Are you comfortable exchanging different file formats across different platforms?
Is it easy to modify and update existing projects using your tool-set?
If the answer to both of the previous questions is “Yes, of course!” you probably don’t need to read this blog post.
Deadlines, changes and often conflicting objectives have always made the architecture profession challenging. Today, what is commonly referred to as the Architecture, Engineering & Construction (AEC) space is undergoing a sea change. We have experienced explosive growth in the production of applications and tools, in part due to the advent of new high-level and intuitive computer programming languages. The ability to share information across robust networks in real-time is also a driver.
Custom vertical tools are proliferating as a function of the increase in project complexity. In terms of the sheer number of applications used on a single project, professionals today have to deal with a multitude of often disparate tools, causing them to struggle with interoperability issues. Ideally the industry would take an alternative approach, developing a few extremely focused proprietary tools to enable a fast and efficient work-flow. This vision is simple in theory, but difficult to execute.
The common quandary during the project development phase is that each functional team uses its own preferred, customized tools and procedures. How could a complex project be integrated, harmonizing different software packages and running multiple engineering scenarios, including aesthetic, structural, and energy? It is very difficult. Specifically, there are typically separate tools for node design, connection design, structural analyses, form finding, thermal simulation, CAD drawings, and design documentation and reporting. Sometimes the tools are interoperable, more likely they are not.
So, tool interoperability is the first degree of complexity. Aesthetic and/or functional modifications are the second. These typically force the update process across the entire workflow in a very constrained timeframe. A third degree of complexity has to do with optimizing the design through the use of simulation. By putting optimization upfront in the project development process, the number of design iterations may be reduced, streamlining the subsequent workflow and improving the quality of the design result. Less rework will lead to better project outcomes and happier teammates.