The cloud has a lot to offer architecture firms – more than just the ability to back up your photos. Are you missing out on what the cloud has to offer?
When the job calls for an architect, only an architect will do. Not an engineer, or a sculptor, or a concept artist. While the layman might think there’s an overlap from one to the other, the fact is that you can’t generalize in this type of work.
Shouldn’t the same logic apply to the technology you choose for your architecture firm?
In today’s architecture industry, knowledgeable, strategically applied technology can make all the difference – and that’s exactly what’s happening with the cloud. It can do more than help you share and store files.
Do you know what the cloud is doing for architects?
Modeling In The Cloud
Many architecture firms these days are operating out of multiple locations. When it comes to joining together remote staff members and distant offices, the cloud is second to none.
By centralizing 3D models in the cloud, your carefully managed workflows can continue no matter where your team is. So long as an architect has an internet connection, they can access and work on the 3D model.
“We had to go there because of how we operate,” said Nick Cameron, AIA, vice president of CannonDesign, to Architect Magazine. “If you’re working on a dispersed team, having a centralized model in the cloud is number one. This idea of shipping models back and forth isn’t fast enough for how we need to react to clients. A cloud-based system allows us to collaborate in real-time in any of our offices.”
Manage Your Projects In The Cloud
As great as BIM software has been for architects for years, it’s had a core flaw – it only works for those who are fluent in it. After all, it’s not that accessible if you’re not an architect.
While every architect working at a firm may be an expert with Revit, what about the wider community of subcontractors you have to work with? A mason isn’t necessarily going to understand how it works, which slows your workflow and requires someone to translate it out to the other teams.
The cloud can help with this as well – new centralized project management platforms bring everyone together in one intuitive cloud location. Software like Trimble Connect (which connects team members for file sharing/storage, BIM model viewing, and collaboration) allows architecture firms to bridge the gap between them and the other teams they work with.
Rendering In The Cloud
Generating renderings is one of the long-accepted, but nonetheless frustrating, pains in the architecture workflow. Handling the task on-site requires computing power and patience. Wouldn’t it be nice to get your rendering completed in minutes instead of hours?
That’s another area in which the cloud can help. New cloud services (such as Nvidia Iray) allow firms to send their designs to outsourced graphics processing units via the cloud, handling the rendering in a much faster, much less resource-intensive way.
“It produces incredible results in an incredibly short time,” said Gensler managing director Ken Sanders to Architect Magazine, about Nvidia Iray. “We can do not just photorealistic renderings but these complex daylighting analyses where you’re simulating light with very high fidelity. You can turn those around in seconds or minutes rather than taking all night to compute.”
Analyze Performance In The Cloud
The cloud can also give your firm access to computing power in ways that specifically apply to the work you do every day.
For example, you can use Autodesk’s Flow Design to analyze how the wind on a given project site should influence your designs, long before you break ground. This kind of data is so much more time-intensive to study on your own.
“Flow Design has been most useful for form-finding exercises during early design, in a model that might come from Revit or from SketchUp,” said Trevor Taylor, of ZGF Architects, to Architect Magazine.
If you’re not already using the cloud for file sharing and storage, you’re way behind the times. But if you’re also failing to take advantage of the industry-specific features the cloud can deliver, then you’re missing out.
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