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ArchiCAD or Revit: Even Octopus Prefers Both

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A group of students aspires to become architects. As part of school curriculum they formed design teams, designed a building and presented it to a room full of practicing architects.

One of the design team leaders was describing how they designed their project. He started talking about BIM - the whole project was [Revit Vs Archicad] designed with BIM. An architect in the back of the room raised his hand to ask “Why didn’t you design in CAD?” The design team’s response was “What’s that?” and the room became quiet. The very incident suggests that the landscape in design and construction industry is changing rapidly. As revolutionary as BIM is, there are some architects, designers, students who believe the old way of designing and constructing buildings is better. This belief often comes from those who haven’t been part of the BIM revolution. We will unveil the hidden treasure of BIM modeling and explain why transitioning to the BIM process is a worthy decision for architects, designers, structural engineers and construction professionals (read Building Information Modeling: A Valuable Tool for Home Builders).

BIM is a bigger leap. BIM is a revolution in the AEC industry. Perhaps the biggest change in architectural design and construction management since computers became available for common office use. In these economic times, we need to focus on innovation not retrenching into old traditions if we want to sustain. BIM is inevitable in AEC industry. If you haven't been able to use it yet, don't worry, you will. But, before transitioning to the process, read a couple things that might help you - (a) Don’t equate BIM with BIM utility; (b) Don’t think Revit is only player in the BIM world. There are many players available. Selection of right and suitable software contributes to the BIM process.

There are two biggest BIM players in the market - ArchiCAD by Graphisoft and Revit Architecture by Autodesk. From an architectural production and coordination perspective, we have tried to endorse a comparison between ArchiCAD and Revit. It will enable architects, owners and contractors to make more informed decision.

  • Learning Curve: Revit is little bit complicated. ArchiCAD has a faster learning curve than Revit.
  • Greater Level of Flexibility: Revit offers greater level of flexibility to designers and architects. You can easily fix those wall joins in Revit. You can use filled regions, invisible lines, etc. ArchiCAD doesn’t offer so much flexibility. Though both programs give you wall priority options.
  • Demolition Work: Demolition work is really well worked out in Revit because of its phase and phase filters options. ArchiCAD would require layer combinations.
  • 3D Issues: In Revit, 3D is only axonometric. In ArchiCAD you can go into perspective and walk around the building back and forth at any time easily.
  • Line Weight Management: As this feature is similar to AutoCAD's system, learners feel easier to understand and manage.
  • Drafting and Detailing: When it comes to drafting and detailing, ArchiCAD is far better than Revit. ArchiCAD has easy to work drafting tools with which you can easily work with your BIM elevations and sections. It is to be noted that though ArchiCAD is better when detailing, Revit handles plan notes efficiently.
  • Level of Accuracy: One of the significant differences between Revit and ArchiCAD is that Revit changes things globally and offers a much higher level of accuracy which is important for large projects. ArchiCAD lets you easily change and customize every element in the project and allows global changes only if set up right or scheduled properly, otherwise you will have to change everything one by one.
  • Energy Analysis: ArchiCAD has an energy modeling program. But, it doesn’t seem nearly as robust as Ecotect and Green Building Studio. There's a drop down menu for building type, with three choices - heavyweight, medium and lightweight. The info for the product is manually entered. Revit has shadows and reflections, shading design, solar analysis, acoustic analysis, thermal analysis, ventilation and airflow, whole building energy analysis, water usage and costs evaluation, photovoltaic potential, daylighting, detailed weather analysis, wind energy potential, analyzing design alternatives, etc.
  • Worldwide Acceptance: ArchiCAD is mainly used in Europe, which Revit has a wider acceptance globally. Besides, Autodesk is more visible and accessible, with large volume of Revit training resources.
  • Project Size: Revit doesn’t work well for residences or smaller projects that don’t have flat roofs. It will be clear if you try to edit a hip roof in Revit vs. ArchiCAD.


At a BIM seminar LAKE-FLATO architects admitted that moving to Revit platform compels you to dump all AutoCAD info and create new templates and standards. While ArchiCAD gives you a starting point by providing a working template. While a Principal Architect opines that, “The only problem with me for the software (ArchiCAD) is my conversion to AutoCAD. Most of the business, say architects, construction professionals and client's representative use AutoCAD. Revit is a product of Autodesk that owns also AutoCAD and that's the Advantage of Revit.” Both do most of the things and both have different strengths and weaknesses. Neither is superior of one another. Hire an expert or invite both Revit dealer and ArchiCAD dealer to a head to head demonstration a real time project and carefully evaluate them. Test the different applications available. Transitioning to BIM requires significant investment of time and money, selection of the best tool will contribute to the success of BIM transition!?!

We are entering into a great era – the BIM era. If you are a student, ensure that you are taught BIM. If you are a professional, and are not yet using BIM, start soon.

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