What is the AEC Collection?

In this edition of Design Under Influence, we are unpacking Autodesk AEC Software Collection.  It has 15 unique and interesting tools.  We will discuss an overview of the collection, what is included, and give you the top three that may be the most useful to you.  In addition, we discuss a few bonus applications.     

Overview of AEC Collection 

The AEC Collection is not just one tool but includes 14 additional tools.  Economically, it’s a sound deal: in fact, 2 of the main tools included in the collection, if purchased separately, are more expensive than the value of 1 license of the AEC collection, and there are 12 other tools included.  This unique collection allows you to use more of Autodesk’s software to take on complex workflows or try new capabilities and features.  This is an especially good opportunity if you are already using AutoCAD and considering buying Revit or you if have Revit and are considering a suite of AutoCAD.  If you look at the monthly subscriptions for each of those, you will find it a great deal. 

The cost of Revit is about $320 per month.  If you are using Revit and AutoCAD (which is the case for many people because they are more comfortable with AutoCAD and only do certain things in Revit or the other way around), it is basically another $220 per month for the AutoCAD.  The AEC collection itself is $390 per month.  If you are using both of those tools, then the AEC collection already makes sense.  A lot of our customers have purchased the AEC Collection because it makes sense financially and lets them test the waters of other software.  

The AEC Collection includes tools like Revit, Civil 3D, AutoCAD, InfraWorks, Navisworks Manage, Autodesk Drive, Advance Steel, Insight, FormIt Pro, ReCap Pro, 3ds Max, Autodesk Rendering, Vehicle Tracking, Dynamo Studio, and Fabrication CADmep.  There are also a couple more that I have not named.   

Our Top Three from the AEC Collection 

Navisworks Manage – comprehensive project review software solution for VDC, clash detection and 3D model advanced coordination, 5D analysis, and simulation. 

3ds Max – enables full artistic control of 3D modeling and rendering for design visualization, games, and animation. It is often used by video game developers, television studios, and architectural visualization and rendering studios. 

ReCap Pro – Reality capture and 3D scanning software and services. 

Using the AEC Collection to its Full Potential 

Navisworks: opens the door for more text collaboration.  If you are working with any other company that using any software, whether it is MicroStation or ArchiCAD, Navisworks does have the capability of bringing a large variety of different formats together into one model for coordination and clash detection.  It is also used for project management.  The two are related because once you start doing clash detection, you are beginning the preconstruction phase and can use Navisworks through to construction for quality assurance and control.  It also integrates with tools like Primavera and Excel, so you can track the status of different clashes.  Project management is helpful in being able to visually see where issues are and to navigate through an entire building or facility without having specialty CAD skills. 

Civil 3D: is a civil design and documentation software that supports BIM workflows.   

3ds Max: is arguably the best rendering tool out there.  We have witnessed great results with 3ds Max from small and large firms.  It’s not only used to generate still renderings, but you can also create animations and interactions.  3ds Max can help you deliver compelling visualization and enhance your customer/clients experience. 

FormIt: is an intuitive 3D sketching app with native Revit interoperability.  It is meant to be used early on in a project and is good for conceptual modeling.  It allows you to work on your iPad and sketch out a few things or pull up and stretch out geometry like you might do in software like SketchUp.  FormIt is user-friendly and integrates well with Revit and AutoCAD.   

These tools enable different parts of the project.  FormIt would be used in the early stage – 3ds Max could be used throughout the entire project lifecycle for renderings – and Navisworks is great once you are getting into the nuts and bolts of coordinating for construction and constructability.   

The Difference Between 3ds Max, Enscape, and Lumion.   

Enscape and Lumion are basically plugins for Revit which make things easier for our customers to produce walkthroughs and 3d renderings.  The decision of when to use Enscape and Lumion instead of 3ds Max would depend on what your practice is doing.  If you want to have all the tools imaginable at your disposal, 3ds Max is the way to go.  While Enscape and Lumion bring a lot of the capabilities, they do not allow the customization and tailoring of the professional level of 3ds Max.  You can achieve great outcomes with Enscape and Lumion, but you cannot tailor things as much as you could with 3ds Max.  3ds Max provides more high-end production volume than Enscape and Lumion.  3ds Max also comes with many assets included.  There is no need to download additional libraries.  It is, however, a steeper learning curve for users.  Enscape and Lumion are easier to use.   

Bonus Number 1: Insight 

Insight empowers architects and engineers to design more energy-efficient buildings with advanced simulation engines and building performance analysis data integrated into Revit.  If you are interested in daylighting studies, designing facades for shading, the orientation of the building, or heating and cooling loads, there are some powerful NEP-based tools built in to allow you to analyze a Revit model quickly.  You can visualize the results of your building on the site on which it will be built.  The daylighting analysis allows you to simulate, calculate, and visualize key daylighting metrics, like daylight autonomy and annual sunlight exposure. 

Bonus Number 2:  ReCap 

ReCap offers reality capture and 3D scanning software and services.  Many people are starting to use “point clouds” generated from 3D scanning.  If you are working on an existing building project, rather than having to go to the site to physically measure it, you (or a surveying professional) can take a laser scanner there and scan it.  ReCap then brings that information together and allows you to view it and offers the ability to work with it and link it to Revit or AutoCAD.  This is a great way to have someone view your design versus the existing conditions.  ReCap’s impact will be seen in the future and similar features may become more integrated into Revit.   

Bonus Number 3:  Matterport 

Matterport creates a realistic digital twin for all types of built spaces enabling clients and stakeholders to explore and evaluate properties with ease.  This is another company that may be worth a look at.   

If you have questions or need help feel free to contact us.  ArchIT specializes in providing IT services specifically to architecture, design, and engineering firms