Building Information Modeling
In 2005 Eckles made the decision to begin using Revit as their primary design software becoming one of the first architectural firms in the Pittsburgh region to make the move towards BIM (Building Information Modeling). While most companies knew little about Revit, and in many cases had never even heard of Revit, Eckles saw the significant advantages the software provides and realized BIM was the future of building design.
A significant benefit to using Revit is that Eckles can provide better, faster and more reliable services to our clients and consultants, allowing us to keep pace with the ever increasing demand of shorter construction schedules. Tedious, time-consuming tasks such as; area calculations, material takeoffs, furniture layouts and code analysis can now be accomplished much faster with more accurate and reliable results. Specifications and estimates are also significantly impacted because much of the information needed for these processes can be extracted from the Revit model.
In addition to increased speed Revit also gives us the ability to provide our clients with a better understanding of what they’re receiving for their money. Revit allows the designer to schedule almost anything. Everything including doors, windows, casework, furniture and walls are able to be incorporated into a real-time schedule. If a client chooses to add or delete a door, the schedule automatically reflects it, eliminating potential mistakes. Once a client makes a decision on a design component such as a type of desk, the designer makes that change and it’s instantly incorporated throughout the model. Plans, schedules, sections are all updated to reflect the change allowing the designer to concentrate on providing a better building instead of tracking down every instance where that change could have an effect.
Revit also provides us with better coordination with our consultants. When reviewing a project with the rest of the team we will use the Revit model to view the building from multiple angles, cut ‘live’ sections or turn off individual parts of the building. We’ve used this method over the past several years to expose both foreseen and unforeseen problems, saving us thousands of dollars in design costs and hundreds of hours in redesign. This process not only allows us to convey our design intent to the structural and MEP engineers better but also allows the engineers to show us conflicts between their design and ours. If a change in the architectural model is necessary to accommodate the structural or MEP requirements we can determine a viable solution much faster and make the necessary changes so the project can continue to move forward.
A combination of Revit and the internet has also opened up the ability to work more efficiently with clients and contractors anywhere in the world. The entire team no longer has to be in the same room to collaborate on a project. This saves a tremendous amount of time and money. In the past an architect might be talking on the phone with a structural engineer sitting in an office 3000 miles away. The architect is trying to explain that the structural engineer needs to look at a specific area of a wall section on a specific sheet. After 15 minutes of trying to work out a problem the architect finds out that the engineer never received the latest set of drawings. With Revit we no longer have that problem. Everyone, no matter where they’re located, is now seeing the latest information in real-time.
Today Eckles generates 100% of our in-house design work with Revit. That does not mean we work explicitly with Revit. Eckles understands that many firms still use some other form of design software; AutoCAD, Microstation, Vectorworks. Revit gives us the ability to both import and export most common file formats.
Occasionally people proclaim that Revit is not intended for one type of design or another. Since implementing Revit in 2005 the Eckles team has developed our Revit skills to be one of the best in the Pittsburgh area. We have found no building, of any type or size, that can’t be designed better and faster with Revit and a team of no more than 4 or 5 people. Eckles primary expertise is in the area of K-12 schools. After more than 100 years we’ve become quite proficient in educational design and our work is second to none. However, as you can see on our website, we are not limited to only schools. Our designs include:
- Conference rooms
- Press boxes
- Credit Unions
- A 911 Center
- A 10,000 SF Fire Station in Kathmandu, Nepal
- A 130,000 SF aquariumin Galveston Texas
ALL designed in Revit
A client no longer has to look at a set of paper drawings and imagine what his building will look like. Now we can show them a true 3D representation of their building and they have a far greater understanding of what they’re looking at. However, as clients become more familiar with the technology they are asking for more information. Revit allows us to provide that information quickly and with much less effort. By utilizing tools like renderings and animations Eckles has the ability to show a client realistic, up-to-date images of the design. If a client changes their mind, those changes can now be presented to the client in a matter of hours if not minutes. If a client wants to see multiple design options for a space, it’s now as easy as changing a setting in the model to show the client plans, elevations or 3D views of the space with each design option. These tasks were impossible prior to Revit.
Additionally we can provide services like site planning, facility planning and energy analysis that is as current as the latest building design.