Page T1.1 . 17 September 2003                     
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    Students Learn with Integrated Building Modeling

    by Ronald Filson, FAIA with Ron Nyren

    Architectural education tends to do better at teaching students the conceptual aspects of design than at preparing them for the realities of design development and construction. About four years ago I began offering a design studio at Tulane University's School of Architecture that asked students to broaden their approach and add issues such as development economics and cost estimating to their architectural design considerations.

    While this studio introduced students to economic and programmatic challenges, they designed primarily in the medium of freehand drawing, which meant they could gloss over some of the physical realities of buildings.

    In 2002, I rebuilt the course around Autodesk Revit, a building design and documentation system. As a "building information modeling" tool, Revit encourages students to think about the building as a whole. It confronts students with some construction implications of their design decisions.

    I chose Revit also because I found it easy to learn. For a design studio running just 12 or 13 weeks, it's important that the software familiarization process be short. Students can begin designing with Revit much more quickly than with traditional CAD software because it doesn't require learning an intermediary set of commands to bridge between the design and the software. Instead, users enter information graphically.

    Introducing Students to Real-World Problems

    The studio begins with initial lectures on the project development process and the economic structure of a typical project. Next, students are assigned a project with a few fixed parameters such as building type and cost of land.   >>>

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    Student design, using Revit, for a technology center for a branch library.
    Image: Jeremy Khoo

    ArchWeek Image

    The students expressed the technology of building systems in the architectural character of their designs.
    Image: Tim Lupin


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