Using ARCHICAD since




Occulus Rift, Fuzor

The reputation of Ordiz Melby Architects (OMA), a firm that has been delivering award-winning projects for more than 25 years, is well-established.

This type of prestige comes from a strong foundation of practical knowledgeas well as an open-minded approach to the role of technology. I had an opportunity to speak at length with Jeannie Bertolaccini, OMA principal. She explained that the firm has always had its eye on how technology can improve their process and profitability. Ten years ago, when the firm adopted BIM, they chose ARCHICAD as the cornerstone of OMA’s process and workflow for multiple reasons, not the least of which was the software’s ability to work well with other industry standard products.

“When we began using ARCHICAD more than a decade ago, we were leading the way. Now we realize people have caught up – they’re using BIM – and we need to compete on that level and beyond. We see that we’re going in the right direction with ARCHICAD.”

Technology continues to play a role in the firm’s forward motion from a business perspective as well. OMA takes advantage of regular ARCHICAD webinars and training.

“When we evaluated BIM as an option for us, we saw it as revolutionary. Not wanting to be left behind, we knew adopting BIM would ensure we’d be part of that revolution. BIM changes everything, so the reorganization/learning curve impacted our productivity, but in a very short time, with training, networking with other users and support from GRAPHISOFT we’ve made up for it and then some.”

OMA has been able to participate in the unique offering from GRAPHISOFT known as the Virtual Roundtable which can provide highly focused insight and direction for firms like OMA, who are always looking ahead.

“We’ve taken advantage of Virtual Roundtable sessions which has given us a voice in the decision-making on the software. We get valuable insight on what’s coming so we can work updates into our template. The value of being an ARCHIPLUS member and remaining current with the software ensures that we are always advancing. We want to be “in the know” where ARCHICAD is concerned because this is not just our software but our design and our process.”

OMA uses that knowledge to fuel their efforts in making their models as smart as they can be.

“We realize that in order to branch out into offering something in terms of facilities management or estimated quantity outputs, our model has to be spot-on, so we’re working on that level of confidence with our models.”

Compatibility with well-known 3rd party add-ons factored in as well. Perhaps the most important feature of ARCHICAD remained its ability to coordinate and resolve conflicts early on in a project’s life cycle.

The role of BIM in transforming the firm to what it is today

The importance of working in BIM from the outset cannot be understated for OMA. As Bertolaccini tells us, it has set the firm apart from its competitors.

“We pride ourselves in our BIM abilities and are dedicated to finding innovative ways to use it. We use ARCHICAD the way it is intended, embracing its smart features. ARCHICAD can help us go beyond just offering architecture services – the many uses for BIM and BIM skills leave it to us to leap forward into other markets.”

BIM application makes projects more efficient

Applying BIM to the workflow at OMA had impact on the profitability, efficiency and client satisfaction on three notable projects of late. The Delano Regional Medical Center Outpatient Facility which opened just 6 months ago presented many challenges that ARCHICAD helped the OMA team address and overcome.

Their task was to design a 3-story facility capable of housing all necessary medical equipment and do so on a very small footprint. OMA had to address a concern over the fact a 3-story building would stand out on the medical center’s campus since the majority there were one and two-story structures.

“We modeled the entire campus to help them see how it would look and showed them it would enhance their campus. This had to happen early in the schematic phase. The project couldn’t have moved forward without our doing this crucial step.”

Medical facilities typically have services that need easy public access on the first floor. But there needed to be space enough for MRI, Nuclear Medicine and CT. Choosing to put those modalities on the 3rd floor was atypical, but OMA found a way to make it work and the model helped make their vision clear to their client.

“The question became how we would get the equipment in and out if replacement was needed – we used ARCHICAD to model and present the punch out exterior walls. They would use a crane and a “cookie sheet” to install and remove the large equipment. The even model showed the space available to get a crane in place.”

The model was also used to show the magnetic fringe field to display the radius of the safety zone around the MRI machine.

“I created a section cut with the radius area modeled, proving the magnet field area wouldn’t interfere by using information provided by the manufacturer, Siemens, so they were assured it would be safe.”

The use of BIM assured that the extensive exhaust and duct work required by the radiology equipment would fit within minimal attic space as well.

OMA worked on the design for the Kern High School District Career Technical Education Center, which is currently under construction. Knowing how beneficial BIM would be to this project, they used TeamWork (a cloud-based collaboration system within ARCHICAD now known as BIMcloud) to work remotely with Valencia-based Inertia Engineers, who modeled structural in ARCHICAD. The mechanical consultant used Revit, so OMA relied on IFC to import their file into ARCHICAD. The process worked well.

Looking into the future

Once again, the fact that OMA invested in technology early on, paid off during their work on the CTE building. With so many career pathways being taught, every room is unique – down to the carpet patterns. Using a variety of custom surfaces and JPEGs– allowed them to show the client the fun and creative interior finishes.

“We have purchased Fuzor software, to export our ARCHICAD file into VR with Oculus Rift. For our anniversary celebration we offered office tours. Our clients and even board members from the CTE donned the goggles and walked through the model, it offered a huge value and lots of smiles.”

The addition of VR capabilities proved worthwhile from a design decision standpoint.

“We questioned the volume of the two-story lobby. Using VR – we were able to evaluate if it was going to be too large. We were able to stand in the lobby to get an idea of how it would feel, we made the most of that VR experience to help us move forward with our design.”

Bertolaccini explains, “Changes happen rapidly during schematics, but we are able to keep up and provide multiple options. During the design development phase, we address conflicts. Once we’re in the field, we work collaboratively with our entire design team, thereby reducing issues.”

BIMx as presentation tool and more

GRAPHISOFT’s award-winning presentation app, BIMx has proved to be a game-changer for the firm’s marketing. At this point OMA tells us they’re taking advantage of it more than their contractors could be, “We would love for all our contractors to move in that direction, to use our file more productively, so we’re pushing BIMx docs. It is so easy to get to your section or detail using the smart markers.”

“Our choice to go with ARCHICAD brought a marketing benefit along with it,” added Bertolaccini. “BIMx is a real plus, especially when we can have potential clients virtually walk themselves through our previously created projects. The virtual portfolio makes a big difference in their understanding of how we work and what is possible.”

In fact, it played a role during work on the Technical Education Center. During project meetings OMA showed the design via BIMx. The tech center houses numerous career pathways – each with a different specialty, each with its own color scheme. There were constant changes even during the CD phase, but OMA was able to meet the client’s expectations using the ARCHICAD model.

“The project kept moving forward because we were able to keep up with each change. We also pulled in BIM objects such as dental chairs and gurney beds.”

For the school’s groundbreaking in March, OMA supplied renderings of almost every room – about twenty rooms total.

“No other program would have allowed us to provide that.”