CAD enters another dimension, with two new modeling approachessbuilding information modeling (BIM) and parametric modeling (PM))that offer better design, analysis, and management capabilities. Are architects ready to make the leap?
Despite significant changes wrought by computer-aided design (CAD), blueprints and drafting pencils still define much of the architectural practiceelargely because software has yet to provide an easy, standardized way to translate complex renderings into practical plans. But that may be about to change. Along two different fronts, software has gone a long way in recent years toward merging design and execution: parametric modeling (PM), which tracks and integrates design parameters set by the user; and building information modeling (BIM), which integrates building schedules, databases, and budgeting software into 3-D modeling. And while the day when PM and BIM comprise the industry standard is a long way off, they are already redefining the cutting edge of the practice.
Last fall, Gehry Technologies, a spinoff of Gehry Partners, shipped the first order of its long-awaited Digital Project, an adaptation of Computer-Aided Three-dimen-sional Interactive Application (CATIA), the PM software Gehry has used on projects like the Guggenheim Bilbao and Disney Concert Hall. Meanwhile, AutoDesk is aggressively marketing Revit, its BIM software package, having gained great publicity after Skidmore, Owings & Merrill announced its use of the program in its work on the Freedom Tower.