Which BIM formats do Architects Prefer?

In 1982, Gábor Bojár began the development of building information software using technology similar to 1975’s Building Description System. Living in then-communist Hungary, Bojár had to pawn his wife’s jewelry to smuggle Apple computers in order to develop his concept. Subsequently, in 1984 Bojár released Graphisoft’s Radar CH for the Apple Lisa operating system. This software technology was relaunched in 1987 as ArchiCAD, the first Building Information Modeling software able to operate on personal computers.

What is BIM? What manufacturers should know about Specs, CAD, BIM and AEC marketing

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a type of 3D modeling process used by architectural engineers in the design of buildings and other structures. BIM software provides a model-based process of file formats that contain 3D models with numerous types of information, such as time, costs, material properties, geometries, construction schedules, thermal properties and more.

BIM plays a major role in the AEC (Architecture, Engineering, and Construction) community, going beyond just 3D by providing a view of all the information in the project. It includes CAD software products commonly used in architecture and construction, and it offers tools and libraries which include mechanical, electrical, and plumbing details.

BIM encompasses an intelligent 3D modeling process to effectively plan, design, construct, and manage processes for building or infrastructure projects. By leveraging the shared resources of BIM, project data designers, developers, contractors and all other stakeholders can work from a level playing field of data and procedures that ensure accuracy and accessibility.

According to a Zion Market Research study, the global BIM market was valued at approximately $14.72 billion in 2021 and is forecasted to grow to roughly $52.5 billion by 2030 with a CAGR of about 13.9% from 2022 to 2030.


Employing BIM

Architectural engineers employ applied and theoretical information, as well as building elements, in the design of buildings and other structures. They have to design economical, safe and efficient building systems for the sustainability, resilience, comfort and ergonomic productivity of occupants.

A great building is the product of specifiers, architects, engineers, designers and contractors working together to achieve the same goal. BIM software effectively facilitates open collaboration between all stakeholders and allows for multiple imports and exports of several file formats, such as XLS, DWG, SAF, RVT, DXF, EDF, SKP and PDF, along with industry-standards BCF and IFC, and manufacturer-independent formats.

BIM software provides a model-based process of file formats that contain 3D models with numerous types of information, including:

·         Time ·         Costs ·         Geometries
·         Material properties ·         Construction schedules ·         Thermal properties


BIM plays a major role in the AEC community. BIM files allow AEs to go beyond just 3D by providing a view of all the information in the project. In fact, AEs can create 4D models after linking the 3D BIM model elements to the time factor, allowing for broader visualization and analysis of the construction project’s progression of activities.

Of all the BIM formats, .RVT,  Autodesk’s proprietary format for Revit files, is undoubtedly one of the most popular. However, Revit files alone do not support the important provision of leads and sales.

So, which BIM formats do architects prefer? It often comes down to preference, current software compatibility, or the best fit for their target industry sector.

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Preferred Building Information Modeling Solutions

Architects and AE firms consider multiple factors when choosing BIM formats, such as:

  • If the BIM software provider is easy to work with
  • If the software follows straightforward sequence steps
  • If the software provides dynamic updating and editing capability

All of these help define potential user satisfaction. Based on these attributes, we find that the five BIM software platforms shown below are what those users prefer. These are not necessarily in order of preference, considering that many BIM software platforms are better suited for one type of project over another. For instance, some are more applicable to structural projects, such as bridges or large industrial buildings, while others are more popular for residential, commercial, or even land use projects.

The capabilities of Autodesk Revit effectively coordinate all project partners, including architects, designers, contractors and project managers. Design changes made in Revit models will automatically update for all users to maintain and ensure coordinated and reliable designs throughout the project.

Focused on data and values, Revit offers the flexibility most users require to develop their own content and modify existing data. It can incorporate a robust graphical programming engine called Dynamo, which makes it easy for inexperienced, nontechnical users to develop complicated geometries and perform data-driven tasks.

Autodesk Revit software can create information-rich models that allow architects, engineers, and construction firms to efficiently collaborate in real time to make accurate decisions early and throughout the design and development process.

Developed by industry leader Trimble Inc., Tekla provides data-rich building models that increase productivity, promote collaboration across multiple disciplines and minimize errors in the model’s data.

Based on the steel structural modeling software Xsteel, Tekla Structures is widely used by civil and structural engineers. It provides complex structures of 3D BIM software for modeling and incorporates accurate, multi-material models that contain construction information for creating, merging, managing and distributing usable systemwide data.

Tekla Structures focuses on steel and architectural design and incorporates other building materials such as wood, concrete, and other materials used throughout the envelope of the building or structure.

It’s highly applicable for large-scale projects that use BIM to manage raw materials, construction materials and additional resources in the design and development of airports, bridges, large shopping malls and sports stadiums.

  • ArchiCAD®

Sometimes referred to as the Swiss Army knife of BIM software, ArchiCAD’s functional and straightforward user interface is extremely popular due to its comprehensive project design capabilities among architects, designers, engineers, and urban planners.

Available for Macintosh and Windows users, it is also one of the more manageable BIM software platforms for beginners. Launched to market in the late 1980s, ArchiCAD is also one of the original BIM software products, with a long history of proven innovation.

As a professional BIM software solution in good standing among the AEC community, ArchiCAD offers accurate building information management, as well as an intuitive, open and collaborative design environment that automates open-source documentation. ArchiCAD unites architects, engineers and other stakeholders in a shared model to provide an integrated design workflow with enhanced collaboration.

Vectorworks Architect is an all-in-one program that provides an easy and efficient method for building and testing design concepts. Built with the architect’s design process in mind, it is one of the industry’s top BIM software programs. It allows users to conceptualize and edit projects while it generates drawings and schedules project components in real time, offering data management and algorithm-based workflow solutions.

Vectorworks Architect’s BIM software incorporates some of the best drafting, modeling and documentation capabilities, providing architects and design teams the tools to think and work outside of the box.

There are some all-in-one construction and project management software capabilities Vectorworks does not have, though it does offer many other products that work seamlessly with its BIM platform, including software for industrial lighting, construction site mapping, entertainment venues and more.

ALLPLAN’s 3D BIM design platform focuses on the entire Design-Build Process.

Architects and engineers can use ALLPLAN to integrate all project phases of the design and construction process together. This makes it an excellent software for mapping the entire building process from concept to final design, prefabrication, and construction.

ALLPLAN also provides an easy-to-use data exchange to quickly switch between 2D and 3D working methods to provide quality information with procedural precision.

Additionally, ALLPLAN increases efficiency in Design-Build workflows with the capability of building virtually first before building in reality. It enables the design/build community to see any indication of conflicts and errors early in the design phase, helping to avoid costly construction delays and overruns.

Other Related Platforms Commonly Used To Support Building Information Modeling

  • by Autodesk is a project review software that improves BIM coordination as a 4D planning tool by linking schedules to BIM objects. Navisworks helps control costs and schedules by leveraging both 4D and 5D simulation. It animates, then interacts with simulation model objects to create and manage schedules directly from the project models, while importing cost items and schedules from external project management software.
  • SketchUp is a 3D modeling software for design and construction. SketchUp’s Pro Desktop is a 3D modeling CAD program for multiple drawing and design applications, spanning architectural, civil and mechanical engineering, along with interior design, product design, landscape architecture and even game development. It’s often used to create and edit 3D models, while providing the ability to connect with BIM workflows.
  • AutoCAD® is a facilitator of BIM. It is one of the most popular computer-aided design programs and is an integral part of many BIM platforms.  AutoCAD has unique features and libraries which facilitate architecture, 3D mapping, mechanical design, and much more.
  • Autodesk® BIM 360 is a cloud-based environment for construction data management. As part of the Autodesk Construction Cloud, BIM360 connects data, workflows and teams. Building its features on top of 2D modeling, 3D drawing and conflict tracking, it functions as a repository for design and construction documents. It’s used to access data via the cloud to achieve total visibility for all aspects of a project.
  • BIMcollab is a cloud resource that centralizes all project issues and provides a clear-cut overview with instinctive functionality and intuitive reporting features. BIMcollab sets deadlines and assigns tasks to team members who receive real-time notifications when changes to the project are made.
  • Rhino integrates with BIM workflows and other plugins to link object data and geometry with BIM models. Its plugins allow import and export with the IFC file format for exchanging Rhino models with other AEC platforms.


Building Information Modeling solutions are necessary for the AEC community to effectively work in today’s construction industry. They facilitate the collaboration of design and construction teams in leveraging technology for the creation and management of information across a project’s lifecycle. BIM associates all multi-disciplinary documentation into a collective dataset that can be accessed and used by other team members, contractors and

Sources Include:

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Content Marketing Manager at CADENAS PARTsolutions | A Strategic Communications graduate from the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, South Dakota, Shelby has years of experience in marketing and design for a variety of industries.