7″ X 10″ Graphite Pencil on Strathmore Smooth Bristol Paper.
From photo by Michele Filoscia
Completed September 2011
7″ X 10″ Graphite Pencil on Strathmore Smooth Bristol Paper.
From photo by Michele Filoscia
Completed September 2011
It’s been a long time since I posted here. I moved back to Colorado Springs the first of the year and have been busy. I ordered my new business cards yesterday. What do you think of the design? I created an architectural scale across the top. I thought that at least the people that I give them to will have something useful.
You may recall Intergraph was a CAD company that selling turn-key systems to architects in the 1980’s. I was working for them then. Yesterday a Swedish company named Hexagon bought Intergraph for $2.13 billion. They make surveying equipment and measuring instruments. Although this technology isn’t used much for architecture (yet) it is quite well established in the Global Information Systems (GIS) and Process, Power & Marine (PP&M) areas. Here is a link to a presentation given by the CEO of Hexagon yesterday.
Although he doesn’t talk about architecture, the middle part of his presentation is quite informative as to the current state and projected future of merging scanning technology with CAD.
I also found the current leader in converting 3D scans (point clouds) into AutoCAD. It is a company called Kubit. You may want to check out their web site.
I would be interested in talking to anyone who is currently using scanning technology in conjunction with AutoCAD or Revit to create architectural drawings.
Two important things happened in 1948; the first stored-program electronic digital computer successfully executed its first program, and I was born.
I was interested in drawing from a very early age. I would flatten paper sacks and draw comic strips on them on the kitchen floor. In school; art, science and math were my favorite subjects. I saved my allowance to buy a book on perspective drawing when I was in the fifth grade. When given the opportunity to take an art class in junior high school, I already knew most of what they were teaching. In high school I enrolled in a drafting class. This was before CAD. It was the age of triangles and t-squares. I loved it. I took 3 years of drafting in high school. The third year was architectural drafting. I graduated from Permian High School, in Odessa, Texas, in 1967.
I then attended the University of Texas, majoring in Architecture. After two years of study, I left school to support my new family and began a career as an architectural draftsman. I enjoyed doing construction drawings but found that I had a real talent for creating perspective renderings, both watercolor and pen & ink. I worked evenings and weekends one semester so I could take classes in Art at the University of Texas.
CAD (kd) acronym for computer-aided design
In 1973 I went to work in the property development department of Zale Corporation, where I worked for the next 9 years. In 1979 Zales got a CAD system. This was the first computer I had ever seen. It was a refrigerator sized “minicomputer”. It included 4 storage tube work stations which used thumb-wheels to move the crosshair across the screen, and a pool-table sized flat-bed plotter. This was one of only around 100 architectural instillations in the US. I could see the amazing potential for CAD and I decided at that time to dedicate my life’s work to the productive use of CAD in architecture. I worked the night shift so I could take a semester of computer science at the local junior collage. I learned everything I could about computers and programming. I soon became the CAD Manager. I supervised the CAD users and implemented standards and procedures. I also created custom programming for the system. One of the programs I wrote reduced the time required to draw a store from 40 hours to 9 hours.
In 1982 Intergraph introduced a new CAD system for architects. I went to work for them to demonstrate their software and provide training and technical support to end users.
In 1984 I left Intergraph to go to work for a smaller CAD company called Sigma Design. I felt that what architects needed was a less expensive CAD system that was dedicated specifically to architecture. Intergraph was having me demonstrate more of their other applications and less to architects. I am glad that I was exposed to these other fields (P&ID diagrams, printed circuit board design, numerical control machine operation, oil exploration, and others) but I wanted to stay with the architectural profession. Sigma Design only sold to architects and their software was written specifically for their needs.
At this time all CAD was sold as turn-key systems. You would buy the hardware, software, training and support all from a single vendor. And they were very expensive. A typical four station system sold for around $250,000. In 1984 a program came along that changed all of that. It was Auto-CAD. This was the first CAD program that could run on the “Personal Computer” that IBM was selling. You could buy a CAD program that “provided 90% of the capabilities for 10% of the price”. All of the other CAD companies then scrambled to come up with a PC version of their software. A version of Intergraph’s software that ran on PCs became Bentley’s MicroStation. Sigma came out with a version of their software that ran on PCs, and they started selling it through dealers around the country instead of directly to architects. It ran on a PC version of the Unix operating system called Xenix. My role changed to one of providing dealers with software training and support.
In 1988 Sigma had a company wide layoff due to slow sales and I started providing independent CAD Consulting under the name CAD Directions. I was retained by NTS (a major real estate development and management company in Louisville Kentucky) for 9 months to plan and implement their CAD operation. I trained the operators to use the new CAD system, created 3D Model and fly-around presentations of new homes, procured hardware and software, provided NTS with the ability to do 2-D design, 3-D modeling and Video imaging, directed personnel in developing an as-built CAD database of their commercial properties, enabled their personnel to provide automated tenant fit-out cost estimates and create 3-D walk-throughs of their office designs, wrote custom software to provide HVAC, electrical, and inventory tracking information, established a set of standards and procedures with information on what to do, and how to do it, complete with documentation on all custom software, managed the CAD personnel on a day-to day basis and implemented work-flow procedures and revision-control. In short, I was their CAD Manager.
CADD (kd) acronym for computer-aided design and drafting
Sometime during the 1980’s to differentiate their software from the others, some CAD companies started spelling CAD with two D’s. This was just a marketing strategy and didn’t indicate any real difference in the software. I always thought it to be a little pretentious.
In 1989 I accepted an offer to become the CAD Manager for AAFES (Army and Air Force Exchange Service) in Dallas, Texas. AAFES is a joint military activity that builds and runs the Post and Base Exchanges for the military. Working in their store planning department I was in control of training and supporting their CAD system operators. My official title was “CADD Analyst“. While working there, AAFES switched from ARRIS CAD to AutoCAD and an architectural add-on application that later became ADT (Architectural Desktop). AutoCAD grew to become the de-facto standard for use by architectural design firms nationwide.
I worked at AAFES until, in 1993, I was approached again by Sigma Design. They had recently sold their CAD system to Wal-Mart and needed me to oversee the instillation, train their personnel and provide whatever other services they might require to insure a successful implementation. Basically they needed me to be Wal-Mart’s CAD Manager while they got on their feet.
I worked with Wal-Mart and Sigma Design until, in 1994, the company had another company-wide layoff, this time due to bankruptcy. Again, I was working for myself as a CAD Consultant, and have been ever since.
Architectural CAD has changed a lot in the last 15 years, and so has my company. At first much of my work was supporting users with Sigma’s software. One architect, who bought Sigma software based on the strength of my demonstration, later purchased Sigma Design, Inc. out of bankruptcy and renamed the software ARRIS CAD. He contracted with me to help develop their training materials and give the first demonstration of their newly released software to their dealers. I also created the training videos that they included with that product.
My business slowly evolved to working less with ARRIS CAD and more with AutoCAD. After a while, I found that less of my time was spent doing training and support and more was spent creating production drawings. Then for a time I was mostly doing photorealistic renderings.
BIM (bm) acronym for building information modeling
A few years ago AutoCAD’s company, Autodesk, purchased the architectural software program Revit. Autodesk adopted the acronym BIM as a marketing term and it has caught on. It was intended to separate Revit from its competitors, but now practically all architectural CAD companies claim some BIM capability. Revit is so different from AutoCAD or ADT that many people that use Revit refer to it as BIM and to everything else as CAD. Although Revit isn’t the only, or even the first, BIM program, it has been the most successful. Like Sigma Design many years ago, Revit was designed for use by architects, and it shows. I am a real fan of this software and have been using it for about 5 years now. I have converted both commercial and residential projects from AutoCAD to Revit. I have also created Revit families for architectural building material manufacturers.
Architectural CAD has come a long way and no one knows what the future holds. It is a dynamic and exciting field and I intend to stay abreast of the technology as it evolves. I see it as a blend of art, math and science made possible by two things; an electronic digital computer, and a CAD Manager like me.
Ronny Hart, CAD Manager
In an effort to find a new job I have created a Career Portfolio blog at http://ronnyhart.wordpress.com/ . If you know of anyone that may be looking for a CAD Consultant or CAD/BIM Manager, please till them about that site.
If you are looking for an alternative to AutoCAD LT you have a lot of different software programs to choose from. Two of the best are Bricscad and DoubleCAD XT. Version 2 of DoubleCAD XT has recently been released and I downloaded a copy to check it out.
I’ll skip ahead to my opinion.
If you need to work in 3D you probably don’t want to use AutoCAD LT or either of these programs.
If you already know AutoCAD, Bricscad is the most like it in appearance and functions, so it won’t take you long to learn how to use it. I think it would be a good replacement, or additional seat. It cost $695.00 for one seat, but you get a break on price if you need 10 or more. Bricscad was created with only one thing in mind and that was to be as much like AutoCAD LT as possible. Bricscad also runs AutoLisp programs. You may know, AutoLisp is a programing language that you can use to customize the full version of AutoCAD. There are several AutoLisp programs that I have written and some from some others that I find really useful. AutoCAD LT does not support AutoLisp, but Briscad does.
DoubleCAD XT is free. That can’t be stressed too much. You can get an AutoCAD LT work-alike with most of the functionality of AutoCAD LT for free. If you already know AutoCAD LT, it will take longer to learn than Briscad, because it works a little differently than AutoCAD LT. They have attempted to make it work quite a bit like AutoCAD but the differences will be a bit of a stumbling block. However, it is entirely possible that you will prefer the way it works. This is a program that was written to be the best cad program that it could be while making sure that it had all of the AutoCAD LT functionality. It has several features and functions that are missing from AutoCAD LT. If you do not already know how to use AutoCAD LT, this will be an excellent program to start with. Like AutoCAD LT, it doesn’t support AutoLisp.
If you are wanting an inexpensive alternative to AutoCAD LT and you want to use it for architectural drawings, you may want to step up to DoubleCAD XT Pro. For $695.00 you get a lot of Architectural Desktop (ADT) compatible tools and some additional features that you don’t get with the free version. This version also supports custom commands written with their software development pack (sold separately), but it also doesn’t support AutoLisp.
The prices above were listed on the companies websites on February 24, 2010.