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    Bentley Conference


    Bentley cited ProjectWise, the company's project management software, as the "single greatest improvement to MicroStation." Now that MicroStation and ProjectWise are a single platform, with ProjectWise running on the server and MicroStation on the client, they have become "inseparable as a single API (application programming interface)."

    Athens Platform

    According to Joe Croser, global marketing director for platform products, Bentley's next major release, Athens, encompasses MicroStation, ProjectWise, and all the vertical applications such as those for building design and civil engineering. Athens comprises four themes: conceptual design, dynamic views, distributed projects, and geocoordination.

    The conceptual design tools address form modeling — directly manipulating surfaces and solids. Athens provides a single toolset that enables you to manipulate any of those geometry types with a simplified number of tool options.

    Dynamic views is a feature that allows you to work with live views of your model, and render elements either by element or region. You may want to display information in a model differently depending on view. For example, you may want to view a wall in perspective with realistically rendered brick, while in plan you want to give the wall a cross-hatching pattern.

    In Athens, distributed projects, building on ProjectWise, will have two major enhancements. The first is a continuation of previous work relating to integration with Microsoft Office SharePoint. Distributed projects will allow you to use SharePoint Web parts and display ProjectWise managed content through the SharePoint portal browser, then write straight back to ProjectWise.

    The second project management enhancement afforded by distributed projects is delta file transfer. This is useful for moving big files: it identifies what has been changed in a file and only moves the part of the file that has been changed.

    Geocoordination combines all existing ProjectWise geospatial management tools and all the existing geospatial coordinate systems in some of Bentley's geospatial MicroStation applications and adds them as a core component into MicroStation and ProjectWise.

    Bentley advised the user conference audience to buy 64-bit computers with dual core processors to address the need for more memory. The company is currently working on a 64-bit version of MicroStation.

    A "shader model" describes the way you send a program to the graphics processor. MicroStation XM will use Shader Model 3, and Bentley has written a program to help you test existing graphics cards, which is located on the Bentley website.

    Building information

    The adoption rate of BIM has grown over the past two years, according to Huw Roberts, Bentley's global marketing director for building. "Users recognize that BIM is becoming the standard of what people want to practice," Roberts says.

    Roberts suggested that the uptake of BIM can be attributed to the fact that the building industry itself is changing. This may be, in part, a reaction to the results of a study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in August 2004, which stated that the building industry has been highly inefficient.

    This study has spurred professional organizations to action. The American Institute of Architects, for instance, launched their Integrated Practice initiative to "leverage early contribution of knowledge through utilization of new technologies, allowing architects to better realize their highest potentials as designers and collaborators while expanding the value they provide throughout the project lifecycle."

    This collaboration of knowledge and technology was evident in some of the projects given BE Awards at the conference. Malcolm Walters, Bentley's chief operations officer, talked about "return on innovation" and cited some case studies. The A/E firm Ghafari Associates is ranked number-one designer of automotive facilities, number five in manufacturing facilities overall, and number 100 in the ENR 500. BIM innovations have helped them achieve their goals.

    Although Ghafari's work is mostly factories, Walters cited an interesting case study on a 22-story Marriott Hotel tower for the Renaissance Boston Waterfront, due for completion in the fall of 2007. Marriott wanted to improve project delivery and apply and measure the benefits of BIM to a highrise hospitality project.

    At the time Marriott introduced BIM, the design/ construction team, including architects The Stubbins Associates, was already assembled, and they asked Ghafari to join as the 3D BIM integrator. As a result of the use of BIM, Marriott reported that the project had improved coordination, early problem detection, reduced risk, and an accelerated schedule.

    Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners received an award in the BIM-for-Architecture category for the Leadenhall Building in London. The designers had been challenged to come up with an attractive scheme that would meet the tight requirements of space, not block views of landmarks such as St. Paul's Cathedral, and be close to a London Underground station.

    Scheduled for completion in 2011, the Leadenhall Building will be a 48-story, 802-foot (244-meter) office tower situated opposite Lloyd's of London, also designed by Richard Rogers. The design is braced for wind loads by a tube defining the perimeter of the rectangular floor plates. An integrated design approach was necessary on this project because the structural demands informed the architecture perhaps more than in most buildings.

    BIM and Sustainability

    BIM and sustainable design go hand in hand, according to Roberts. "BIM allows you to see, simulate, and understand performance of your building better than you can without a BIM. The big payoff is in building performance."

    One example of this is the award-winning Kanselarij Cluster Restructuring project, part of a master plan by financial services provider Fortis Bank to upgrade its portfolio of corporate buildings in Brussels.

    The 800,000-square-foot (74,000-square-meter) Kanselarij Cluster has at its core a new multifunction atrium that will connect to five technically and functionally independent buildings, each of which will have their own sustainability and environmental requirements. Because this is in a historic district, there are strict rules regarding how the 17th-century buildings can be renovated or modified.

    Using MicroStation V8, MicroStation TriForma, and 3D laser scanning for site surveying, architects and engineers at Globe Zenit were able to come up with a design that integrated the contemporary cluster into the historic context. The huge scope of this project combined with need for accurate data throughout the project lifecycle, as well as schedule pressure, made it imperative to use BIM for integration.

    Applied Research Group

    Bentley's newly formed Applied Research Group generated a good bit of interest at this year's conference. Senior vice president Alton "Buddy" Cleveland explained that their mission is to look "beyond the next release of software." These projects will be executed either internally, or jointly with other organizations or technology providers.

    One example of an applied research project involves GenerativeComponents, an associative design system that enables designers to creatively explore alternative building forms without manually building a detailed design model for each scenario. This product, soon to be released commercially, is unusual in that it has been used on numerous real buildings in its beta and even alpha versions.

    A second applied research project is Digital Pen & Paper, licensed from Anoto. It incorporates an optical pen that accurately captures and records the marks it makes on special paper embedded with a microdot pattern.

    A third project is a framework prototype for geolocating remote sensing devices and for managing those devices using ProjectWise, which may include remote video and environmental sensors.

    Whether looking beyond the next software release, or at what is currently available, Bentley's view of including conceptual design, design, and project management throughout the project lifecycle in one platform attempts to address the issues of interoperability and effectiveness that were raised in the NIST study. Beyond that study, sustainability is recognized by most architecture firms as critical, and BIM and standards as vital parts of the toolset to address it.

    Susan Smith is the editor of AECCafe, an online news portal for the architecture, engineering, and construction industry, as well as GISCafe and GISWeekly, an online portal and weekly magazine for the geographic information systems industry. She has been writing about architecture and technology for over 15 years and resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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    Image: Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

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