If photorealistic models, collaborative designing, eco-friendly structures, and immersive experiences pique the interest of your team members, this article can become another conversation starter.
Back in the day, it wasn’t unusual to see architects spending more time on models, documents, and drawings. That’s now a thing of the past! The advent of advanced tools has made it easier to design, test, and visualize the shape of things to come. If errors happen, it’s easy to catch and correct them before they morph into costly blunders. Even iterations and rework don’t seem tedious, thanks to the convenience provided within these feature-rich software tools.
One of the biggest challenges of new-age architects and engineering firms is the task of deploying the right tools for the right job. It’s not surprising that even seasoned professionals sometimes get stumped when it comes to software selection. Let’s blame it on the abundance of similar tools available on the market. But the selection is dependent on the specific requirements of the organization. Some clients are also particular about the software tools for their projects.
Here’s a rundown on the pros and cons of three popular tools used by design professionals.
A powerful, multidisciplinary BIM (Building Information Modeling) software, Revit helps you to visualize your project, test different design solutions, and generate construction documentation. The Autodesk Raytracer rendering engine helps you render winsome and photorealistic models quickly and accurately. Popular among architects, interior designers, and engineers, Revit is a great tool for complex projects. As an Autodesk product, it comes with a bevy of options for collaboration, 3D printing, and analytics, among others. The option to build energy-efficient buildings is a notable feature since buildings are responsible for 30%1 of greenhouse gas emissions. The analytical tools help measure the environmental impact of all the models designed using Revit. Experts find it ideal for structural engineering and fabrication projects. Revit has a vast component library with almost all types of construction elements. Revit also
has a free trial, so you can test-drive the software before making the commitment.
If your design folks are not too comfortable with the concept of BIM, Revit may not be your cup of tea. Great for creating construction documentation, the tool has some limitations in terms of the design possibilities. New designers, whose accent is on aesthetics, may not find it user-friendly. Revit does not have a feature to save the data to the formats of older versions.
Quick tip: Want to add a window to a building model? Revit makes it a breeze since it knows how a window looks and what it is supposed to do in a building. So, select the type of window you want, and the software does everything else!
What’s new: Revit 2020 comes with a panoply of enhancements including PDF underlay support, Elliptical Walls, copy-paste functionality for legends, and an extension for fabrication exports.
A flexible design tool, Rhino (Rhinoceros) is simple and versatile. Pretty easy to learn, the tool
is also an excellent choice for creating extremely accurate 3D models. Rhino follows the NURBS (Non-Uniform Rational B-Splines) mathematical model that helps describe any 3D or 2D model with a high level of accuracy and detail. Think conceptual design or smooth curves, think Rhino. Also, small design houses, or those who are wary of investing too much initially, prefer Rhino. Remember, it’s a tool that does not cost the earth but offers excellent value. Rhino also has a free trial for its users.
Some experts argue that Rhino is not the best tool for architectural design. It’s also not great for animation and real-time rendering. The addition of more useful elements should
make Rhino more potent in the future. Enhancements in Rhino 6 (like the option for real-time rendering) should be a step in that direction.
Quick tip: Concerned about compatibility? Rhino should make you smile! The good news is that it is compatible with most of the popular design, drafting, engineering, analysis, and animation software tools on the market.
What’s new: Rhino 6 includes Grasshopper, a popular and robust development program that serves as a foundation for numerous third-party components.
SketchUp (formerly Google SketchUp) is a 3D modeling CAD software used by both professionals and amateurs alike. SketchUp allows the creation of a large number of 3D models, and is also suitable for large architectural projects (e.g., landscape design). Easier to learn, the tool is a good pick for interior design thanks to the impressive 3D visualization tools. SketchUp has an OpenGL renderer for creating realistic 3D models. What’s more, SketchUp is known for its superlative customer support. Stuck with a tech glitch? Just connect with the support team, and you could find a way out in a jiffy! SketchUp also offers a free version.
Many hobby designers and students love the experience SketchUp provides. Professionals complain that it lacks the ability to talk to other popular tools like AutoCAD and Canva.
Complex modeling or sketch customization can become a tall order on SketchUp. Furthermore, it lacks certain vital architectural tools (e.g., house wizard).
Quick tip: How good is it for 3D? SketchUp is a smart tool for 3D modeling projects across interior design, architectural design, and landscape design. The patented ‘Pull and Push’
tool allows designers to extrude any 2D design to 3D easily.
What’s new: SketchUp 2020 has some game-changing enhancements like Outliner, Grips on Bounding Boxes, Hidden Objects, Model Views, and more.
Revit, Rhino, and SketchUp have a lot of similarities and differences. But the task of selecting the right tool depends on multiple factors that are specific to the organization or the users in particular. Sometimes, comfort matters more than everything else. If most of your designers are working on one software, you need to think twice before upgrading.
Budget, project size, skill sets, functionalities, scalability, and flexibility are some of the primary criteria that aid in the selection of the most suitable tool. In some instances, a combination of multiple software tools could turn out to be a smarter decision.
Got questions on choosing the right tools? Our team of experienced California-licensed engineers can help you with the right advice and services.
Call us at (877) 704-5727 or email your requirements to firstname.lastname@example.org for a no-obligation quote followed by a consultation.
-Jessica B, past client with an architectural project.
*Note: The content published above was made in collaboration with members of Design Everest.
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