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JI: Actually it was the idea of the client, state owned senate properties, who used the project as a pilot of the '4D Product Model' approach. They wanted it to be used throughout the project from client briefing to construction work on the site, every way that it was possible then. We were of course enthusiastic about it as well.

AFR. What program did the HVAC and other engineers produce their model data in? I am assuming they didn't use ArchiCAD. What was it like to import their 3D HVAC data model back into the ArchiCAD model? Was this import a smooth process?

JI: They used their own programs of course and you can see some of them mentioned in the data exchange chapter in the 3D model pages of our web site. The HVAC design had two phases, the first was the computerized analysis of our 3D model simulating the impact of different solutions. Those were added in the model shown in the Virtual reality room of HUT (EVE, see the article mentioned above). So none of that was added to our model. The actual HVAC design "construction documents" was then done with MagicCAD, from which they produced "dumb" 3D-DWG partial models, meaning only the geometry of the ventilation tubes, etceteras was there. Those were simply added in our model as objects, aka, library parts in ArchiCAD. The same procedure was used with construction engineers' designs; we got 3D-DWG models, which we turned into library parts. No problem in that.

AFR. In the data exchange diagram on your site you describe an elaborate exchange methodology. Is this typical of your office's work in general or just on the Aalto project? For instance, does Allplan factor into your typical work for "construction documents"?

JI: It is not typical. Alas, the use and exchange of 2D-documents is still the standard procedure for us...and everybody else.

Typically today 2D/3D information exchanged between parties is stupid, only the geometrical properties come through. All the other properties are lost in the exchange, even the most rudimentary as: this element is for example, a wall -- not to mention the properties of the parametric objects created with GDL in ArchiCAD.

The elaborate exchange methodology necessary in the Aalto project is the result of the fact that a suitable protocol for the complete and faultless exchange of 3D-data -- and even 2D in some cases -- between different CAD programs does not exist. Developing the IFC and Product Model Servers may in the near future be a partial solution to this problem.

Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries RT has taken it's task to promote the move toward a product model based approach to the design and construction industry. I have been closely collaborating with them to produce common guidelines and manuals for 3D-Product Model Architectural design. The first version was published in May of 2003.

AFR. What do you feel are the impediments getting in the way of moving the industry to a common exchange model? Is it simply a matter of rival CAD companies not sitting down at the table and choosing instead to push their proprietary formats or is the fault more with architects not wanting to push this technology?

Also, is the fact that Autocad -- which most use as a dumb 2D only electronic drafting tool -- is keeping the industry backwards in its thinking because the construction industry has long ago standardized around DWG and DXF? What are your thoughts on this as an ArchiCAD user experienced in using a true BIM (building information modeler) for the entire process of design and engineering?

JI: The Aalto auditorium project was also one of the pilot projects for Vera - Information Networking in the Construction of TEKES (national technology agency of Finland). Then, only a few years back, I remember that at the meetings and seminars the atmosphere was as you just described. But I have a feeling that the situation is changing. All major CAD companies are involved in the Construction Industries project, and working for our common manual has been for the most part quite pleasant. But there is still a long way to go before different programs can talk to each other and even understand what they are saying.


AFR. Also in that diagram you note the use of FileMaker for Bills of Quantity. Does your firm use FileMaker in general or was a consultant using it for Bills of Quantity?

JI: FileMaker used to be very important in our work, mainly because it is easily used together with ArchiCAD's input/output operations. For example, we used FileMaker as a project database..."a list of drawings", changes in drawing and revision information was automatically written from FileMaker to an ArchiCAD data file, and there an ArchiCAD input command in a GDL script read the information automatically to the drawings. The other way around, we used the output command to write necessary information to ArchiCAD data file to produce Bills of Quantity and schedules. However we have moved on; nowadays we have our project management browser-based, it's functions and user interface programmed by us with MySQL.

AFR. Your firm is using the Macintosh platform. Can you tell us a little about that? How long has your firm used the Mac and why does it use it? Is the Macintosh popular in Finland for architects and related professionals?

JI: When we started to move towards CAD in the late eighties, the Macintosh user interface was light-years ahead of the MS-DOS/Windows world. Also the only really useful 3D-architectural CAD program was ArchiCAD, so there was no alternative for us there.... We have seen no reason to change our platform so far.

AFR. This seems very common from our experience talking to Mac firms. Mac firms got an early start with CAD, period, and thus being an early adopter went for the Mac because of its obvious advantages.

Now since you have been on Mac for over 15 years, what is your sense or experience on the advantages the Mac platform has given your firm over the years? And what advantages on the Mac do you think you are getting now and hope to get in the future?


JI: When we purchased our first Macs most of us were professional architects of the pen and paper generation, only one of us had really any previous experience with computers. When we got the Macs we just started using them. They were very reliable and easy to work with. The same was the case with ArchiCAD. The machines and their programs rapidly became a natural way of doing things. I have heard that life has not been so easy for our colleagues in the horrors of the PC jungle.

We are not especially interested in computers, we just want to have the job done. The real speed and smoothness in the work comes from not needing all the time to wonder how to get things to happen the way they should. Apple's strength has always been in creating machines that work the way they should, each new one smoother than the previous model.

However, it seems to me that user interfaces and CAD programs have somehow started to resemble each other. Also Graphisoft has changed its policy in the last years, it seems to put -- for wider market reasons perhaps -- more effort in the PC-versions of its programs...and some add-ons and auxiliary programs by third parties are made only for the Windows platform. Unix-based MacOS X has lead us to test also Linux. So who knows what will happen in the future

As for the popularity of the Macintosh platform in Finland it must be said, that most architectural firms are quite conservative, they produce 2D-drawings with Autocad-based programs using the only possible platform for that: Microsoft Windows.

3D-oriented firms like us have used mostly Macs, but nowadays you can have ArchiCAD and ADT and Revit by Autodesk, and Allplan on your Microsoft PC. So we'll see what happens.

The use of Macs is much more popular here with professionals in publishing, music and related industries.

AFR. So because OS X is Unix your firm has become interested in Linux? Can you explain this more? What is it about OS X being Unix that made the Linux interest come into being? Is Linux popular in Finland because of Linus Torvalds?


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