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Archicad BIM Design for Duke Ellington School | GRAPHISOFT
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Archicad BIM Design for Duke Ellington School | GRAPHISOFT

  • Available in

  • Use

    Conceptual modeling, BIM software, 3D modeling as a design tool, 2D documentation
  • Applications

  • Characteristics

    Easy cooperation, design freedom, realistic shadows and customizable surface textures, rendering capabilities, accurate cost and quantity estimates
  • Certification

    LEED Gold status
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More about this product

Archicad 25 from Graphisoft® is a BIM software solution that was used to design the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Archicad connects teams in an open BIM cloud environment, powered by advanced communication and collaboration workflows.

Renovation Design Competition

The Duke Ellington School of the Arts offers gifted children equal access to a superior education in the arts. The building, originally built in the 1890’s, had undergone several rounds of renovation and repair but needed a major overhaul to bring it into the 21st century. Ready to modernize in 2011, Ellington held an international design competition, and through a breathtaking proposal designed in Archicad, D.C. firm cox graae + spack architects (CG+S) was awarded the project.

Project Data

Project Location Washington DC, USA
Firm Name cox graae + spack architects
Project Type 600-student facility
Project Area 265,000 sq ft of new and renovated space
Completion Date 2017

Completed Design

Upon passing through the historically preserved front, visitors discover a geometrically stunning 800-seat performance theater as the beating heart of the building. This is gracefully surrounded by original brick walls, columns and balconies, with a full-span skylight roof casting directed light throughout.

BIM Modeling in Archichad Visualisation in Archichad The Duke Ellington School of the Arts
Drawing Render Reality

The result is a daring example of contemporary preservation that won multiple awards and special recognition from the City of D.C., who allowed CG+S greater flexibility due to the integrity of their design, and their ability to communicate their intent in detail via Archicad.


Resonating with Ellington’s mission to create responsible global artists, CG+S was committed to making the building a living example of practical sustainability. From mechanical and lighting studies to technology exploration and integration, the firm used Graphisoft® softaware to test hundreds of ideas within its detailed BIM model.

Collaborative Design

Central to Ellington’s success was the AEC team’s decision to embrace fluid collaboration via BIM. Faced with a project that was not only fiercely complex to build, but had a tight deadline that could not slip, CG+S used every advantage Archicad offers to bring all disciplines together at the early design phase.

BIM Modeling in Archichad Documentation in Archichad
3D BIM Model 2D Documentation

With CG+S owning the core Archicad model, all partners were invited to contribute inside of it, or remotely via IFC, with the structural engineer building the theater’s complex steel structure inside Archicad itself. All fabricators and detailers also directly input ideas that led to far greater efficiency on site. The lessons gained permanently transformed how each stakeholder works today.

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