Author Archives: 01 Christine Carlo

BIM for Rhino; VisualArc

In the world of architectural software, there are two types of technology.  The first of these is focused on producing two-dimensional documentation.  For many of these programs, the three-dimension modeling capability is also available. This creates problems because the software not very flexible and buildings designs can be limited.  The second type of software is focused on three-dimensional modeling; while the design potential of this type of software is much greater, it can be difficult to document the model information on paper.  Rhino falls into the latter category, originally designed to be flexible three-dimensional software. Since then, BIM plug-ins, have given it capabilities to also document these models.

RhinoBIM is a series of plug-ins developed by Virtual Build Technologies LLC and can be added on to Rhino 5.0.  It is designed to enhance the architectural and engineering capabilities of the program.  It is still in development and new features are currently in production; the products are updated at a fairly rapid pace. The most recent addition is the use of structural features.  This gives the user access to an extensive steel library and allows them to define the properties of those shapes.  Since it is completely integrated into Rhino, all of RhinoBIM’s components are compatible with other Rhino plug-ins.

One of the enhancements that RhinoBIM adds to Rhino is an extensive components library.  As was stated above, recently, structure was added, but this library also includes windows, doors, furniture, and even scale figures.  All of these blocks are modeled in 3d and are fully compatible with Rhino and its other plug-ins like Grasshopper and Flamingo. Being able to use the blocks with these programs is important when testing structure or acoustics.

RhinoBIM also makes it much easier to document a building.  It is very simple to pull floor plans and elevations away from the 3d model.  It also makes section cuts much easier.  They are live sections as well, which means that they change if anything is altered in the model.

Even with the added features, RhinoBIM still retains all the same functions of Rhino.  All of the traditional Rhino commands remain in this version, meaning that this architectural software incorporates incredible flexibility.  For example, this program can create meshes, shells, perform Boolean operations, and create custom polygons.  RhinoBIM can overcome many of the limitations of a comparable software, Autodesk Revit, which falls into the category of two-dimentional documentation software. Revit has many limits because of the documentation process. RhinoBIM, on the otherhand, is extremely flexible and allows the designer to implement their creatively much more effectively. RhinoBIM can create curvilinear forms with ease; this makes features like unique roof shapes, non-orthagonal walls, and spiral staircases possible, while they are normally near-impossible to create in Revit.  Also, because RhinoBIM is designed for three-dimentional documentation, it does not have quite as many restrictions as Revit.  This means that the user can create slanted and horizontal curtain wall, things that are not possible in Revit.

In terms of using this program professionally, RhinoBIM is attractive because of its low price.  Rhino 5 starts at $995, and a RhinoBIM bundle runs at about $1200.  Other plug-ins like Flamingo, Bongo, and Brazil can be purchased in a bundle at a similar price.  A new license for Autodesk Revit 2013, however, costs over $6200.  A new license for another two-dimensional documentation program, Graphisoft ArchiCAD 15, has a baseline price of $4,250.  Bentley Microstation V8i, which was designed for three-dimentional modeling, costs over $5000.  These two programs are extremely popular in the professional architectural world, but some firms are beginning to turn to RhinoBIM because for the added flexibility and the cost-effectiveness. Because of these aspects, Virtual Build Technologies used their products to lead the design for several famous buildings such as the Guggenheim Museum, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and the Millennium Park Music Pavilion.

RhinoBIM is a very intriguing program because it draws the core of its function from three-dimensional modeling, giving it capabilities that surpass other programs. It is also considerable more affordable than its competitors.  It is an exciting product that it working it’s way into the fields of architecture and engineering. Even so, it is still a young program. Bugs still exist in the software, and many of the plug-ins are not all inclusive. It may require a few programs to get the complete set of features needed. It will be a few years at least until RhinoBIM starts being used widely, but this seems to be the way the industry is headed.

BIM for Rhino Presentation Slideshow

Carlo – RhinoBIM Window Systems

Luu – BIM Structure

Waters – BIM for Rhino

Final Board Draft – Blakey, Hanlon, Carlo, Baum


This research pavilion created by students at the University of Stuttgart is an example of how computer based design is changing the shapes we use to create space. The double layered shell uses freeform surfaces to create a biological, light weight construction.

In 2011, students came together to create a modular system which would allow for a high degree of adaptability based on differentiation of the plate structures. They looked to biological structures to accomplish this. The basic principles that eventually governed this design was the plate like skeletons of the sand dollar and a type of sea urchin.

The interlocking edges of the pavilion are similar to the interlocking polygons that make up the sand dollars structural plate. Three plate edges always meet at a point. This allows the structure to be very lightweight because it transfers normal and shear forces but no bending moments.  The plywood used to build the pavilion is only 6.5mm thick. This design also allows for a wide variety of custom geometry rather than just load optimized shapes. Because of this, the cell sizes do not have to be constant. They adapt to the curvature and stresses of the structure.

The design of the structure was created using computer based bionic principles applied to several types of geometry. 850 unique panels make up the completed structure. An optimized data exchange analysed and modified critical points of the model for structural stability. Students also built and tested several of the connection points and included the structural calculations in the computer model.

This research pavilion shows how architectural structures are evolving based on computer and biological design.