The Autodesk Gallery at One Market in San Francisco celebrates design — the process of taking a great idea and turning it into a reality. With more than 20 different exhibits regularly on display that showcase the innovative work of Autodesk customers, the gallery illustrates the role technology plays in great design and engineering. I am one of about 80 gallery ambassadors. We chose the job title "ambassador" instead of "docent," because the correct way to address an ambassador is "your excellency" yet this never happens.
Here's a behind the scenes anecdote about one of our exhibits, the Shanghai Tower.
- Gensler has been a long-time customer of Autodesk, as far back as the early days of AutoCAD. They have extensive experience with AutoCAD.
- The Shanghai Tower was designed with Revit.
- If Gensler is an expert at AutoCAD, then why did they use Revit?
- Our CTO, Jeff Kowalski, once told me this story:
- Though you can't see it in the exhibit model, below the Shanghai Tower is a basement that consists of about 15 floors.
- When the basement was completed, Gensler invited Jeff to tour the construction site.
- Being a conservative firm, Gensler decided to try Revit on just the basement of the Shanghai Tower rather than staying with AutoCAD that they knew so well.
- Revit is about building information modeling. It's about forming relationships instead of only drawing geometry to document a building. Instead of drawing, designers express relationships like this beam is connected to this wall and that wall. If one or both of the walls move, the beam resizes in response. But that's still just about geometry. What's really important is that the building information model also contains scheduling and costing information. For example, if a project has 27 beams and each costs $1,000 and a day to install, the project costs $27,000 and needs 27 days of work. If the design changes so that 28 beams are needed, the update also means $28,000 and 28 days of work. Gone are the days where the Excel spreadsheet is out of sync with the updated AutoCAD drawings. All of the information for the building is in a single database.
- Believe it or not, following a traditional process, often the first time that different disciplines get together on a construction project is on site. Issues arise like "What's that beam doing there? That's where my duct goes. Move your beam." The reply is often "No. Move your duct." While the framing guy and HVAC guy sit there and argue, nothing is getting done. That's why a construction project can have up to 30% waste.
- In addition to AutoCAD and Revit, Gensler also uses Navisworks Manage. Navisworks Manage analyzes 3D models and provides collision and interference detection capabilities so those issues like "What's that beam doing there?" are identified and can be resolved before the workers show up on the job site.
- So when Gensler constructed the basement of the Shanghai Tower, for a project of its size using a traditional design process, they expected to have 1,500 of these change orders, e.g., guys asking "What's that beam doing there?" Well because they had used Navisworks Manage where most of those issues had been unearthed and resolved before arriving on site, they only had 7. And because they had constructed a building information model, those resolutions also addressed not just the physical changes to the building but also included the costing and scheduling impacts. They were so impressed with the results that they decided to use Revit for the whole project instead of just the basement.
- Gensler is now expert at both AutoCAD and Revit and uses each as needed.
Come check out this exhibit, as well as all the rest, at the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco that is open to the public on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. There is a guided tour on Wednesdays at 12:30 pm and a self-guided audio tour available anytime. Admission is free. Visit us.
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