by January 1, 2000 0 comments

AutoCAD Architectural Desktop Release 2

CAD software for the AEC (Architecture-Engineering-Construction) industry.
Rs 125,000
Features: Object orientation; space styles; a Model explorer for viewing models; object viewer; realtime zooming and panning.
Pros: Covers every aspect from conceptualization phase to design development stage to construction documentation phase.
Cons: Takes time to learn.

Source: Autodesk India
206 Raheja Plaza
17 Comissariat Road
Bangalore 560025.
Tel: 80-5564939, 5564928 
Fax: 5564897 
E-mail:
satish.bhave@autodesk.com  

AutoDesk has long been a leading provider of CAD software. Architectural Desktop Release 2 is targeted at the AEC (Architecture-Engineering-Construction) segment and provides a solid CAD solution for its target audience. The product uses AutoCAD 2000 technology to provide both generic and
AEC-specific modeling and drafting tools. Moreover, you don’t require a copy of AutoCAD 2000 to run this product.

The methodology underlying the product makes heavy use of object orientation. Treatment of entities such as doors and windows goes beyond pure geometry–a door or window is an object with its own properties, design rules, and display characteristics. The aim is to construct models by putting together these objects. Since the package is aware of the properties of these objects, it can automate a large number of time-consuming tasks, such as dimensioning walls. Lots of customization is possible, as also the AutoCAD primitives.

The product breaks up projects into three phases: conceptualization, design development, and construction documentation. Each of these is discussed separately below.

The conceptualization phase
The conceptualization phase begins with what’s called a massing study–determining the broad outline of the structure to be designed. Various alternatives are explored at this stage before making a tentative commitment to a shape. Architectural Desktop takes a top-down approach to design–you begin by defining the broad outline, and then progress to increasing levels of detail.

The basic tools for the massing study are mass elements and mass groups. A mass element is formally defined as a geometric element that has parametric behaviors based on its type and Boolean operations. Mass elements may be thought of as the basic building blocks for the models created in this phase. Predefined shapes for mass elements include boxes, cylinders, cones, spheres, domes, and extrusions. Once inserted, mass elements can be modified as any other entity.

Mass groups are created by combining one or more mass elements using Boolean operations. Models so created can be viewed using the Model Explorer. This is a powerful tool that uses a split window in which the user can explore the model. The left pane shows the hierarchy of mass groups and elements in tree fashion. The right pane displays the model. The model can be viewed in a variety of forms–wire frame, hidden lines removed, flat shaded and rendered. Real-time zoom, pan, and 3D orbit features are available along with a set of standard views. Click on any element in the left pane to see the object corresponding to the selected entity in the right pane.

Further parameterization can be achieved by using what’s called an AEC Reference Object. As the name suggests, you create references to an object, and changing the original object will cause changes in the objects attached to the model. 

The next step in conceptualization is to slice the model into floors using the Slice Floorplates feature. Objects can be attached to floorplates to associate an object with a floor. Space planning comes next, and the primitives for this are space and space boundary objects. Architectural Desktop can automatically create spaces and boundaries from floorplates. Space properties can be set on both a global and specific object basis.

Space styles are a major tool for space planning. Space styles consist of a name such as “Conference room” or “Cubicle”, area, and dimensions. You then use these styles as the basic building blocks and attach them to the model. Room tags can be attached for documentation purposes and total space queries generated. Space styles allow for parametric modification and can be used to generate space boundary objects. Finally space and boundary objects can be extracted and placed in separate files.

The design development phase
This phase deals with detailing. Structural elements, doors, windows, etc, get added to the model at this stage. As expected, Architectural Desktop provides a rich set of tools for this phase.

Walls can be created with varying thickness and heights. They can have both curved and straight boundaries. Wall management can be organized by creating named wall styles–the style consisting of various types of components, and a set of properties controlling its visual appearance. Doors and windows consist of a shape and a type. The shape can be either one of a predefined set or custom. Examples of door types include single, double, bi-fold, etc. Examples of window types include picture, single hung, double hung, casement, etc. As with walls, you can create door and window styles. One of the interesting properties of door styles is what are called design rules. Design rules deal with things like adjusting doors to wall widths. The visual appearance of each style can be customized. 

You can lay out building grids with structural columns. Such grids can be either rectangular or radial and are laid out by defining the spacing. Columns consist of box or cylindrical mass elements. Grids can be labeled by assigning letters and numbers to rows and columns. This allows each intersection to have a unique address such as A3 or B6. Ceiling grids can be laid out in an analogous manner.

Stairs can be of several types–U-shaped, spiral, or multi-landing. They’re constructed turn by turn by specifying the type of turn–quarter landing, half landing, etc. Properties such as riser count can be set on the fly. As with everything else, stair styles can be defined parametrically and display properties customized for each style.

Other features available are for laying out toilet stalls and roofs. Roofs can be either single or double sloping and can have overhangs and slopes.

The construction documentation phase
The construction documentation phase begins by converting 3D models into standard drawings. The starting
point is the generation of sections and elevations. The procedure is similar in both cases–define section/elevation lines, select objects, and generate the section or elevation. Section/elevation properties can be modified and the visual display controlled.

Dimensioning is a crucial part of construction documentation, and Architectural Desktop provides a beautiful set of features for this task. One of the best features is the ability to create dimensioning styles. You can use a named style to specify (a) Dimension and extension line colors, styles and arrowheads (b) Text appearance, placement and alignment (c) Primary and alternate units for dimensioning with formats, precisions, prefixes, and suffixes. Other properties you can set include center marks and tolerances.

All this can be done by using simple dialog boxes. You no longer have to struggle with dimensioning variables with abstruse names. In one word–excellent. Finally a “Create wall dimension command” shows the true power of object orientation. Simply select a wall to dimension, specify the placement of the dimension and everything gets taken care of automatically.

Other features
The Object Viewer offers a powerful feature for viewing selected objects in a separate window. The Object Viewer window has icons for switching the type of representation displayed—wire frame, hidden lines removed, flat shaded, and rendered. Real-time zooming and panning are available. You can switch between parallel and perspective projection and move along the perspective line in real time. The 3D Orbit feature is very powerful and allows real-time rotation about the X, Y, and Z axis. The view list can be used to switch to standard views such as front, back, top, bottom, left and right as well as the SW/ SE/ NW/ NE isometrics.

Architectural Desktop uses a display system to control the way objects such as doors and walls are displayed in 2D and 3D. A typical example is to control the way door swings are displayed. The display system can be used to configure display properties at both global and object levels. Finally, you can anchor objects to layout curves and grids. Modifying the layout curve or grid will automatically make the anchored objects adjust their positions.

All in all, Architectural Desktop Release 2 is a typical AutoDesk product—solid, feature-filled, and aimed squarely at the power user.

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