Software transition stories happen all the time, whether we hear about them or not. In learning about the story of an architectural firm switching from one software to another, the reader needs to fully understand the why. One story worth checking out is that of the firm SYLLA INTERNATIONAL.
Sylla is an architectural firm based in Tampa, Florida which made the decision to switch their BIM software from one they’d been using for nearly two decades. The firm transitioned from using Bentley Microstation and Bentley Architecture to ArchiCAD. This surprising change took time and careful consideration, as owner and president, Cheikh T. Sylla described to us in a recent interview.
The firm works on a mix of projects which include large education buildings that can have construction costs up to and including a budget of $60 million or more. Sylla International operates with a small, yet powerful staff, aided by their new workflow and software of choice. In fact, since making the switch Cheikh T. Sylla – owner and principal has been confident he made the right decision in choosing ArchiCAD software by GRAPHISOFT. Having downsized its staff in order to compete in a slow economy, Sylla International has been able to maintain an efficiency and handle sizeable projects in spite of reduced manpower.
The firm has seen a measurable increase in productivity and profitability since the switch just a few short months ago. “Without question, we are gaining anywhere from thirty percent increased productivity from where we were before. Now, more than ever we are effective and efficient. Every day that goes by, reassures me that we made the right move,” explained Sylla. “My only regret is not having switched sooner.”
Sylla knows whereof he speaks. Having taken a significant amount of time to evaluate other programs and measure them against his years of BIM experience, Sylla says it boiled down to a key factor: how well did the software facilitate his job, as an architect. “In my opinion, there are many architects being snookered onto the BIM bandwagon without their really knowing what BIM should be about. In my book, BIM is more than an esoteric or fashionable thing. It should be about making my life easier – and if an architect is struggling with any architectural application that calls itself BIM – he/she needs to look elsewhere, because they do not have BIM. ArchiCAD is BIM.”
Some other key points Sylla reports finding as an advantage in using ArchiCAD include the intelligent design of the software, its built-in logic, method of project organization and flexibility to control parametric objects. “ArchiCAD is a software program intelligently designed around the way an architect works. It doesn’t force me to learn a new way of doing things, it lets me do what I want to do – by staying in the background as a tool that fully supports my tasks.”
In designing high schools, Sylla has to follow very specific and extensive specifications. ArchiCAD serves the firm well in overcoming the challenge of following those specifications while designing in an efficient way. The architects are able to address the issues that come with the specifications without having to spend time re-working design choices because of an unnoticed mistake.
“Our previous software didn’t always allow us to work efficiently. Our relationship with the software company that makes the BIM program we use is, to me, similar to that of a marriage – which is based on architecture. Architecture is what I do, so I wanted the software company to be completely committed to that very thing – in essence, to be obsessed and preoccupied with the relationship I have with architecture. Anything my partner does, in this so-called “marriage,” needs to be focused on improving the relationship based on architecture – GRAPHISOFT does that with ArchiCAD and it gives us a renewed passion for our work.”