With an expertise in sustainable solutions, Orcutt | Winslow has developed a broad client base across the commercial construction market, particularly in areas of education, healthcare, senior living and the public sector. Formed in 1971, the company’s design principles are driven by two primary objectives: a building must give back more than it takes; and behind every well-designed building is an architect who took the time to thoroughly understand the client’s needs.
Maintaining those objectives has taken some adjustments over the last 50 years with evolving client demands, new partnerships and acquisitions, and some help from technology.
An early adopter of 3D design, Orcutt | Winslow embarked on some of the earliest versions of BIM in 1991 using different platforms, and the firm maintained its efforts to push the envelope on technology.
The acquisition of Nashville-based firm Street, Dixon, Rick and expansion offices in Dallas/Fort Worth grew the company’s expertise and service area both in marketability and geographic opportunity. The acquisition also marked a major shift in design software. Specifically, the company committed to a shift to a dual platform, with the addition of Revit to allow for additional modalities in 3D modeling intelligence.
BIM Manager Julius Mitchell says, “Our goal is to use Revit with our other software as the foundation to automate more of our processes so that our people can focus on delivering a design solution that meets our client’s needs.”
Orcutt | Winslow would also end up looking for a new partner to provide design technology technical support, software integration and continuing education. Mitchell explains, “Our technology consultant at the time wasn’t able to provide the answers to our questions in a timely manner, and the cost of its services were increasing. We needed a partner with responsive customer service and one that could ensure applications continued to enable, not inhibit, innovation. Bottom line, we needed a highly knowledgeable partner to help us make the next step in our technology progression.”
After a review of the industry’s top construction and design technology consulting firms, the company signed with U.S. CAD in summer 2019.
“We had a relationship with U.S. CAD in the past, so we knew some of their capabilities,” Mitchell says. “Through the evaluation, we further learned that U.S. CAD was able to complement our efforts in educating our staff with their online courses. We also learned that U.S CAD was able to help us with a wide array of software add-ins and solutions as well as having access to their knowledgeable staff.”
As a part of the U.S. CAD Customer Success Program, the company is able to rely on U.S. CAD’s tech resources such as live check-in meetings, license health checks, lunch and learns. Mitchell continues, “In our early partnership with U.S. CAD, we were largely using the services for technical support, which is really important. I haven’t had a question that’s not been answered thoroughly by the U.S. CAD team.”
Currently, Orcutt | Winslow has 115 design team members with a range of experience from expert to interns in Phoenix, Nashville and Dallas.
He adds, “We’re getting more out of Revit with access to complimentary software and technical expertise. We’re at the point where we’re also looking at other tools that help us exponentially advance our ability to automate.”
For instance, the design team has started to use the KobiLabs Toolkit, add-in plugins and tools for Autodesk products such as Revit and AutoCAD. These plugins are designed to extend capabilities for greater efficiency.
Case-in-point, Orcutt | Winslow uses the plugin to number doors in large buildings. Previously, a member of the design team would have had to type in a number for every door in the building. “It was a highly inefficient process often left to interns to type in and then I had to check. There was always the chance of typos or errors. Now with one click of a button, the numbering is automatic. On larger projects especially, this is a game changer,” says Mitchell.
“We are using and/or planning to use Dynamo, Grasshopper and Rhino to automate some of our processes like Generative Design during the planning stage. Project setup, Energy Analysis, Dimensioning and Noting.”
Mitchell is also working with the U.S. CAD team to add U.S. CAD’s Online CADLearning platform to OW University (Orcutt | Winslow’s internal training program). Mitchell says, “Our vision is to develop a curriculum for new users and a continuing education program for existing users. A program such as this will greatly improve our onboarding of new interns in the use of Revit. Through this program, they will get an understanding of Revit before they get into our design culture.”
With a number of Autodesk AEC Collection subscriptions, Orcutt | Winslow has the opportunity to greatly expand its use of specializing programs by adopting tools they already have access to.
Mitchell says, “One of our objectives is to make better use of the various tools to enhance our automation processes. The AEC Collection allows us to expand our capabilities with ease—to just use Revit and AutoCAD would be a disservice to the opportunities afforded by our partnership.”
The AEC Collection is a set of tools, including Revit and AutoCAD, that support BIM and CAD workflows throughout the entire lifecycle of a project from conceptual design to construction. The collection includes access to more than a dozen tools.
Specifically, Orcutt | Winslow is looking at tools such as Autodesk ReCap Pro, a reality capture and 3D scanning software and services, Autodesk FormIt Pro, an intuitive 3D sketching application with native Revit interoperability, and 3ds Max for 3D modeling, animation and visualizations, and Autodesk Navisworks for collaboration and coordination.
As well, tools such as Autodesk Insight will be particularly valuable for energy and daylighting analysis, according to the firm.
Mitchell is also excited about new features and functionality of Revit 2021, such as the Manage Links icon and dialogue box, which lets users link a PDF in a model or drawing set, allowing for efficient and accurate design amendments.
“This should greatly reduce rework. We’ll be able to better manage the size of the Revit file and automatically update PDFs as changes are made. That’s just smarter data management.
“Bottom line,” he concludes, “with help from U.S. CAD, we have the tools to work smarter while providing our clients with quality solutions in a timely manner.”