Which new trends and technologies are impacting design review in the AEC (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) sector?

(Image credit: Virtual Reality in Design Review by HGA)

The Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry is constantly looking for process improvements to better manage potential project delays and costs. These result from project complexity, size, uniqueness, and regulations, as well as the need for virtual team collaboration.

Design reviews are a critical part of this process and present some unique challenges. Key team members are often located in many locations, on diverse computing platforms, and face difficulties working on the entire project at once. It’s also often difficult for all stakeholders—especially owners, developers, and other non-AEC industry professionals—to easily understand design intent or visualize the proposed final solution. As a result, there are usually multiple discussion cycles and proposed design modifications that can delay decisions, push out project timetables, and increase costs.

The solution lies in advanced, scalable technologies that can bring efficiency to the project life cycle and deliver substantial savings in both time and costs.

In this blog, we’ll mention some of the highlights of the latest research we conducted showing that

  • advanced, scalable technologies and solutions are bringing efficiency to AEC projects while delivering
  • substantial savings in both time and costs

To download the full research report white paper, we would urge you to visit the NVIDIA website. This can be accessed by clicking on this LINK

AEC workflow and design review challenges

Design review is a critical phase of the AEC workflow for ensuring that the final building meets expectations. This consists of both formal design reviews that include the client(s) as well as almost continuous informal design reviews in which design teams discuss and iterate improvements.

While design reviews are an essential part of the overall building design workflow, they’re especially critical during the conceptual design phase, followed by the client approval stage, architectural design stage, and bidding for projects and engineering design stages.

However, 85% of the companies we interviewed agree with the statement, “Design reviews are a time-consuming aspect of the AEC workflow and often result in delays in moving the project forward…”.

This is because of a combination of business and technical challenges and the resulting financial impacts.  In many cases, technology is overcoming, or lessening, these challenges.

Trends and technologies impacting AEC design review

New technologies are making tremendous improvements to the workflow processes, yielding better communication and increased productivity. Companies can now work smarter and save money with new capabilities like enabling collaboration on designs with team members anywhere, conducting design reviews in virtual reality, and rendering complex 3D models faster. The following is a primer on some of the most impactful technologies benefiting the design review process:

(Image credit: Design Review of Hospital Services in the FULmax CUBE VR system, Fulcro Ltd.)

GRAPHICS PROCESSING UNIT (GPU) GPU-ACCELERATED RENDERING VIRTUAL REALITY (VR) GRAPHICS VIRTUALIZATION With GPU
AEC firms rely on professional GPUs to let their architects, engineers, and designers work effectively with all their CAD software tools.

Companies can select from a broad range of desktop and mobile GPUs to match diverse user requirements in their organizations.

Unlike gaming GPUs, professional GPUs are tested and certified by leading CAD ISVs and workstation OEMs, so design teams get the best possible experience from their IT investment.

GPUs are transforming rendering and the entire design process.

Combining a high-end workstation with GPU-accelerated physically based rendering and physically based materials enables fast, accurate design iteration on predictable models

VR is revolutionizing AEC workflows with technology that makes it possible to work at scale.

VR provides the ability to walk through entire virtual buildings during the design review process, run virtual construction rehearsals, and conduct maintenance and safety training–all in an immersive and collaborative experience

Virtualization, engineers, architects, and designers can access the applications they need from anywhere, on any device, while mission-critical designs remain securely in the data centre. Users get the same responsive experience in a virtualized environment as they would from a physical workstation, with the added benefit of improved collaboration and version control.

(Image credit: The MacLaren – Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Renderings produced by Clark Builders and DIALOG)

The benefits of adopting new technologies

A summary of key benefits achieved by AEC companies through the adoption of new technologies include:

  • Time and resource optimization (e.g. efficiency in rendering)
  • Higher quality output and better comprehension of visualizations
  • Positive impact on the business (e.g. repeat client business)

More specifically, adopting new technology has helped AEC companies with more immersive experiences, improved productivity and better management of Building Information Models (BIM)

  • More immersive experience through Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are specifically helping the AEC design review workflow, taking advantage of the fastest hardware for graphics acceleration and rendering. The result is faster design iteration and real-time (or near real-time) rendering for higher-quality visualization
  • Improved productivity as new technologies is having a two-pronged impact on improving productivity and efficiency. First, they’re enabling designers to iterate designs faster, resulting in time savings, reduced labor cost, and shorter project duration. Second, technologies like GPU virtualization drive better collaboration, especially for remote teams collaborating on a shared model, accessed from a secure data center
  • Better management of BIM models as more companies are embracing Building Information Modelling (BIM)—and the massive 3D models that come with it—there is a growing need for much higher graphics capability to ensure a smooth design and model-development experience. The use of new technology in BIM simplifies design reviews and introduces time savings and efficiency into the project life-cycle.

Note about this research study and the credibility of findings above

While sponsored by NVIDIA, the research was conducted and analyzed wholly independently by Business Advantage (BA). BA interviewed design and IT professionals working in a variety of AEC companies in the USA, UK, and China. The goal was to understand the new technology trends driving improved efficiency of large project design reviews. In-depth telephone interviews averaging 60 minutes in duration were held with over 30 AEC design organizations. The discussions focused on the critical challenges they face in design reviews and what they’re doing to address them. The interviews were transcribed, translated into English, and comprehensively analyzed and captured in this report to share key insights and trends.

CLICK HERE to access the full report on New Trends and Technologies Impacting Design Review in AEC.

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