Workstations fit-for-purpose and configured for the future

Workstations fit-for-purpose and configured for the future

Delivering a solution designed for the way architects Pascall+Watson work

Symetri services provided: 

  • IT consultancy
  • Workstation specification and fulfilment

Meet Pascall + Watson

The award-winning international architectural practice, Pascall+Watson, was founded in 1956. Based in London, the practice also has studios in Dublin, Limerick, and Abu Dhabi, and has delivered projects in over 100 cities, stretching across six continents. Its portfolio of work covers the transportation, education, leisure and hospitality, healthcare, retail, and workplace sectors.

Pascall+Watson’s 250 specialists offer forward-thinking architecture, master planning, design management, interior design, wayfinding, visualisation and BIM expertise across a diverse range of building typologies.

The challenge: Replacement of optimum-specification design workstations

Pascall+Watson was aware that there were variations across its CAD workstation estate in terms of the age of equipment, model, and specification. As new hires had necessitated the acquisition of new CAD computers, the situation had arisen whereby some of the team were working with equipment that was more sophisticated and capable than that being used by other members of staff.

While this was not an issue in itself, it meant that there were inconsistencies between and sometimes within offices. When their designers and architects moved between offices, they could find themselves working on a different workstation with different configurations. Pascall+Watson wanted the benefit of consistency to enable seamless and standardised workflows and software capabilities. It was time for an all-over refresh. Bringing the whole company in line with one standard set of capabilities would also eradicate the operational issues associated with ageing equipment and ensure that the practice had the sort of equipment in place that would stand the test of time, delivering reliability and flexibility, for many years to come.

Optimising evolving design tools as they come along
Costas Constantinou, Head of IT at Pascall+Watson, explains:

An important part of my role is to make sure our people have the best tools to do the job. That means keeping up to date all the time with what tools are available, where the improvements are being made, not just in software but in hardware too.

Any IT professional will know there’s limitless choices in every aspect of technology. Any construction professional will know that there’s also constant change in the market in the way new software functionalities evolve; always something new and relevant to take into account as new releases come along. We wanted to enable the adoption of evolving design tools into the future; new releases of applications such as AutoCAD, Revit, Navisworks, Inventor, and other software suites our team uses regularly.

The software world never stands still. It’s not simply the competitive urge that motivates vendors to drive continuous improvements in their offerings, new releases, new versions, add-ons, plugins and ceaseless other embellishments that can often be hard for users to keep up with. It’s also the desire to innovate; one that characterises the world of technology in general. There are always better ways of doing things.  Automation and artificial intelligence will continue to make changes to how we use technology for many years to come. Fresh developer talent coming into the industry comes with fresh ideas, new ways of doing things, and increasing agility in thinking ‘outside the box’.

The ‘box’ in this case is the CAD computer. Costas had two choices. He could survey the many models available on the market, from numerous vendors, or talk to a third party about the best way to go. Pascall+Watson use Symetri as both a CAD and IT solutions provider. Costas asked Symetri to undertake the workstation refresh project given their knowledge of both the construction sector and the IT world. 

I have used other IT suppliers in the past and found that they did not understand Architecture, or the specialist CAD and graphics applications that architects use,” says Costas. “Symetri understand what we need and they maintain a high level of skills and accreditation with key vendors such as Microsoft, Dell, Veeam and VMware. Their technical skills coupled with their knowledge of the architecture market always results in their giving me the right advice.

The solution: Knowing what to ask for

Symetri could easily have made recommendations on the pros and cons of all pertinent CAD workstations on the market. The key to delivering on Pascall+Watson’s objectives of a ‘future-proofed’ resolution to the problem of estate-wide refresh however, was not simply about which machine to go with. If it were, it would be easy to just call the vendor and ask for a demo; all would be ready to oblige, not least because Costas was preparing to place an order for 80 CAD computers.

The decisive factor in choosing a CAD computer is about getting the specification right
Symetri understand the workflows and the challenges that Pascall+Watson needed to accommodate in their machines’ capabilities as defined within the specification.

Symetri discussed with Costas the optimum capabilities that Pascall+Watson wanted in a CAD workstation. It was important that the practice would be in good shape with its workstations for at least five years, and ideally beyond. They had to be upgradeable. They had to be able to accommodate software releases and updates. They had to make the users feel good – that they were working with the best tools, put together in the best way. Through its close relationships with relevant vendors, Symetri were also able to work in harmony with the chosen vendor to deliver the optimised workstation, at an attractive price for Pascall+Watson.

The result: Ready for the next challenge

Symetri also undertook all arrangements around fulfilment of the order, ensuring a phased rollout of 80 new workstations across four locations. They deliver capabilities aligned to the way Pascall+Watson works, and will work in the future, and ensure a consistent user experience at every location. 

The decisive question we asked, when we looked at the possibility of direct vendor involvement, was how well would a vendor understand the intricacies of our business needs,” says Costas. “The answer was to involve a trusted IT partner who had an intimate understanding both of our business and the IT it depends on, the IT unique to our industry. Symetri has always fitted the bill for me in this regard, helping us to make wise and sustainable investments in our IT and helping our team to be always ready for the next challenge and the next great software invention.

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