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About Archicad's design tools, element connections, modeling concepts, etc.

Design Process Question


Our office is evaluating our design and documentation process. We are a residential architecture firm specializing in high end homes and providing full interior design services (including FF&E). We appreciate using Archicad to document projects. However, our design staff is having difficultly using the software to efficiently design and iterate within the SD and DD phases of work. We often fall back on Sketchup for quickly designing our initial massing models on the architecture side and interior casework on the interiors side. Are we making a mistake continuing to use Sketchup for early design work? It ultimately comes down to the ease, fluidity and looseness that designing in Sketchup has over Archicad. Has anyone else ran into this conundrum? I’d appreciate hearing what some other Archicad offices are doing in terms of design process.

Eduardo Rolon

Short answer is yes.

Basically anything you can do in SU can be done in AC.

Massing: either Start with slabs and if necessary then convert to Morphs.

Same for casework.

Want to be more specific then start creating specific favorites for each design phase.

Also with Design Options AC has become more flexible than SU.


Still using SU then switching to AC is not as bas as saying that my team prefers to use Autocad to design the project and then switches to AC for CDs but it is close.


Eduardo Rolón AIA NCARB
AC27 US/INT -> AC08

Macbook Pro M1 Max 64GB ram, OS X 10.XX latest
another Moderator

I say yes. Sketchup is a bad software we should not use 


Comparing SU to AC is like comparing apples & oranges. They're both fruit but very different to eat. SU has many shortfalls when compared to AC, but I still think it has an edge based on its simplicity. It doesn't have highly developed tools like AC, but if those tools are so complex that you can do the task easier in SU then why not?


And that's before we get on to seat costs and down time with hangs, crashes, bugs and the complexity of workflows and presentation options.  


I have a huge amount of respect for @Eduardo Rolon but "Basically anything you can do in SU can be done in AC." isn't entirely true when you consider SU has had INSTANCING since its earliest days, but even after 20 years of asking it still isn't available in AC, to me that is a serious shortfall in AC's capability and where SU has an advantage. 

Apple iMac Intel i9 / macOS Sonoma / AC27UKI (most recent builds.. if they work)

It is a staff-related thing. I don't think anybody comfortable with Archicad will want to start a project in Sketchup, so the issue is how to make staff, as a team, comfortable/productive with Archicad –and about making do with Sketchup meanwhile, because having uncomfortable/unproductive staff waste everybody’s time in Archicad would be even worse. So I'd say it is a (hopefully, transitional) staff training/guidance/bim management problem. It is a hurdle you get to jump over or not, on a one-way track; I have never heard of anybody who passed it wanting to turn back.


Hi, it would be nice if you could show us an example of the degree of complexity of home design that you are dealing with. Also what country are you working in ?


With extra training you can definitely become more productive in AC. I don’t have any need to use SU but if your staff are proficient with it, then that’s ok to also have that in the CAD tool box. To help with the conceptual design phase many use the morph tool in AC for that purpose.


I came from using Chief Architect and while that is fast for regular home designs it slows down quite a bit when the degree of complexity rises.


I do all my work with AC these days with no need for other CAD apps. But if you have many complex shapes in your design then other apps can be very helpful. 

AC8.1 - AC27 ARM AUS + CI Tools
Apple Mac Studio M1 Max Chip 10C CPU
24C GPU 7.8TF 32GB RAM OS Ventura

Agree on the instancing but do you think users that need to use SU because it is easier will know how to use SU’s components correctly?😉

Autocad has instances, so the recommendation should be to go back to Autocad to draw, model in SU and then recreate everything in AC?😉

or stay as most offices near me with draw in Acad, model in SU, export to acad to finish docs because it is easier?


Using SU as a crutch is acceptable while learning AC but if you don’t train your staff then productivity will not improve and the longer that problem is not addressed the more difficult it will be to change the culture of that office.

At a minimum they are trading “saving a few minutes now” for spending hours later redoing the work in AC.

Eduardo Rolón AIA NCARB
AC27 US/INT -> AC08

Macbook Pro M1 Max 64GB ram, OS X 10.XX latest
another Moderator

There is certainly merit to a split workflow (and it will remain as long as GS doesn't make an honest effort to facilitate easy object creation/management and parametric placement) I would recommend going with Rhino instead of Sketchup. Rhino 8 has added some nice feature to simplify modelling and a real benefit is of course Grasshopper and the connection to AC.

@Eduardo Rolon wrote:


... or stay as most offices near me with draw in Acad, model in SU, export to acad to finish docs because it is easier?

One of my business associates has done just that, they decided the cost and workflow complexities in Revit were too much, basically they can achieve their objectives quicker and easier with a SU / Acad workflow. Everyone & every business is different and they have to find the right tools to do the job. I've said before I used to tease the same guy about how quick AC could turn a job around. These days there isn't a lot in it particularly when it comes to projects with multiple split levels where we juggle elements with different story display methods, unstable dimensions and modelling service runs with half developed software. If I have to model my foundations with morphs to get them to appear as they will be built then all the advanced tools are clearly failing. Mixing beams, columns, slabs & roofs to model footings with each having very different build up workflows & presentations for each is just a stupid situation and one GS have been told about repeatedly.


Training I think is a generic issue for any business, until they find the software has become so complex that the costs and extended learning curve becomes a deterrent to using the software in the first place.

Apple iMac Intel i9 / macOS Sonoma / AC27UKI (most recent builds.. if they work)

What is it specifically that your are finding you are unable to achieve in Archicad?


Our 50 person office runs projects all the way from concept to sketch to full documentation in Archicad for projects from $100k up to $100m, and we have never had any issues. 

Sketchup my be familiar and considered 'easier' than Archicad in those early phases by your staff, but it's all down to what you know and feel comfortable.  Its definitely possible in Archicad, albeit maybe through a slightly different process.  There will also be a period of lost productivity migrating over to a new piece of software, but if you ware already using AC for documentation, I would have thought this would be less of an impact.


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