Firm Profile: DeSimone Consulting EngineersAECbytes Profile (July 13, 2015)

DeSimone Consulting Engineers, a structural engineering firm with projects and locations all over the world, shares its perspective on AEC technology in this Firm Profile.

What is the history and background of the firm?

DeSimone Consulting Engineers was founded in New York City in 1969 and has grown to nine locations worldwide, with projects in 40 states and 18 countries to date.  The firm performs structural analysis and design for all types of buildings at all project phases, and has designed some of the world’s most recognizable structures (shown in Figure 1).  DeSimone is listed on Engineering News Record’s Top 500 Design Firms.

Figure 1. Some of the most recent projects around the world on which DeSimone provided structural analysis and design services.

What is the firm's current focus? What are the key projects it is working on?

In its designs, DeSimone aspires to capture the imagination, excite the spirit, and create structures of lasting beauty and functionality. With this as a guiding focus, it operates across a broad range of markets, providing comprehensive services from program management to interior design. It focuses on the following markets: Aviation, Civic, Corporate/Commercial, Higher Education, Federal, Gaming and Entertainment, Healthcare, Hospitality, Manufacturing and Distribution, Science and Technology, and Venues.

When did the firm start using AEC technology, and how is it being used today? How important is AEC technology to the firm?

DeSimone started to phase-in AutoCAD software (CAD) for project work back in the late 1980’s and began using CATIA, a 3D modeling application (BIM) in the mid 1990’s on specific projects based on client requirements.  Today AutoCAD, with a custom add-on application “Design-Plus” developed by DeSimone, is the firm’s main production tool. However, Revit, its BIM tool of choice is being utilized on more and more projects, and it is anticipated that before the year’s end, Revit will account for 50% of DeSimone’s total project work (Figure 2). Thus, AEC technology has become an integral part of the firm’s day-to-day workflow.

Figure 2. Revit models of some DiSimone projects.

Does the firm have a specific approach and/or philosophy to AEC technology? If so, what is it?

DeSimone has always embraced technology as a means of leveraging its resources, and believes in meeting the needs of its clients by adapting to their requirements with the philosophy of using the right tool for the job.  Over the years, it has utilized various technology tools such as CATIA, Digital Project, Rhinoceros 3D, Autodesk Architecture, Revit, etc., to efficiently work with its clients.  In the late 1990’s, the firm was an early adopter of Revit before it was acquired by Autodesk, because it knew that eventually, the tool would become a major player in the evolution of BIM in the AEC industry.

What are some of the main challenges the firm faces in its implementation of AEC technology?

Implementing technology involves change and as is well known, it is difficult to adapt to changes in the way a business operates. Some of the obstacles associated with this that DeSimone faces are:

  • Training: Employees need to be trained in new software applications, which involves additional expense and time.

  • Learning Curve: After the initial training, employees require time to come up to speed with new applications, techniques and procedures.

  • Hardware: As technology evolves, it becomes more resource-intensive and computer workstations need to be upgraded (more powerful CPU, dual monitors, 64GB memory, etc.) to enable the new applications to run effectively.

  • Software: There is substantial cost involved in acquiring, installing and maintaining new software tools.

  • Standardization: New technology needs to be set up (customized) to conform to the firm’s graphic standards, so that all output has a uniform and consistent look and feel.

  • Change in Culture: The effective utilization of new technology generally requires a change in corporate culture and/or way of doing business.

How does the firm see AEC technology evolving in the future?

That is a tough question because it is difficult to predict what new and better technologies will emerge over time.  However, for the near future, DeSimone envisions Revit becoming the main tool of choice for project work with the breakdown looking something like 75% - Revit and 25% - AutoCAD. The firm has recently moved to the “cloud” with the hope that this environment will enable it to better utilize the firm’s resources, with geographic boundaries becoming less of a factor in improving firm-wide collaboration.  For the future, DeSimone will continue to embrace whatever technological advancements emerge and use them to its advantage by improving its capabilities and resources.

If the firm had a wish list for AEC technology, what would it be?
  • New features and functionality

  • Improvements to existing applications such as Revit and AutoCAD

  • Bug-free stable programs

  • Better collaboration with Revit

  • Seamless integration from graphics to analytical programs

  • Improved reporting tools within applications 

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