Image above courtesy of: Landscape architecture by Kav-Banof, Giora Fantalis BLA. Architecture by Giora Gur & partners Architects LTD. Initiator and management: Azorim.
Building information modeling, or BIM, is sweeping the AEC (Architecture, Engineering, and Construction) world and as it continues to gain steam, it is having far-reaching affects. However, as with most software, market potential and programmer availability dictate BIM development decision-making. Consequently, smaller disciplines, such as landscape architecture, are hard-pressed to find suitable BIM solutions.
With the rest of the industry using BIM regularly, landscape professionals are increasingly asked to be a part of the BIM process. However, the lack of proper tools bars many landscape architects from making this transition. It is not surprising, therefore, that the solution for landscape designers was developed from the bottom-up.
At present, Revit is the most comprehensive and commonly used BIM tool on the market, but for landscape projects, Revit is complex and time-consuming. While most landscape professionals were shunning Revit, a landscape Revit solution began to form at a leading Israeli landscape architecture firm. “As an employee with a large landscape office, I began researching transitioning to Revit. After learning the software, I sought to use its existing toolkit to design landscapes,” says Ilya Volokin, CEO and founder of Arch-Intelligence, developers of Environment for Revit?. “Our first tool was designed to automate the design of retaining walls along the sloped terrains of a large rural residential project.” He explains, “ I wanted to make use of Revit parameters to design walls that blend-in with the existing site, without having to work nights or update wall segments one by one.” As of today, Ilya and his team have built an application suite numbering over forty different site design tools.
Working, at the time, for the senior landscape architect, Amir Blum, Ilya was able to test his creations at a landscape design firm involved in hundreds of projects. Over time, as he trained colleagues to work with Revit, he was able to test his existing tools while creating new ones to meet additional needs. Thus was born Environment for Revit?, and other landscape firms hurried to begin using Environment’s toolset to incorporate Revit into their work.
“Traditionally, post preliminary design changes are the biggest AEC project time-wasters. Revit’s extraordinary flexibility removes this obstacle, saving considerable time!” Says Amir Mueller, owner of ‘Amir Mueller Landscape Architects’. “Design efficiency gains and Revit’s collaboration features are invaluable“. Amir’s firm uses Revit daily, and for him, the moving to Revit wasn’t a question of if, but when. He saw the transition to BIM as a catalyst for conceptual and inspirational renewal. Today, he admits that Revit’s three-dimensional designs are much more interesting than their CAD counterparts. In his view, the Environment plugin’s benefits go beyond work efficiency, substantially boosting the status of landscape professionals within the AEC sector. “My father was an exceptional landscape architect that worked all of his life with pencil and paper. However, architecture today is more complex, and requires us to provide our clients with more products and visualizations. Watercolor sketches no longer suffice. I feel that BIM is pushing our entire industry forward.”
Environment’s developers had the significant advantage of being able to develop Environment while users gradually began working with the tools, allowing them to delve into the quality and efficiency particulars of doing landscape design in Revit.
Experienced professionals often fear that the learning process will be long. In fact, Environment is highly accessible, and can quickly be used for real projects to produce impressive results with Revit. “After submitting my first 100% Revit project, I do not see myself reverting to AutoCAD.” Says Giora Fantalis, a senior landscape architect at Kav Benof, a Revit with Environment user of just a few months. Giora explains that the software’s learning and implementation processes are unique, “but once you start working on a live Revit project you quickly learn proper use of Environment and understand its benefits.” Although a new user, Giora is already experiencing the efficiency of parametric design: “The project I just submitted was large and complex. With CAD, I would have needed three people, but with Revit + Environment I met all the requirements and made the deadline on my own.”
Today roughly 30% of Israeli landscape offices are successfully working with Environment for Revit?, and numerous global firms are also coming onboard. As BIM gains popularity in our field and technology continues to advance at a breakneck pace, keeping ahead of the curve increases our ability to create places influenced and shaped by data and knowledge (data-driven planning), thus ensuring functional, graceful, and sustainable landscapes for future generations.
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