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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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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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