Friday, December 31, 2010

Revit Design Adventures: Adding the Skylights and Wells (7)

First Iteration: Adding the Skylights and Wells

Everything we are drawing will be drawn in views which have been set to Phase One, Show All.

Our client had provided some sketches which indicated that the skylights would be cut into the existing ceiling. Also, flared lightwells were requested.

The skylights are from the standard installed library. They are found in the Windows folder and are hosted to the roof; easy to install. The opening in the roof is automatically cut.

The openings in the ceiling is drawn using the By Face, Opening object. This will also be on Phase One.

Here's where things get 'squirrely', as they say. The flared lightwells will be drawn with an In-Place Mass object to provide the backing for the angled walls. You will need to make some Reference Planes to define the extents of the skylight wells. I recommend named Ref Planes (front and back) and an Extrusion. You can do this in a 3D view, right side. (On a side note, if there are any Revit developers or influencers reading this, please give us non-plumb walls.) Use Walls-By Face to add the walls to the edge of the skylight well. Pay attention to the location line of the wall as you add them.

You are able to group the first one you made, with one exception; the ceiling cut. For some reason Revit changes the Phasing of the cut when it's copied and it's not able to be adjusted in the Properties Palette. So, you can pick the skylight well walls as well as the skylight and group them. In this case it seems that the openings are better drawn separately. (If someone can 'shed some light' on this issue please comment.)

So far, we have spent about 3-4 hours setting up and drawing the first iteration. We just need to present this to client so that they can make some decisions. This first iteration was an exercise in reflecting back the sketch to the client. Now we, the designers, and the client can make some educated suggestions. So, let's take a look at how we do our rendering and presentation.

Next Post in Series: Presentation and Rendering

Previous Post in Series: Finishing the Shell

Lego of the Day: In honour of Top Gear...Something to read, something to drive, something to smash...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Revit Design Adventures: Finishing the Shell (6)

First Iteration: Finishing the Shell with Roofs, Floors, Ceilings etc.

Drawing the rest of the shell means adding floors, roofs, ceilings and the skylights with openings. The shell is on the Existing Phase as this is mostly an interior renovation.

Levels should always be made to finished STRUCTURE. (As apposed to finishes like carpet, tile etc.)

The floor top is aligned to the Level. Any floor finishes need to be thin and on top of the structural floor. We'll put the finish floor on later.

The roof bottom is aligned with the Level. But it may not be where you think. The bottom, outer edge of the roof is aligned with the Level. So in the case of wood, stick framed roofs you will need to move the roof down to the proper springing point.

The ceiling is based on an offset from the floor level to the underside of the ceiling. The default way to make the ceiling is 'Automatic' but this is not usually the way to go. You're better to go with the Sketch Ceiling option. Constraining the model should always be avoided.

Next Post in Series: Adding the Skylights and Wells
Previous Post in Series

Lego of the day:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Revit OpEd: Supplementary Files

Revit OpEd: Supplementary Files: "Ryan Duell, with Autodesk and The Revit Clinic, created a list of ten supplementary files for Revit and where they are located by default, R..."

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Revit Design Adventures: Drawing Walls, Finally! 5

First Iteration
Drawing Walls, Finally!

So far we've spent about an hour setting up. Some of the things that we have setup so far...

Set Location
Project North

Levels, Grids and Reference Planes
Simple Material
Simple Wall, Floor styles ie. EW1 for Exterior Wall, IP1 for Interior Partition

A starter Sheet

Duplicate some views and append the phase to the name, for instance; 3D-Existing or Level1-Existing. Make sure you also change the Phase view property.
Now, in an Exisitng phase view we can draw our walls. Remember to always draw from Level to Level, like a cake. (mmmmm sweet, delicious, Revitcake)

Now the fun part..demolishing.

In the Phase 1 view, we now demolish the walls which are to be demolished using the 'demolish' tool. (I like saying 'demolish')
But what if only part of our walls are to be demolished? Use the 'Split' tool. You will end up with some funny intersections at times. This can be mitigated using the allow/disallow join tool.

In a Phase 1 view we can now draw the new walls.

Up to this point there has been a lot of 'wall' talk. We can add the windows, doors and openings to their proper Phase views. We can also demolish them! 
Previous Post

Lego of the Day...

Revit OpEd: Project Galileo Coming Soon at Autodesk Labs

Revit OpEd: Project Galileo Coming Soon at Autodesk Labs: "The Autodesk Labs BLOG mentioned today that something called Project Galileo will be available soon. Here's the overview from their curren..."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Revit Shortcut List

RL:Reload Latest

CS:Create Similar

ZZ: Zoom Window
ZE: Zoom Extents
ZP: Zoom Previous

VP:View Properties

WN: Window
CM: Component
RP:Ref Plane


DL:Detail Lines


SO":Snaps Off


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

AEC|EDGE Revit Ezine

Check out the latest version of AEC|EDGE. It has some great Revit articles. My favourite was 'Lessons of BIM' by Laura Handler (bim(X) blog) and Courtney Pagani.

While you're at it, check out the editor's (Steve Stafford) blog Revit OpEd.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pinned Levels MOVE!

When you 'Pin' something, it won't move right? Mostly.

If a Level is 'Pinned' you will not be able to use the move command or the move by dragging command. You will be able to change the height of the level by edited the Level-Head elevation text. No warning, Revit just moves the Level.

(Let me know if you have noticed this....)

As a workaround, you could draw a dimension to the Level and then lock it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Revit Design Adventures: Kitchen Reno 4

First Iteration
Three Things you MUST Do Second
Now that we have
Location, Project North and Phases set up let's get going on the next three things. We are just about ready to draw a wall, the suspense is killing us! Just take a few minutes and set up:

1. Levels, Grids and Reference Planes
2. Simple Material
3. Simple Wall, Floor etc styles.
(Or can be named System Families. For a Family naming explanation see this post)
Levels, Grids and Reference Planes
Always make the Levels first. Even if you're going to leave the levels as is you should be aware of their height. In the case of the kitchen reno project we simply changed Level 2 to be an even 10'-0" for now.

Next we make some Reference Planes defining left, right, front and back. Always name the Reference Planes. This is found under their properties. Start drawing your grid If you know what it is going to be.

Simple Material
Phil Read gave the inaugural address at the Ontario Revit Users Group. He showed us a lot of crazy stuff but one thing that stood out was the following tip. Make a generic white material and apply it to everything (walls, floors, window and door frames etc.) This can help us and the client to focus on the major design issues instead of floor colours.

Simple Wall, Floor etc stylesLet's avoid defining things too much when naming Families. Adding materials and sizes to names of styles in Revit ends up creating more work and inconsistencies.
Create an exterior wall type: EW-1, thickness is set to the overall wall thickness, material is 'white'.
Create an interior wall partition type: IP-1, thickness to overall wall thickness, material is white. Make a floor and roof in a similar fashion.

Now we can start drawing walls, right? Well, a couple of other things to do that will save us some time is setting up our outline Sheet Set and a View Template (which is blacked-out walls, floors, ceilings and roofs plus no floor surface patterns). Clean and simple. Once we do this, our building comes together in minutes. So far we've spent about an hour setting up and modeling the main part of the building.

Next post: Drawing Walls, Finally!

Previous Post

Book of the day...

What are Revit Omniclass Codes?

Assigning OmniClass codes

OmniClass is a new classification system for the construction industry. The Autodesk Seek web site uses codes from OmniClass Table 23 to filter and identify shared content. A code consists of an OmniClass number and title.

If an OmniClass code is not already assigned to a family, you are prompted to assign one during the sharing process. However, you can continue to share with Autodesk Seek without defining one. All Revit families (except the System and Annotation families) have parameters for assigning an OmniClass code.

You can access the OmniClass Number and OmniClass Title parameters in the Family Category and Parameters dialog under Family Parameters. See Family Category and Parameters.

Taken from here.

What are Revit Uniformat Codes?

All model elements in Revit Architecture have Assembly Code and Assembly Description type properties based on the hierarchical list of Uniformat codes assigned by R.S. Means. You can add or change a Uniformat assembly code for a selected element type. The read-only Assembly Description property updates to match the assigned code.

Both the Assembly Code and Assembly Description fields are available for creating a schedule that groups components by Uniformat code.

This was taken from here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Conditional Statements for Yes/No Visibility

You have a light family which has two options, suspended or ceiling mount. So you make a Visibility Parameter for each objects, the suspension wires and the mounting bracket. Problem is you don't want to see both at the same time.

In the Formula field of one of the Yes/No (Visibility) parameters type the following:
not(suspension wires)

So to translate this; turn off the mounting bracket if the suspension wires are on.

Thanks to AUGI users...

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Revit Design Adventures: Kitchen Reno 3

First Iteration
Three Things you MUST Do First

So now we have the client sketches, their design ideas and address. They have let us know when they would like to start renovating. We have set some expectations as to what they will get from us and when. We are ready to start our model!

You really want to start drawing walls now! but first...
We need to set up the following:

Project North

Why do we NEED to do this first? Simple answer is because it's a pain to do these things once the model is in place. Let's start with Location.

This tool is found in the ribbon under Manage-Project Location-Location. Set the address as if you were searching for it in Google Maps. Setting the location will be useful for solar, shadow and energy calculations. If you are starting with an AutoCAD survey I would recommend you read this post I did a while back.

Project North
This tool is found in the ribbon under Manage-Project Location-Position-Rotate True North. Make sure that you do this in a Site view with the Orientation set to True North (found in View Properties). In the Kitchen Reno project we have simply rotated the True North based upon an image from Google Maps.

Even if you think that you will never use Phases, set this up. The default phases are Existing and New Construction. The default current phase is New Construction. This can cause problems if you have modeled half of your existing building without knowing that it was put on a phase called 'New Construction'. Make a few phases, more than think you will need. Use simple names like Phase 1 or Phase 2. Fill out a brief description if needed. Get rid of the phase called New Construction, this will only confuse things. Above is a picture of the phases of this project.

In this building only Existing and Phase 1 are used. Things are both built and demolished in Phase 1. We will talk more about Phases in later posts...

Next Post:
Three Things you MUST do Second
Previous Post 

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Revit Design Adventures: Kitchen Reno 2

In my last post I introduced a new series that I'm writing called 'Revit Design Adventures'. We are examining a kitchen renovation project. This will be done in Revit and we will make use of most of the Revit toolbox. There will be a number of iterations along the way. Let's start with the first iteration:

First Iteration
Managing Expectations

As we saw in the last post the client has provided us with some basic sketches as well as a verbal explanation of what they want.

But what does the client really want? There is no need to over complicate this question. The client wants a renovated kitchen that they love to be in. They want this to be done within a reasonable budget and time frame.
So are we simply providing floor plans, elevations and details for permit plans and construction documents? Yes, but what they really want from us is assurance of their expectations, as stated above. They may have made many of the major design decisions already, but will they like the results, can it be built and for how much? That’s why we are involved and why we use Revit.
3D views and renderings are always important at this stage, the client expects this. It's important that we don't define too much in the initial 3D views. We need to keep our design on-track by focusing on the overall size, layout and feel.
The initial images should very simple and clean. The first iteration of this project represents about three or four hours of time. This set included plans, sections, 3D views and a rendering which is pictured above. As it turns out, all we needed was the rendering. The client could see that the ceiling was too low and made them think that a sloped ceiling might look better.

In my next post we will continue to look at the first iteration and what are the first things that need to be done before you start modeling.

Next Post:
Three Things you MUST Do First

Previous Post 


Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Revit Design Adventures: Revit Workflow 1

This is the first post in a series entitled 'Revit Design Adventures'. In this series we will examine Revit based upon the project workflow. Learning about tools and features is necessary at a fundamental level. But how do these tools and features work in the context and workflow of a project? We won't be answering 'how' as much as when and why do I use certain Revit functions.

The first project we will examine is a small kitchen renovation complete with renderings and permit plans. Small projects have small budgets and small timeframes. Even a small renovation project offers us the opportunity to examine Phasing, In-Place Families, Custom Component Familes, In-Place Masses and most of the other Revit tools. So, let's get started with the sketches provided by the client...

Eventually, we will end up with the result at the start of the post. But first, in order to get there we will be embarking on a design adventure...stay tuned.
Next Post in Series.

Revit Server - David Light

This is (yet another) repost of a very good explanation of the Revit Server technology...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Creating Type Catalogs

Keep in mind that Type Catalogs have a very simple purpose; loading Families with many Types. They don’t read or change parameters automatically, you have to duplicate (type or cut and paste) the parametric information from the Family....The following is a re-post from this autodesk page...

Creating Type Catalogs

Type Catalogs assist you with the family selection process. You can sort through the catalog and load only the specific family type required within your project. This helps decrease project size and minimizes the length of the Type Selector drop-down list when selecting types.

See Using a Type Catalog for more information.

Although Revit includes a Type Catalog when loading structural families, you can create a catalog for any existing or user-created family. The type catalog is a comma-delimited .txt file.

Creating a Type Catalog

There are several ways to create a comma-delimited .txt file. You can type it in using a text editor like Notepad, or you can use database or spreadsheet software to automate the process.

As you create the type catalog, follow these rules:

  • Save the type catalog file name with a .txt extension; the file must have the same name and same directory path as the Revit family, for example, Doors/door.rfa and Doors/door.txt.

  • The left-most column lists types.

  • The top-most row describes the parameter format. Format is columnname##type##unit.

  • Use decimals.

  • Do not use single or double quotes.

  • Types are for length, area, volume, or other

  • For Units, use only: inches, feet, millimeters, centimeters, or meters. Leave unit field blank for type other.

  • Revit applies project unit settings to type catalog when loading family.

Example file:




Thursday, October 07, 2010

ORUG Sept.29 Meeting Notes

We had a great time last week at the Ontario Revit Users Group. Big thanks to James Vandezande for coming up to T.O. to speak.

Notes Here

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Supported Revit Graphics Hardware

The performance and stability of hardware acceleration in Autodesk® Revit® 2011-based products depends on the capabilities of your graphics hardware. For more reliable performance, we recommend that you use Autodesk-supported graphics hardware along with the supported driver version.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Revit Translation: Naming Families

There are so many names for 'Families' that it is confusing. I'm going to try and make sense of it here. I'll add on as I find new ones. Please feel free to comment:

Family: In Revit you can go to the Insert menu and 'Load Family'.

Components: Looks like this is what Autodesk is mostly calling 'Loadable Familes' inside of Revit.

Component Families: A variation of Components I've seen

Loadable Families: Refers to things like doors which you insert. Found this in the Autodesk 2010 Family Guide.

In-Place families: Nowhere in Revit, that I can see, does it ever say 'In-Place Families'. All I have found is Component-Model In-Place.

System Families: Also referred to as 'Types'.

'Wall etc' Types: System Familes. These can be loaded in through Manage-Settings-Transfer Project Standards

Styles: Sometimes this refers to annotation System Families. I've seen this describing Types as well.

Content: Usually refers to all Families in general.

Detail Components: Annotation Family

Symbol: Annotation Family which scales with the view

When it comes right down to it, pretty much everything is a 'Family' in Revit. I would like to see a little more consistency with these things. Not all the blame rests on Autodesk but I think that they are in a position to help this kind of thing.

Friday, September 17, 2010

File Formats Compatible with Revit

File formats which are compatible with Revit:


.rvt Revit Project
.rfa Revit Family
.adsk Autodesk file ie. Civil 3D terrain
.ifc BIM Interchange from ArchiCAD etc...
.dwg AutoCAD and others
.dxf CAD Interchange
.dgn Microstation 2D
.sat ACIS Solids
.skp Sketchup
.dwf Autodesk viewing and markup file

Images: Decals, Materials etc.



Images: 3D Views

.html Room Reports
.txt comma delimited schedule
.avi Walkthrough video, Solar Study

Friday, September 10, 2010

Virtual Architecture Interview

For some weekend fun you might be interested in this fascinating interview. This takes surrealism to a new level. An interview done in Second Life of real-life and virtual architects. Odd thing is, it feels so natural. Of course, Revit plays a big role...

Click Here to View

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

ORUG Meeting Sept.29 Meet the Author!

Please join us at the next Ontario Revit User's Group meeting September 29th. Come and meet James Vandezande, a co-author of the top selling 'Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture 2011'. James will be talking about his varied experiences with Revit and other BIM software in 'My Journey with BIM'.

Click Here for ORUG Invitation

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Pre 2011 Link Draw Order Workaround

You are working in Revit MEP 2010 or lower.
You link in an architectural background Revit link.
When you look at the view on the screen, your lights are on top of the greyed out architectural t-bar ceiling.
When you print, the grey ceiling lines are on top of your lights (black lines).
There is no draw order control for linked Revit files.

Try changing your printing setting to Raster. Print-Setup Button-Hidden Line Views-Raster Processing.

Note: Looks like this has been fixed in 2011.

Friday, August 06, 2010

AEC Edge - Latest Issue

Steve Stafford and Co. at AUGI worked hard to get this issue out. I was happy to be able to contribute an article. It's on p.8 called "Design Your Own Sustainable Adventure: Combining Energy and Cost Analysis with Revit". Please let me know thoughts.

Revit Annotations- Video Explanations

Annotations work great in Revit but are a little confusing to set up. I would love to see Autodesk simplify the making and editing of annotations, maybe with some kind of consolidated interface.

Text Style:
Controlled in the PROJECT FILE.
This is only for the notes and titles. You do this by editing an existing instance into your new style.

Dimension Style: Controlled in the PROJECT FILE.
These are made from the Settings-Annotation drop down menu. You can also duplicate and edit an existing dimension. The text style for the dimensions is controlled from the dimension style editor.

Text and Dimension Video

Level Head: Controlled in a FAMILY FILE and the PROJECT FILE.
This is an Annotation Family. You have to open it and edit the text inside the family. To find the file name of the family you want to edit; click on a level-properties-Edit/New-Other-Level Head (you just have to write it down or memorize it). The level linetype is controlled in the PROJECT FILE by clicking Properties-Edit/New-Line Pattern.

Grid Head: Controlled in a FAMILY FILE and the PROJECT FILE.
The same as Level Head. The grid linetype is controlled in the PROJECT FILE by clicking Properties-Edit/New-Line Pattern.

Levels and Grids Video

Section Bubble: Controlled in a FAMILY FILE and the PROJECT FILE.
Again, these are an Annotation Family. They consist of two families which have to be edited separately. One would be the bubble and one would be the tick mark at the other end. The section linetype is controlled in the PROJECT FILE through Object Styles-Annotation-Section Line.

Callout Bubble: Controlled in a FAMILY FILE and the PROJECT FILE.
These are similar to Section tags but only have one family. The callout boundary line is controlled in the PROJECT FILE through Object Styles-Annotation-Callout Boundary.

Elevation Bubble: Controlled in the PROJECT FILE.
The Settings dropdown menu-Elevation Tags and edit away.

Section, Elevation and Callout Video

Schedule Text
How could I forget? The schedule text style is controlled in the PROJECT (.rvt) and more specifically in the view properties of the individual schedule. Right click in the schedule view and choose ‘view properties’ then ‘appearance’. You can select the fonts, sizes etc. You’ll see the changes only when the schedule is dropped onto a sheet. (The font’s etc will not show in the schedule view only on a sheet.)

Titleblock Text
Titleblocks are a FAMILY. The text inside of a family is controlled within that family. Its styles do not automatically get imported into the project.


Tags are a Family. These are made externally of the project file and loaded in. You can click directly on them and choose to 'Edit Family' and load them right back in. Don't forget to

Text In Annotation Families
Text in Annotation Families are only editable in the individual family. As an example, if you were to decide to change all your text from Arial to RomanS you would have to go into each Annotation Family, including Titleblocks, and change the Text in those.

Schedule, Titleblock and Tag Video

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Better Way of Importing CAD into Revit-Continued

Here's a valued opinion to my previous post.

Andre from BIMSolutions....

Yes, this is the best approach so far. The reason I have been using this method initially was not even related to speed but to end with a problem that I faced back in 2007. At that time I had a team using Revit and another using CAD in a sort of hybrid project. I had CAD files linked directly into the Revit central file. As the CAD users kept updating their CAD files, the central file would see the changes exactly as if someone was working directly in the central file. When a local file tried to save to central, a warning would pop up saying that the central file had changes in more than shared coordinates and could invalidate the local file... To solve that, I first use this method: Xref the CAD files into a blank CAD file which was then linked into the central file. This worked well because the changes were now being done in the CAD file A which was Xref'd into CAD file B. Because no one opened or saved CAD file B, the central file wouldn't be affected and still show the changes.

Then later, with improvements on how to manage Revit linked files, I started to use this option you are suggesting and I'm happy with it so far. Just more management since before I could control layers of the CAD files directly in the main model and now I have to unload the linked file, open it to do the changes and then load it back... Also, letting the team know that trying to delete one line of the CAD files will delete all CAD files, since it is all one link... (Another tip is to create a design option and put your Revit link there. People won't even be able to select it and accidentally move or delete it, unless they know how to edit design options or realize they have to uncheck that option "Exclude Options" at the bottom of the screen...)

Anyway, the same approach can be used with elements like furniture: link your main Revit file into a blank file and add the furniture there. Then link the furniture file back into your main model. No need to carry furniture in your main model...

By the way, for the linked CAD files, the only way to make this work is to show the link by linked view. Also, all this works with 2D CAD files. I tried once with a 3D CAD file and wasn't successful making it to work.

Andre Carvalho

Vice President - Implementation Strategies

b i m s o l u t i o n s inc.
Building Information Modeling · Integrated Project Delivery

15 Polson Street · Toronto, ON · M5A 1A4
Phone: 1 (800) 413.7992 · Cell: 1 (647) 378.2728