Customer story

Torti Gallas + Partners creates a blueprint for AEC collaboration with LucidLink

April 2024, Torti Gallas + Partners, Architecture

6 mins

Torti Gallas and LucidLink

About the company

Torti Gallas + Partners (TG+P) is one of the largest planning and architectural firms in the United States and a leading proponent of New Urbanism. Founded in 1953, the firm comprises award-winning architects and master planners, urban designers, sustainability experts, construction administrators, and community facilitators. 

It has offices across the United States in Washington DC, Tampa, and Los Angeles, with an international base in Istanbul, Turkey. Torti Gallas believes that design can be a powerful force in the creation of environmentally, economically and socially sustainable communities.

Building seamless AEC workflows with LucidLink

Torti Gallas + Partners, an industry leader in architecture and urban planning, has been pushing the boundaries of sustainable design since its inception in 1953.

TG+P’s success is built on collaboration — right from its award-winning architects and master planners to its accounting and IT teams. To sustain this teamwork while employees worked on huge project files in and outside the office, the firm needed a new approach.

Torti Gallas + Partners wanted a way to centralize their project data and provide employees with on-demand access to large files, regardless of location. LucidLink proved to be the perfect solution.

Since implementing LucidLink in 2020, TG+P has rolled the platform out firm-wide and experienced groundbreaking results, including: 

  • $30K a year savings from cloud storage efficiencies.

  • Consolidating seven network drives and a dozen data silos to a single LucidLink filespace.

  • 55.7% increase in data stored in LucidLink.

We caught up with Omer Mushahwar, CTO at Torti Gallas + Partners, to hear about TG+P’s journey with LucidLink.

The challenge: gaining fast access to files, anywhere 

Before LucidLink, TG+P struggled with slow and fragmented data access across its offices. "When I started, we just had one office. Now, we have three US offices and a global presence, so our technology needs have evolved dramatically," says Mushahwar.

“Speed is everything. We needed faster access to files and the same access experience regardless of geographic location.”

But dated NetApp storage systems, coupled with a reliance on VPNs, created significant bottlenecks in file access and collaboration. “We had a lot of siloed NetApp storage systems that were aging and we needed something accessible from both the office and remotely,” explains Mushahwar. 

The pandemic further highlighted Torti Gallas + Partners’ need to update its existing storage infrastructure with a solution that lets its people create together from anywhere.

Finding a platform to handle AEC projects

TG+P uses the full range of tools in the Autodesk AEC Collection including Infraworks, Navisworks Manage, Civil 3D, AutoCAD and Revit. It also uses Adobe, Microsoft Office products and Sketchup. Its file sizes range anywhere from a couple of megabytes to multiple gigabytes, with some files in excess of 100GB. 

Part of the problem was finding a storage platform that could handle these AEC-specific file types. 

“We looked at Panzura and Nasuni and all the big collaboration platforms like Box and Dropbox and nothing fit all of our needs. A lot of them didn’t work with all of our file types, for example linking to CAD files. With Panzura and Nasuni we would still have had to VPN into the office which is sort of pointless. It didn’t solve our work-from-anywhere initiative,” Mushawar explains.

“We even explored doing a cloud dump in Azure or AWS with NetApp files but nobody had a really good solution for remote. No one handled that piece well.”

Another roadblock was the team’s ability to quickly access, edit and share the large files generated by the modeling software, Revit. “That was a big sticking point with the vendors we looked at. Our teams create dozens of versions of models as we iterate a project and the systems we tested just couldn’t go back to the older versions quickly enough or not at all.”

After a long search, TG+P found LucidLink and discovered real-time collaboration on design models in the cloud could be a reality.

The solution: seamless cloud collaboration with LucidLink

After a short test run with BIM managers went without a hitch, TG+P replaced its storage with LucidLink’s cloud-based storage collaboration platform, paired with IBM Cloud’s S3-compatible object storage.

Ever since, TG+P’s teams have been free to work together on the same projects seamlessly, from any location.

“The decision to go with LucidLink was a no-brainer,” says Mushahwar. “Importantly, the end-user saw no difference in the application they were accessing. The only change they experienced was a leap forward in speed. Opening and saving files in any Autodesk Application like Revit, for example, was suddenly superfast.”

Removing data silos with centralized storage

With LucidLink, TG+P has centralized its storage, consolidating data from multiple locations into a single, accessible filespace.

“LucidLink is unique,” Mushahwar shares. “The solution has allowed us to mimic all our old file paths and now we have one unified storage system. We could just copy in our data and users could get started. They weren’t relinking files which saved us so much time.”

“We reorganized our seven network drives and data held in more than a dozen different silos into one cloud-driven location that is now easily accessible by all at any time of the day,” notes Mushahwar. “This unified approach has simplified data management and improved efficiency.”

Results: smoother workflows, big savings

With LucidLink, Torti Gallas + Partners ensures their teams remain productive and collaborative, no matter where they are.

Faster access and smarter teamwork

TG+P’s employees can now work together both in and outside the office, all without the hassle of VPNs and remote desktops. “It's really been the driver of our work anywhere initiative. File access and speed is exponentially better than on VPN,” summarizes Mushawar. 

“It’s also changed how we team up. We can staff projects based on skill sets rather than geography, getting people from every level to work in unison and improving project efficiency in the process.”

Mushawar also shares how LucidLink helps TG+P’s teams smooth out any hiccups in their workflows. “We're big proponents of LucidLink snapshots. Architects iterate a number of the same files with slightly different versions and sometimes save over the wrong files, getting them back to where they were is always helpful and LucidLink’s snapshots make this as easy as possible!”

Cloud-first savings and efficiency 

By replacing its on-premise storage with LucidLink, TG+P saves $30K a year. “LucidLink was the first domino in our big cloud shift,” says Mushahwar. 

"Moving to LucidLink saves us $30K a year on storage costs and on-premise infrastructure. We no longer need dedicated internet circuits between offices and we’ve significantly cut our spending on battery backups and cooling. That’s before we even factor in man hours and long maintenance windows.” 

The switch from on-prem to cloud storage has also made budgeting easier. “We know we're not suddenly coming up on big renewal of storage or maintenance fees,” he adds.

Scaling storage, users and locations

Since its initial implementation of LucidLink, TG+P has expanded its storage capacity by 55.71%. “We started with about 35 terabytes of data, and now we have about 54.5 terabytes,” notes Mushahwar. 

The number of daily users has grown to 120, reflecting the firm’s continued reliance on LucidLink for its daily operations. Meanwhile, employees and collaborators use LucidLink to work together on projects globally. 

With SSO and zero-knowledge encryption, security is taken care of. “We can tie LucidLink back to our Microsoft security stack and see all the user logs,” explains Mushawar.

TG+P continues to grow with LucidLink

LucidLink continues to support Torti-Gallas +Partner’s growth, both in the U.S. and globally, while helping the company offer a flexible hybrid work environment. 

The architecture innovator plans to expand its use of LucidLink, integrating new features to continue making its workflows as fast and smooth as possible. “There's no fixed endpoint of what my storage can do anymore,” says Mushahwar.

He concludes, "As we grow, everyone knows LucidLink is the backbone of our workflow. It will be the lynchpin of our storage for years to come.”