What is BIM Content?

The design and construction of buildings has been around as long as recorded history. As technology has evolved, so has the sophistication of buildings. In today’s world we utilize that technology to create the most complex buildings the world has ever seen. One of the greatest technological tools we use today is Building Information Modeling or BIM.

The concept of BIM has been around for more than 40 years. Since that time, it has progressed a long way, reaching its pinnacle of popularity today.

BIM Content

According to Autodesk, BIM is, “an intelligent 3D model-based process that gives architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) professionals the insight and tools to more efficiently plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure.”

BIM would not be possible today without the software technology that has been created and improved throughout the years. There are many BIM software products available, such as Revit, Archicad or Microstation, to name a few.

Each of these BIM software programs are useful in many ways, but they would be unusable without the BIM content needed to create and populate the BIM models. Therein lies the biggest challenge with BIM software, finding and creating quality BIM content.

BIM Conte

The three previously mentioned BIM software products use BIM content to achieve the goals of the designer. Revit uses Families, Archicad uses GDL objects, and MicroStation uses DGN files. All of these BIM content programs use BIM content in a similar way.

One of the great things about BIM software is the 3D capability it has. Designers are able to use that 3D technology to better understand and convey how a building will look and come together. But BIM is more than just a pretty 3D picture. Sometimes we forget the “I” in BIM is for information.

That is where BIM content really comes into play. Quality BIM content will not just be a 3D representation of the object but will also have parameters and information associated with it built right into the content. AEC professionals and building owners can leverage this information to manage a buildings lifecycle – before, during, and long after construction.

Unfortunately, not all BIM content is created equal. Any design professional will tell you it’s much easier to design a quality building with quality BIM content. Finding and using good BIM content can be a challenge, but one that is worth the effort. There are many BIM content resources out there but sifting through it to find quality content is all part of the challenge.

Good BIM content will provide exceptional 3D models, with a low polygon count, and plenty of useful information built in. Bad BIM content typically consists of overly complex 3D models with no information built in. Bad BIM content can be more of a hindrance than a help in creating BIM models by inflating file size and only doing half the job by not providing the critical information that is needed.

BIM content

In addition to the modeling benefits of good verse bad content, there are costs associated with good and bad content management Good content is easy to find, place; quick to document, schedule, and coordinate and can be found in 2 minutes by implementing a solution like UNIFI. Poorly managed content on the other hand is hard to find, nearly impossible to place, does not document, schedule. Or coordinate correctly. It can take up to 20 minutes to find and even crash your Revit projects resulting in costly downtime. Please click here for a downloadable chart that showcases the cost associated with good and bad content management.

In conclusion, BIM technology is a wonderful and useful tool that can be used to create complex and beautiful buildings for all the world to enjoy. BIM content is essential to that task and is a must to the longevity and lifecycle of any building. Managing that BIM content properly will save your firm tens of thousands annually. To get started with the industry leading content and data management solution, contact us for a demo today.

June 10 @ 11 PM PDT: 15 Min to BIM Invite

You’re invited to join our 15 Minutes to BIM webinar, “Content Library Optimization .” Join us to get back to the basics and explore how to build a library adaptable to change.

Pro 3.6 & Portal 2.13 Release Notes

Overview

We’re thrilled to announce our latest software update is available now! Pro 3.6 and Portal 2.13 includes support for Revit and AutoCAD 2021, enhanced support for large shared parameter files, and bug fixes. 

Keep reading for the full scoop and please note that in order to access these enhancements, you will need to  update your platform.

Highlights

•Revit 2021 and AutoCAD 2021 Support

UNIFI is now compatible with Revit and AutoCAD 2021. In addition, we removed support for Autodesk versions 2015 and older.

Please note that families saved in Revit 2015 and older can still be uploaded to UNIFI and will be automatically upgraded to all currently supported Revit versions.

•Shared Parameter Management Enhancement

We’ve enhanced the functionality of our Shared Parameter Management feature! You will now see a pending version notification appear for large shared parameter files that take some time to process.

BUG FIXES

We’ve fixed an issue in Project Analytics where syncs from models with large amounts of collected data were not displaying in the Project Analytics dashboards.

Wrap up:

Thanks for being a valued UNIFI customer and taking the time to get the details on our latest update. We hope you find the updates and fixes in this release useful.

While we have you, we want to reiterate that journeying with our customers through their BIM data management strategies remains at the forefront of our focus.

To support this, we created step-by-step videos and articles that walk you through every detail of our platform in our Knowledge Center.

Utilizing this resource is a must to get started in UNIFI, touch up your skills, learn a new feature, or add a new user from your team to UNIFI.  If we can help your team adopt UNIFI or implement these recently released enhancements, please don’t hesitate to  reach out here for additional training.

As always, if there’s a feature or update you’re hoping for in a future release please don’t hesitate to let us know.

Revit Rendering

Revit Rendering

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, which has never been truer than in the building industry. Never before has technology been so powerful such that it allows designers to showcase their work. What was once only available to those who had the amazing skill of producing hand renderings has blossomed with technological advancements to be available to everyone no matter their skill level. Autodesk has made it exceptionally easy to produce high quality images. With their built-in Revit rendering feature, you are set up for success from the start. After modeling a building, with just a few easy adjustments in the settings, Revit rendering allows for great results. Here is a quick overview of that process as well as a few tips, tricks, and best practices.

The key to a quality Revit rendering  is materials and lighting. Having high quality materials, many of which are built into Revit, will make or break an image. Having photorealistic materials gives the viewer a real-world look into your design.

Lighting, along with shadows, is also key. Setting up the sun location as well as any artificial lights will greatly enhance the results of a Revit rendering and provide depth as well as realism to your image. As with anything, practice makes perfect with these settings. If one relies on their real-world experience, adjusting materials and lighting will become a breeze.

After modeling your building and setting up the desired view, the rendering process begins. Simply clicking the View tab followed by the Render icon, the dialog box for the render settings will appear.

Revit Rendering

Many rendering programs can be overwhelming with all of the settings associated with it.

Revit Rendering

The Revit rendering tool keeps it simple but also provides great results. As the Revit rendering dialog box appears you can see that all the functions are very self-explanatory, providing just the tools you need.

The first setting to take note of is the Quality drop down menu. It is recommended that you start off running the rendering as a draft. This will give you a quick view of materials, lighting, and composition to see what adjustments need to be made. Once you’ve achieved the desired results as a draft, then you can work your way up to High or even Best, to produce a top quality image.  

The output settings determine how large and how many pixels the Revit rendering will have. The larger the image the longer a Revit rendering will take. Start small and only render a large image when you are ready for final output.

Revit Rendering

In the lighting section you are able to pick and choose different lighting schemes. These can be interior or exterior and range from “Sun only” to “Artificial only” to “Sun and Artificial” lights. In the sun settings dialog box you have the option to do a sun study, set the location, date and time, and choose a solstice or equinox. You can also make adjustment to your artificial lights.

The background settings allow you to change the sky appearance of your Revit renderings. These range from no clouds to very cloudy, to a selected color, an image or even a transparent background to place your own image in Photoshop. The background feature allows you to achieve the exact desired results.

Revit Rendering

The image settings provide a powerful tool to adjust the image exposure in either pre or post-production, saving you the time of having to work in Photoshop. Play with these settings until you achieve your desired results. You can also save to project or export to an image file.

 

As with anything, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to jump in there and play with different settings to see exactly what they do and to achieve the perfect rendering.

It can feel a little daunting to start out in the world of Revit rendering, but the feature is one that takes the difficulty out of creating beautiful, photo-realistic images. As an architect I have seen the delight of a client as I’ve shown an amazing rendering of their space and how that can change their perspective on the design. Gone are the days where we have to only rely on 2D line drawings to tell the story of a building. With BIM and Revit rendering, no question has to be left unanswered.    

Revit Rendering
Image courtesy of Dr. Osama Hassan Ismail Ali and Autodesk Rendering

 

May 20 @ 11 AM PDT: Webinar Invite

You’re invited to join our webinar, “Let’s Talk About Content Management” with Marcello Sgambelluri on May 20 at 11 am PDT.

Revit 2021

Revit 2021 has arrived and there are an abundance of new features and updates that are sure to make everyone happy! Here are a few of our favorite features:  

Slanted walls

Slanted (or sloped) walls can now be utilized! This much desired feature is sure to add a new dimension of creativity for architects and designers alike. Before Revit 2021, if you wanted to create this effect, your best option was to use the massing tool. You would either have to import a created mass or create an in-place mass and place a wall type over the mass. This pre-2021 process was time consuming and often created other problems for your model.

With this new Revit 2021 feature it is as simple as selecting a wall, then selecting properties, select the slant dialog box and input the angle you wish the wall to slope. Revit is also intuitive enough to adjust the doors and windows living within that wall to follow the same angle. It even works on curved as well as straight walls! Slanted walls, as long as all other family types can be stored and shared in UNIFI.

Revit 2021

Generative Design

Generative design is now available! Previously this was only feasible using the Design Options tool or Dynamo scripts, but now a generative design plugin is at hand. This feature works by using pre-built rule sets that determine the criteria and parameters, through computational design, by which elements will be created. With the ease of a button click, these effects can be implemented into a Revit model.

Because the Generative Design tool operates on its own separate license,Revit 2021 it should be noted that users will need to have an Autodesk Architecture, Engineering & Construction Collection subscription to utilize this feature.

WORKSHARING ENHANCEMENTS

Any electrical engineers or designers out there should be thrilled with this new feature. Revit’s worksharing performance for MEP model sharing has been vastly improved over previous versions and allows for users to only borrow directly modified elements. In past years direct as well as indirect modified elements were borrowed, thus limiting the ability of all users. Other improvements include fixing issues with circular syncing requests and elements borrowed upon opening of files have been overcome.

Revit 2021

PDF AND RASTER IMAGES LINKING

In past versions, importing images was the only way to have those file types in your Revit model, thus making the file size much larger. Revit 2020 allowed for PDF import but not linking. Now in Revit 2021, this feature is available! The LINK PDF and LINK Image tools are found by clicking the Insert Tab.

Now by linking files rather than importing them, model size can be much more manageable. This tool certainly encourages the best practice of linking files instead of importing them.

With UNIFI’s Project Analytics, you can view the number of imported images within a Revit model. Improving this workflow ensures images are always linked. You can manage PDF or image versions as needed within UNIFI for easy download to project directories and proper linking.

IMPROVED BIM 360 INTEGRATION

Here at UNIFI we are big fans of the cloud. In Revit 2021, Autodesk has made great strides with BIM360, making it much easier to use and the cloud integration improves with each release. Users now have the ability to access the BIM360 page with your cloud projects right from within Revit.

We hope you enjoy all that Revit 2021 has to offer including the slanted walls, generative design, PDF/Rasted Image linking, worksharing enhancements and improved BIM 360 integration. 

UNIFI support for Revit and AutoCAD 2021 is now live! Please click here for details. 

May 13 @ 11 PM PDT: 15 Min to BIM Invite

You’re invited to join our 15 Minutes to BIM webinar, “Content Library Optimization .” Join us to get back to the basics and explore how to build a library adaptable to change.

The Future of AEC Firms

It’s been over a month since COVID-19 transformed the world around us. To help AEC firms quickly adapt, we released tips for working from homeshared how AEC Firms tvsdesign and Steinberg Hart are maintaining culture and reevaluating their tech stack, and provided tactics on securing software budget amidst these uncertain times.  

We certainly aren’t alone in trying to support a seamless remote transition for the industry. For example, publications like Architect Magazine offered additional insight into how Architecture Firms across the country are responding to COVID-19. In addition, Nik Karalis, CEO of Woods Bagotgenerously shared their lessons learned from Covid-19 and advised, 

“Technology alone does not make a global studio. More important is culture and behavior. Nearly every aspect of our belief system and business systems—management styles, communication approaches, customized work schedules, knowledge platforms, mobility plans, a matrix organizational structure, bonus structures, and financial structures—ensures that we support each other.”  

Among the many tools, advice, resources, and examples of how AEC firms have successfully transitioned to a remote work setting, looming questions around what the future holds remain. You may be asking yourself, when will we be back in the office? When we do return,  what it will look like What we can apply from the lessons we’ve learned during this time to improve when things are back to normal? We’ll cover the answers to these questions and what we anticipate the future holds for AEC firms in this post.  

 While many employees certainly prefer the office due to cramped apartments, young children at home, or a multitude of other reasons, we should not expect business as usual once offices reopenThrough a remote work setting, firms have found that perhaps we don’t have to travel as often for client meetings that can be efficiently run via Zoom or GoToMeeting. We have also developed new management technique and virtual communication strategies. While it is truly difficult for drawing collaboration to be completed remotely, higher-level employees don’t tend to draw anywayTherefore, once COVID-19 passes, management positions in AEC firms may shift to remote permanently or partially. This transition will allow companies to both expand their work force and downsize their office spaces to save money. 

A recent Gartner survey supports our prediction that some AEC firm positions will remain semi or fully remote post Covid-19On March 30, they surveyed 317 CFOs  and published their findings  wherein they found that nearly 74% of CFOs surveyed plan to shift some employees to remote work permanently. We can expect this to significantly transform  commercial real estate as we know it indefinitely 

Now for the silver lining… those who adapt are those who will come out stronger post COVID-19. As we’ve seen with other disruptive periods of time throughout history, the effect of COVID-19 will be (for better or for worse) for decades to come. For example, during World War II, California saw two brothers open a drive-in restaurant to meet a need to serve the working families’ desire for cheap meals to be served faster than the carhop could manage – their name was McDonald. Something more recent in memory? The 2008 economic crisis. This crisis pathed the way for reinvention. Current multi-billion dollar businesses like Airbnb and Slack were founded by highly qualified young people unemployed due to the recession.  

As we move forward, we have another opportunity to reinvent ourselves in the AEC industry, namely in the area of prefabrication. In 1974, Adam Szymski talked about programming criteria for modular layouts. Obviously, the concept of prefabrication isn’t new and in recent years, prefabrication techniques and programs have gained significant momentum. Since at least 2013, there’s been numerous classes to the topic at Autodesk University and software companies like eVolveMEP have pushed the capabilities to the bleeding edge. No longer believed to be bleeding edge however, as COVID-19 has rampaged society over the last two months, we’ve seen China build hospitals from scratch 

Mccormick place Chicago

Prefabrication plays a big role in getting these lifesavingmakeshift hospitals up and running. recent article from fast company covers HKS retrofitting the Michigan Expo Center to accommodate a crisis surge. Their prefabrication efforts displayed with the modified ductwork and medical gas shown in Michigan Expo Center will make a significant impact on AEC designs moving forward.  Engineering News-Record also highlighted the importance of the prefabrication completed at McCormick Place and how it makes the building so versatile 

In conclusion, reports show there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Our efforts to flatten the Covid-19 curve are starting to pay off and we will be collaborating in person soon enough. When that time comes, we anticipate that for the AEC industry, commercial real estate, how we use prefabrication in design, and the office work setting will be different. We are optimistic that the lessons learned amidst Covid-19 will change the future for the AEC industry for the better.  

Let us know in the comments below, what do you think the future holds for the building industry as a result of Covid-19? 

April 29 @ 11 PM PDT: Webinar Invite

You’re invited to join our webinar, “Revit Tips and Tricks That Will Save You Time” with Brian Mackey on April 29 at 11 am PDT. 

To combat the time consuming process of right-clicking or holding Ctrl + other key to see an outcome in Revit, Brian has developed several tips and tricks as well as keyboard shortcuts that will make every Revit user more productive. 

Join our webinar to get the scoop on these time saving tricks that will make you more Revit savvy. 

AEC Firms: Securing Budget Amidst Covid-19

When’s the last time you had a day of work without a discussion that included Covid-19? If you can’t remember, you’re certainly not alone. These unprecedented times are unsettling for everyone – both personally and professionally. While by now most AEC firms have transitioned to remote work, the full impact Covid-19 will have on the economy is looming in many our minds. It’s almost as if we were driving along on a warm summer day, windows down, with a cool breeze running through our hair,  and then all of a sudden, we encounter a fog so thick that we can no longer see what’s on the road ahead.   

Do these uncertain times mean that it’s time for businesses to hit the brakes on spending? Absolutely not. In fact, now is a better time than ever to invest in tools that: 

•Give your business a competitive advantage 

•Make your  team more efficient 

•Support collaboration in a remote work setting 

•Save your company time and money  

Unfortunately, there can be a disconnect between those who need a solution and the decision maker who controls budget. You may be thinking, in the best of times it’s difficult to justify spending to solve a problem the decision maker will never experience firsthand… how can I possible secure budget during these uncertain ones?  

We understand the struggle and have provided a list of tactics to help you secure budget for the tools you need amidst these uncertain timesbelow: 

1.Focus on ROI (Return on Investment):   

There is an endless number of amazing tools out there that make your job easier, more fun, or are just downright nice to have. However in these times, you’re most likely to get approval for tools that have a quantifiable ROI.  For example, many of our customers tell us that they secured budget for UNIFI by quantifying the amount of time it would save for their organization. UNIFI saves designers over 200 hours a year (or more than an entire working month), which means it doesn’t only pay for itself, it will also ultimately save your firm money.  

Be sure to highlight that while initial budget is required for tools that have a quantifiable ROI, over time they save the firm time and money, which ultimately means your business comes out ahead. Additionally, keep in mind that some of the vendors you’re evaluating may have actually done most of the legwork for you and have ROI calculatorhandy where they can plug in your firm’s unique numbers to show the value of their product in dollars. Don’t hesitate to ask them to help you calculate the ROI you’ll get from their product, which you can pass on to your higher ups. Click here to download UNIFI’s ROI calculator now.  

2. Don’t just say, SHOW the problem (preferably in numbers): 

It’s true… your CFO will probably never understand firsthand the frustration of spending 5-10 minutes to find the Revit content you’re looking for (and only to find out it’s outdated at that!). While they might care about your feelings, this alone is not enough to motivate them to sign on the dotted line. Communicate the problem in the language that speaks to them, numbers. Collect data to estimate how frequently the problem you’re facing occurs, how many employees it’s negatively effecting, and the time it takes to solve it in your current workflow. Then, show them how the tool you’re looking to implement will solve your problem and save your firm time and money. We have created a template of a deck that does just that you can download free at the link below. 

Concrete examples help as well. When a Senior Design Technologist at a leading architectural firm was presenting the business case for investing in UNIFI to his firm’s partners, he asked them to imagine how much time is being wasted when three designers are at risk of creating the same family because they have no visibility into what content already exists in the firm’s library. That mental image immediately hit home with the executives!  

3. Highlight how the tool works with and enhances remote work:  

Given the current times, even the best tool out there with a sizable ROI won’t be approved unless it can easily be used in a remote setting. Cloudbased solutions, or other tools that can be used anywhere, are ideal. In addition, since the current day to day is already more turbulent than usual given the uncertain times, ensure that the training process is straight forward, so that you can highlight to the higher ups the simple implementation of the tool you’re interested in. Emphasize that it won’t disrupt, but instead enhance, your team’s current workflows.  

4. Put yourself in the CFOS/decision maker/budget managers shoes:  

Those in control of the budget are in a tough bind with the current times. Keep this in mind and approach the conversation around obtaining budget with the utmost empathy. Reiterate that you’re on the same team and focus on how the tool you’re looking to implement won’t only help you, but your entire organization.  

Even though you can’t have an inperson meeting right now, be sure to approach this conversation in the most personal setting as possible. While email is great, a lot of communication including tone, body language, etc. is lost. We recommend scheduling a callusing your webcam, and preparing a presentation. For those of you looking to secure budget for a content management system or UNIFI, we’ve created a template slide deck that you can use to prepare a presentation that will help demonstrate the thought you’ve put into the evaluation to your leaders.  

In addition to these tips, always remember that the sales rep you’re working with is a human too and you never know what’s possible when you transparently explain your circumstances to them. There’s an extensive list of companies offering help at this time and at UNIFI we’ve offered free additional licenses for our current customers and flexible licenses for any AEC firm to help them in the transition to remote work for the first time in company history. 

We hope these tips help and you’re able to get the tools you need to succeed. Please let us know in the comments below, what are some tactics you’ve used to successfully secure budget with a decision maker in tough economic times?