Last week, AIA held their annual convention in Dallas. Part of the event
was a large exposition, Expo99. While touring this exposition, I found a
booth operated by a firm called ArchForms, Ltd. operating in Portola Valley,
California. They offer two structural analysis and design programs, which
appear to actually be Excel templates, called MaxBeam and MaxQuake/MaxWind.
These programs are inexpensive (both for $448) and appear to be pretty
comprehensive. They are geared toward code compliance (94 & 97 UBC, 97 SBC,
and 96 BOCA) for wood frame construction. You can find more information at
http://www.archforms.com <http://www.archforms.com> .
>From the literature that was provided, it is pretty clear that these
programs are marketed primarily to non-engineers. In fact, the brochures
state: "Easy to use structural software for architects, builders, drafters,
engineers, and building departments." Perhaps this software, in addition to
prescriptive building code requirements, explains why some architects feel
competent in designing wood frame structures (thereby causing premature
aging for Dennis Wish and others).
My questions are very simple. Has anyone used this software? What was your
experience with it? Would you recommend it?
Stan R. Caldwell, P.E.