On May 30, Budapest-based Graphisoft will release ArchiCAD 16. A few key advances separate the version from other BIM software.

One feature, the trademarked MORPH tool, allows users to transform simple forms into complex, customized objects. The tool is 100% integrated in the BIM environment.

"There is nothing else out there in the market that does what the MORPH tool does," says Richard Crowe, a beta tester of the software and founding partner of GRC Architects, Tallahassee, Fla. "You can grab any object, saving the original, and pull or stretch it in any way."

Any element in the software, such as a slab, beam or wall, can be modified with MORPH. Crowe says the feature is similar to SketchUp, the popular 3D design tool, "But it's better because you cannot only draw, but morph and modify objects however you want."

In all other current BIM design software on the market, free forms or soft edges can be created only in what is called "conceptual design-work environments, and there are constraints in terms of freedom of form," says Akos Pfemeter, director of global marketing for Graphisoft. "The MORPH tool changes that."

The second advance the company is touting is a new buit in capability called Energy Evaluation.

"This allows architects to evaluate the energy consumption of buildings," says Tibor Szolnoki, business development manager, Graphisoft. "80% of all the design decisions are done by architects in the early design phase."

Energy Evaluation is similar to the standalone EcoDesigner software, only it is based on entirely new technology which allows users to calculate and visualize the carbon footprint of buildings at all stages of design. It supports LEED, Green Star, EnEv and BREEAM certifications.

Crowe is also crowing about one other feature: the BIM components online library. If ArchiCAD 16's library of over 30,000 objects doesn't contain the custom object needed, "there's a portal that will connect through the web to allow users to load a specific part from their site," says Crowe. "Version 16 is probably my top favorite upgrade so far."