- Published on Tuesday, 18 August 1998 20:29
- Written by Carol Tiegs - Special to the Town Crier
Photo by Monique Schoenfeld, Town Crier
CAD - computer-aided design - is not new in the architectural profession. It's well into its second decade. But software enhancements and supplemental programs have taken it from two to three dimensions.
This "might change the whole client-architect interface ... it will save time, money and heartache" in the building process in the long run, according to Jodie Gebhard, with Los Altos-based ID8 Media.
New 3-D programs can be added to the basic AutoCAD software, Gebhard said, allowing the building designer and client to experiment with various window treatments, room placements and sizes, massing of the building on the site, or exterior surface treatments before the drawings used for construction are complete.
Some programs allow experimentation with lighting type, placement and intensity, she said. Others let clients see how a favorite Oriental rug or a particular upholstery fabric will look in their living room or reception area. Using site photographs, a client can see in advance how their building will look when completed.
"In the long run, it can save money when the client can accurately visualize sooner how a project will turn out," Gebhard said.
A 3-D design can also save money by producing more precise material lists that enable contractors to make more precise bids, she said, and there is less margin for error on construction drawings. It also makes a good presentation tool for planning commissions, potential investors or buyers.
The fact that CAD software was difficult to use put Gebhard into business 13 years ago.
With a background in interior design, she could see the potential for CAD technology. "But (in 1985) it was the beginnings of computers," she said. "I saw a need for training and consulting because no one would bother with a computer program that meant frustration."
Gebhard said the set-up price has fallen in the last 10 years. It used to cost between $8,000-$10,000 for the necessary computer and software. Now the price range is $4,000-$6,000, she said.
Los Altos residential architect Steven Sanborn has been using AutoCAD software "since the first system I bought from (Gebhard) in 1988. It gets better and better, more user friendly."
"All the programs are so powerful," he said. "The thing is knowing how to use them to their fullest extent."
Another answer for busy architects is a firm that can do some of the 3-D CAD work for them, like Los Altos-based Y? Alliance. According to John Collier, Y? Alliance works with architects to do 3-D videos, models and renderings of both residential and commercial projects. "We can also document existing facilities," Collier said. The firm also does 3-D graphics, found useful in patent infringement cases, he said.
"I think you'll see more of (3-D technology)," Collier said. "It has a lot of marketing applications."
For more information call ID8 Media at 941-5484, or Y? Alliance at 941-6771.