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In control by design

Orren Pickell Designers & Builders - U.S.

Orren Pickell Designers & Builders understands that when planning and constructing a home, the primary goals are quality, timeliness, service, and cost - in short, maximum value. Headquartered outside Chicago, the firm is noted for the originality of its custom home designs. Use of powerful, fully-integrated Virtual Building™ technology has been key to the firm's success throughout the custom-building process, from initial concepts to architectural renderings to client presentations.

"Graphisoft's ArchiCAD® imposes fewer limitations than traditional CAD packages we've used in the past, and its tools enable us to do things more completely than before," said Mark Benner, Principal, Orren Pickell. "The software's organic nature allows us to keep true to our designs and gives us back more versatility. In short, ArchiCAD sets us apart from the competition by helping us to deliver greater value and build better houses."

Reliable support

Orren Pickell has leveraged ArchiCAD to expand its scope of services and better serve its clients. The software is used in the earliest stages of a project to conduct an initial round of sketching and sharing of ideas with the building owner. As a result, clients can better visualize the building, gaining a realistic, three-dimensional understanding of the architect's intent. The Virtual Building database also tracks components such as building area, volume, price and number of pieces. According to Benner, this can help set guidelines for a project's overall budget. "We can use ArchiCAD to assign values to various building components for a client's review. By offering clients a broad array of costs at the earliest moment, we can be certain the final project will fall into a range they are comfortable with," Benner said.

The firm has found that ArchiCAD allows its staff to build its customized homes twice - the building is completed for the first time in ArchiCAD, enabling designers to go through a dress rehearsal of their plans and find any mistakes up front. Because Orren Pickell's designers are able to navigate the ArchiCAD model first, they can move to construction with greatly increased confidence that the designs will be completed according to the owners' expectations.

"ArchiCAD is an invaluable tool for us in providing the extra assurance that our designs can be implemented without future conflict," Benner said. "We use ArchiCAD to blaze through our designs, identify any potential errors and make changes or insert client revisions easily. This eliminates costly rework in the field, reducing time required at our end as well as the overall cost to our clients."

Space optimized

Another benefit of using Graphisoft's Virtual Building technology is that design-build firms can fully utilize and work with the space available. Benner and his team, for example, recently designed a bathroom positioned over a garage. In order to maximize the existing space, the floor was required to be stepped down. Working in ArchiCAD, the designers cut sections through the three-dimensional model to fully understand, visualize and communicate the planned construction of that home, ensuring that designs were not only feasible but would also meet client approval.

Communication among all parties is an essential element to a design-build project's success. Benner and his team used ArchiCAD's Virtual Building technology as a means of communicating to colleagues working in the field on a 40-unit, luxury development in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The project covered approximately 40 acres and included an underground clubhouse with an indoor fireplace and resort-style pool & spa. The firm also designed a cottage ruins to sit on top of the building around the clubhouse chimney. With the Virtual Building model, the firm can print out accurate, realistic views of the building to give to the field team, continuing to retain control over the project while cutting back the rework and time required away from the office. "It's been my experience that professionals in the field love this process. Before, you'd have an executive in field directing the team. They might have been asked to tear down or re-do part of their work, but now they can get the job completed right the first time," Benner commented. "We use ArchiCAD to model buildings the way we envision building them."