Small architectural firm triples in size and increases profits thanks to the efficiencies of its new building information modeling workflow.
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. Click here to view the full series as well as other Revit-related blog content.
Walking into the office these days, I know things are going to be more streamlined than we’re used to. Dropping off my lunch, powering up the computer, and taking a moment to make a carafe of coffee, there is no rush to get started. We no longer feel behind. There is no need to refuse valuable projects or inflate our fees. I have time to respond to the plethora of email that magically appears overnight, and even to squeeze in a project like writing this blog series!
We have adopted the BIM workflow for our firm, ArcWest Architects, and the new opportunities are boundless.
With the amount of work our firm has been awarded recently, it would not have been possible to maintain this with our previous CAD workflow and the limited man hours available. The compatibility of Autodesk® Revit LT with our original workflow, the constantly increasing knowledge of our associates, and the reasonably priced software eased our transition to BIM.
Prior to our transition to Revit LT, ArcWest was limited in our ability to market and compete with larger firms. Providing high levels of documentation to convey design ideas to our clients early in the design process was important to us. As our firm was picking up more work, a growing portion of our time was spent producing project documentation to maintain the high level of detail that has become standard in our firm. This took time away from marketing and the ability to offer our clients multiple design iterations.
Adopting Revit LT allowed us to greatly increase productivity. The ability to produce drawings faster and more accurately has been invaluable. Parametric design functionality means that when you move an object such as a wall, column grid, or level, any associated model element automatically moves with it in all associated views. The faster modeling equates to a quicker turnaround for all phases of project documentation, which in turn greatly increases client satisfaction. We are also able to provide value-added services such as 3D line perspectives and renderings early in the design process.
Images of an ArcWest Architects residential project depict work directly from Revit LT and Autodesk A360 rendering (top),
and the same image after approximately 30 minutes of post-processing in Adobe Photoshop.
Implementing BIM also allowed us to better distribute the various workflow responsibilities. Old partner vs. employee designations became incompatible with the BIM workflow, but the new approach meant we were able to redistribute responsibilities in a way that allowed everyone to focus on their strengths. The dinosaurs in the office that were skilled in the dying realm of AutoCAD were able to focus more on serving clients, creating schematic designs, and marketing, while the senior associates proficient in Revit LT were able to become job captains to keep project documentation moving forward.
We also quickly realized the importance of having a BIM manager. This is a loosely titled position forour small firm, as there is no need to devote someone to this task full time. That being said, having a go-to person for all things BIM has been very helpful; the BIM manager can devote a small portion of time to updating the all-so-important project template — as I mentioned in my previous post — and resolve other BIM-related issues that arise with less fluent staff. I can easily see, as the firm grows, how someone could be devoted to this position full time, updating the project template and custom Revit families, as well as training new staff in the office standards of our new BIM workflow.
It would be difficult if not impossible to quantify exactly how BIM has increased business, but one significant indication is the fact that we will soon be tripling the number of employees since its adoption. And the newfound efficiencies of Revit LT have been invaluable to our firm in terms of enabling greatly increased client satisfaction and increasing our company’s profitability.
We can only hope and imagine that more companies in the AEC industry will soon be willing to adopt the BIM workflow. Working with partners that have moved from AutoCAD to Revit will improve the accuracy of our documentation even further by confirming that all design elements — from building structure to HVAC ducts to architectural detailing — will work together seamlessly in the constructed building.
About the Author
Cameron Kruger is an architectural associate at ArcWest Architects in Denver.