Savannah College of Art and Design

“Our curriculum is designed to mimic the real world of design. We give our students the best tools now, so they can quickly and effectively make the transition into their new profession upon graduation. That’s why we chose Autodesk Revit Architecture.
—Huy Sinh Ngo Chair, Architecture Department, and Director of Electronic Design Savannah College of Art and Design

Revit® Architecture software helps students at the Savannah College of Art and Design master all aspects of design and design process. Using Revit Architecture, students can integrate and address an array of issues that shape a whole-building design development process.

The Perfect Tool

With several dozen degree programs, 23 major fields of study, and more than 40 minor fields, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) is the largest art school in the United States. It is also one of the best. For its restoration of many historic Savannah buildings, SCAD has won recognition from both the American Institute of Architects and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Our curriculum is designed to mimic the real world of design,” says Huy Sinh Ngo, Chair of Architecture and Director of Electronic Design at SCAD. “We give our students the best tools now, so they can quickly and effectively make the transition into their new profession upon graduation. That’s why we chose Revit Architecture.” For young architects just starting their training, it’s especially important to understand how to design at the whole-building level, says Ngo. “Revit Architecture is the perfect tool for that.”

The Challenge

The School of Building Arts has about 1,000 students, spread among architecture, interior design, and historic preservation, and offers a NAAB accredited Bachelor of Fine Arts, five-year Master of Architecture program, Master of Fine Arts, and Master of Art in Interior Design and Historic Preservation. “Several years ago, we took a closer look at technology and its role in our curriculum,” says Ngo. “First, we wanted to know what tools we needed to ensure that our students could compete and succeed in the very competitive field of design. Then, we looked at how we could help them better design, document, and present their work.”

Information Overload

“In building design, there is a tremendous amount of information that architects and designers must manage, coordinate, and synthesize” says Ngo. “It is important to have a holistic integrative design process that will facilitate the design synergy. Important decisions need to be made quickly, appropriately, and decisively throughout the design process.” Any tool that SCAD chose to integrate into its curriculum has to respond to this synergistic approach. Revit Architecture software helps School of Building Arts students master all aspects of design and design data management with ease and efficiency.

The Solution

SCAD places a strong emphasis on state-of-the-art computer technology, especially in the graduate programs within architecture, interior design, and historic preservation. For example, eight years ago the college began integrating AutoCAD® and Autodesk® VIZ software into its curriculum. “Because this approach has been so successful, we decided to introduce Revit Architecture to help the students learn building systems, system integration, and design.”

Think in 3D

Traditionally, before the invention of CAD and building information modeling (BIM), architects designed in 2D first, and then moved to 3D. “Using Revit Architecture, our students think in 3D, design in 3D, work in 3D,” says Ngo. “Then, from the 3D model, they can easily extrapolate all the necessary 2D information. This is a major shift in the design paradigm that we want our students to embrace and thrive on while they are pursuing their academic careers at the Savannah College of Art and Design.”

Easily Make Changes

And whenever a student changes anything, Revit Architecture automatically updates all the 2D information—such as floor plans, elevations, and detail drawings. Everything is connected. “Students appreciate that a lot,” says Ngo. “It saves them a tremendous amount of time and lets them focus on design, instead of on tedious manual tasks.”

Use Real-World Examples

“Currently, we offer two Revit Architecture courses for students,” says Ngo. “Our third-year students start by exploring the basics of building information modeling. Then, in the advanced class, they learn how to apply the tools in a real-world scenario.”

Explore the Options

“For instance, we may ask a student to design a low-rise, seven-story office building. Using Revit Architecture, the student can explore many different construction systems, such as steel frame, wood, or concrete—and understand the consequences of each choice. By the time they finish, they have produced a set of construction documents directly from the model that is consistent, easy to manage, and fully coordinated.”

Design, Communicate, Document

In their fifth year, Masters of Architecture students must complete a thesis. “At that point, we don’t want to spend any more time teaching them how to use the tools,” says Ngo. “We want them to sell us the idea, design it, communicate it, and document it. And then, they need to present their work as though they’re actual designers out in the real world.”

Get a Better Job

All this valuable experience gives students a competitive edge after graduation. “One of our students, Kyle Benedict, was even hired by NCG Architects to work with the rest of the firm using Revit Architecture to design award-winning architecture. Not only is he an architect, but he also has an immediate leadership role in helping the firm migrate and fully integrate Revit Architecture into the design workflow.”

The Result

“We want our students to become renaissance designers,” says Ngo, “designers who understand all aspects of design, including building information modeling. Revit Architecture has really helped the students understand the building as a whole—not just the parts.” The School of Building Arts is currently exploring options that would require all professors of electronic design to integrate Revit Architecture throughout the curriculum. Professor Scott Dietz at the Savannah College of Art and Design has successfully developed one of the electronic design courses, teaching Revit Architecture to students from the Architecture, Interior Design, and Historic Preservation Department.

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