A small architectural firm shores up business with a move to Revit LT.
By Cameron Kruger, ArcWest Architects
Editor’s note: This post is part of a series sponsored by Autodesk, highlighting how Autodesk® Revit LT is improving the design workflow and overall success of small architectural firms.
Walking down the streets of Denver, peeking past the small gaps in the covered chain link fence of a construction site, you can’t help but notice a sense of vitality in the hard concrete surfaces and piles of bent steel around the unfinished building. Life has yet to begin in this building, but you seem so aware of the energy the building was designed to project. I was walking toward the building when it hit me: The energy is coming from the thin sheet of vinyl wrapping the chain link fence, which reads, “Future home of. …” Above the text, an image shows a building yet to exist, a 3D rendering produced through a computer program that gives life to this area even before the occupants arrive.
The software programs that produce these images are a driving force in architectural documentation today. Pursuing the opportunity to accurately represent a design through many phases, model components faster, and compete with larger firms, our small firm was committed to taking on the challenges associated with implementing the new building information modeling (BIM).
With the obvious market forces driving the industry toward BIM, it was becoming more difficult for our company, ArcWest Architects, to market our work, compete with firms that had already adopted the technology, and convey design concepts to our clients at a reasonable cost to them. And with the Internet providing access to many BIM-based projects, clients were expecting to see more from start to finish. Floor plans and elevations were no longer good enough. No one wanted to see a project develop in two dimensions — those flat, stagnant shapes that an architect calls a building.
We needed to move to BIM, and Revit was the clear industry leader. We opted to rent Autodesk® Revit LT, which was more affordable than full Revit, yet extremely capable. With the ability to model designs in 3D space, Revit LT would allow us to move toward a much more efficient and accurate workflow.
One of the challenges associated with changing the AutoCAD-based design workflow of an entire company was the knowledge required to operate the new software. Before the transition, ArcWest comprised only three partners, all with experience in AutoCAD. Filling their time with running a business and keeping projects moving through the door, they were unable to obtain the required knowledge to operate Revit LT. At that point, the firm began to grow, as the new workflow required a new set of talents. With architectural education recognizing BIM as the new standard for the AEC industry, more professionals are entering the field with the required skill sets, so talent was easy to find. This in turn allowed the partners to develop a business strategy that allowed them to have more time to run the business while their BIM-savvy associates did the production work.
Assisting with design and engineering of a new multi-use commercial building in Bloomfield, Colorado, ArcWest Architects is using Autodesk Revit LT to produce 3D renderings as well as 2D documentation.
The justification to move toward a Revit LT workflow was obvious to us, and should be to any other small firm as well. With BIM, you can grow as a company, compete with larger firms, and improve overall client satisfaction. Being able to provide clients with all they could ask for is invaluable — from final renderings placed at construction sites to raise awareness of their future building, to final as-built models the client can reference and build upon in the future — switching to Autodesk Revit LT will open many opportunities for ArcWest.
In my next post, I will look into the firm’s transition from CAD to BIM and how we implemented Revit LT into our workflow.
About the Author
Cameron Kruger is an architectural associate at ArcWest Architects in Denver.