CNH history: Technology and project sizes grow as 90s close, 2000s begin

CNH history: Technology and project sizes grow as 90s close, 2000s begin

As CNH moved into the 1990s and the new century, change was coming. The types and sizes of projects and the technologies used to underpin them, were advancing.

There were retail store designs for Team Electronics, Little Caesars pizza and Bermans, the precursor to Wilson’s Leather. These were tenant improvements inside existing malls. Church designs and work for Ziegler Cat also continued.

Technology enters architectural world

In 1992, Computer Aided Design (CAD) was introduced. “We had no CAD drawing in college,” said Principal Quinn Hutson, who has since led production technology for the company.

CAD was two-dimensional, with text and colors or layers of lines. Fundamentally, the user had to interpret what was there, which was much different from what current building information modeling (BIM) systems do. It would be some 15 years before CNH began using a BIM 3-D system.

“It was a whole different way of using computers in drawing,“ said Hutson. Buildings are designed in full-size, not scale, in the REVIT 3-D system, which came on at the end of 2008. CNH was one of the earlier adopters in the field.

Enhanced details help clients, speed some processes

REVIT has full-size “smart” elements embedded in the project. Wall types are defined down to great details- the inside and outside faces, color patterns, door types, hardware and so on are included.

“It allows us to better communicate with our clients,” said Hutson. “We can show in 3-D what it’s like to stand inside, to see it from down the road. And, that was huge for our clients.” There are also quality control aspects where project elements can be shown in several different ways.

When something is changed in REVIT, such as a door type, it can be changed instantly across the entire project. The software required more powerful computers.

Larger projects came, ‘sustainability’ entered picture

Just prior to this time, CNH was also ramping up the size and scope its projects. It took on a 350,000 square-foot structure for Ziegler CAT in Altoona, Iowa. And, the new city hall for Apply Valley required many hands on deck as did projects for the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Sustainability in architecture was the new trending topic, and was changing the projects and the materials used, explains Principal Wayne Hilbert. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and Green Globes, were at the forefront. A high percentage of CNH’s staff are LEED accredited.

The company would grow from an initial group of five when moving to Apple Valley to 13 people with the firm today.

Pencil rendering for Town Centre Professional Building in Eagan, circa late-1980s

Pencil rendering for Town Centre Professional Building in Eagan, circa late 1980s