Autodesk BIM 2012 Curriculum: Performance Based Design

A Case Study on Revit, Vasari, and Ecotect workflows. Co-authored with Scott Lienweber for Autodesk, Inc. Summer 2011. 

Performance Based Conceptual Design and Analysis

Using analytical tools early in the conceptual design phase can facilitate more informed design decisions. The benefits of working with readily available real world data early on are clear: The designer can determine how to orient a building with idealized solar exposure, how to mitigate energy use, how to select and pursue one design option over another based on empirical results, as well as easily track and document the changes that occur through this design process.


Particular trends can emerge from this iterative design, test, redesign, and retest process. The correlation between space types, occupancy, and glazing percentages can change the way a building is expressed formally as well as have large implications on the construction and operational life-cycle costs of a project.

To leverage the power of this information that is available, design teams must establish goals early in the conceptual design stage.  Setting goals creates an outline of measures and targets to achieve as the project comes to life and helps with using the availability of analysis.  Models are made of different options maximizing certain criteria or achieving specific goals, and then intelligent decisions can be made based on the results that balance those different goals.

Vasari, as a tool for early conceptual design modeling that quickly provides data feedback and analysis, specifically addresses this potential. With an integrated user interface that merges Autodesk® Ecotect® solar analysis tools, geo-referenced weather data, Nucleus architectural form finding gravity simulation, and Autodesk® Revit® Architecture parametric conceptual modeling environment, Vasari can offer a sophisticated workflow from the outset of a project.

Using environmental data and performance-based conceptual design is NOT a linear process. This unit is organized in a way that breaks down this process into a series of recursive steps, but this case study is only one example of a Vasari conceptual design workflow.  Guiding principles and project desires are always different and require consideration throughout the course of any design process.  Data from any source can be used to guide the design at any step.

This case study surveys an iterative design process, modeling and evaluating differing conceptual options and alternatives.  This process can be compared to a recursive algorithm, but the designer has the power to shift or influence the results at any time.  After analysis, results are incorporated in the final design, and unused alternatives provide a clear logic argument for the final choice.  While dealing with large amounts of information can be typically overwhelming and difficult to keep organized, Vasari makes this non-linear yet logical process relatively easy.

Case Study:  An Academic Campus

The lines between research, teaching, living, and playing are becoming increasingly blurred as a consequence of proliferating digital technologies.  We seek to develop a systematic way of designing a flexible set of relationships between traditionally disparate programs to create a new type of academic campus typology:


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