Tag Archives: Design

Autodesk FormIt, re-revisited

FormIt Development

Riffing on a great post by Mark Cronin over on the better Revit blog, this is my new and refreshed look at FormIt. Appropriate now that a new version is available – and I’m starting to use this more and more as a primary design concept tool. More below the fold.

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Revit: Back to Basics – Conceptual Masses in Revit 2011

David Light elegantly demystifies how to create 12 different primitive forms in the Revit Conceptual Massing tools.

Uncomfortable with the massing tools? Not found them useful? Dont’ think they are powerful? Anxious about getting started? Let it all melt away… then get cracking, ’cause we have conceptual energy analysis coming up in the next post.

It doesn’t get any simpler than this:

Revit: Back to Basics – Conceptual Masses in Revit 2011.

Thoughts on the AU Keynote

Some very amazing things have been shown and talked about at Autodesk University 2009 this week. If you have been hiding under a rock, then you may not know that the attendees, both in Vegas and virtually have invaded the Twitter-sphere or Tweet-Zone or whatever… Go to Twitter, sign up now and follow the conversations by searching for #AU2009.

So, on to the Tuesday Keynote and three ah-ha moments:

  1. It’s not about Revit… or BIM, but Digital Design tool synergies! Best of breed products that work well together to create new opportunities and break new ground. Use things not necessarily as designed. Maya can make buildings, Revit can make movie sets. Put everything in a bowl, mix and see what pops out. These are exciting times.
  2. Sustainability, talk by Amory Lovins, co-founder and Chief Scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, approaches design with whole systems thinking. If a design feature can have more than one purpose, and is efficient,  it can drastically reduce energy use by leaps and bounds over traditional design, engineer, then build workflows. If you can make an SUV that is just as luxurious as a traditional model, but gets over 80MPG, why aren’t we all doing this now? If you can build a building that is so efficient you require no conventional systems to be comfortable, and it costs less to build, why not do it. Renovate the Empire State Building such that the energy savings are $4M annually and has a three year payback? That’s how you fix the economy. If we can upgrade just a portion of the existing building stock… think of the potential for jobs, increased profits, and reduced need for imported energy.
  3. Jeff Kowalski from Autodesk showed some radically amazing possibilities for integrated workflows within Revit. Sustainable design in the tool is a natural next step. The API in Revit 2010, thanks Matt Mason, already has the ability to cast rays and analyze points in the model which is much of the power available in Ecotect today. This has the potential to enable thermal, daylighting, visibility, and acoustic analysis in Revit. Let’s hope it’s in 2011… Time will tell. Along similar lines, which validates this assumption, Jeff talked about the current disconnected workflow of Design -> Analysis. Obviously, this removes the ability to iterate through design ideas either quickly or often. When he turned that workflow around with the idea of Analysis -> Design people literally had their tongues on the floor. The scenario went like this (with fabulous imagery): input some criteria about the site, and the building, and the analysis engine test many iterations of form, orientation, and massing. Comparing these to hit the sweet spot for efficiency, or daylighting allows the designer to move forward with a concept quickly.

Interesting times. Be Visual!

Lightcatcher Building

Not one of mine, credit - Whatcom Museum

Small cities deserve well-designed civic buildings and museums. This is one, designed by the accomplished Seattle firm Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects (soon to be renamed Olson  Kundig Architects), whose body of work is well known throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. The building is so nick-named for the 180 foot long double glazed wall which runs like a spine through the entire project and partially defines an outdoor court. The official purpose, at least currently, is the Art and Children’s Museum of the larger organization, the Whatcom Museum. The History Museum will continue to function in the old City Hall building, which is a historic landmark in itself. The new building will be the first museum in Washington State to be built to LEED Silver standards. Here’s the official announcement from the city, which also contains an interesting time lapse video of the construction.

The building shell went up very fast with mostly precast concrete insulated panels. These have a very stone like quality about them which is interesting in itself. The  storefront details are well done, but the double curtainwall Lightcatcher steals the show. I definitely recommend a visit to see the building, and of course the artwork inside. The current exhibits are actually very interesting and feature some prominent artists from around the globe.

I attended the grand opening last weekend among great fanfare. Attendance was free, thanks to a local bank as the event’s sponsor. My only complaints were that on opening day, the upstairs atrium gallery was a little too narrow for the crowds trying to weave their way to the main exhibits. Ironically, the photographs displayed on that wall were of the area’s logging history. Perhaps it was the curator’s intent to create a human log-jam, creating an interactive exhibit. Second, that upstairs level really seems like a programmatic mish-mash. It is a small building, but  seemingly unrelated rooms like an exhibit space and the children’s activity room were next to the director’s glass jewel box of an office, which couldn’t have had more Design Within Reach furnishings if it had been the company’s 1st Ave showroom in Seattle. Lastly, and this isn’t the building’s fault by any means, I was dissapointed that the roof garden over the lobby was not accessible. There are patio blocks and seating out there as well as an informational sign explaining the virtues of the living roof and rainwater collection. I guess I’ll read it another time.

I took a few photos of the atrium, and exterior. The lobby was too full of people to see much, but is a well-designed arrival space. Since it was dusk, these are a little grainy. Maybe it’s time for a new camera, or  should open the manual for once.  FYI: No photographs are allowed in the exhibit spaces, as is typical in most museums. Enjoy.

My only complaints were that on opening day, the upstairs atrium gallery was a little too narrow for the crowds trying to weave their way to the main exhibits. Ironically, the photographs on that wall were of the area’s logging history. Perhaps it was the curators intent to create a human log-jam. Second, that the roof garden was not accessible. There are patio blocks and seating out there as well as an informational sign explaining the virtues of the living roof and rainwater collection. I guess I’ll read it another time.

House of the Week: Consorzio Vini Tipici di San Marino

OK, so it’s not really a house, but perhaps a really good house wine. Every once in a while you find a very intriguing use of technology in architecture schools. Lately, the amount of good work has been not scarce. In this example, however there is evidence of biomimicry, parametric scripting, simple rendering using ambient occlusion, and using Ecotect to present sustainable analysis data in very compelling and rich ways. Bravo Andrea!

Click through to have a taste of Italy:

s h i f t: Digital refining: new winery for “Consorzio Vini Tipici di San Marino” _[boards].

Autodesk Subscription Advantage Packs – and it’s not even my birthday

I don’t usually receive presents for Halloween, but this year, under the twirling vines of the pumpkin patch we find little gifts from Autodesk. They arrived with much fan fare in the form of Autodesk Subscription Advantage Packs.

Much has been discussed regarding Autodesk Blogger Day. Here are some examples of early information regarding the Revit loot:

The Revit tools have lots to be excited about. I really am looking forward to trying out the framing tools, and using Image Modeler to capture context of a site. I will later add a review of some of these features, once I have had the time.

A new ribbon tab is available in the Renovation Extension for AutoCAD Architecture 2010

A new ribbon tab is available in the Renovation Extension for AutoCAD Architecture 2010 - (click to zoom)

AutoCAD Architecture users don’t fret… although the bloggers have been busy discussing what new toys Revit users on current subscription may download today, ACA has some pretty neat tools as well. If you’ve ever tried to document a renovation project using “AutoCAD for architects” you have probably been frustrated dealing with Layer Key Overrides. It is easy forgetting to disable them and accidentally placing objects on layers they were not intended. To the rescue: Renovation Extension 2010.

Much like phasing in Revit, this tool helps automate the ability to demolish (sans a sledge hammer tool), and add walls representing new construction easily. Once you enable the settings, it’s as simple as deleting a wall, door or window to enable a copy of that object to change “phase” to demolition. Drawing a new wall, automatically treats it as new construction and more importantly, moving a wall will demo the old wall and a portion of the connecting walls, and create infill accordingly. By having control over phase and the ability to lock down existing conditions preventing accidental edits is fascinating. It just may change your established workflow. This may all seem like magic, and I believe it might be.

Hmmm… Revit phasing isn’t quite as simple as this. Score one for the dedicated AutoCAD Architecture fans and users. The links to both sets of mid-year updates in the form of slick marketing videos follows:

Subscription Advantage Pack – Revit Architecture 2010

Subscription Advantage Pack – AutoCAD Architecture 2010

Sketchbook Mobile – v1.1

Development is fast and furious on the iPhone/iPod Touch platform. As noted by Beau Turner, there’s already a new version of the Sketchbook Mobile application. Finger painters’ unite:

Read on -> Will Render For Food…: Sketchbook Mobile – v1.1.