Reflex (building design software)

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Reflex was a 3D building design software application developed in the mid 1980s and - along with its predecessor Sonata - is now regarded as a forerunner to today's building information modelling applications.[1][2][3][4]


The application was developed by two former GMW Computers employees who had been involved with Sonata. After Sonata had "disappeared in a mysterious, corporate black hole, somewhere in eastern Canada in 1992,"[5] Jonathan Ingram and colleague Gerard Gartside then went on to develop Reflex, bought for $30 million by Parametric Technology Corporation (PTC) in July 1996.[5][6]

PTC had identified the architecture, engineering and construction market as a target for its parametric modelling solutions, and bought Reflex to expand into the sector. However, the fit between Reflex and PTC's existing solutions was poor, and PTC's Pro/Reflex gained little market traction; PTC then sold the product to another US company, Beck Construction, in 1997,[7][a] where it formed the kernel of a parametric estimating package called DESTINI.[9][10]

Around the same time, several people from PTC set up a new company, Charles River Software (renamed Revit Technology Corporation in 2000, later (2002) bought by Autodesk).[7][9] Leonid Raiz and Irwin Jungreis obtained from PTC a non-exclusive, source code development license for Reflex as part of their severance package. In the words of Jerry Laiserin: "While Autodesk Revit may not contain genomic snippets of Reflex code, Revit clearly is spiritual heir to a lineage of BIM 'begats' — RUCAPS begat Sonata, Sonata begat Reflex, and Reflex begat Revit."[11]

In a 2017 letter to AEC Magazine, Jungreis said:

"After receiving several hours of instruction in the software architecture of Reflex from Reflex developers, we decided not to use it as our starting point because of several important differences at the very foundations of the software. At that point, we put it aside and never looked at it again. ... Revit was not based on Reflex. No code from Reflex was used...."[12]


  1. ^ Eastman, Chuck; Tiecholz, Paul; Sacks, Rafael; Liston, Kathleen (2008). BIM Handbook: a Guide to Building Information Modeling for owners, managers, designers, engineers, and contractors (1st ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley. pp. xi–xii. ISBN 9780470185285.
  2. ^ Eastman, Chuck; Tiecholz, Paul; Sacks, Rafael; Liston, Kathleen (2011). BIM Handbook: A Guide to Building Information Modeling for Owners, Managers, Designers, Engineers and Contractors (2nd ed.). Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley. pp. 36–37.
  3. ^ Quirk, Vanessa (7 December 2012). "A Brief History of BIM". Arch Daily. Retrieved 17 October 2015.
  4. ^ Andia, Alfredo; Spiegelhalter, Thomas (2014). Post-Parametric Automation in Design and Construction. Artech House. p. 22. ISBN 9781608076949.
  5. ^ a b Crotty, p.71
  6. ^ Parametric Technology Corporation acquires object-oriented software technology for project modeling and management PTC news release dated 11 July 1996 (archived at Retrieved: 17 October 2015.
  7. ^ a b Crotty, p.72
  8. ^ Beck Technology: About us, Beck Technology. Accessed: 17 October 2015.
  9. ^ a b Weisberg, David (2008), The Engineering Design Revolution: The People, Companies and Computer Systems That Changed Forever the Practice of Engineering. Chapter 16. Available online. Retrieved: 17 October 2015
  10. ^ BIM software integrates RSMeans for project costing, Mobility Techzone, December 19, 2006. Retrieved: 17 October 2015.
  11. ^ Laiserin, J. (2003) "LaiserinLetterLetters" (see Laiserin's comment to letter from John Mullan), The Laiserin Letter, January 06 2003.[unreliable source?]
  12. ^ "Celebrating the history of BIM (In response to this article, Dr. Irwin Jungreis, one of the founders of Revit, submitted a letter to AEC Magazine, reproduced in full.)". AEC Magazine. 25 May 2017. Retrieved 21 August 2017.
  1. ^ Some accounts of the date of this transaction vary: Beck Technology, originally an internal group within Beck Construction, says it acquired the intellectual property rights to Reflex from PTC in 2000.[8]


Crotty, Ray (2012). The Impact of Building Information Modelling: Transforming Construction. London: SPON/Routledge. ISBN 9781136860560.