ArchiCAD is an all-around great design platform, right under your nose for 25 years!
July 07, 2019

ArchiCAD is an all-around great design platform, right under your nose for 25 years!

Chuck Kottka | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 10 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with ARCHICAD

I'm working at a firm that has focused on ArchiCAD for 25 years. It can be used from early conceptual design (even on graphics to win the proposal!) through design development, modeling, rendering, visualization, information analysis, construction documents, revisions, and construction administration. It's home base for all of our projects, from small T.I.'s to hospital towers and high school campuses. The simple licensing and dual-platform (Mac and Windows work identically) make administration easy and expandable. All this for a much lower annual cost than most competitors.
  • ArchiCAD has a smooth, graphics-oriented interface that provides a variety of ways to draw and edit, from traditional menu commands, keyboard shortcuts, and icon toolbars to intelligent context menus and "pet palettes."
  • It has always been devoted to the "Open BIM" concept and supports a variety of format to import, export, and maintain real-time links with other software.
  • The Teamwork system for file sharing is solid and robust, thanks to a FREE (for the Basic version) BIMCloud internet-enabled server component.
  • The Navigator is a logical organizational tool that handles large projects better than Revit's Project Map.
  • It is Architect-centric, and while structural and MEP modeling tools are available, the system is not bogged down with unrelated engineering functions.
  • I've always found the editing and production tools to be more consistent and intuitive than in any other design software.
  • ArchiCAD lacks a few feature sets, including an automatic Keynote database extraction system, an expandable Phasing/Options manager, and an easy way to transfer standard details into a project.
  • The Revision/Change Manager, as well as the new Stair and Railing tools, while impressively flexible, are too complex to set up and customize.
  • It is an underdog product. Revit has a market share because it spends more money on marketing, and less on product development.
  • The low multi-year cost is a huge savings, compared to more popular competitors, the total cost of ownership is about 1/4 of an Autodesk design suite.
  • An effective training program can be implemented in under 40 hours/employee to reach intermediate level, as the intuitive interface is easy to teach. This appears to be significantly less, perhaps 1/3 of competing software.
  • The underdog element is still an obstacle, as converting ArchiCAD projects to Revit for our Consultants is a challenge. While ArchiCAD outputs perfectly good IFC (industry-standard BIM interchange format) files, Revit has yet to import them 100% correctly. Therefore, working with others takes a bit more overhead than when using Revit.
Revit is the most widely owned, but it seems clunky, has a complex, non-graphical interface, and is extremely expensive. Bentley also seems overly complex for typical Architecture projects. SketchUp is a great conceptual tool, but becomes very limited with more advanced projects, and is not truly an information-rich BIM product.
ArchiCAD works great through the entire design process and even provides basic rendering capabilities with the CineRender plugin. However, advanced rendering, animation, or AR/VR is better suited for exporting to dedicated software, like Cinema 4D or Twinmotion. The same could be said for advanced analytics, like energy modeling or algorithmic design. Nonetheless, ArchiCAD is the best platform for actually developing the building model.