Vectorworks Case Study: BPR Architects

Vectorworks Case Study

Working in BIM enables bpr architects to create world class buildings for Middlesex University

View the original case study by CADUSER

For bpr architects, BIM Level 2 is becoming business as usual. This medium-sized, employee-owned firm based in the UK focuses on how good design can add value to a client’s vision. Led by Directors Paul Beaty-Pownall and Steve Cowell, the firm specialises in three core sectors: higher education, rail stations, and regeneration. In response to the UK government mandate for the use of 3D BIM on all public projects by 2016, bpr moved quickly to keep pace with the requirements. As part of its compliance strategy, bpr began using Vectorworks software almost exclusively to maintain consistency across projects.

“We took advantage of the UK’s regulatory regimes to move to BIM. In 2013 we changed our working practices and workflow so projects are drawn in 3D from conception. I decided that all future work will be in 3D, and we will make better use of models that can produce information more efficiently.” – Paul Beaty-Pownall

With this framework in place, bpr implemented BIM Level 2 standards into its workflow with teams combining design information with their models to create a federated BIM model. The team selected a pilot project for this task: the Ritterman Building, a five-storey teaching space for long-standing client, Middlesex University.

“As a designer you are always looking for opportunities where you can add value through good design, not just for the betterment of the project, but for the betterment of the environment around that project – strategic solutions that benefit the wider estate.” said Beaty-Pownall.

Such was the case when working with Middlesex University. A client for more than 12 years, the university trusted that bpr had a solid understanding of its needs and how to accomplish them through good design.

Vectorworks Case Study

HOW TO MAKE BREAKTHROUGHS WITH BUILDINGS
Several challenges arose when bpr started working on the Ritterman Building design. First, the building would be constructed on a vacant part of campus composed of a steep, grassy bank. The building also needed to be adaptable to meet continually changing teaching, accessibility, and sustainability requirements, both immediate and for the future.

“We worked closely with the structural engineer to consider how that might be done, such as how to refurbish the building later on down the line,” said Lizzie Dodwell, an architect at bpr. “It made more sense to design within that problem to give us that flexibility in the future.”

For the Ritterman Building, bpr designed flexibility into the structure, such as opening up double-height space that could be modified at a later time by adding floors to create modular teaching spaces. Throughout the decision-making process, the firm also took the university’s long-term goals into account.

“The pedagogic needs of the university’s vision and operational requirements for the future is something we don’t know at this stage,” said Dodwell. “By being more flexible in our approach, we allow adjustments to be made later on down the line.”

The completed building is comprised of both functional and innovative teaching spaces for the faculties of Science and Technology and The Arts & Creative Industries. In addition to these spaces, the Ritterman Building also includes a café, technology suites, a dance studio, and offices for academic staff. The building may take two to three years from initial idea to completion, whilst the educational curriculum can change every year,” said Beaty-Pownall. “So being prepared to adapt and change the building over time is really important.”

BEHIND THE SCENES WITH BIM LEVEL 2
The timing of the Ritterman Building provided the perfect opportunity for bpr to transition to a BIM practice. Middlesex University already had a framework in place that required bpr to work with the same teams, including structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers, across all projects. “It’s been very effective to work over a long period of time with the same design team across a number of different buildings with the same clients,” said Beaty-Pownall.

The ability to import different types of files into Vectorworks helped the bpr team progress through their design plans at a faster pace.

“The structural engineer had Revit and was very keen to collaborate. In the early stages he would send us his models in IFC and we would import them into our Vectorworks model to keep things simpler. The others all use 3D software in different packages, that were then exported into IFC and coordinated in a federated model, in Tekla.” – Lizzie Dodwell

To produce detailed drawings and construction documents, bpr took the Vectorworks model and created separate files for three distinct “zones” in the 3D modeling environment – the envelope, core, and internal zones. This enabled three teams to work on separate files. The teams then referenced each work area to a single sheet file, which they could work on in 2D to export detailed drawings and schedules. In this way, the entire team could extract consistent information from a single source.

Beaty-Pownall believes that embracing BIM workflows across the practice has been worth the effort. This collaborative way of completing projects has enhanced bpr’s workflow in ways that, without Vectorworks software, may not have been possible. “One of the core benefits to the practice of using a 3D workflow is how it enables us to focus on design with the confidence that the delivery of information to support exciting ideas is robust,” he said “We could push the boundaries and explore opportunities as the project develops.”
Although bpr did not serve as the BIM manager for the second half of the project, obtaining and maintaining Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) information allowed the firm to ensure that the coordination of the different disciplines would come together at every stage of the design process. Increasing Accuracy and Saving Time The benefits of Vectorworks extend beyond collaboration, increasing accuracy and saving time by using integrated Vectorworks worksheets instead of spreadsheets to keep track of project details. “When we used Excel spreadsheets for our scheduling, we were literally taking up time counting door by door and door handle and hinge,” said Beaty-Pownall. “We now have a lot more confidence that the data provided is accurate.”

Finally, Vectorworks software has been helpful for bpr to see buildings in context, as the team can situate designs within true-to-life surroundings to offer a large amount of detail to clients. “We tested the potential for a new performing arts building to understand the capacity of the proposed site,” said Beaty-Pownall. “Placing it in a wider context – how high the buildings are, the character of the area, as this would be a landmark building. The Massing Model and Space tools were used to determine whether it would have a really significant impact on the neighbourhood.”

Vectorworks Case Study

Vectorworks Case Study

UNLIMITED POSSIBILITIES TO LAST A LIFETIME
Middlesex’s vice chancellor, Professor Tim Blackman, hailed the building as helping the university to “provide students with a world-class learning environment equipped with the latest facilities and technology,” cementing its reputation among employers “for graduates taught in industry-standard settings with the skills they need.”

“I think it’s really important to work with a client, like Middlesex University, to ensure that this whole process is going to be of benefit to them. They need to be able to know that the information we are able to provide upon completion is supported by their facilities systems.” – Paul Beaty-Pownall

Working in the public sector, especially for a client in the higher education industry, has made Beaty-Pownall recognise the importance and legacy of their work. What started as a creative brief can become a reality within the software.

“There’s a natural feel to drawing a 3D model of a building with Vectorworks. Thinking through how it is actually built as you draw, helps to structure the model, provide efficient packages of information, and design great buildings.”

Now that the Ritterman Building is complete, bpr is committed to working completely in BIM with 3D models for future projects. “Working in 3D enables you to visualise what you’re designing,” said Beaty-Pownall. “With every line you draw, you can see the impact on the wider vision.”

Fred Bartels: A true SketchUp Renaissance Man

A longtime member of the SketchUp community, Fred Bartels is an educator, builder, artist, and maker. Influenced by Seymour Papert and other education visionaries, Bartels saw a promising future for SketchUp in the classroom. Seventeen years after first introducing SketchUp to his students, Bartels continues to push the boundaries of SketchUp and he’s hopeful that the educators of tomorrow will do the same.

Fred, you’ve been a part of the SketchUp community for a long time. Where do you think your 3D modeling story begins?

I spent most of my career teaching computer programming classes and providing IT support to K-12 schools. But as long as I can remember I’ve been interested in art and architecture. I took some art and photography courses in high school, but felt I didn’t have the talent to pursue art as a profession. I continued to produce art, mostly abstract and play with house designs as a hobby. I always kept sketchbooks and used those as an outlet for design ideas.

When computers and 3D design software tools became available to schools, I started teaching a CAD/architecture course using these softwares. The first few years I used a program called VectorWorks, but the program was so clunky and unintuitive that it hardly encouraged creativity. When I discovered SketchUp at MacWorld 2002, I never looked back.

No stranger to thought-provoking design, Fred Bartels found a home for his abstract creations in SketchUp.

You were introduced to SketchUp in the early days! What made you try using it in the classroom?

I realised that SketchUp allowed students to focus more on their design ideas rather than learning how to use the tool itself. As you would expect, we introduced SketchUp to our design classes, but we also experimented with using SketchUp in math, science, language, and history classes. Ultimately, our students loved using SketchUp and a few went on to do impressive work with the program. One of these students, Andrew Nathanson, was invited to the SketchUp 3D Basecamp 2008 to present his exceptional design work, and more generally share about the use of SketchUp in a K-12 environment.

Read more of this article here.

Maxwell Render – the Making-of: Dendrobium Hypercar CGI By EPTA Design

This week on the Maxwell blog they had a special guest – EPTA Design. The London-based design studio does amazing automotive CGI with Maxwell that we are excited to share with you.

EPTA Design Studio cover all the phases of the preliminary design process (research, styling, virtual modelling, 3D rendering, animation). Their wide-ranging experience combined with a compact studio setting allows them to work in a highly-lean and quality-oriented way, focusing on designs that lead to quality, innovative, and feasible outcomes.

Read the full case study below:

• Software used: Adobe Photoshop, Rhinoceros, Maxwell.
• Project credits: EPTA Design for WFRIC / Dendrobium motor

The Project

In 2015 at EPTA Design we were asked to develop the style and design of a Hypercar. The project was commissioned by Singapore’s Wong Fong Research and Innovative Center (WFRIC). The first request by the client was to create a “spaceship with wheels”. They were looking for something eye-catching, as well as a reminder of the “key aspects” associated with the company: Singapore balance between technology and nature, flower and machine, a woman‘s shape and sharp line.

“The goal was to achieve a distinctive design different from any other Hypercar.”

It was not a project for production, but rather an open-sculptural one. So, it’s a Hypercar not designed to be driven, just to be admired. Only several months after the presentation of a first-scale model of the final car to the Dendrobium Electric Hypercar SZIDF 2015, the WFRIC created dendrobiummotors.com

Concept and Creative Process

The client was clear about the name from the very beginning of the project: Dendrobim. This is the name of an Orchid in the Singapore area, a beauty symbol that amazes.

The creative process as a style study, always goes through a research / synthesis phase that takes keywords provided by the client and converts them into images. The moodboard table serves this task! Images from other sectors are used: fashion, architecture, industrial production, design, film, and art in general. With these images hung on the center-style wall, we started to draw.

Greatest Challenge

The most critical part of the project was time. We had little time to present the design, and deliver the 3D file. After a month or so, we mailed the model to Shenzen China. That was followed by a first round of CAD images, approval, and delivery. The final rendering was done later, when we had enough time to refine the model and achieve rendering quality.

Work with Maxwell

EPTA Design deals with design for rather niche sectors, and not for large-scale production. This project is positioned right at the edge, so the goal was to make high-quality realistic renders that look unbelievable.

“The quality had to be exquisite, and Maxwell is the perfect tool to achieve this goal.”

 

 

Materials

As an agency EPTA Design also offers the rendering service, but usually, we can sell this service only in conjunction with the design of the product, so we have total control over the graphic choices (materials, colors and surface finishes). We use a lot of Maxwell’s materials available in the Material Gallery. Over time, we have enriched it with some free materials downloaded from the official site and we change them slightly according to the needs of the project.

Lighting

We always present the project in two lighting sets: a photographic and a natural one (natural lighting).

For outside renders, we used the potential of the Sun plus Maxwell’s PhysicalSky combined with an HDRI.  In the photographic set, instead of the sky (Sky+Sun) we used only an HDRI (for lighting, color, and reflection) but we added some strategic plans and we assigned the lights from Maxwell’s internal library.

“In both cases, the Multilight system is crucial to light testing and comparison in real time. In addition to communicating forms and materials, it creates a certain degree of emotion to the final image.”

Postproduction

Usually all our renders undergo a post-production process. For example, in the set-up, you have to explain as well as possible the context, while when rendering we try to enhance the object itself.

Specifically, for outdoor renders, most of the work is done using HDRI, sky and sun light from machine materials and a “wet asphalt” material. But that’s not enough. To give the idea of running in a circuit, we changed the road (adding chromatic irregularities typical of asphalt with different cracks and types of asphalt, curbs and grass), blurred the wheels and added splashes of water when driving on wet ground.

Apart from these changes, we usually work on the overall image: we adjust saturation because sometimes too saturated colors make the final image less realistic, we add depth using smoke, and bright effects such as camera glows and finally we add shadows of other objects to the main scene.

The Final Piece

We are happy with the final result! The design has been well received even though in the second phase the project it underwent profound changes. Nevertheless, our design images achieved the goal of attracting the attention of the audience!

John Marx and Form4 win 24 Awards in 2014 … with form•Z.

Form4 and its Design Principal John Marx are no novices in the department of awards. They have won numerous over the years. 2014 is full of particularly remarkable achievements. Form4 exceeded its expecations collecting 24 significant awards from all over the world. AutoDesSys extends its warmest congratulations, taking special pride in this noteworthy accomplishment, knowing that John has been an avid user of form•Z since the release of version 1.0, in 1991.

 

John Marx is responsible for developing Form4 Architecture’s design vision and language in his role as design principal. His deep concern for listening to clients’ needs, coupled with his belief in creating designs of the highest quality and thoughtfulness, has led to many successful collaborations for the firm. He is the recipient of numerous international design competitions and awards, including an AIA Justice National Design Citation for the Klamath County Courthouse; First Place in 2D Graphics at the Bay Area Computer Graphics Exhibit for Globo; and a BACA 9th Annual Exhibition Award of Distinction.

Read the full article here..

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We’re currently working with Chaos Group, looking for case studies and showcase renderings to feature in a wide variety of situations where V-Ray for Sketchup is promoted. This includes the Chaos Group website, CAD Software Direct and printed and online media worldwide. Featured work is credited by company and with watermarked logo. This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase your company’s work. Why not get in touch today?

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