Beautiful 3D Documents (Part 2)

ArchiCAD 3D

This is the second part of my series on some very nice 3D Documents created by Patrick May, a residential designer and BIM Manager at Christian Gladu Design Studio. You can read the first half here.

ArchiCAD 3DJared Banks: What gave you the idea to do the documentation of the fireplace framing as a series of 3D images?

Patrick May: The need and inspiration for these documents were brought on by a request to clarify accessory or non-structural framing required for finish carpentry. This house is currently under construction, and the framing contractor needed to know what components of some interior walls and framed openings would be rough lumber vs finish carpentry. There are some 12″ thick walls with transoms heavy in casework that all need to line up with picture rails, crown trim and baseboard. The area around the fireplace is particularly difficult, there is a lot of over framing, a step up to the room beyond, an Isokern fireplace to be framed around, built-in cabinets and the previously mentioned transoms.

JB:What was your favorite part of the model?

PM: The best part of this model is actually the fireplace which is a double sided Isokern fireplace modeled—and scripted as a GDL Object—to the manufacturers size and specifications, shown in the model per installation specifications. I was able to use a live section to show the installation of this piece (rather than a static detail not linked to the virtual model).

JB: Did you come across any problems or danger zones while doing this type of modeling?

PM: The pitfall to modeling to this level of detail is it can raise more questions than answers. This being done during a construction administration phase, questions are not the end of the world. If modeled to this level of detail at an earlier phase, it would involve a major modeling shift if these questions required a redesign.

JB: What was the reaction from the contractor? Full disclosure here: I saw his excited comment on Facebook when he asked if the images were for him… so I can guess that he liked them.

PM: The contractor found this very helpful and was able to frame to the specifications of the model; which ensures or aides in the coordination of trades which will not be involved until months down the road.

JB: What tools did you use in ArchiCAD to model everything? What else can you tell me about the model?

PM: The model as shown is beams and columns as framing members, which occupy the same volume as walls and floors. This gives verification that all framing members are in the same place specified by the original construction documents. The walls and floors are excluded for clarity and there are two GDL Objects (the fireplaces).

JB: So obviously some of the model is missing from these 3D Documents. How’d you manage that? Layers, Renovation Filters, a separate detail model…?

PM: This is done on a framing layer integrated into the model.  Studs, plates and floor over framing are all given unique ID’s for easy selection and modification.

JB: Can you tell me more about the scripted Object for the masonry? Any chance of sharing it on BIMcomponents?

PM: This fireplace was scripted for easy resizing and specification. Isokern uses a series of blocks to create a masonry fireplace light enough to be supported by framed floors. The blocks were created individually and added to a single object. There are a few pieces missing that would make it more suitable for sharing; I did not script material settings for different surfaces or a firebrick layer on the inside face of the fireplace since I was concerned most about the outer dimensions and opening dimension for finishes. I may revisit this Object and tighten up the scripting on a future job (we use Isokern often) and share with BIMcomponents. Creating GDL seems a lot easier in ArchiCAD 16, so some of this may just be redone rather than reading through countless lines of script on an antiquated library part.

JB: I agree completely; Object creation is so much better in ArchiCAD 16. Can you tell me about the overall project?

PM: This project is a Prairie inspired custom home in Bethesda, Maryland. The plan is based on secondary rooms off an open floor plan, featuring a family room and a double height library with a loft style master bedroom. Here is a video walk-through (done during design development) of some of the interior spaces, please ignore or forgive the poor material selection:

JB: Awesome! That’s great that you guys are using ArchiCAD to share basic walk-through videos with clients. What a great communication technique for a long-distance client. I like that it’s what I consider a dirty video. And take that as a compliment. No special rendering, no post-production work. Just: here’s a video from a camera path in ArchiCAD used to show off the design as it is today. I guess a better term would be a process video, a design video, or a sketch video. But I like the allusion to the messiness of graphite on your hands from a quick sketch. Maybe that’s too much extrapolation. Anyways… It’d be cool to see what the finished model looks like using the same camera path. Also, did you think about using BIMx to share the model with the client? I assume you did that video before the limited path option for BIMx.

PM: I have not re-done the walk through, unfortunately. I actually am not aware of the BIMx video options, specifically the limited path options. As usual with software this deep, with all the add-ons, internal options and third party compatible software I learn something new every week. I will have to look into the limited path for BIMx; we share BIMx files all the time and are always worried about clients and builders getting fixated on some inconsequential sloppy modeling that they happen to stumble across.

JB:One final question. What’s your big take-away or lesson learned from this whole process?

PM: The lesson I have taken from this is the importance of modeling and detailing accurately at all phases. When showing interior trim pieces, show them to actual size and profile laid over actual substrate and structure. When I went to put in studs, plates and beams they all snapped right into place based on the walls they were creating because of the care taken during earlier project phases.  Modeling with the attitude of “thats good enough for now” should be very limited, and rectified soon, for a successful final product.

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