise, 3D Repo, Asite, Revizto, Aconex, Dalux, and BIM Track — what distinguishes Trimble Connect are the deep integrations it has with other Trimble products across all disciplines, not just with SketchUp (design) and Tekla Structures (structural engineering and fabrication), but also with ProjectSight (construction management); Sysque, Stabicad, and Nova (MEP); Quadri (infrastructure model management); Field Points (field layout); and TerraFlex and Trimble Access (topography and positioning).


Archicad 26

The article on Graphisoft’s 2022 Product Launch published last month captured the key updates that were shared at the launch event about the latest versions of Graphisoft products including its flagship BIM application, Archicad; its cloud collaboration solution, BIMcloud; its mobile and web model viewing app, BIMx; and a new building services solution, DDScad, that was recently added to Graphisoft’s portfolio. In this review, we will take a detailed look at the features and enhancements more specifically in the new release of Archicad, version 26, which are almost evenly distributed along each of the key areas of the application: Design, Collaboration, Visualization, and Documentation.  


Dalux: BIM for Construction and Facilities Management

I was not familiar with Dalux until a reader wrote in to let me know that it was missing from the list of “Construction Management” solutions in the extended AECbytes VendorHub listing. While I went ahead and added it to the list, it also prompted me to check it out in more detail, and I found it a comprehensive suite of solutions, not just for construction management but also for facilities management. And it is, of course, BIM-based, as most AEC technology solutions developed recently are, so they can be built on top of an intelligent, object-based, building-aware platform. Additionally, Dalux is also entirely cloud-based, which again is almost a given for any modern application that needs to be collaborative, mobile-accessible, and available 24/7.


ALLPLAN Infrastructure Day 2022

Last month, the leading AEC technology vendor, ALLPLAN, had its annual Infrastructure Day event, in which the company showcased the latest developments in its solutions and highlighted how they were being used in infrastructure projects around the world. The implementation examples were presented by the AEC firms executing these projects, and they provided the opportunity not just to learn more about ALLPLAN’s solutions but also to learn more about the projects themselves, especially in countries that are not typically on the public radar such as Croatia and Romania.


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.


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.