A View of ArchiCAD 16

GRAPHISOFT sent beta versions of ArchiCAD 16 around to some users and gave them a few months to play with it to see what it could do. We have had some feedback from them and would like to share the insights of one user in particular – Erika Epstein, founding principal at Erika Epstein Architect. As a sole proprietor and long-time user of ArchiCAD, Epstein works with other firms and spends time teaching the ins and outs of ArchiCAD when they decide to make the software transition. Having decided early in her career that designing the same building over and over would not appeal to her, she chose to “specialize in variety” and has worked on a range of projects that include ticket booths to embassy buildings, commercial work, schools, healthcare and offices.

After demonstrating ArchiCAD 16 on the AIA show floor – I am curious to know what you think is the most exciting feature of the software.

Because it brings the fun back to ArchiCAD, I think the most thrilling thing about 16 is the Morph tool. Right off the bat, it was intuitively easy to use for me. I found it so easy to model unusual shapes which are part of today’s aesthetic. Everyone compares its ease of use to SketchUp and I agree. The morph tool expands the ease of using ArchiCAD to create our built environment, from the initial site and building studies through design and documentation. We were all excited when ArchiCAD introduced the shell tool; the Morph tool is even more exciting – a phenomenal addition. There is virtually no need to go outside of ArchiCAD to design and create the shapes and spaces of our discipline. The ability to create and document our work in one program is an advantage.

ArchiCAD 16 Morph ToolThe flexibility of ArchiCAD has been awesome. I’ve been using it since version 5. While considerably more complex today, I still marvel at how easy and fluid it is to use.

So you see having Morph in the program as a bonus?

Absolutely! While I realize there are those who make their models in one program, documentation in an0ther, and create the 3D visualizations including renderings and virtual walk-throughs in another; ArchiCAD eliminates the need to do that. Everything is created from the virtual models we build. Being efficient and competitive isn’t about just designing well but how well we’re communicating what we’re designing. The more we can do this within one software – it makes what we do better. I see it as removing the work that for me and for most architects is considered drudge work –  giving more time to designing, which is why we got into this business.

Tell me your impression of the energy evaluation?

ArchiCAD 16 Energy SimulationYes, it looks to be a phenomenal addition. The incorporation of the energy evaluation directly into the model is definitely a plus. Some of us in the user forums have been vocal about setting up an energy evaluation for precision – but even if it just gives rough analysis; getting that information on day one of the project is amazing.  In just seconds you can generate a report – I did it while I was waiting to start our interview. I actually generated four reports – saw how rotating the model north, south, east and west on the site affected the energy evaluation. You can use it as part of the design process – to make siting, orientation and basic materials choices. The rough feedback is that it is really what most architects need – fiddling with alternate skins, see how it affects energy usage, and getting results quickly. The almost instant results let you incorporate them from the beginning of the design process. The Star Energy version, which will follow, will let you do even more with energy studies and analysis and produce precise results that will be submittable to required agencies – and all within Archicad.

Did you examine BIM components?

I like how you can import objects directly into your files from BIM Components and they keep textures and any parametrization of the objects, etc. – no need to rework them. BIM Components gives every user many more objects than the libraries available with the out-of -the-box program, instantly.

What is also important to mention is how responsive GRAPHISOFT is, in my experience – when you need help, they’re there. Whether its a maintenance, technical or rudimentary how-to questionor what have you, they’re ready to help you with unmatched support. There are so many facets to the program – the more you want to learn, the more you do your work even better. The Architalk forum means that somewhere on the planet, someone is up and ready to answer your questions.


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