Mogavero Architects, Making IFC Work with Archicad

Mary Moscarello GutierrezCollaboration, OPEN BIM

Mogavero Architects served as the architect for the Design Build Team with Valley Commercial Contractors to complete bridging documents for an extensive renovation of a forty year old building of the CSU Sacramento Dining Commons at UC Davis. The project called for the conversion of the dining commons from a traditional cafeteria style facility to contemporary, themed platform dining established in the Segundo and Tercero dining commons.


The dining commons embraces an open “public market” design with final food preparation viewable to patrons, and includes five food distribution areas: a granary and bakery, a grill for specialty hot foods, a pizza and pasta station, a soup and salad bar, and a market station for self-serve and bistro-style entrees.

The design takes advantage of daylight to enliven the main dining area through a large curved light well which penetrates the second floor, combined with the curved path through the various food counters, creating a contemporary vibe and smooth flow throughout the commons. The second floor has traditional restaurant seating, with banquettes, separate, sky-lit quiet rooms, and lounge-style seating along with larger tables that allow for more intimate dining experiences.  Faced with a short turnaround on the first part of renovating the dining commons, the model was a crucial factor in managing the renovation.

“We had to pay close attention to the construction systems, techniques and scheduling,” said Renner Johnston of Mogavero Architects. “We were tasked with completing the first phase of construction during a short two month summer break – even as the kitchen continued providing meals during the CSU conference schedule.”


Mogavero Architects is currently using BIM to coordinate with a group of architects and other consultants on a 40,000 square foot facility for the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op (SNFC). The SNFC project has a goal of the building being Net Zero energy, incorporating natural ventilation and natural daylight. The full grocery, health and beauty counseling center will also provide educational programs and on-site dining.

The firm has worked with 2D information as well as 3D IFC formatted data on the tenant improvement project. An interior designer exchanged Revit models via IFC with M.N.A. staff “round trip” in order to fully incorporate their design into the project.  The interior designer made use of the M.N.A. exported ArchiCAD model to correctly register and dimension features and elements.

“If we operated on a solely 2D format, many conditions and location would be difficult to execute correctly on this project,” explained Architect, Sam Kingore.  “We would have needed extra time, hand drawn perspectives and additional meetings to overcome the limits of 2D.  Now our modelers can more easily incorporate the work with extensive input or review.”


Another recent new construction project, located in downtown Sacramento and surrounded by myriad government and industrial land uses, known as 7th & H is an eight-story mid-rise mixed use project consisting of 150 affordable residential individual units atop a clinic space for residents and accompanied by ground floor retail.

“In keeping with the goal of the project -to build a community within the building, contribute to the vibrancy of the neighborhood, and connect to the community at large – we achieved incorporated a variety of design approaches,” explained Renner Johnston. “We made sure to include an activated streetscape, well-designed, visible common area spaces and distinct community rooms and balconies on the upper floors.”

7th & H has a unique Z shape plan which affords the creation of two large landscaped outdoor terraces on the second floor. The clinic on the ground floor is designated for resident use as part of a comprehensive wellness program for this special needs resident group. The roof is crowned by a dramatic solar panel array that provides energy to heat water and power the building.

According to the team at Mogavero, projects such as 7th and H present many opportunities to exploit the power of Archicad and BIM itself. The firm has found that changing with the advancements in BIM is well worth the investment, explains Kingore.


“Our BIM use helps us tremendously. We win projects –such as housing for UC Davis and 7th & H among others, because we’re able to coordinate all the different methodologies being used in the industry today. We are not hindered by barriers to production –in case we’re working with another project member still using 2D.”

“We use modules extensively from early ideation on multi-family, multi-story projects. Some firms may believe that staying in 2D will keep things simple. We have found the opposite to be true. Working in 3D simplifies the workflow,” added IT Manager, Designer and Webmaster Gerard Falla. “Being able to make one simple plan change on projects that may repeat that plan twenty times per floor on four floors and have it update throughout the model at the moment you modify it, is incredibly powerful.”

Mogavero exploits modeling to their benefit on large projects. In this way, team members can create “repeatable”chunks in the building. This method comes in handy when changes are needed –and in viewing the floor plan for the unit type one can see that a single change can be effectively incorporated into the entire building.

Another feature of Archicad being fully exploited is that of Teamwork and the BIM Server.

ArchiCAD BIM Teamwork“We use Teamwork constantly and it is worth mentioning that for us, we view it as a security measure as well as a workflow enhancer,” said Falla. “It is a design communication tool that automatically saves every iteration of the model. The model is housed with the most current version always accessible to all team members. If a week from now, a new person comes on board to work on the project –no time is lost, since we’re able to stay fluid. That type of workflow is not possible without Teamwork.”

Adopting a “less costly, more effective”way of doing business has been a crucial factor in Mogavero’s success and growth since making the transition to BIM, according to Falla.

“We are constantly looking for ways to do more with BIM. What helped was the recognition that BIM doesn’t do the thinking and designing for you. It is but a tool with which you think and design.”

This article has been re-posted from the Graphisoft Blog at: