A Thoughtful Process Applied with ARCHICAD
Unwilling to be pigeonholed by a specific project type, Seattle-based firm Weinstein A+U considers their firm to be “accomplished generalists”. This means the firm defines themselves by the diverse range of project types undertaken and their holistic attitude toward the practice of architecture. Each project is approached with a strong commitment to a thoughtful and rational design process that responds to their clients’ needs and contributes to the community.
The projects designed by Weinstein A+U include everything from fire stations and libraries to urban mixed-use buildings and single-family houses. Daniel Goddard, Principal at Weinstein A+U explains, “The design process depends on the circumstances of the project. We come at it with a flexible mindset, knowing that we’re looking to be opportunistic and capitalize on things that are specific to the site, the client and the program.”
Taking time to rigorously analyze the site and understand the surrounding community, factors strongly into that evaluation.
“Our process is thoughtful, one that understands how our work can shape communities. We keep that in mind from the beginning of our design process and throughout the documentation process,” notes EB Meyer, the firm’s Marketing Coordinator.
The origins of that thoughtful, methodic design approach can be traced back to the firm’s founder, Ed Weinstein, and the firm’s start during the era of hand drawing. The macro-level understanding of the project and careful planning from the pen and paper days have not vanished from view at Weinstein A+U even as BIM makes tracking systems and components easier and allows design choices to be more readily explored.
Weinstein A+U transitioned from Vectorworks in 2012 and now uses ARCHICAD exclusively. The team had to break away from established working methods, ways of organizing information and very specific graphic outputs that required us to adjust expectations. Over time, the team learned ARCHICAD was capable of providing the level of graphic output they sought. Gaining familiarity with ARCHICAD and its capabilities took time and an understanding that there was no longer a need to force the software to do what we were accustomed to do. Having had no in-house experience with BIM or ARCHICAD the firm sought help from Thomas Bormann, GRAPHISOFT Registered Consultant, who could assist in that transition, something Daniel Goddard, Principal at Weinstein A+U highly recommends for firms making the transition to BIM.
“Engage someone like Thomas early in the process so you better understand the software’s capabilities relative to workflow, develop an informed transition plan for making the switch, and begin the process earlier than you expect.”
Bormann was hired as the team took on their first full-fledged BIM project, “Union Stable”. Union Stable involved the adaptive re-use of a historic police livery into a five-story mixed-use office building with multiple tenants. During that time, he led intensive training for the project team and assisted with setting up the layout book per the company’s graphic standards. This training and mentoring served to help develop firm standards, which required deep knowledge of architecture and ARCHICAD. Having this training was essential to Weinsten A+U to being able to successfully transition and carry out projects such as Union Stables going forward.
The award-winning design of Union Stables had several challenges, chief amongst these the need to carefully balance the building’s modernization while maintaining its historic character. Weinstein A+U worked diligently to show how something old could become relevant again, as evidenced by the fact that the building was fully leased to creative companies before it was complete. Daniel Goddard, Weinstein A+U Principal explains how ARCHICAD assisted in that aspect.
“Using ARCHICAD, we documented the existing components of the building and highlighted what we wanted to remove. Being able to track that information was extremely helpful since selective demolition touched every aspect of the project,” says Goddard. “Our ability to clearly depict what parts of the building were staying, determine where new systems were to be located and share this information for coordination and evaluation of the building’s energy performance allowed the project to qualify for historic tax credits and achieve LEED Gold… we relied on ARCHICAD to track and convey that information.”
ARCHICAD allowed Weinstein A+U to easily differentiate the historic building from the new. Layering and tracking information and the ease with which it could be referenced supported the team’s efforts to design, document and coordinate with other design team members, as well as explain what was intended to the client and various regulatory agencies. The team also used ARCHICAD in the design, and documentation of a modern penthouse addition that replaced the original destroyed in a fire some time ago.
Tania van Heerden, BIM Manager / Project Manager observes, “I don’t know of any other software that gives you the amount of information ARCHICAD does. During the landmarks process, the renovation filter helped us show existing conditions and then convey our intent for the building. We wanted to add a modern penthouse addition, which is not often done on a protected, historic building in the United States. Using ARCHICAD we were able to show what it would look like and how it would be perceived at the exterior from various vantage points.”
Since the interior of the building was also landmarked, Weinstein A+U had to track through interior details as well. ARCHICAD allowed the team to better coordinate the building’s seismic retrofit strategy, and track mechanical, electrical and plumbing elements, often relying on the 3D capabilities to present and coordinate their ideas.
“We were able to let the images speak for us, rather than relying on orthographic drawings that often need to be explained,” added van Heerden.
Since transitioning to ARCHICAD Weinstein A+U sees value in their software choice. While the work involved with setting up new protocols represents a time investment, doing so provides them with an invaluable tool that enables access to information in a multitude of ways previously unavailable to them. ARCHICAD helped them troubleshoot and be responsive to unforeseen conditions not captured in the as-built information provided them at the outset of the project, simultaneously producing both a 3-dimensional model as well as drawings that are clear and concise.
“The ARCHICAD drawings are important from an aesthetic point of view, they help our identity come through,” explained van Heerden. “We’ve become much more comfortable with organizing information from project to project in ARCHICAD because we’re taking the time to create templates, develop efficient means and methods which are easy to understand and standardizing our processes.”
About Weinstein A+U
Weinstein A+U designs buildings and public spaces that are appropriate to their circumstances, efficiently address their imperatives, and stand the test of time. The firm seeks to reconcile the complexities of site, budget, and program to achieve buildings and places that are simple and direct, yet inspiring to their users. Self-titled “accomplished generalists” – the firm has extensive experience in many building types for public sector, private sector, and non-profit clients. Passionate, yet responsible, Weinstein A+U looks for solutions that protect resources, foster sustainability, help our clients succeed at their mission, and make positive contributions to the fabric of our community.
For more information visit Weinstein A+U