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Moderators: Karl Ottenstein, LaszloNagy, ejrolon, Barry Kelly, gkmethy

User avatar
By James Johnston
Kudos to all those who worked so hard to put on the great programs at
ACUW. It was an intense 3 days of workshops with lots of very worthwhile information put forth and exchanged. It was well organized, a definite success! Whether you were a seasoned user or just a beginner, there was much to gain for everyone. Thanks again!
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By Erika Epstein
ACUWest; My very first ACU and what an experience. First off, I discovered Pomona was only an hour’s drive from my own backyard in Los Angeles! At this time of year its rolling hillside is green with lots of farmland full of cows and horses. I started off with my usual foot-in-mouth. Introducing myself to David Pacifico I said something to him about how wonderful his Objectsonline is. David graciously corrected me that that is a different David. I’m sorry David. And David. With my first foot-in-mouth episode over with, I stumbled on.

We were greeted by a needlessly ashen Duane Valencia who along with John Stebbins, Dwight Atkinson, Karl Ottenstein, Kimon Onuma, David-Nicholson Cole and all his other co-conspirators proceeded to wow and dazzle us from dawn to midnight. We got to know ArchiCAD as it is now even better than we thought we did. We were shown the future of Graphisoft and the revolution in the Building Industry which, know it or not, as an ArchiCADder, you are a part of.

At the start session we were divided into groups of about 20. In my group, led by Karl, we discovered what a varied lot we are. One of us had been using AC for 14 years and two tan-less surfers had just learned ArchiCAD by designing 11 houses in 2 months! Yep, 2 months. OK, maybe it was 3 months. When we regrouped others had similar tales, similar gripes and always a new approach and perspective of the program.

Duane then christened us all “Archibuddies” and we were off and running. First up, Richard Crow of Gilchrist, Ross & Crowe in Florida and then, Russ Sanders and Paul Winslow of the Orcutt/Winslow Partnership in Phoenix presented their work and why they use AC. Both were visionaries in their ability to grasp what AC could do for them that other programs couldn’t and demonstrated it to us with a showcase of their work, the process each uses and the effect it has had on their practices.

Kimon Onuma of Onuma/Webscape was next at the podium. For those who don’t know him, he is a visionary who has been working around the clock and the globe to make possible a revolution in the building industry starting with the exploitation of ArchiCAD and its language, GDL. He uses it to both produce and destroy buildings. He has stretched the program from traditional Japanese homes which must follow the rules, to a parametric object which can instantly analyze a site for use as a school by the LA School District. Now he is busy using GDL to blow up buildings for security analysis. Frankly, he is having just too much fun. He has also been instrumental in pushing technology by inventing what he can’t find to get project teams to work smarter and together.

This last point was beautifully demonstrated by Mitch Boryslawski who with Navisworks has been able to bring together 3D information from multiple programs to do 3D conflict analysis. These conflicts (we usually call them errors and change orders) get resolved long before they are built saving megabucks. Mitch’s show and tell was the “Jones” project, a state-of-the-art facility currently being built in the Presidio of San Francisco by a famous film director who has made movies about wars in the stars. Instrumental to Mitch’s success has been his ability to bring all the different consultants together literally and virtually connecting everyone and the construction site with state-of-the-art hardware and software.
User avatar
By Erika Epstein
2 0f 3
After this intro we relaxed at Archipub. Legendary Lew Bishop serenaded us while we perused his amazing drawing sets. What a time I had meeting so many people I had known only from ACtalk like Link and Matthew, reconnecting with Ferenc Lazar and others I hadn’t seen in ages, and many more. One person we were all anxious to meet was Adelbert. Where were you?

The next morning classes started at 8. Morning sessions were 1 large class. In the afternoon
Everyone was griping about classes occurring simultaneously. We all wanted to attend everything.

Dwight gave the first class. I’ve been waiting years to take his class. I don’t know why he looked so worried, he really knows his stuff. He started off explaining that in our digital world, everything is made of dots. And what we want to do is learn to tell a story with those dots. Every picture contains a picture and our mission is to manipulate those dots to find that picture. Easier said than done, but that is what he taught us how to do. We should think of our rendering as what we see when the curtain goes up. There should be a focus. We should be drawn into it, not in that car driving out of the picture. The lighting, color and texture should set the mood and tell the story. Make us want to go there. Include people. Put the pretty horses in the foreground and the cows in the back. Clients like that. Don’t settle for those grayed out computer-averaged renderings that AC produces. A few minutes with photoshop works wonders. Believe it or not, 4 hours just wasn’t enough time. Many of us returned at 9:30PM for more!

The afternoon was a scramble, what to take, what to take, where is that cloning machine? I decided on some basics, workingman’s GDL and Interactive scheduling and then Templates.
The first two were taught by Karl Ottenstein. His years of experience teaching as well as knowing everything taught us more than we thought we could learn in such a short time. He covered so much material, stimulated discussions and made time to answer everyone’s’ questions. Even as I was leaving 2 days later he stopped me to make sure I knew the workaround for a bug in I.S. taking a 7.0 project into 8.1.!

Template making was with Thomas Dalbert and Matthew Lohden. I love studying other templates and discovering new ways to work. Thomas, who is currently living in Hawaii, presented Rex’s templates that come with AC. Rex is the Hawaiian reseller. Yes there is a definite line between those who like them and those who don’t. Personally I prefer a template whose pencolor tells me what line-weight they are. A small thing to some, but since I usually work in hairlines for me it is essential. It doesn’t matter though. You need to develop a template that works for you. AC is very accommodating that way. An interesting point Thomas made was that as Hawaii is a small and isolated community, employees shift around related to who has the work. As all but one or two firms use Rex’s templates, ergo there is minimal adjustment and learning curve when changing jobs. Matthew has a very different background. He works in the northeast setting up templates for many firms, customizing them to each, helping to set standards and getting new employees up to speed. Contrast them with Orcutt/Winslow who with over 100 employees (probably botching the numbers, but it is large) has an in-house training program that they developed for all new employees. Paul, one of their founders, is hoping to take it one of these days.
User avatar
By Erika Epstein
3 of 3
Happy hour. More time to look through example of work people brought to display. Neil McCann, Sean McMurtrey, David Nicholson-Cole all live, one on one and interactive.

An evening with Graphisoft, led by Mark Sawyer. Viktor and Kurt, it was great meeting and talking with you. I wish I had been able to take your class. We were told that Graphisoft had learned their lesson about not releasing buggy versions and patches. I had to stop writing this for a few days as R2 cost me several days of work and I am now back to 8.1. ‘nough said or Djordje will have me banned from ACtalk.

Next morning Duane taught us how to make a great set of working drawings. Now, Duane only does 8 houses a year, but in these desert playlands he calls houses, my home could fit in one of the maid’s rooms. I was impressed. Did you know you could use the level dimension for ceiling heights? He got everyone talking about the pros and cons of different ways to work. Are you a linker or an unlinker? (He’s the latter). Are you using all the latest tools? Are you trying them out and only implementing them if they work well enough and fast enough to make it worth your time? This was a real eye opener especially when he got to plotmaker. He uses the book structure but with pmks (just unlink your view set to create them). Pmks update automatically and are much faster than updating a linked layout book. This nearly caused some “incidents” in the crowd. Viktor from Graphisoft chimed in with a few tips no one else knew about. Right click on a selected pmk/imported drawing and there are many beautiful surprises waiting for you.

For the afternoon class I attended ArchiCAD and the Web. Kimon Onuma and Thomas Dalbert showed us many of the existing tools including ones they had created to help firms and project teams work smarter. A running theme at ACUWest was 4D. Add in time as a parameter. Navisworks, using the information from a smart (BIM) constructed virtual model, integrating it with costing programs like Solibris, project schedules linked to progress from forms filled out by the team; all of this streamlines the process making for a more efficient, accountable and faster process. Team websites tracked projects, automatically updating as new Data is imputed. We are, after all, just learning to manipulate Data more intelligently.

The final session in the afternoon we had a series of presentations. Matthew Lohden had even more tips and tricks up his sleeve than he has let on. Link Ellis played a 10 minute movie he had made with AC. Then the boys from New Zealand, Campbell Yule and Murrray Pearson blew us all away. They presented add-ons that for example allow you to draw a profile with the fill tool of a trim and then in plan and 3D manipulate it to your heart’s content, on the fly, zipping along horizontally, then up the gable, down the other side around the corner, oops, there’s an arch up ahead, not to worry it can handle this too. Mario Andretti would be impressed. I can’t wait to get my hands on these add-ons. Even the GDL masters in the audience were speechless. Can you believe it, all they won was a t-shirt each for having traveled farthest to attend!

On my wish list for next time: some hands on workshops doing things like construction simulation, constructing a model that one can extract all this data from and how to use it. Perhaps a session on AC’s latest features (documented and undocumented). We ended with a round of Jeopardy. We were divided by the center isle. The categories were Gabor (as a first, middle or last name), history of AC, Hungarian geography, Hungarian music, Hungarian food…get the picture? All I can say is Ferenc Lazar should be banned from competing. He grew up in Hungary, helped develop AC, was US tech support for years... The other side having won the toss, I think he left us a token question.

Finally it was time to head home. It would have been just the hour back, but I kept having tod to stop and rearrange the cows in the back and the horses in front.

I have learned so much from all of you here and there. Thank you.
By Guest
Thanks, Erika! :D It was really good meeting you and everyone else I had a chance to talk with at ACUWest. Putting faces and personalities to names makes a huge difference.

I was very inspired by the keynotes, the sessions I was able to attend, and participants I was able to meet. Would have loved to have had another day! (Well, actually, my ideal would be for every day to be that intense. I wouldn't need coffee! ;-))

Again, to you and others who I have corresponded with over the years on this and the previous list... so glad we finally met in person, and thank you for attending and bringing all of your energy and knowledge to the meeting! What a great archi-community we have.

User avatar
By Karl Ottenstein
Thanks, Erika! :D It was really good meeting you and everyone else I had a chance to talk with at ACUWest. Putting faces and personalities to names makes a huge difference.

I was very inspired by the keynotes, the sessions I was able to attend, and participants I was able to meet. Would have loved to have had another day! (Well, actually, my ideal would be for every day to be that intense. I wouldn't need coffee! ;-))

Again, to you and others who I have corresponded with over the years on this and the previous list... so glad we finally met in person, and thank you for attending and bringing all of your energy and knowledge to the meeting! What a great archi-community we have.

User avatar
By Ferenc
Thanks Erika, great review:)

I also enjoyed the event very much. 'twas great to mingle with the crowd., tossing around ideas, and exchanging stories from past and present. The place also brought back memories from ArchiCAMPs (97-Kellog West)

I might accept your motion that I should have been banned from the competition, or maybe Viktor should have been switched over to the other side to even the odds.
In my defense, I have to say, that I didn't know about the Jeopardy, it was totally accidental that I was in the first row - Thomas Dalbert helped me out with some German text for the localized SketchUp Plugin- Duane only yelled "Ferenc has a phone call", close to the end, when I just couldn't let my buddies down. Our teamleader gave me "the look", and you can't fight an ArchiCAD user lady's anticipation...

In all fairness though, we only won with a slight margin (3800/3700).

You were right though, we would have done a clean sweep, except the judges made a small correction refusing one of our answers about the Hungarian Physicist in the Manhattan Project: Eugene Wigner.

For the history/science buffs out there:

Of the THREE Hungarian PHYSICISTs (Wigner/ Szilard/ Teller) Wigner was definitely the most senior (brother in law to Fermi and father in law to Dirac). Teller was a latecomer, and notwithstanding his serious contribution to the second A-bomb - Fat Guy (he was leading the implosion technique work), he became frontrunner after Szilard and the others after Hiroshima were taken back from conscious reasons, while Teller was already working on the H-Bomb and charged full ahead speculating (correctly) that Stalin is in the race more than the public expects. The FOURTH Hungarian on the M P was John Von Neumann, but he was a mathematician, although his contributions were up there with the top physicists. They were called the Martians, not only because they spoke a funny language/had the same funny accent, but because even when speaking English, their conversation was very much on the cutting edge, so lot of the people felt left behind. (maybe with the exception of Ulam and Oppenheimer) See book review of his memoirs below...

Of the Hungarian references we missed the director of the Great Wizard of Oz (King Vidor) . shame on me :)


Editorial Reviews
From Publishers Weekly
"Recollections" might seem too straightforward and too modest a word for the memoirs of a Nobel physicist who moved in the orbits of Dirac, Einstein and Teller. It is, however, the only one that can do justice to the genteel and sweet qualities in this charming, rambling book of reminiscences. Wigner's versions of key moments in the Manhattan Project and the characters of its major participants--Leslie Groves, Enrico Fermi, Edward Teller--are perhaps generous to a historical fault, especially his loyalty to Hungarian countrymen Jon von Neumann and Leo Szilard, among the period's most misunderstood and controversial scientists (at opposite ends of the atomic question). Wigner's memory is not self-serving, only loving, and some of this surprisingly durable amiability necessarily must come from his old-country, bourgeois Jewish upbringing, evoked in burnished prose with the assistance of freelance writer Szanton, also a Hungarian-American. The record of 20th-century physics is brighter and clearer for these firsthand recollections by a man whose life came close to the depths of evil and the heights of human ambition and wonder, but who can still close by remarking, "I have tried to be happy in this life. . . . I could not do better with a second chance."
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Book News, Inc.
Wigner won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963 for his contributions to the theory of the atomic nucleus and elementary particles, particularly through the discovery and application of fundamental symmetry principles. He lived in Berlin in the early 1930s as Hitler rose to power, and later came to America and worked on the Manhattan Project. As interesting as Wigner himself are the recollections of the great 20th century scientists with whom he rubbed shoulders. Includes 16 pages of black and... read more --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
User avatar
By Karl Ottenstein
Well, I suppose a photo is in order so people can see the game board. (A no-tripod photo with a not-so-good camera .) Thanks, Graphisoft ... was fun.

User avatar
By Jeff Mayland
Erika Epstein wrote:...One of us had been using AC for 14 years and two tan-less surfers had just learned ArchiCAD by designing 11 houses in 2 months! Yep, 2 months. OK, maybe it was 3 months....
Thanks, Erika for the mention. I'd like to give an update after all I had learned at ACUWest. Well, I learned some key techniques like using SEO for gable walls instead of trim to roof! That technique alone has allowed me to ge my tan back and catch a few waves. :-) I mean what's more important, life or work?? if I can only get my powerbook to mount to my surfboard... :roll:
User avatar
By Neil
It was great to put faces to emails and phone calls and to be part of the success of ACUW. Let's do it more often! East coast anyone?

Below is a review of ACUW from Cadalyst AEC Tech News email that I get and wanted to pass it along to the AC community who do not yet subscribe.

All the best,
Neil McCann AIA

Michael Bordenaro
Cadalyst AEC Tech News #117 (April 8, 2004)

ArchiCAD University - BIM There, Done That
-Exploding a model
-Integration through visualization
-User-driven learning

The recent ArchiCAD University West seminar held in Pomona, California, on
March 25-27 focused on the software program's long-established BIM
(building information modeling) capabilities. Organized by architect and
experienced ArchiCAD user Duane Valencia, the seminar displayed innovative
ways in which architects and others have been using Graphisoft's ArchiCAD
to create building information models. Also highlighted were new add-ons
and other programs that interact with ArchiCAD to allow elegant solutions
to traditional building documentation and communication problems.

Though the term BIM was frequently described by presenters as awkward, but
currently unavoidable, Mark Sawyer, vice president of worldwide field
operations with ArchiCAD, twisted the acronym to a humorous and pointed
end. Revealing the upcoming campaign phrase "ArchiCAD - BIM there, done
that," Sawyer received a laugh of recognition from the sold-out audience
of 135 who realize that ArchiCAD has allowed creation of intelligent
models for many years.

Not only was ArchiCAD's ability to create intelligent models featured,
Kimon Onuma, AIA, showed how The SHIP Group uses the program to destroy

The Ship Group, a consortium of ArchiCAD users, has presented its Coast
Guard clients with the ability to test terrorist bomb blast scenarios.
First, The Ship Group builds models with intelligent attributes that
include strength of structural systems, material performance, asset
location, and human behavior activity. Using calculations and data from
the consortium's ballistics and terrorist experts, ArchiCAD is then used
to create a variety of "bombs" with attributes of force and direction,
according to Onuma, president Onuma & Associates, South Pasadena, Calif.

The computer bombs are then tested in a variety of terrorist scenarios.
The damage caused to the building models is studied to influence design
decisions regarding location of key offices, equipment, and other factors.

"While many architects and industry organizations do not think
architecture is ready to produce useful building information models, we
are already producing them and blowing them up," says Onuma, whose keynote
speech was called "The Virtual Building: Revolutionizing the Industry."
Referring to the slow adoption of intelligent modeling capabilities as
demonstrated by ArchiCAD, Onuma expressed his belief that architects may
lose further influence on building. "Design/builders and contractors are
expressing more interest in intelligent building models than architects.
Unless the profession acknowledges and supports the capabilities of
intelligent modeling software programs, architects' positive impact on the
built environment will diminish," he says.

Another keynote speaker, Mitch Boryslawski, partner of View By View, San
Francisco, demonstrated Onuma's point. View By View, a 3D architectural
visualization and multimedia company, was contracted to create an
intelligent model of the 840,000-square-foot Letterman Digital Art Center
to assist with construction coordination of this film production facility
being built for LucasFilms in San Francisco's Presidio. The architect of
the project was not given this responsibility.

Boryslawski said View By View used ArchiCAD to create the base 3D model.
Other software applications were used to create 3D models of the
mechanical, plumbing, and electrical designs. All the 3D models were
combined in the NavisWorks product to conduct conflict checks and produce
design review illustrations. Boryslawski indicated that the powerful
integrating capabilities of NavisWorks may reduce the pressure to create
interoperable 3D model standards.

ACU West, the first ArchiCAD seminar offered in the U.S. in more than 4
years, also covered basic program usage advice, various levels of GDL
(Graphic Design Language) instruction on how to create intelligent objects
for use in architectural models and interaction possibilities with
rendering and illustration software such as Artlantis, PhotoCAD,
Sketchup, and Piranesi.

Valencia based the ACU West on the ArchiCAD University seminar series
conducted in Europe by David Nicholson-Cole, author of the "ArchiCAD
Cookbook." Nicholson-Cole made a presentation on advanced GDL usage. He
will present a seminar focused solely on GDL in Irvine, Calif., September
15 - 17.

Valencia, who attended a European ArchiCAD seminar, said he was motivated
to organize the seminar to assist in strengthening the bond among ArchiCAD
users. "It was not sales driven, it was not a full hands-on training
event-it was largely inspirational for the ArchiCAD community to get
together," he says.

Though it's impressive that the ArchiCAD user base is so inspired it
creates a seminar on its own, the lack of a Graphisoft-sponsored
educational event raises the question of whether there is adequate
educational commitment from the vendor to sustain the program's long-term
stability. Recent changes in management at Graphisoft may indicate a new
approach to this issue.

As for Valencia, he is already considering plans for another ACU West in
the future. (A detailed program outline appears at

ACU West
Onuma & Associates
SHIP Group
View By View

Mike Bordenaro is a Chicago-based writer focused on architectural

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