Design software for masonry allows rapid design and detailing, saving time and also providing more economical buildings. Masonry structural elements can now be optimized, resulting in a more refined and, hence, less costly solution.
Traditionally, these structural design programs have focused on component design—the independent analysis of a single structural element, such as a wall, beam, pilaster, or lintel. Although masonry still lacks a completely integrated structural design program, such as those available for steel and concrete, some programs go beyond single components, allowing the analysis and design of an entire structure.
An example of this systems-design approach is the National Concrete Masonry Association's program Design of Commercial Masonry Buildings, which is used to design concrete masonry warehouse-type structures. Other comprehensive structural packages integrate with CAD systems to further streamline the design process.
Looking forward, design software is moving toward data integration among packages developed by each design discipline. The ultimate goal of this effort is to allow communication and data sharing among the diverse software used for project architecture, engineering, estimating, scheduling, and even interior design. Providing this compatibility among the various software packages will significantly reduce design and development time. In addition, inconsistencies, conflicting component locations, and errors in information transfer will be reduced or eliminated, as will the time spent cross-checking results from different programs.
Some software developers are forging direct links. For example, ArchiCAD now includes links to the WinEst estimating program to provide a seamless transition from design drawings to cost estimates.
Building visualization software is also developing rapidly. CAD and visualization programs are now used to display a three-dimensional image of the building, viewable from any angle, at any hour of the day—with appropriate sunlight and shadows. Interior and exterior materials, including different colors and textures, can be quickly applied and revised, providing an amazingly accurate likeness of the building, long before ground is broken.
The article provides brief overviews of various masonry design software packages, appropriate building codes and retail prices.
Component-design programs for masonry:
- Masonry LSD 95
- Masonry Wall Design
Comprehensive design software:
Design of Commercial Masonry Buildings
Visualization software allows the owner and designer to see the completed building, down to the masonry bond pattern.
- Masonry Designer
- 3-D Studio Viz
Masonry retaining walls are either constructed of traditional mortared masonry or are dry-stacked. Design software is available for mortared concrete masonry cantilevered retaining walls and for segmental retaining walls (SRWs).
Product-specific SRW design software is available from Allan Block:
- Anchor Wall
- Pacific Precast Products (Omega)
- Risi Stone (RISIWALL 4.0)
- Tensar Earth Technologies (MesaPro)
Software for designing mortared CMU cantilevered retaining walls includes:
QuikWall (Eagle Point Software)
- RetainWall (Daystar)
Includes a section on masonry design codes you should be aware of when you purchase software.