Historically, two categories of software platforms have evolved in the Architecture industry. The first category includes programs developed with the focus on producing 2D documentation. The second category are those programs using 3D modeling as the master design model to improve a thorough process from design to fabrication/manufacturing and to construction assembly.
The software solutions that fall into the first category include programs such as Autodesk (Revit) and Graphisoft (ArchiCAD). These BIM packages each have their strengths and weaknesses but they all fall short in full 3D virtual build functionality. Their functionality grew from the primary concept of producing and supporting 2D drafting with the added 3D capability. Their 3D geometry modelers focus primarily on delivering coordinated 2D documents and have missed developing into a full NURBS based modeler. They are limited in their ability to create complicated geometry and handle large amounts of data, which in turn limits the user’s freeform design creativity. This dramatically reduces project workflow and productivity and keeps companies from reaching the full potential of the promise of virtual building tools
The software solutions that fall into the second category come from industrial design development and include programs such as CATIA, ProEngineer, Microstation, and Rhino. As mentioned earlier, we greatly preferred CATIA Version 4. It is a powerful, accurate, free form geometry modeler with the greatest throughput of any software solution on the market today as proven with years of real project work. The design through construction methodology is 3D centric, where the design is modeled and captured in a 3D data base and all necessary downstream functions emanate from the coordinated 3D data base.
Unfortunately, the makers of CATIA support the aerospace and automobile industries primarily and have focused their development efforts on these industries. The latest CATIA Version 5 now emulates Proengineer with its parametric capability. It has become more oriented towards mechanical design and employs a very restrictive, history-dependent methodology suited to smaller mechanical parts and assemblies. It is not developed for large, complicated, custom and ever changing architecture projects. (link to VBT Technical Notes and PTC Productivity White Paper)
Rhino is very similar to CATIA V4 with its Explicit, NURBS based modeler. It is light in its data base, easy to learn, easy to use and very cost effective in comparison to all the others. Rhino has been discovered by architects over the past few years for these very reasons. The architectural community has discovered its strengths on their own and now more than 100,000 licenses of Rhino have been purchased for architecture. (link to I want my Bilbao - Shop Architects use Rhino pdfs)
Further development of Rhino for the architectural industry is called RhinoBIM. It is a focused development effort by Virtual Build Technologies and Robert McNeel & Associates to build software tools within Rhino for the AEC industries. This is also an effort to more clearly define tools, procedures and techniques that will incorporate Rhino into the Virtual Build Process.
Learn more at: www.rhinoBIM.com
• Download RhinoBIM Technical Specs
• Demo RhinoBIM