Monday, April 25, 2011

Revit Design Adventures: The Right Foot (2)

Okay, before you go and accuse me of plagiarising myself, let me explain. I am going to be documenting the process of this 'Flapping Roof' project. The previous post explains a little about our exciting next adventure. That being said, I want to revisit some of the things I consider to be very important to the success of our project. In two previous posts we discussed the things that you must do before you start drawing walls. I'm going to consolidate these into one post for this project.

Project Base Point
Project North

Levels, Grids and Reference Planes
Simple Material
Simple Wall, Floor etc styles.
Clean and Link AutoCAD

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

Choose the correct template for the units that you will be using for the project; metric or imperial.

Project Base Point
You can find this in the Site Plan view of the default template. It's a blue circle, ignore the blue triangle. Do not move either of these icons. Simply note that the blue circle, the Project Base Point is 0,0,0 and can never be changed or moved. When and if you export to AutoCAD the Project Base Point will line up with the 0,0,0 of AutoCAD. Draw, name and pin some Reference Planes at this point. As you can see in the image above I forgot about this and didn't adjust the linked dwg or my model. It didn't hurt us but I should have known better.

Project North

Once you have found the Project Base Point, click on it. You will notice that you can change the Angle to True North. Make sure that you do this in a Site view with the Orientation set to True North (found in View Properties). There was a north arrow in our as-built dwg where we measured the angle to true north.

The location tool defines where your Project Base Point is located on Earth. 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.


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. This project did not call for the use of phases.

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 this case we had an as-built section in dwg that we could match to.

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 styles

Let'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.

Here are the original posts...

Things you must do first...

Previous Post in Series: Revit Design Adventures: The Flapping Roof (1)
Next Post in Series: Revit Design Adventures: As Built CAD, Exciting!(3)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Revit Design Adventures: The Flapping Roof (1)

The Flapping Roof 

So it can be done in Revit. Was this ever in doubt? Maybe.

AGATHOM Co. is a Toronto boutique architect who only create masterpieces in my opinion. I don't know another architect that has a full working wood and metal shop on premises. They wanted to do a design study and also get an idea if Revit might fit into their workflow.

We needed to model the building as context but focus on the roof flap. This was beyond conceptual, it was intricate and detailed. It had to be parametric so the architect could raise and lower the angle so as to find the perfect slope and position for the beams. The main focus from a Revit standpoint was to create a parametric roof flap family. During this series we will examine custom modeling, complex formulas in families, mistakes, bugs and generally pushing Revit beyond it's comfort zone. 

Our adventure starts with starting on the right foot by setting up the Revit file.

Previous Post in Series: Revit Design Adventures: Billing on Day 5 (22)
Next Post in Series: Revit Design Adventures: The Right Foot (2) 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

T-Shirts In Honour of Gregory Arkin

One of my favourite Revit blogs is by Gregory Arkin. He never pulls any punches when talking about BIM vs CAD. So, in the spirit of good natured 'tool bashing' I have started a new line of swag with a nuanced slogan...until they shut me down that is.

What Do You Constrain Results

This poll was designed to get an idea of how 'constrained' people are going with their Revit models. The poll confirms to me that most try to avoid constraints as they become very hard to manage. I was surprised by the percentage of people attaching 2D details to the model. A very small percentage try to constrain everything. I would love to hear why.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Attend New York City Revit Users Group Tonight

BIM in Facility Management
Richard Peakock from FM systems will talk about how their FM software is taking advantage of the data generated in the Revit model and how it creates a bi-directional link between Revit models and a Web service. He will show how to connect BIM data from design, construction and renovation to facility management and operations, how to do manage Space inventory, allocations and occupancy in Revit Architecture.
Rich has over 23 years of experience in the Facility Management and Architectural industries. He has been involved with CAFM and IWMS implementations including consulting, configuration and technical capacities, as well as business development and strategy.  

New Design Challenge - Winner gets a plotter!

I recently saw this on the the Revit Kid blog.

◦Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans, LA
◦Typical lot in the Lower Ninth Ward. Please see the provided site model


◦Design a low-cost, extremely low-energy home for New Orleans
◦Homes should meet post-Katrina building codes, guidelines and best practices
◦Homes should be shotgun typology and strive to create cohesive neighborhoods
◦Design should strive to achieve Passive House Standard: 
◦Airtight building shell ≤ 0.6 ACH @ 50 pascal pressure (simple, well-detailed construction)
◦Annual heat requirement ≤ 15 kWh/m2/year (4.75 kBtu/sf/yr)
◦Primary Energy ≤ 120 kWh/m2/year (38.1 kBtu/sf/yr)
◦Designs should demonstrate that affordable and sustainable homes can also be beautiful

Provided Materials 

◦Key Passive House metrics spreadsheet
◦Building site. Orientation may be changed (.dwg, .3dw, .rvt)


◦Post design model and documentation (3d and/or 2d)
◦Post Key Passive House metrics spreadsheet
◦Post images
◦Post diagrams explaining approach (optional)
◦Post video explaining approach (optional)


◦The winner of this HP-sponsored challenge will take home an HP Designjet T2300 PostScript eMFP, the world’s first web-connected printer with scan, print and copy functionality. A nearly $10,000 value, the HP Designjet T2300 eMFP helps simplify the printing process while letting teams print on the go and share files more easily than ever before. 
◦The winner of this challenge will be featured on DesignReform on the first day of the AIA National Convention in New Orleans, May 12th 


◦Submission: Sunday May 1st at 11:59 PM
◦User Voting: Sunday May 8th at 11:59 PM

More info here:

Revit Design Adventures: Billing on Day 5 (22)

Okay, let's speed this up a bit. Here are the final two sheets of the set. Details and Elevations. I already spoke about the detailing process in an earlier post. So let's get on with time and billing. No spreadsheet needed. The project took about 10 hours of billable time. A couple hours of on site measuring for confirmation, a couple hours of as-built modeling and setup, an hour of renderings, and a few more for proposed modeling, detailing and sheet cleanup. Throw in a client meeting or two and you have the ten hours. Revit projects are weighted on the setup and modeling side of things. The documentation still takes time but hardly any in proportion to modeling. 

Lessons learned:
There are lots more services we could have offered this client like quantity takeoff and construction management but the client wanted to do it themselves (can you blame them?).  
Always model where possible. Yes, it took us some more time to model the skylight wells in the first iteration but in the end the client made a very fast decision when they saw the result.
Model it like it's built. 
Don't detail too early. I didn't show it but we changed the roof thickness a few times which meant updating the detail components more than once.

Well, I think it's time we moved on to another 'adventure'. Make this real model into a Revit model. Oh, and make the 'roof flap' parametric. 

Previous Post in Series: Revit Design Adventures: Six Sheets in Six Days, Day 4 (21)
Next Post in Series: Revit Design Adventures: The Flapping Roof (1) 

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

BIM Job Opening Blog Post - Disney BIM!!!!!

BIM Job Opening Blog Post - Disney BIM!!!!!

Looks like a fun job...

Revit Design Adventures: Six Sheets in Six Days, Day 4 (21)

Why do I like this sheet so much? Sometimes it's the small things that you appreciate and in the case of this drawing it's the slope tag. They included this new tag in 2010 but the ribbon got so much attention that it went under the radar. The other thing I appreciate of this page is the lack of work and abundance of coordination. This is a true section, a true depiction of the model with no 2D needed. The phasing, skylights, gutter, kitchen, everything is 'the model'. Let's keeping moving through the days so we can discuss the billing time involved which will be on day 6.

Previous Post in Series: Revit Design Adventures: Six Sheets in Six Days, Day 3 (20)
Next Post in Series: Revit Design Adventures: Six Sheets in Six Days, Day 5 (22)

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Revit Design Adventures: Six Sheets in Six Days, Day 3 (20)

A3 is the current view we're looking at. For phasing this is a 'Phase 1, Show Complete' plan. The skylights and overhang are the actual model objects, not just lines. In other words, if anything changes with the roof or skylights the plan will reflect those changes in real time. It's important to work with this philosophy as much as possible. The structural symbols denoting the roof joists and lintels are just text and lines. They are grouped and named accordingly so I can reproduce them. This kind of thing is better served with either a tag or a family but I just didn't do it this time (shame on me). I'll do better next time, I promise.

There are a couple of reasons why I like the next sheet, A4-Sections, which you will find out tomorrow. Also, I plan on discussing the time (billing) it took to do this small job.

Previous Post in Series: Revit Design Adventures: Six Sheets in Six Days, Day 2 (19)
Next Post in Series: Revit Design Adventures: Six Sheets in Six Days, Day 4 (21) 

Monday, April 04, 2011

Revit Design Adventures: Six Sheets in Six Days, Day 2 (19)

Here we are on day 2 (business days, that is). This A2 sheet is showing the existing and demolished plans. As discussed throughout the series, if the Phasing was properly set up and maintained the construction documents were easy to do. Drag and drop the views, easy as that. The view on the left is displaying the Phase as 'Existing' and the Phase Filter as 'Show All'. The plan on the right has the phase set to 'Phase 1'and the Phase Filter is 'Show All'. The next sheet, A3, shows the proposed floor plan and structure.

Previous Post in Series: Revit Design Adventures: Six Sheets in Six Days (18)
Next Post in Series: Revit Design Adventures: Six Sheets in Six Days, Day 3 (20)