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GRASSHOPPER CONNECTION TO ARCHICAD, GRAPHISOFT’S SMART MOVE

Not wanting to be left behind in the emerging generative and computational design market, Graphisoft entered the fray in the unlikeliest, yet smartest way, compared to its competition, and users of Archicad will not have to wait very long to see the design benefits. A few months after announcing that it was partnering with Robert McNeel and Associates, the maker of Rhino, to create a connection between Archicad, Rhino and Grasshopper, Graphisoft held an webinar Rhino-Grasshopper-Archicad Connection to demonstrate how the three programs would work to create a generative design tool, which, up until now, has not been possible with Archicad alone. The demonstration was impressive and breath-taking, and while the collaboration is at its nascent stage, it showed convincingly that Graphisoft has figured out the right path to impart generative, computational design capabilities to Archicad and thus become a big player in the field.

The demonstration far exceeded our expectations. When Graphisoft announced in April 2015 that the connection enables Archicad users to import Rhino models into Archicad as GDL objects,” we welcomed the announcement, but what the webinar demonstrated was more than that. It showed not only a very tightly integrated working relationship involving Archicad, Rhino, and Grasshopper, but at times, the relationship was very seamless right out of the gate. The webinar presented several interesting generative design examples of what architects can now do in cutting edge designs using Archicad and the Rhino-Grasshopper connection. To top it all, the demonstration showed that design changes between Archicad and Grasshopper and Rhino are bi-directional and lives, and this sets the stage for Graphisoft, a late comer in the generative and computational design field, to quickly make development progress and leapfrog its competition involving Bentley Systems and Autodesk.

It is no secret that architects are increasingly pushing the boundaries of design with daring free forms in an iterative design process, and no BIM maker can afford to be left behind. However, giving the architects the tools they need to do that would involve a challenging two-step process: First, the generative, computational program has to be created, which is no small task; and second, the program has to work in the context of BIM. Graphisoft knew that it had one piece of the puzzle: Archicad, its flagship BIM program. Instead of creating the generative, computational program from scratch for the missing piece, it turned to Rhino and Grasshopper, two industry leaders, to complete the puzzle. Thus, this strategy marries the best of both worlds and sets the stage for Graphisoft to be a leader in the generative, computational architecture design market.

Setting aside Frank Ghery’s Catia-based Digital Project program, the two leading generative and computational design programs in the market today are Generative Components by Bentley Systems and Grasshopper, a free program that works on top of Rhino. Autodesk, also a later comer, is developing its own program from scratch, called Vasari. It is doing so after hiring Robert Aish away from Bentley in 2008 because Aish, who has a Ph.D. in Human Computer Interaction from the University of Essex, England, was responsible for the development of Generative Components at Bentley. Since then, Autodesk has been busy developing Vasari and at some point has to integrate it with Revit, which is another challenging step. For its part, Bentley Systems has had a head start because it developed and introduced Generative Components in 2003 and in 2007 released it commercially. Since then, it has been busy trying to integrate Generative Components in its BIM program, AECOSim Building Designer.

Graphisoft’s smart business move of connecting Archicad with Grasshopper and Rhino saves it from a big headache and expense of having to create from scratch a generative and computational design program, a very laborious and costly undertaking. Now, with the Grasshopper partnership in place, Graphisoft can turn its attention to integrating seamlessly Archicad and Grasshopper in the same BIM application, and judging from the webinar demonstration, its seems Graphisoft is well on its way to doing that in a fairly short and efficient timeframe. The public beta version of this Archicad-Grasshopper-Rhino connection is available for download. You may sign up for it at: http://www.graphisoft.com/rhino-grasshopper/

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