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The New Face of Architectural Visualization

05:00 - 4 December, 2018
HNTB Real Time Simulations utilizing Datasmith in UE4
HNTB Real Time Simulations utilizing Datasmith in UE4

Architectural visualization has been around for centuries, with drawings and paintings depicting finished structures before they were built. In the 1990s, the movement of the industry from paper to CAD saw video added to the mix, with the new ability to produce walk-throughs and fly-throughs from design.

It was only a matter of time before architectural visualization professionals discovered real-time rendering, which can produce finished videos in a fraction of the time of traditional rendering processes. Initially intended for game development, real-time render engines have now reached a level of quality and photorealism that makes them ideal for presenting architectural designs.

With real-time rendering comes an unexpected bonus: new types of presentations for clients. Architectural visualization can now include immersive experiences like virtual reality tours, interactive, game-like projects, and cave automatic virtual environments (CAVEs) to present design in ways never seen before.

Making Real-Time Rendering Less Daunting: Unreal Engine Online Learning

Sponsored Article
Making Real-Time Rendering Less Daunting: Unreal Engine Online Learning

When you see new software that can speed up your workflow, it’s fun to imagine what you can do with it. But in reality, many of us don’t want to be among the first to try it out, especially if documentation is lacking. No one wants to spend countless hours fighting with mysterious features only to go back to the old workflow because you just need to get things done.

Maybe you’ve been thinking about trying out photoreal real-time rendering for your workflow, but you’re concerned that that on-ramp is too steep. Real-time rendering requires you to import your CAD scene into a game engine, and anytime you import to a new piece of software, there are going to be issues to solve. If you have to figure it out on your own, it’s going to be a long, hard road.

Mind the Gap: Minimizing Data Loss Between GIS and BIM

09:30 - 6 August, 2018
Mind the Gap: Minimizing Data Loss Between GIS and BIM, via Wikimedia. ImageDom Luis Bridge / Porto, Portugal
via Wikimedia. ImageDom Luis Bridge / Porto, Portugal

An unfortunate fact of the AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) industry is that, between every stage of the process—from planning and design to construction and operations—critical data is lost.

The reality is, when you move data between phases of, say, the usable lifecycle of a bridge, you end up shuttling that data back and forth between software systems that recognize only their own data sets. The minute you translate that data, you reduce its richness and value. When a project stakeholder needs data from an earlier phase of the process, planners, designers, and engineers often have to manually re-create that information, resulting in unnecessary rework. 

How an Optimized Workstation Accelerates Your Design

00:00 - 9 July, 2018
Courtesy of BOXX
Courtesy of BOXX

Which processor? How many graphics cards? How much RAM? For architects, engineers, civil engineers, BIM managers, and other CAD pros, navigating the computer workstation marketplace can be an arduous task, hindered by unknowledgeable sales reps, inaccurate information, and other pitfalls.

16 CAD Files of Roof Windows and Light Tubes Available for Your Next Project

15:00 - 30 June, 2018
16 CAD Files of Roof Windows and Light Tubes Available for Your Next Project , GGL single standard install into natural slate © Velux
GGL single standard install into natural slate © Velux

In the spirit of supporting our readers’ design work, the company Velux has shared a series of .DWG files with us of their different roofing windows models. The files can be downloaded directly from this article and include great amounts of detail and information.

Check the files below, separated into 'Pitched Roofs', 'Flat Roofs' and 'Light Tube'.

Ditch the Wait with Real-Time Rendering

01:30 - 18 June, 2018
Ditch the Wait with Real-Time Rendering, Courtesy of TCIMAGE Design Studio
Courtesy of TCIMAGE Design Studio

A recent independent survey of more than 2000 architectural visualization professionals revealed an intriguing trend. More than 20% of these designers and architects are using real-time rendering as part of their presentation workflows right now, with another 40% trying it out for adoption.

Structural Design of Zaha Hadid's 1000 Museum Revealed in CAD Drawings

13:15 - 7 November, 2017
Structural Design of Zaha Hadid's 1000 Museum Revealed in CAD Drawings, Structural Proposals. Image © Zaha Hadid Architects
Structural Proposals. Image © Zaha Hadid Architects

As Zaha Hadid Architects’ 1000 Museum residential tower in Miami continues toward its December 2018 completion date (tracked by this nifty countdown clock), the computer drawings for the structure have been revealed, showing the complex structure in section, elevation and detail.

Construction of the 62-story skyscraper is getting close to topping out as it rises past its neighbors on Biscayne Bay.

Check out the drawings below as well as the latest interior and exterior renderings in the gallery at the bottom of the page.

Exoskeleton Detail Profiles. Image © Zaha Hadid Architects Ground Floor Elevation. Image © Zaha Hadid Architects Elevation. Image © Zaha Hadid Architects Mid-level. Image © Zaha Hadid Architects + 33

Decades After the Rise of CAD, Architecture Is Going “Paperless”—For Real This Time

09:30 - 11 July, 2017
Decades After the Rise of CAD, Architecture Is Going “Paperless”—For Real This Time, A view of Sean Gallagher's work as seen in Morpholio's Trace App. Image Courtesy of Morpholio
A view of Sean Gallagher's work as seen in Morpholio's Trace App. Image Courtesy of Morpholio

If you visit an architecture office today, you may sense a slight change. The days of bulky desktops, ergonomic mouse pads and tower-high stacks of drawing sets are slowly giving way to digital pencils, tablets, and tons of architects’ hand-drawings—both physical and digital. Architects across the globe are clearing their desks, literally, and utilizing emerging touchscreen tools and software for designing, sharing and collaborating. It seems possible that, for the first time in years, the architecture profession could revisit Bernard Tschumi’s “paperless” studio which formed a key part of his tenure as dean of Columbia University’s GSAPP in the mid-1990s. However, this time, “paperless” starts with a pencil, instead of a click.

New Digital-Physical Building Block System Aims to Make 3D Modeling Accessible to Children

09:30 - 25 June, 2017

Modeling on the computer and physically building scale models are essential modes of iteration for the modern architecture studio. But what if this creative process of digital and physical ideation could be made accessible to everyone: children, hobbyists, and architects alike?

That is the question I set out to answer by designing an entirely new snapping block system, from the ground up, for the aesthetic and experiential expectations of the 21st century. It’s called Kible, and after putting architecture aside and developing it since November 2015, I’ve recently launched the product on Kickstarter.

Download High Resolution World City Maps for CAD

12:00 - 12 April, 2017

Mapacad is a website that offers downloads of .dwgs of dozens of cities. With 200 metropolises in their database, the founders have shared a set of their most-downloaded cities.

The files contain closed polyline layers for buildings, streets, highways, city limits, and geographical data--all ready for use in CAD programs like Autocad, Rhino, BricsCad and SketchUp.

Is "Post-Digital Drawing" the Next Stage in the Hand vs Computer Debate?

16:00 - 1 April, 2017
Is "Post-Digital Drawing" the Next Stage in the Hand vs Computer Debate?, <a href=‘http://www.archdaily.com/801629/garage-house-fala-atelier/58538399e58ece1f960000f8-garage-house-fala-atelier-collage'>Garage House / Fala Atelier</a>. Image Courtesy of Fala Atelier
Garage House / Fala Atelier. Image Courtesy of Fala Atelier

Currently on display at the MoMA in New York is Zaha Hadid's concept painting for her seminal unbuilt project, The Peak in Hong Kong. The piece was made in 1991, on the edge of the digital revolution in architectural drawing fueled at its heart by the popularization of 3D CAD programs. The painting for The Peak arguably came at the end of the period of architectural drawing for its own sake, and the beginning of a period of scalable, scrollable renderings meant to show the real world. It only makes sense that this new software for image creation would usher in a new style of drawing with a function very different to the previous era: tool and process inherently constrain design by imposing a predetermined agenda for the user's interaction with them.

During this digital period, architects like Lebbeus Woods and Michael Graves, known for their mastery in the art of hand drawing, pushed back against the dominant narrative of hyperrealism in architectural drawing. However, according to Sam Jacob's latest article for Metropolis Magazine, we may be entering an age of "post-digital" representation. In the post-digital, architects return to the convention of drawing, but create new methodologies by reevaluating and appropriating the digital tools of the last few decades. Current techniques within this practice have leaned heavily towards the collage, but research into what post-digital drawing could mean continues in firms and universities.

Stoves, Sinks, and Refrigerators: Downloadable CAD Blocks for Kitchen Designs

08:00 - 30 March, 2017
Stoves, Sinks, and Refrigerators: Downloadable CAD Blocks for Kitchen Designs, Courtesy of Teka
Courtesy of Teka

In order to support the design work of our readers, the company Teka has shared with us a series of .DWG files of its various kitchen products. The files include both 2D and 3D drawings and can be downloaded directly from this article.

Download the objects below, which have been separated into the following categories: drop-in sinks, built-in sinks, undermount sinks, built-in ovens, faucets, stoves, extractor hoods, and refrigerators.

10 Essential Freehand Drawing Exercises for Architects

08:00 - 22 March, 2017
Courtesy of DOM Publishers
Courtesy of DOM Publishers

The following excerpt was originally published in Natascha Meuser's Construction and Design Manual: Architecture Drawings (DOM Publishers). With our industry's technological advances, "the designing architect is not simultaneously the drawing architect." Meuser's manual aims to help architects develop and hone their technical drawing skills as the "practical basis and form of communication for architects, artists, and engineers." Read on for ten freehand drawing exercises that tackle issues ranging from proportion and order to perspective and space.

What is beauty? A few years ago, a group of international researchers sought to unravel the mysteries of human beauty. They used state-of-the-art, totally impartial computer technology and a huge dataset to establish once and for all why particular faces are perceived as beautiful, and whether beauty exists independently of ethnic, social and cultural background; in other words, whether it can be calculated mathematically. The scientists input countless photos of faces from all over the world, each described by survey respondents as particularly beautiful, into a powerful computer. The resulting information, they believed, could be used to generate a face that would be recognized by any human being as possessing absolute beauty. But what the computer eventually spat out was a picture of an ordinary face, neither beautiful nor ugly, devoid of both life and character. It left most viewers cold. The accumulated data had created not superhuman beauty, but a statistically correct average.

Save Time With This Efficient Method For Managing Revit Templates

09:30 - 24 February, 2017
Save Time With This Efficient Method For Managing Revit Templates

This article was originally published by ArchSmarter as "The Best Strategy for a Super Effective Revit Template."

The best thing about Revit templates is how much time they can save you. The worst thing about Revit templates is how much time they take to create.

It’s a bit of a catch-22. In order to save time, you need to spend time. It’s not easy to find that time when you have billable projects to work on and deadlines to meet. Believe me, I know.

And once you do finish the template, how often do you review it and keep it updated? What if you have a project that’s a new building-type? Does your template still work for that kind of building? What if you need to follow an owner’s BIM standard? Can you modify your template to fit their requirements?

Sinks, Toilets, Shower Heads and Faucets: Downloadable Bathroom CAD Blocks

08:00 - 24 February, 2017
Sinks, Toilets, Shower Heads and Faucets: Downloadable Bathroom CAD Blocks , Courtesy of Porcelanosa Grupo
Courtesy of Porcelanosa Grupo

In order to support the design work of our readers, the company Porcelanosa Grupo has shared with us a series of .DWG files of its various bathroom products. The files include both 2D and 3D drawings and can be downloaded directly from this article.

Download the objects below, which have been separated into the following categories: Shower Heads, Toilets, Sinks, Faucets and Tubs.

MIT Develops Multi-Material Design System Slated to Become “Photoshop of 3D Printing”

14:00 - 7 January, 2017

Following last year’s introduction of MultiFab, a multi-material 3D printer, researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory has pioneered a system for designing multi-material objects. The new interface, Foundry, is meant to be accessible to non-programmers, whereas multi-material 3D printing technology has historically been prohibitive both with respect to cost and user-friendliness.

60 Free Cad Blocks and Drawings

12:00 - 27 December, 2016

The key to quick, efficient CAD modeling is to have a solid library of CAD blocks - pre-prepared sets of common objects and details that you can simply drop into your drawing as and when they are required. Fortunately, there are many ways you can build up your own CAD blocks library without having to create all of your own objects from scratch. One of them is to purchase sets of blocks from websites like boss888.net, which has a wide array of CAD objects available for download - and is even offering a selection of their catalog for free.

50 AutoCAD Commands You Should Know

08:00 - 22 November, 2016

After spending countless hours in front of AutoCAD working on a project, you’re bound to have your own set of favorite commands to standardize a few steps. We also bet that you don’t have them all memorized or often forget them. To help you remember, we've made a list of 50 commands that can help you speed up your work game, discover new shortcuts, or come in use as a handy tool for when you forget what the command you need is called.

The following listing was developed and corroborated by our team for the 2013, 2014 and 2015 versions of AutoCAD in English. We also prepared a series of GIFs to visualize some of the trickier ones.

When you’ve finished reading, we would love to know what your favorite commands are (including those that we didn’t include). We will use your input to help us update the article!