Next Evolution of BIM: Open Collaborative Design Across the Board

In this Viewpoint article, Viktor Várkonyi, CEO of Graphisoft, discusses the implementation of “open” design collaboration workflows, which are in the best interest of all parties involved in an AEC project, given the plurality of their design tools and processes. He explores how BIM can bring the benefits that have been achieved by the individual design disciplines to interdisciplinary design collaboration as well, by providing a new level of transparency and integration of design processes for building projects of any type or size.


5 thoughts on “Next Evolution of BIM: Open Collaborative Design Across the Board

  1. Quote: “Due to the differences in the model requirements and also to help facilitate parallel work, the optimal solution is a ‘reference model’ workflow. This is not a new process, but with additional technology to support version tracking and change management, the collaboration can become a truly seamless process between architects and engineers.”

    Interesting you should mention ” reference model” as this was the first thing that came to mind when I started reading your article, as this is the methodology adopted in the AutoCAD genre of 3d CAD products.

    Your ideas seem to be an evolved process from the reference model concept concentrating on how the different disciplines utilize each other’s data sets to develop their own. I quite like your methodology here and its something that would work quite well.

    I would suggest, however, that in all cases interdisciplinary review meetings should be encouraged as an integral part of the design process utilizing products like Navisworks. This would require attendance by a representative from each discipline in one room to identify and resolve design and clash issues.

    There is another aspect to this and that is one of model ownership. During conceptual design, the Architectural discipline will be the lead providing the base model for the preliminary concept design in collaboration with the other disciplines. However, moving into the design engineering phase, ownership of structural elements like reinforced concrete and structural steel should pass to the structural design discipline and similarly for process piping and building services. At this stage, the Architectural discipline more or less becomes the coordination lead to ensure that all elements work together in compliance with the original design intent.

    Something that is not often mentioned but is very important in the design is clearance volumes. It would be good to see some articles on how these could be incorporated in the BIM.

    Open collaborative design initiatives with BIM is an incredibly interesting subject that is continually evolving with new ideas and methods … quite exciting times.

    Good article and thank you.

  2. An enjoyable read, thank you Viktor.

    Please can you clarify this workflow with a plainer explanation? I attended the Archicad 14 launch in Sydney, but I’m still confused (and I know my BIM). I’m not critical, just thirsty as to how open collaborative methods are being developed.

    My understanding, it seems, is that you are focusing on the engineer RECEIVING the structure each time?

    Round 1
    The architect decides (with engineering help obviously) what is load-bearing, exports what he thinks the engineer might need through an “Archicad – Revit translator” (is this IFC? Or direct interface as per your orginal article?).
    The engineer RECEIVES the framing, adds additional data (loading, material, etc,) in Revit, exports to an Analysis package, adds more data such as supports and springs, designs the members, and then imports/updates Revit (usually via direct interface) for his documentation, and in parallel, exports through the “Revit- Archicad translator” (again is this IFC or direct interface?).
    The architect gets a new/deleted/modified notification using an IFC versioning software, and (assuming the architect has done no more work during the engineers efforts!) the models are synchronised.

    Round 2
    If the process repeats, and the engineer RECEIVES another geometry, is he to do it all over again? Is the “translator” honouring the loading, supports, materials, etc so his work is focused, or not?
    Also, is the translator robust in its honouring of these and just as importantly, the objects’ properties which have drawings, tags, schedules, etc. all reliant on them in the Revit environment?

    There are huge implications with the above, so if we can get clarity on what’s nailed down so far, then we can continue the discussion.

    Does Graphisoft have a workflow paper for firms or something like this?

  3. Dear John,

    The ArchiCAD-Revit Structure interface is IFC-based both ways and working pretty smoothly according to our tests. In the suggested workflow, both the architect and the engineer have ownership of their own models, and reference each others in their native environments. With this method, after the initial model exchange, the respective evolving models are just referenced (although elements can be taken over if needed). The IFC change management is between two versions of the same IFC file from the same source (e.g. exported by the structural engineer) where “new/modified/deleted” makes real sense. Naturally with such workflow, there is no “lost” information during synchronization so you don’t have to work twice.


  4. Interesting article, but why does your diagram include so many software packages for all disciplines, but limit Architecture to just ArchiCAD? The same exact process can work for Revit Architecture, but seems very biased to not include it in the Architecture software. Very good article until figure 5 where it is easy to see that it was written by someone that is biased towards their product.

    Add Revit Architecture to the Architectural software and the entire article would come off as a BIM workflow, not ArchiCAD’s BIM workflow.

  5. Dear Troy,

    Thank you for your comment. I absolutely agree that the explained workflow should ideally be working universally – independent from software brands. In fact my primary intent with this article was to promote this “open” design collaboration workflow. At the same time I definitely wanted to use examples for illustration where the actual workflow is working already today according to the the theory. The workflow with the various engineering solutions depicted in Figure #5 is proven by our users in their every day practice.


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