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Firms Investing in Design Technology

June 15, 2011

Firms in the architecture, engineering, planning, and environmental consulting arena appear to be investing in design process-enabling technologies that will help them face the competition and take their offerings to the next level.

According to a recent online survey held by ZweigWhite’s weekly management publication The Zweig Letter, 37.5 percent of respondents said their firms are primarily investing or have primarily invested recently in technologies such as 3D design software known as building information modeling (BIM). In a multiple-choice question, a significant number of respondents (25 percent) also reported investing in systems, including major server and computer hardware upgrades.

A whopping majority of respondents, 88.9 percent, said their firms have recently undertaken or are undertaking significant technology upgrades. CJMW Architecture, PA in Winston-Salem, N.C., has recently undergone a major conversion to BIM software, including associated computer hardware and network servers.

“We believe that BIM technology is a natural evolution that will eventually become standard practice in our industry (similar to 2D CAD in the past two decades),” said John Drinkard, president of CJMW.

Carney Engineering Group in York, Pa., has also made major investments in design process-enabling technologies recently. “We are a small firm, and need every competitive advantage we can get to stay in front of larger, more established firms. Our best route to this is to provide what they cannot in terms of speed in implementation of the new technology and the services that come with it,” said Joshua Carney, president.

Firms also seem to be making significant investments in systems, as in the case with Klotz Associates, Inc. in Houston, Texas. Dan Sullivan, IT manager said, “When complete, this upgrade will provide mirrored systems and data located in our two largest offices. All four of our offices will benefit from this upgrade. The benefits include improved application performance, increased storage, and disaster recovery/business continuity.”

With the design industry becoming increasingly technology dependent major investments are seen as necessary.

“Our position as design leaders in the marketplace must be reinforced by our abilities to delineate designs in many different, exciting, and intimately interesting ways- these upgrades will help us do just that,” said Brett Kratzer, president and CEO of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards and also design principal at REZTARK Design Studio in Cincinnati, Ohio.

For more information visit www.zweigwhite.com/trends/thezweigletter.