Autodesk announced Feb. 21 it intends to buy Revit Technology Corp., the developer and vendor of a parametric building modeler.

The $133-million cash deal needs approval from San Rafael, Calif.-based Auto-desk's shareholders, as well as the Federal Trade Commission. Phil Bernstein, vice president of Autodesk's Building Industry Division, says the FTC will rule on whether the purchase would cause unfair anti-competitive effects.

Waltham, Mass.-based Revit has been marketing itself from its first release in April 2000 as a next-generation competitor to drawing document-based design products, such as Autodesk's AutoCAD However, Revit CEO David Lemont says that in the past three or four months, his company has come to see Revit as a "complementary solution that is interoperable with AutoCAD" The vendor has recommended clients use Revit to create the building model, and AutoCAD to produce construction drawings.

Drawings are not the sole product in Revit. It uses drawings on screen as an interface with a building data model. The model is built and edited as the building is drawn. Changes made on any view are automatically reflected on any other representation, even a schedule of materials, because all are derived from the same data.

Bernstein says Revit's technology has matured with the release of version 4.0 in October and "it is actually serving some interests in the market." He says Revit is suited for development of "highly repetitive hospitality stuff," such as retail chains and fast food stores. "Our customer sets don't really intersect," he adds.

Revit's aggressive marketing has long been aimed squarely at Autodesk. Bernstein dismisses this as "Silicon Valley Marketing 101....You're just hoping you can dignify yourself with a response from the big guy, and now we are responding because their technology has started to get interesting."

"We are looking at next- generation technology, and the question is one of building it or buying it. We are not buying a customer base," Bernstein says.

If the deal goes through, Bernstein says Lemont will report to him and run Revit, which will be sold through Autodesk. "We have a business strategy to provide a complete solution, set around the entire build-to-operate process. It takes a lot of different tools, and it became clear these guys had a piece of technology that was interesting on that front," he says.

Revit has a customer base of 1,300 firms. Autodesk's installed base is 250,000.