During this week Budapest has become our home and workplace thanks to GRAPHISOFT, who organised the awaited Key Client Conference and Premiere of the ARCHICAD 20.
Being our first time in Hungary, we have discovered a city with great architecture, intense nightlife, good taste for design and tasty food and drinks.
Budapest also revealed us its people, kind and friendly but tough. They are survivors of over thousand years of invasions and changes. And so Archicad has become a good reflection of this survival spirit and hard work.
During one of the bus trips, we had the chance to talk in private with Bojar Gabor, founder of GRAPHISOFT. He mentioned that in order to face  so many transformations, the Hungarian people sought refuge in the mathematics as the only steady element to hold on to.
They had been great mathematicians historically and ARCHICAD is the result of this secret love.
The conference started with an amazing welcome reception at the Hungarian parliament were we all started to get excited about the other participants and the city.
The speakers were selected very carefully, and the general feeling of the whole conference -excluding the more technical talks, is that , we have listened to clients and speakers exposing very different perspectives of  this big thing that is BIM and ARCHICAD:
Institutions, contractors, small, medium and big architectural offices, BIM consultants and engineers, and Facility managers. The message behind the event was  that BIM is for everyone and ARCHICAD can boost your productivity in many different ways — and that’s also the beauty of it!
The conference started with a general glance to the state of the BIM in the UK, with a presentation by David Philp from the UK BIM Task Group; and a Keynote presentation about GRAPHISOFT by its CEO Viktor Varkony, letting us know about the good health of the company and the widespread of its users!
But the best part was to come!
Patrick MacLeamy (Chairman of Building SMART and “father” of the IFC) shared his great analysis of the AEC industry -currently in a moment of change. He always advocates for the widespread of an open channel to communicate (Open BIM, IFC), and explained with his most famous curves, when are the key moments where in any project is key to be able to control the information and manage the changes, and so, BIM is a must to keep the control and the productivity.
He also mentioned the importance of facility management in this market -as later would insist Carlos Jiménez too, giving us a glimpse of the main figures: 1 dollar spent in the design of the project becomes 20 dollars during the construction phase and 60 dollars during the operation phase… In a well designed process, the Architectural design cost-impact is insignificant on the overall project cost. I recommend to check out his presentation in this Youtube video.
After such a mind-opening presentation, came Mr.Kazumi Yajima from Kajima Corporation, one of the biggest contractors operating worldwide, with over 9000 employees.
Mr. Kazumi showed a live example of an Open BIM process, where they use ARCHICAD as a project compiler, gathering all the project info coming from not only one or two softwares, but from more than 20 different.
They pointed out a key aspect of this open BIM process: it’s not only about Revit and Archicad, Open BIM is a call for the freedom to use the best tool for the job and to be able to put together the pieces in a holistic and comprehensive process.
It was impressive also the use of GDL custom objects and APIs that they designed for construction planning.
Now it might not sound so impressive, but they were visionaries when in 1996 they started to use ARCHICAD and BIM for their business. They showed how in 3 years of implementation went to double the effort in the first year of implementation to save the 60% of the cost producing documentation in only 3 years! Bravo Kajima!
After these big thoughts, the Architect side: Daniel Fernandes from Fernandes Arquitetos Associados in Brazil, Andrew Patterson from New Zealand, Cottee Parker from Australia and Frederico Ramos from AEDAS Singapore.
Daniel spoke about their process of growth, cycles and changes. He started by himself after finishing his studies, and in few years he was commissioned for some big projects, stadiums (two arenas for the FIFA World Cup 2014) and other big facilities in Brazil and abroad.
He grew rapidly. First 2, then 4, 5 until they reached up to 45. At first, they started with a pure 2D autocad workflow and when the projects and the teams became too difficult to manage, they purchased Revit. After six years of using Revit, they were still not confident enough in the use of the software to be productive and they also couldn’t reach the graphical level that they wanted, so they had to finish most of the time the projects back in Autocad 2D.
Not 100% satisfied with their performance with Revit and some issues with Autodesk pricing policy made them interest in trying new ways. After few weeks trying the product they were much more productive than after six years using Revit. In his own words: 25 Archicad users could produce the same as 45 Revit users. Numbers talk.
Mr. Andrew Patterson didn’t talk much about processes or information, or even BIM. They are the cover of the new AC20, and they’re very focused in design.
His presentation, very spiritual, showed a huge respect and admiration for the maori culture and the incredible landscapes of New Zealand. For them, ARCHICAD represents “just a tool”, just the best tool to let them be focused on the design and on the ideas behind the projects. I really recommend to visit their website and check their projects.
Naveen Dath & Daniel Potts from Cottee-Parker showcased an amazing high end mixed use development in Brisbane.
The Queen’s Wharf development, represents a new landmark in the tourist destinations. Millions of square meters of hotels, amenities, theatres, fine dining, ballrooms, cinemas, sports fields… and all this designed and documented meeting the strenuous Australian government requirements, with a high level of precision and in a record time!
Only possible using BIM.
Last but not least, is the case of AEDAS
Frederico Ramos, Director in AEDAS Singapore, spoke about their experience implementing ARCHICAD and BIM in general.
Similar as Kajima Corporation on the contractor side, they are experiencing a true OpenBIM process.
Their office in Singapore uses any existing software to deliver the best products. AEDAS Global has won more than 70 Architectural Prizes and recognitions in the last year. Impressive ranking!
Frederico truly believes that you can squeeze the most of every software and then put together the pieces to increase the productivity and speed in a project.
They are quite new using ARCHICAD, but they have already developed an interesting workflow using the software Houdini as an algorithmic design tool, and Rhino as a converter into Revit and now to ARCHICAD. And not only that – they have also Sketchup, Rhino, Maya, 3D Studio…
As most of the big offices across Asia, they still rely on a 2D workflow (Autocad) to finish and detail the projects, but they are trying hard to remove that process (this system?). I want to congratulate Frederico and AEDAS for their braveness pushing the BIM for quality in such a large office and hierarchy.
Personally, the other two main speakers were the revelation of the conference. Furthemore, they constitute two recent agents in the industry: The BIM Consultants and the BIM Facility Managers.
Mario Cattaneo from BIM Factory (Italy) delivered an incredible speech about their work coordinating teams and managing the BIM models in huge projects, such as the Fiumicino Airport and the cover for the Grand Egyptian museum in El Cairo. They showed stunning images and models, and some hints of their process managing such large projects.
Although I enjoyed all the presentations, the last one was the one that blew my mind the most.
According to wikipedia, “El puerto de Liverpool S.A.B. is a mid-to-high end retailer which operates the largest chain of department stores in Mexico, operating 17 shopping malls including Perisur and Galerías Monterrey. Its 85 department stores comprise 73 stores under the Liverpool name, 22 stores under the Fábricas de Francia name, 6 Duty Free stores, and 27 specialised boutiques”
Carlos Jiménez, told us the story about this familiar company, that started trading goods from Europe to Mexico growing to the retail giant that it is nowadays.
He is the Manager of the Architectural dept. in charge of handling all the works, changes and information related to all the stores. As you can see from the description of the wikipedia entry, the quantity of data and information to share between different departments, teams… is enormous.
As in most of the shopping malls, their operation is done using outdated information, located in thousands of different files (if they even exist) or even in printed old drawings. He realised the power of BIM as a hub to concentrate all the documentation together and make it accessible to all the teams.
He did that with the 2D documentation first, and then he started to model up all the stores to update and be able to keep updating the changes on the stores.
As usual, they  first commenced with Revit, buying the massive computers required by Revit to handle all the data generated. Not very long after, he came across ARCHICAD and BIMx – and switched platforms.
The funny story is that, because the performance of ARCHICAD is better and doesn’t need such enormous  and powerful computers, this first batch bought for the Revit licences were recycled into micro BIM servers, useful for the open workflow that they have, working from multiple locations and receiving collaborations from different countries.
At present, after passing the BIM implementation period, they have been able to develop an incredible internal work process. Slowly, they are  translating all the old 2D documentation into live BIM models, from where they extract extremely useful documentation both to maintain and to operate, but also to help the management of the company to take informed decisions.
Using GDL objects they keep track of the modifications and use of the furniture and fixtures.
They have zones that display, in BIMx files, the different department stores with the exact amount of area used by the different departments; and linking that live information with the sales reports, they can track the efficiency of every square meter used.
Carlos showed these extremely detailed BIMx files live, pulling a big applause from all of us in the audience..
The  key point to remember is that, the combination ARCHICAD – BIMx is allowing them to grow the business, and to keep track of all the changes during the years, –thus helping to take decisions and improving the productivity of whole company.

It’s curious to observe the profile of the speakers and their experience, to see how most of them, now ARCHICAD champions, are coming not from Autocad but from Revit. For them the change meant an increment on productivity, quality and global happiness of the office! (The most important after all).
But moreover, the fact that big contractors and big offices use the flexibility and compatibility of ARCHICAD over other solutions, as a way to join different parts and different software information.
We have seen different approaches to BIM from diverse business perspectives: BIM for productivity for architects, BIM to control and share the information, BIM for operation,BIM for construction planning, BIM for visualisation, and BIM to merge different platforms.
I have also realised the importance of BIMx as a tool for the industry.
One person at the conference expressed that, in his opinion, BIMx is not just a little extension for ARCHICAD but, that at the very  least, it will become half of the business for Graphisoft in the coming future.
The speakers have shown BIMx for visualisation, for on-site checking, for information management, for marketing and even for the presentation itself! It is the ultimate communication tool for BIM. Clients could have in their mobile phones the projects, and check all the updates on the design, schedules, drawings…
During the conference, we also had the chance to see the premiere for ARCHICAD 20. It was the first time that the event was streamed live worldwide. Over 8900 participants were watching it online.
Likewise,  the technical talks were extremely interesting and gave us some hints about the focus of the development of ARCHICAD: Information Management (Nathan Hildebrandt), IFC and OpenBIM (Rob Jackson ) and freedom of design through the Rhino/Grasshopper connection and the new features of ARCHICAD 20.
They deserve a separate post!
We want to give a big thanks to GRAPHISOFT for such an inspiring event.
We want to give big thanks to GRAPHISOFT for such an inspiring event.
We feel spoiled! I have no idea how the other software companies organise their Key Client Conferences, but this one was brilliant! They managed to make us feel part of a big global family that enjoys working with ARCHICAD. Thank you!
We are coming back home with our  batteries fully charged, great new friends and colleagues, and a ton of new ideas for this new year.
Until the next Conference: egészségedre!