Why Autodesk Revit is the Future of Architectural Design
AutoCAD users may be comfortable with their old habits, but more and more AEC-related firms are turning to Autodesk Revit for a new way to model buildings from start to finish. According to the Global Fraternity of Architects (GFA), Revit is the future—especially for projects that demand greater precision and efficiency.
So what would make the Global Fraternity of Architects make such a claim? What’s the difference between AutoCAD and Revit? Autodesk’s Revit isn’t a CAD program at all. It’s actually a powerful database that can do architectural graphics, and that has significant implications for enhancing performance. Billed as Autodesk’s “premier solution for building information modeling (BIM),” Revit projects use a single file based on a relational database.
In an Autodesk University course, Revit Architecture for AutoCAD Architecture Geeks (PDF), Matthew Dillon from the DC CADD Company, Inc. explains that this approach: “… allows for objects in the model to react to changes to other objects, and for views to be linked to the tags that reference them … While AutoCAD Architecture does contain some similar functionality, it requires some amount of user intervention to work and you must be working in a project environment using Project Navigator. Revit’s view coordination is fully automated and requires no management on the part of the user at all. Section views, elevations, and schedules are live views of the Single Building Model and require no updates or refreshing when the model changes. In fact, since they are live views, you can work on the model directly from sections, elevations and schedules.”
Paul F. Aubin, a Cadalyst forum moderator commenting on a post about the difference between Revit & AutoCAD for Architecture, concurs: “Revit’s biggest strength is the fully coordinated ‘parametric change engine’ that means that a change in one place (view) is a simultaneous change in all views. All changes in Revit are coordinated across the entire project.”
Benefits of Using Revit to Improve Building Performance
Aubin goes on to say that “BIM can be used to facilitate design, construction, procurement, pricing, life safety, ongoing maintenance, facility management and much more.”
And, according to an Architectural Evangelist post about the evolution of Revit over AutoCAD, this can lead to “a plethora of economic, environmental, and societal benefits that go far beyond the advantages of AutoCAD.” These include:
- Reduced Field Cycle Time
- Greater Coordination and Collaboration
- Short Turn Around Time (TAT)
- Waste Minimization
- Increased on-site Renewable Opportunities
- Greater Error Detection and Risk Mitigation
- Increased Public Confidence
- Increased Employee Productivity
Barriers to Switching
Despite the enthusiasm, not everyone is willing to make the switch anytime soon. Important barriers to change—including workflow concerns and resistance to investing the time and money required to move to a new platform—will likely keep AutoCAD and AutoCAD Architecture around for many years to come.
Matthew Dillon recognizes that moving to Revit will demand “changes in the way you approach your modeling and standards management, as well as potential staffing and role changes within your project team.” These types of changes can be daunting for people whose familiarity with AutoCAD makes it seem like second nature.
However, once architects can start to “think in modeling terms vs. drafting terms,” as Dillon puts it, they’ll be amazed at how much their performance can improve—and how the integrity of their vision for a building can be maintained through design, documentation and construction.
It all boils down to the fact that AutoCAD, AutoCAD Architecture and Revit are all great products. According to Cadalyst’s Aubin, deciding which one is best includes a variety of factors, such as firm size and specialties, the skill level of users and new hires, the cost of training and implementation, an ongoing commitment to embrace new technology, downstream values of BIM for the firm, and the level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with current tools and procedures.
If you’re thinking about making the move from AutoCAD to Revit—or if you’ve already done it or ruled it out—please let us know. And if you have strong opinions about Revit or AutoCAD, we’d love to hear those too.