Building Materials: Architectural Firms Embrace Technology Solutions

By Jones, Karen | Black Enterprise, March 2006 | Go to article overview

Building Materials: Architectural Firms Embrace Technology Solutions


Jones, Karen, Black Enterprise


When Ronald Lipford started Arel Architects Inc. in 1991, he had accrued a solid body of architectural experience at Washington, D.C. area firms, but with the economy in a free fall, he needed a competitive edge to make his endeavor a success. He found it by becoming an early adopter of AutoCAD, a computer-aided design software application that helps streamline architectural design and production process.

"CAD was new then. Many firms did not embrace it," says Lipford, who purchased the program for about $1,900. He launched Arel Architects in Camp Springs, Maryland, with one employee. Though its first six months were kind of rough, Arel (www.arelarchitects.com) made $77,000 in its first year. While CAD software has evolved considerably over the years and is now an industry standard, Lipford is still ahead of the technology curve. In 2000, he spent $2,500 to adopt "a more architectural-friendly" program called ArchiCAD, which gives his clients more involvement in the design process. The program also features smart object technology, which offers significant time-saving benefits because the enhanced 3-D modeling can be performed on-the-fly, thereby reducing the time it takes to reformat the presentation. Instead of sifting through floor plans and 2-D renderings, clients can view on a monitor the 3-D model of their building "as if they are physically walking through it. …

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