3D modeling is efficient, quick, and cost effective.
In addition to more easily finding issues in the model and documentation, 3D software cuts down on time needed to actually create the model, as well as make changes to the model. Working in 2D, each change needs to be individually modified in each view it is shown, while in a 3D model, there is only one place where the change needs to be executed, and the change will be depicted in all other corresponding views. Working in 3D helps to eliminate errors in drawing sets as well as bring to light potential issues that would occur in the construction phase, saving time and money in the long run.
The speed with which our projects are put into 3D programs gives us more time to work on the design, and not waste time drawing every single line in every different view. We can begin to visualize the project immediately, just by placing the initial components such as walls, doors, and windows into the model.
Physical models, built of cardboard, wood, foam, plastic, and other materials are tedious and time-consuming to construct. Before the advent of computers, and up until 3D modeling software, physical models were the only way clients could really get a feel for the space their designs would create. Today, 3D software allows models to be created in a fraction of the time, and changes to be made nearly instantaneously instead of spending hours breaking apart and reassembling pieces of cardboard, and separately changing the 2D drawings.
3D modeling helps the client visualize.
Most people struggle to visualize a 3D space using 2D graphics. It takes practice to visualize what a 2D drawing might look and feel like in real life. 3D models take all the guesswork out of what the project will really look like. It gives us the ability to make the project as realistic as possible, without anything being physically built!
3D models also create realistic renderings, which are great for clients and even better for projects that are going through a fundraising process. People give money to projects they can visualize. Stakeholders are more confident in where their money is going because they can easily understand the 3D images.
3D modeling helps the designer create better spaces.
Visualization is not only a benefit for client understanding; it’s an amazing tool for the designer. Being able to be “in the space” in a virtual setting lets the designer see how everything comes together, if all the elements look good together, and what might need tweaking. Some programs, like Revit, can even analyze lighting and perform lighting calculations, ensuring the amount of light sources are adequate for the space. On the exterior, entering the project’s address into the program will show the sun’s path across the sky at a project’s specific geographic location, aiding in daylighting studies.
3D modeling programs also have the capability to work with other plugin software such as Sefaira, which helps designers achieve top sustainability ratings with their designs. The software examines all the components in the model with their characteristics, and analyzes energy potential to ensure buildings are performing to their highest possible level of sustainability. This is invaluable at the design stage, especially to our clients who are determined to achieve Net Zero energy or Passive House certification.
Workflow between consultants and contractors is made easy with 3D models, especially if these contractors and consultants can work with the same program in which we design. This seamless communication saves time, headaches, and of course money for our clients!
Architects have built their craft with pen and paper, and when time and budget has allowed, physical models. We’ve witnessed the large shift from paper to computers and now we are seeing a shift again. The technology of our age has given us a great tool for architectural design: 3D Modeling. Instead of 2D lines, we are able to build up our models in 3D programs like Sketchup and Revit, the main programs our office uses. This way of drafting and designing makes our firm more efficient, helps us design better, and helps our clients get a foolproof understanding of their project.
BIM (Building Information Modeling)
Our firm’s main software, Revit, utilizes BIM technology to create its 3D models. While other software is vector-based, using lines to form walls, windows, doors, and other elements of a building through multiple individual drawings, BIM software components are actual 3D representations of walls–studs and drywall and data that is important–with actual thickness and height, shown in a single project file. Windows are components that are embedded in walls, floors have multiple parts comprised of joists, subfloor, and finish floor. Everything is made of a “material” with a surface or image pattern, and a lot of other data we can use later. The result is a realistic representation of a building, to scale, with all its components accounted for, just like a physical building. This allows ease of understanding for all parties involved–architect, contractor, and client. Corresponding views for construction documentation are pulled directly from the model and change alongside the model; there is no need to adjust something in the model after it has been adjusted in the floor plan, and vice versa. Another benefit of BIM software is the ability to see every instance where two or more materials are coming together. In 2D design, it is much easier to overlook areas requiring a detail for how it should be constructed, but BIM allows you to see how the parts will actually come together, helping to facilitate solutions to all types of intersections and joins.
As Revit has become more mainstream, we have seen many manufacturers develop components, or “families” as Revit calls them, for their products. This means a designer can download a specific door, window, light fixture, or anything else a client wants or needs and place it directly into the model, with all the correct dimensions and materials associated with that product, adding to the authenticity of the model and improving the resulting views.