Trevor Abramson, FAIA, and Douglas Teiger, AIA, lead California-based Abramson Teiger Architects (ATA) and its team of dynamic architects and designers. With over 200 built projects across North America, ATA’s passion for excellence has been recognized with over thirty design awards. Their multi-faceted practice, initially focusing on single-family residences, now encompasses ecclesiastical commissions, educational facilities, creative offices, retail developments, and varied commercial buildings. The firm seeks to balance practical needs and dramatic artistic expression while treating each project as an exercise in collaboration.
ATA has been using BIM on larger scale projects of late. Specifically, the firm used the software on PLATFORM, a 220,000 SF mixed-use complex, and on a 92,000 square foot retail and creative office development, both located in the Culver City neighborhood of Los Angeles.
ALL ARCHICAD ALL THE TIME
Winning with Open BIM
ATA begins the majority of their projects in ARCHICAD, especially the larger ones. Often, the firm encounters situations where a client requires construction documents created in Revit. Even in those cases, they choose to first work in ARCHICAD because they feel it is a better tool for conceptual design work, rendering, working with steel and most importantly, IFC and model coordination.
“We utilize the live rendering engine, generating the most current walk through so we can quickly and easily maneuver in 3D with a full material preview. This tool is helpful for both the design team and the client to visualize the end product,” explains Bjorn Schrader, Associate Principal at ATA. “We love ARCHICAD as a design tool and we’ll go through the schematic and design phase in ARCHICAD even if we end up working on it for our client in another software,” explained Trevor Abramson, Design Principal at Abramson Teiger. “Sometimes we need to output in Revit, so we do that, but Revit doesn’t like IFC very much.”
Facilitating IFC exchanges from ARCHICAD to other programs is fairly simpler than the other way around. Bjorn Schrader cites an example, “Exchange from Tekla to ARCHICAD is much cleaner than a similar exchange from Revit to Tekla.”
The team sees ARCHICAD facilitate work on their projects, providing better coordination and allowing for multiple staff members to work on the same file together. Employing a native BIM server for its own project management needs makes this aspect of their workflow possible.
Bjorn Schrader sites having design control in all aspects of the model as well as coordination of all building elements and changes after initial design has been completed as major advantages to keeping ARCHICAD current in the office.
“Simply put, the organization of the drawings, compared with classic 2D software, eliminates the need to go back manually and check everything for problems. The software finds the problems for you. ARCHICAD points you to your mistakes automatically. There are no surprises. One of the main benefits of the software is that you are forced to think in terms of the constructability of the building from the beginning.”
The power of ARCHICAD showed through on a recent project handled by the ATA design team. It presented a challenging structural design in which ARCHICAD was able to manage and find discrepancies.
“We needed to integrate steel shop drawings into the design model. There was no way it could have been resolved in 2D. It included very complex geometry, yet even after our structural engineer went through it using Revit, there were questions.”
The team created a document that indicated clashes by taking the Tekla model into ARCHICAD. Employing ARCHICAD for this level of clash detection simplified this aspect of integrating the steel drawings into the model. Not only does ARCHICAD assist in revealing discrepancies and problems with the model, Open BIM allows them to use the best software for the job.
How BIMx Changes Everything
Abramson Teiger Architects also use the live 3D walk-through feature during all project phases for presentations and rely heavily on BIMx for client engagement. Shop drawings and all model information can travel to a client’s office, home or even construction site to ensure the most current and accurate plans are accessible.
“We let our clients take the model onto a personal tablet or iPad via BIMx and it never fails to amaze and engage them. On the construction site, using BIMx helps us communicate clearly with our contractors.”
“GRAPHISOFT has long championed the notion of OPEN BIM – designing ARCHICAD to facilitate the ability to share designs and work with other members of a team who may or may not be using the same software. This aspect of ARCHICAD proved essential on this particular project,” said Douglas Teiger, Managing Principal at Abramson Teiger Architects.
“OPEN BIM was essential since all of the consultants were working in Revit. The model was exchanged as an IFC and we checked all the shop drawings based on IFC exchange with the steel fabricator. That part of the design alone measured largely in the building – with a physical print out of shop drawings amounting to 2000 pages. Based on IFC exchange of shop drawings, mistakes were revealed that would have otherwise not been discovered before steel would have been delivered and erected on site.”
Once the project moves beyond the design phase and goes to the site location, ATA relies on the model to refer to shop drawings and to communicate with the project’s contractor through the use of BIMx PRO on an iPad.
The firm uses ARCHICAD to improve productivity – which most often happens during the phase of the project when changes arise.
“Designing in ARCHICAD asks the architect to input more information up front – which might appear to take more time. However, when you come to that point where – for example, you need to raise the ceiling height – you end up accomplishing that in two hours. With other software, a change like that would take days.”