Dick Clark & Associates, an architecture firm based in Austin, Texas has been using ArchiCAD for the past two years after switching from Vectorworks. The all-Mac shop produces designs for custom residential projects as well as urban commercial and hospitality developments.
Since making the switch to ArchiCAD, the team has noticed the freedom they have to design instead of worrying about the back end of their drawings. Because ArchiCAD supports their creativity with solid architectural data and building information that is valid and purposeful, the architects report being able to explore various options and essentially push their designs further.
Testing the Design
The City of Austin, Texas maintains strict zoning regulations for communal residences. So the team at Dick Clark has to work through their designs and conduct feasibility studies, testing the proposed design for compliance with land development codes, sloping setbacks and height limits. The ability to work within ArchiCAD to get reliable data was useful on a recent multi-family housing project – incorporating Google Earth and video sun studies to maximize the solar exposure for the communal areas, courtyards and roof decks.
“There’s no comparison from what our process was like when we drew lines as to now – using BIM. And as we’re becoming more and more confident with ArchiCAD each time we use it for these large-scale projects – we get better with the tool. But make no mistake: it’s about the efficiency – from simple projects that have a 2 week permit document process to those more complex ones that take years – we stay efficient as the project scales up,” says Matt Dungan, an Associate at DC+A.
Scaling with Heavy Workloads
Their workload did scale up recently – times two – when the firm won a boutique hotel and low income housing project at the same time. The housing project, Capital Studios, was being designed to LEED Platinum standards in addition to having federal tax credits governing its layout, documentation, and permitting process.
It was then the firm jumped heavily into ArchiCAD and its Teamwork and BIM Server functionality to help their teams stay connected. The two jobs had their individual levels of complexity on their own, but having them on the boards at the same time with the same short deadlines – the need for coordinated real-time coordination became critical.
“Nothing really compares to the BIM Server in maximizing the productivity on a project that is large scale. We are in the construction phase of a mixed-use 135 unit low-income efficiency apartment building with retail on the first floor. At the same time we were designing that building, we were working on a boutique hotel with a multi-level underground parking garage. In order to manage all the work, we contracted additional team members from outside the office, some on PCs – and Teamwork made it possible for everyone to be in the same projects at the same time.”
Changes and Clash Detection Simplified
Even though the firm doesn’t fully integrate MEP into their models, there are fewer problems with clash detection because ArchiCAD helps them coordinate well. Switching to ArchiCAD eliminated the need to re-draw parts of the model when changes were made.
“Changes always happen, but what used to be an ‘oh-no moment’ is now an ‘ah-ha moment’,” says Jeff Krolicki, a Senior Associate at the firm. “You catch potential problems so much earlier in the design phase and can work them out ahead of time. ArchiCAD has helped tremendously on our coordination and understanding of the building systems. If I change a room or a window – I can move it in one location and it updates throughout.”