Now Launching: InfraWorks

Starting this week, landarchBIM is expanding into the world of InfraWorks! It is a program that can compile GIS data and hundreds of 3d models to create large, regional models. As you can see, Autodesk likes to demonstrate this with impressive city models.

iw_main image

If you want to know more check out About InfraWorks. There are also some tutorials and data links on the InfraWorks Resources page.

But if you would like to gain a little more insight into the power and limitations of the program, here are my first impressions and further analysis of using InfraWorks (as an architect/ planner/ landscape architect)…

1. It can look totally bad ass.

With features like moving water and clouds in the sky, it gives even the most basic of models a more realistic setting. It also has impressive and easy-to-use storyboard tools for making video flythroughs.

2. But it can also be very time-consuming.

Understanding how InfraWorks works does not take much time (unlike Revit). It is the compiling of data and model-building that takes time.

3. Model quality depends on data quality.

Good data can result in a nice model (that can also be built quickly). If you don’t have good data, you will start to lose time and/or quality.

4. The appropriate scale seems to be large city/ small region.

While GIS data can be used to look at larger regions, InfraWorks currently seems to be best applied to a slightly smaller region or city scale.

5. It is still a relatively unstable program.

Basically, it crashes and freezes frequently. This may be reduced with more computing power. When it does happen you don’t lose work, since as a database, InfraWorks files do not require saving.

So, after getting over the initial shock of not knowing where everything was, I decided that I prefer the new user interface of 2015. If I had to guess, I would say this is the direction that all Autodesk products will be going… away from the familiar ribbon on top and towards this open, larger window. It seems just as efficient (once you figure it out) and it is nice to have the extra space.

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4 thoughts on “Now Launching: InfraWorks

  1. We went for an InfraWorks overview hosted by our reseller, because it’s already included in our suite subscription. The application is great, but I fail to see how it fits in with a BIM workflow.

    Infraworks can receive Revit building models, but Revit can’t receive InfraWorks site models. This means IW is an end-of-the-chain application, BUT it is something you use at the start of a project… how does that compute? You do all that work in IW, then it’s dead data and you’ve got to rebuild it using the crappy site tools in Revit anyway. IW does export to XML, but that’s pretty useless inside Revit to be honest.

  2. Yeah, I think it has more use when you apply it to a larger, city scale. On a project scale it definitely has less practical use. Though if you have the context data, you can make a half decent video really fast.

    I’ve never even really considered trying to get data from IW to Revit. Revit is not built to handle big data. But I suppose in some situations you might want to transfer a limited amount of information. That is something to think about…

    • Perhaps the pitch was wrong then. We were moaning about the site tools in Revit and people suggested that we should be using AutoCAD Civil 3D or InfraWorks for sites anyway, which got us looking at the suite applications. The InfraWorks demo was exactly the scale we do – sites of a hundred houses with 3 or 4 site roads. We HAVE to have that data in our BIM application though, and that’s Revit, otherwise the site can’t be phased, scheduled, put on sheets, used as section context etc etc.

      I think Autodesk have lost the plot. We’d be very happy to use IW or C3D if those site models could then be hosted in Revit, with full control of colour for presentation, phasing, scheduling, etc. They can’t though, which leaves Autodesk with NO SOLUTION for doing sites in a BIM workflow.

      • Ha, I had a similar experience with an Autodesk rep once. I was messing with Lumion (for visualization) when they came through the office and they said I should check out IW. IW may have some interesting visualization capabilities, but it really seems to be built for master planning or city scale projects.

        And yeah… I guess we just have to keep complaining about it. *sigh*

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