Generative Design

The future of CAD

From Drawing apps to Design apps to Cloud apps

with 2 comments

Computer aided design has come a very long way. Its initial purpose was to automate the drawing board.  It was stuck for long in the paradigm that Henry  Ford best described :  “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.

It took a very long time for many to realize that a computational machine is capable of more.

That it is able to create 3D views, render  and  analyze them. It took even longer for many to realize that you can actually design in 3D. After many decades,  CAD companies that wrote drawing applications are now writing Design applications making much better use of computational capacity to support design instead of drawing. In the midst of this change is greater change that is brewing.

The use of Building Information Management (BIM) is sky rocketing as you can see it from the job trends.

Most people in the CAD world have come to the realization that design is about processing large amounts of information collaboratively. The advantages are becoming rapidly evident. Industry is driven by efficiency. Work processes adjust accordingly.

So what will be the future for Computer Aided Design ? This is my guess:

  1. It will move to the cloud
  2. CAD applications will be free
  3. Component Manufactures will provide component information in an interactive format
  4. Generative Design will power design creation from concept to maturity
  5. Designs will be based on open frame works
  6. Contractual bids, engineering and other services will be sourced online
  7. Design will be about design – the rest will be taken care of


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Written by Sivam Krish

January 22, 2010 at 3:53 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Here’s another article I’ve penned on the same subject about MEP Coordination

    MEP Coordination: It’s Expensive to be Cheap.
    You’re a contractor and you have been awarded a contract to do what your good at, build a building. You assemble a team to manage and grow it during its life cycle. You’ve done this a million times before and you’re good at it. That’s why you got the job right?
    But, things are different now aren’t they? Times are tougher in this difficult economy and money isn’t as free flowing as before. Your budgets are smaller, your time lines are shorter, and you have to perform the same as you have in the past. It’s about production construction, pedal to the medal, full steam ahead. Nothing stops the progress.
    This downturn economy is probably the best thing that has happened to the construction industry in the sense that it forces us to look at how we do things and forces us to look at how we can do things better. With environmental issues becoming a greater part of the building process we have to look at ways to build the same buildings better, faster, and more efficiently.
    Let’s consider MEP coordination. History proves that a project that has been pre coordinated beforehand has a greater chance of making budget and finish dates, as much as 30% faster construction of the trades. With the benefit of 3D drafting and clash detection programs that are readily available to sub contractors it is possible to draw, elevate, and coordinate the MEP trades before construction, allowing for pre-fabrication that guarantees a speedy installation if done correctly.
    So, what could go wrong and how will it affect your schedule? The trend for general contractors has been to allow the Mechanical contractor to lead the MEP coordination process and grants extra money in his contract for doing so. I hear it all the time “he’s got to be in the meetings anyway and it’s cheaper than hiring an outside source to head up the coordination.” Cheaper, true, but you are going to pay for it somewhere.
    What do you get for your money? Typically, the Mechanical Contractor will hire a person who is proficient in Auto CAD to draft up the building steel and slabs. Most have never worked in the trades nor have construction knowledge other than Auto CAD. Each trade will draft up their perspective discipline that will be installed into the ceiling or ground. The trades will all be inserted into the model and clash detection will be run showing all conflicts which will be worked out at regularly scheduled meetings. Each trade will agree on who goes where and you have a coordinated building right? Not so fast.
    Would you let the plumber do the drywall or let the concrete sub do the painting? Sure, it can get done, but it will take longer and in construction, time is money. There will probably be a good chance that it will have to be redone and someone has to pay for it. Guess who? How many others will it affect? How will it impact the schedule?

    My point is, let the plumber be a plumber and the tin knocker be a tin knocker and don’t let some computer savvy shop without a coordination background do the coordination. You don’t give the job to apprentices do you? Trust someone who has been there before and who has no vested interest in the job. Look for someone who is looking out for your specific needs and not the needs of his own paycheck.
    So what do you look for? Look for someone who has been there before and does it, and only it for a living. Look for someone who isn’t afraid to be a pit bull when needed. Someone with high standards and demands that from the coordination team. Look for someone who has your best interest in mind.
    But it’s so expensive. How much in change orders and delays do you think the contractor will pay out on the job we previewed? Do you think they will finish on time? Ask if he can work with your budget. You would be surprised how those of us looking to foster long term relationships are willing to work with you. After all, it is about relationship isn’t it?
    The point is we need to do things differently now and think outside of the box. That’s the only way we will survive in this economy.

    Joseph Binning

    January 22, 2010 at 6:52 pm

  2. Revit: An Asset or a Cool Cartoon?
    According to Wikipedia, Autodesk Revit is architectural building information management (BIM) software for Microsoft Windows, developed by Autodesk. It allows a user to design with parametric modeling and drafting elements. BIM is a revolutionary new Computer Aided Design (CAD) paradigm that allows for intelligent, 3D virtual rendering and parametric object-based design.
    Revit provides full bi-directional associatively, meaning a change anywhere is a change everywhere, instantly, with no user interaction to manually update any view. A BIM model contains the buildings full life cycle, from concept to construction to decommissioning. This is made possible by Revit’s underlying relational database architecture, which its creators call the “parametric change engine.”
    So what is the problem? Software is only as good as the person using it. In the building project rendering world the majority of people who are very good with the software have never built anything away from a computer. To date BIM has been used as a “conceptual” design program by the design industry, not a physical reality.
    Where the disconnect takes place when the abstract design meets the actual construction model. Example: during design a simple factor such as king studs used to support a doorway not being able to get to the deck due to a section of ductwork that was allowed to be run over the top of the doorway cannot seem like a problem, but is significant in the field. I have seen mechanical piping run under a length of ductwork wider than the pipe rack supporting the mechanical piping. The piping cannot be supported let alone seismically supported.
    Did I mention the cursed “seismic” word? How many times have you seen a Revit model of your project with 200’ long lengths of ductwork? In over 30 years in construction, I have never seen that in the field. If the model does not contain supports and an accurate representation of what it actually takes to build the project how useful is it? In addition, why pay so much to have it “coordinated by a “design team” when it is still incomplete?
    Therefore, it comes down to available experts. The truth is that Architects and Engineers try to hire the best talent available in the area to do the best job possible with an often-limited labor pool. Just having the ability to produce “Construction Design Visualization” does not mean it is accurate. The separation between “means and methods” and “conceptual design” can be hundreds of thousands of dollars to an owner or contractor. It can mean the difference in building or not building.
    The bottom line is experience in the field counts. Any Revit designer who has not gotten his boots dirty and swung a hammer cannot in actuality go from concept to reality. It is just a cool cartoon until the people in the field breathe life into it.

    Joseph Binning

    January 22, 2010 at 7:40 pm


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