Back in 1997, in Newton, Mass., two gentlemen by the names of Leonid Raiz and Irwin Jungreis, founders of Charles River Software and innovators in the field of parametric modeling for the building industry, decided to take their ideas one step further. After securing funding from venture capitalists, they began hiring software developers and architects to create what is today known as Revit. Several versions and nearly two decades later, it’s gone from a mere concept to a key collaboration tool that is on the radar of architects, engineers, designers and contractors all over the world.
The reason it’s become so popular? It allows users to design a model and its components in 3D right “on the cloud.” Users can then annotate the model with 2D drafting and grab building information from the database, tying ideas together seamlessly. They can visualize design like they were never able to previously (add in a door and it is tagged and goes right into the project schedule—viola!) and play around with designs in real time. Project consultants and trades can work off the exact same model and update it continuously. This process begins on day one of the project.
Yes, commercial real estate folks, the future is now.
The one thing that gave many architects and designers pause was that many thought all of this up front work would be … well … lots of work. However, the fruits of the labor are worth talking about. With 3D renderings, walkthroughs and views are easier to imagine, ductwork can be seen in two dimensions and coordination with contractors can happen earlier than it could have using Autocad. While Revit does not eliminate the need to check and recheck your work, once a project goes into full-on construction it flows much more smoothly.
Then there’s the expense. Working in Revit may cost a bit more up front, so there’s no immediate cost savings, which is why some in the field were not ready to embrace the technology immediately. They are starting to now, however.
Our firm is a prime example. We had always been in favor of using Revit when it made sense for a project, but some recent work we did on a large multi-campus tech interior retrofit in Austin, Texas, threw us into it more fully and made us true fans. Our out-of-state client only works in Revit and it was the perfect answer to coordinating with multiple consultants nationally. We were ready to do so (after all, we were already using Revit for select projects) and this was the catalyst to take our love of the technology to the next level.
Thanks to this experience, we’re ready to become more engrained going forward. Revit is where things are—and most definitely where they are headed. Revit is to modeling what the open floor plan was to office design. Students are learning how to work in 3D when they study architecture at college, seasoned professionals are using it on the job and we’re happy to say we know it’s here to stay. Let the 360-degree collaboration continue!
Scott E. Spector, AIA, is a principal at Spector Group, one of New York’s premier architecture and interior design firms and a leader in corporate tenant and building owner-based design. The award-winning company has affiliate offices nationally and internationally. To date, it has completed more than 2,000 projects.