The trend toward the single, building data model in design is generating its own ripple effect in software--unified design tools.

Autodesk, San Rafael, Calif., says it plans to ship Autodesk Building Systems 3 on Dec. 5. This release will mark the first time the design tools will not be sold as modules to run with separately purchased seats of Architectural Desktop. The mechanical and electrical design tools now will be bundled with a new plumbing designer in a single product that comes with Architectural Desktop as well.

The price, including subscription, will be $6,890, about $1650 less than the sum of the current, less capable versions.

"It's a compression of price," says Tony Sinisi, product manager of Autodesk's Building Industry Division. The goal is to gain market share among engineers, he says.

Armundo E. Darling, CAD manager for the San Francisco and Seattle, Wash., offices of Flack + Kurtz Inc., New York City, has tested the new release. Darling says it is faster and more user-friendly. The content creation tools also are greatly improved, he says. And he particularly likes the bundling.

"As the CAD manager, I can tell you it surely is a heck of a lot less trouble to manage," he says.