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spring 2009
5 President’s Message
6Editor’s Message
Revit Cross-Discipline
How can the introduction of
business & software systems
affect your business?
18IPD Project Delivery:
Autodesk Trapelo Road
21A Little Help From My Friends
Collaboration between Consultants
24Extending BIM Design Value
Using the Revit API
27A Trainer’s Perspective:
Key Requirements for a Successful
BIM Implementation
30A General Contractor’s Venture into
Revit Architecture
42Revit in a Large Firm
A tale of implementing Revit
45Getting Oriented with Revit’s
Coordinate System
48Key Requirements for a Successful BIM
50A Tutorial for Line Based Families
54Revit in High School
Meet Two Progressive Teachers and their program
Revit Structure
58Growing Revit Structure
60Integrating Analysis Programs with
Revit Structure
62Revit Ready - Looking Back
To be updated
CAD zation
(to come)
table of contents (cont.)
special sections & departments
Karen Popp
[email protected]
Stephen Stafford
[email protected]
Contributing Writers
Revit MEP
David Baldacchino, Jarrod Baumann,
Bill Brown, Lay Christopher Fox, Bruce Gow,
Laura Handler, Anthony Hauck, Jim Keller, Joel
Londenberg, Michelle Louw, Robert Manna,
Toby Maple, Matt Mason, Damon Ranieri, Jamie
Richardson, James Salmon, Elizabeth Shulok,
David Thirlwell, Cyril Verley & Tom Weir
66 How to Play Nice:
Sharing Revit Models Between Disciplines
69Five Steps to Success with Revit MEP:
The Reality
Production/Art Director
Stephanie Rohrer
415.255.0390 x13
[email protected]
72 Putting the ‘I’ in your BIM content:
Revit MEP families that capture design intent
Traffic Coordinator
Kali Snowden
[email protected]
76Revit MEP Implementation at
CTA Group
A Struggle with Promise
Advertising / Reprint Sales
Karen Popp
415.255.0390 x19
[email protected]
11Contributed White Paper
AUGI AEC Edge features a white paper in each issue that provides information about an Autodesk product or other
relevant recommendations relevant to the AEC industry.
Extension Media, LLC - Corporate Office
Vince Ridley
[email protected]
Vice President, Marketing and
Product Development
33Autodesk Insiders
Karen Murray
[email protected]
36AUGI Local Chapter Focus - South Coast
Revit User Group (SCRUG)
39Attorney at Large
Vice President, Business Development
Melissa Sterling
[email protected]
Clair Bright email is
in wrong location
Vice President, Sales
Embedded Electronics Media Group
Clair Bright
56Inside Track
64 Head’s Up
[email protected]
AUGI Board of Directors:
Mark Kiker
Senior Vice President
Richard Binning
Vice President/Secretary
Bill Adam
John Adams
Members at Large
Chris Lindner
Steve Stafford
Peter Jamtgaard
Published by:
The AUGI AEC Edge Magazine is published by Extension Media
LLC and AUGI. Extension Media LLC and AUGI makes no warranty for the use of its products and assumes no responsibility
for any errors which may appear in this publication nor does
it make a commitment to update the information contained
herein. The AUGI AEC Edge Magazine is Copyright ®2009 AUGI.
No information in this magazine may be reproduced without
expressed written permission from AUGI.
All registered trademarks and trademarks included in this
magazine are held by their respective companies. Every attempt
was made to include all trademarks and registered trademarks
where indicated by their companies.
President’s Message
...The brainchild of
the AUGI Board has
moved from concept to
completion. And boy was
it a long trip...
he inaugural issue of AUGI AEC
Edge is a reality. The brainchild
of the AUGI Board has moved
from concept to completion. And boy
was it a long trip.
It all started as a brainstorming idea
I shared amongst the Board members
to see if it was a good concept. After
many discussions and conversations, we decided to share our idea
with others to see if they thought it was viable. In early August
of 2008, I approached Karen Popp of Extension Media to discuss
the idea. Karen had helped AUGI in the past by placing AUGI
ads in other publications they produce with Autodesk. Extension Media was gracious enough to promote AUGI for free.
Karen and I discussed the positive impact that the industry might
see from a publication that was focused on AEC with a Revit focused premiere issue. Those talks lead to an agreement and that
agreement lead to the production of this magazine.
come to fruition and Extension Media’s partnership with AUGI
has made it possible.
AUGI AEC Edge is dedicated to bringing our members current,
actionable, practical content to those involved in the Architectural,
Engineering, Construction and Owners marketplace. The content is open to all members, but will focus on the industries that
design, engineer, construct and maintain the built environment. Design tools range from AutoCAD, AutoCAD Architecture, the
Revit platforms, 3DS Max and Design, Navisworks, programming tools and may even spill over into Civil 3D, Map, Inventor,
Maya and others as they touch this market. We are not limited to
just software, we may discuss methods, emerging trends, project
spotlights, CAD and BIM Management, education, training and
more. This is really your magazine as members of AUGI. We
encourage you to help us define what you want to see.
We plan on publishing 4 times annually so look for more to come. If this proves successful, we may branch out into other industries
that our membership may reflect and desire.
During the period of content creation and sponsorship gathering,
the economy took a major hit. We all felt it and it impacted all
of us in some way. This caused a longer lead time in the funding
process, so the magazine experienced multiple delays in production as we sought to get the word out.
Send me an email with suggestions or comments at
[email protected]
Well – it took a while longer than I imagined, but I am not in
the publishing industry. We are community builders. Extension
Media has the publishing gurus. Many thanks go to Karen for
pulling it all together. Her tireless devotion to see this effort
AUGI President
spring_2009 Thanks and enjoy,
Mark W. Kiker
Editor’s Note
going to use the
newer picture?
...Yes, this issue is focused
on Revit partly because it is
timely to do so ...
his first issue of AUGI AEC Edge is focused
on, the oft repeated acronym these days,
BIM (Building Information Modelling) and
Autodesk’s Revit platform products; Revit Architecture, Structure and MEP. We have articles for
which a portion are dedicated to each of the products
and another portion that offer the insight, knowledge and opinions
of contractors, consultants and even a lawyer!
In addition to these product focused articles we have four departments: AUGI Local Chapter Focus, Inside Track and Head’s Up.
We’ll use these to spotlight a Local Chapter in AUGI, touch on
current news, some inside “scoops”, if possible, and list some of
the recent issues posted at AUGI or Autodesk’s “Known Issues”
knowledge base. In the future we hope to include departments
for News Briefs and product, hardware and peripheral equipment
An apology!
Already? Yes, this issue is focused on Revit; partly because it is
timely to do so and partly because my life is consumed by these
products and it is where I could readily draw on talented people to
contribute articles. As Mark Kiker mentioned in his President’s
Message, assuming this issue proves successful, we have every intention of expanding the reach of this publication so that it can be
useful and relevant to our members, and others, who use any of
the many other products that Autodesk produces.
Please don’t take this initial focus as a slight toward the product
you happen to use to do your work in the AEC sector. And yes,
in this issue we have the A & E covered but no C (Civil). We look
forward to being able to include articles that more fully represent
our members interests in the future.
I want to thank each of the authors who contributed their work
to this issue. For some writing comes naturally and for others it
is the last thing they want to do. Fortunately these people also
happen to like to “share the wealth”, so to speak. It is a trait common to so many of AUGI’s members and what makes it a special
organization. A very special thank you to our volunteer authors
(in alphabetical order): David Baldacchino, Jarrod Baumann,
Bill Brown, Christopher Lay-Fox, Bruce Gow, Laura Handler,
Anthony Hauck, Jim Keller, Joel Londenberg, Michelle Louw,
Robert Manna, Toby Maple, Matt Mason, Damon Ranieri, Jamie
Richardson, James Salmon, Elizabeth Shulok, David Thirlwell,
Cyril Verley, & Tom Weir.
I also want to thank Karen Popp and Stephanie Rohrer with
Extension Media. This magazine would not be available to you
without Karen’s tireless effort to secure funding and support for
it. Editing isn’t my vocation and Stephanie made the experience
easy! Thank you both!!
It is my hope that you’ll find the information we’ve provided
useful and that you’ll support AUGI, our sponsors and advertisers. Considering the economic hardship many are facing in this
industry at this time we can all use a little support! If you have
questions/suggestions or would like to offer your talent as an author please send me an email: steve.stafford
Thanks for reading!
Steve Stafford
AUGI AEC Edge Editor
Member AUGI Board of Directors 2006-08
AUGI Revit Community Forum manager
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Revit Cross-Discipline
How can the introduction of
business & software systems
affect your business?
remember being in my mid twenties when the
concept of a duplicable-business-system was
introduced to me. My perspective about business changed forever. I found myself re-evaluating
everything I had previously understood about
smart business. I began to look for opportunities
to understand the skill behind guiding a cohesive team, consisting of individuals with their own agendas, their own ideas and
their unique ways of doing things.
Most experienced Revit users will acknowledge that there is often
more than one way to achieve a particular outcome using various
tools; however each option has a set of ramifications that need to
be understood and considered before deciding on a best documentation approach. By asking questions about how BIM-capable
software, such as Revit, can improve the accuracy and consistency
of your documentation you will instinctively re-examine previous
workflows and begin to find ways to streamline and improve the
documentation flow and output within your company.
I began to see McDonald’s as so much more than just a burger
fast-food eatery that asked you to “upsize” at every opportunity.
Developing smart business solutions is about so much more than
just mass production, greed or limiting the self-expression of the
individual. It’s about developing a strategy to create order, to facilitate communication and the sharing of knowledge in such a
way that the whole team heads in the same direction, towards
a common goal. Global statistics reflect that around 80% of all
businesses started will fail within their first 5 years and 80% of
the enterprises that survive the first 5 years will fail in the second 5 years. Let’s face it… the odds aren’t good. Systemization
is one part of the puzzle in assisting businesses in becoming and
remaining successful. So how does systemization relate to the Construction industry or
affect your specific business?
Refining your business system may involve minor tweaking of
your current business processes or just simple and consistent
documenting of team knowledge. You could introduce regular
training workshops, refine some office standards or do something
more dramatic like add a new documentation platform to your
office environment.
Introducing new software, such as Revit, into your office can initially be disruptive, stressful and daunting. Changing a primary
documentation platform will inherently raise any unresolved issues, some of which are not software related at all, but are rather
management, work flow or documentation issues that may have
remained unnoticed or unchecked for some time. This evaluation
process however can be an invaluable opportunity for a company
to refresh and review office processes and standards which may no
longer be as efficient or even as necessary as they once were. The
key to a successful implementation is to embrace this development process and to take the time to evaluate and review previous
ways of doing things.
spring_2009 feature focus
by: Michelle Louw
It is imperative to review our office processes and to challenge how
we order, find, edit, manage, distribute, update and collate data,
project files, drawings, warranties, legal papers etc. I believe that
the industry pursuit of the BIM ideal, the advancement in softwares and new technologies all raise a real threat of information
overload. Without good office systems disorganised companies
could soon lose much of their profits as they become more and
more inundated with all kinds of information.
Here are some brief examples of what a system-based-solution can
prevent, thereby saving time, frustration, inefficiency and money. • Losing a file that someone has accidentally deleted moved or
• Not being able to determine the most current version of a
working file instantly.
• Inheriting a project file where no office conventions or apparent logic has been applied.
• Finding corrupt files that have not been deleted, archived or
worse, are still in use.
• Transmittals or revisions have not been accurately maintained or managed.
• Insufficient or irregular protection and back-up of data on
• Tasks are often repeated by several team members due to
insufficient communication or a lack of shared data collaboration.
It intrigues me why some systems work well and why others are
ignored and fail. What is the secret? I think there are several factors that seem to facilitate a successful
outcome when refining a company’s processes.
feature focus
Revit Cross-Discipline
Here are some secrets to making it work:
• Management & leaders must support the new initiative and
revised system.
• Avoid creating processes that create additional workload for
teams with minimal benefit.
• A Business system and outlined processes need to be simple,
easy to follow and should reduce confusion.
• Any system worth creating is worth maintaining and monitoring. [Document management and process procedures
• Create well considered system solutions that pre-empt possible hurdles or risks of failure.
• The system is designed to improve efficiency and/or output
• Don’t try to appease everyone but remember to
consider the impacts on
other departments.
• Where possible create
processes that can be supported across several, if
not all, departments to
ensure minimal variances
in procedures. Consistency and simplicity is the
• Steer clear of creating a
system that is too inflexible.
• Resist the temptation to create a procedure for absolutely
everything. Avoid micro-management.
Once you have captured some of the valuable knowledge the key is
to reproduce it amongst your staff members. This can be achieved
in the form of reference manuals, intranet or training and inductions. If you take the time to formalise the transfer of knowledge
through various training materials you will be ensuring the correct knowledge is duplicated through the office environment and
that everyone is following the same protocols. Consider setting
a partnership/buddy programme within your firm that supports
and encourages the sharing of knowledge and mentorship.
Whilst working at Woolworths I created a Revit user guide
which proved to be a useful tool to ensure everyone was heading
in the same direction. I documented the Revit system, expected
document outputs and company specific Revit practices. This
guide became an invaluable means
to ensure existing and new staff
had a consistent reference to
work from; thereby ensuring that
six documentation offices across
Australia all produced identical
working drawings and staff could
switch across projects, if needed,
without any confusion with regard
to project and office standards as
well as content libraries.
...80% of the enterprises
that survive the first 5 years
will fail in the second 5
years. Let’s face it… the
odds aren’t good...
Knowledge and industry experience can be a company’s most
valuable asset. Essentially knowledge management offers a company some protection and ensures that valuable knowledge and
experience is duplicated throughout the office. Be sure that when
senior or long-term staff members leave your firm that they do
not walk out the door with their wisdom. Take the time to capture some of their insight and fundamental knowledge of office
protocols so that you can use the knowledge to train and co-ordinate your staff to harness team strengths. Reward personnel who
are eager to contribute to knowledge management and try and
discourage a self-centred work ethos that perpetuate an isolated
learning environment.
Here are some things that may be worth documenting:
• What are the desired project workflows and office procedures?
• How do various departments interact?
• How is data managed, edited, repaired, updated and/or issued?
• Who is accountable for documenting and updating relevant
procedures? [Security permissions]
• How should staff members be notified of changes in procedures?
In my experience Revit’s performance ability can be dramatically
improved upon by clever and disciplined principles. I have found
that a well considered and consistently followed convention for
shared parameters, family sub-categories, view templates and
family naming can make a world of difference to how data can
be controlled, maintained, repaired and monitored. What excites
me most about Revit is how the software excels in an environment
of order and how easy it can become to identify inconsistencies if
chosen standards are closely followed.
I think the key thing to keep in mind is to create systems that
are clear, simple and f lexible. See for yourself how systemization could benefit you, your team and create a better work
Best of Luck!
Michelle Louw worked for Benn Design in the
architectural and the Revit Training & Implementation division for several years. Since then
she has found a passion for system development,
content creation and Revit® management.
She has worked in national Revit System
roles for Woolworths and Mirvac Design.
Michelle is now working for PDT Architects,, in Brisbane, Australia as the Revit
& BIM Manager. She has also recently started her own blog
contributed white paper
Conceptual Design Modeling in Autodesk Revit Architecture 2010
In building design, visualizing a form in the earliest stages enhances a designer’s ability to communicate ideas; and the
ability to analyze and evaluate these forms yields an advantage in predicting and optimizing the real-world performance of
the built project. These attributes form a core value of the building information modeling (BIM) process, for which Autodesk
Revit Architecture software is purpose-built to support.
Using a speculative urban high-rise project as the model for exploration, this white paper details how CASE Design, a
design technology consultancy based in New York City, utilized the new conceptual design tools in Revit Architecture to
more easily create massing designs; explore design alternatives based on qualitative and quantitative feedback; and
address various environmental, constructability, and aesthetic concerns that arose during project realization.
1. Parametric Massing Design: The Challenge of the Building Form
While approach and attitude about design may differ from firm to firm, most designers would agree that iterative design can
lead to more optimal solutions. However, several concerns arise, such as: How does a designer find the right solution for
any given project? How can design criteria be used more effectively to evaluate possible design solutions? And finally, how
can technology help make this exploration and discovery process more informative and more efficient?
With regard to the specific project explored in this white paper, several key constraints affected the outcome of the design.
1.1 Site and Context Requirements
The site for the tower is located on the edge of a high-rise business district, adjacent to a low-rise residential district near a
waterfront. The site is an undeveloped triangular parcel bordered by two major streets. An existing secondary street to the
north of the site will be closed and incorporated into the buildable footprint of the parcel.
1.2 Programmatic and Planning Requirements
The program of the tower will be a mixture of hotel (7,000 square meters) and residential (19,000 square meters) space,
with the hotel occupying the lower section of the building.
The unusual shape and context of the site present challenging planning requirements. The design must meet the stated
programmatic requirements within a tight footprint of 951 square meters, while not exceeding 150 meters in height.
Furthermore, the design should minimize the impact of overshadowing on the adjacent buildings and streets.
1.3 Environmental Requirements
Complicating things further is a requirement calling for a building form that is designed for solar collection. With this added
requirement for energy reduction, the exterior shell of the form will utilize special photovoltaic panels to make best use of the
solar energy available to the site, which will translate to lower operating costs.
contributed white paper
2. Massing Approach: Creating the Building Form
The new Conceptual Mass environment supports both surface and solid modeling workflows. The solid modeling workflow
maintains the benefits of working with mass families, such as the use of the Building Maker tools, while also providing new
direct manipulation tools that significantly enhance the ability to create faster, iterative design models.
With these new tools, surfaces can now be created and manipulated, or they can be thickened to create solid masses. Both
surfaces and the solid faces also now serve as the basis for the new custom panel families. This white paper focuses
primarily on the solid modeling workflow—the most appropriate technique for a volumetric design—and demonstrates how
these masses can be incorporated into a Revit Architecture project.
2.1 Maximizing Buildable Volume
To visualize the extents of the maximum buildable volume, the full parcel is extruded to the maximum height (150 meters)
using the Create Form button, a new context aware geometry creation feature that replaces individual modeling commands
such as Extrusion, Sweep, and Blend.
This conceptual mass family is placed into a Revit Architecture project containing the site and surrounding context. Levels
are then used to create mass floors from the maximum buildable volume, and a mass floor schedule is generated showing a
total buildable area of 35,205 square meters.
Conceptual Mass in the Project
Mass Floor Schedule
Although these results might be ideal for the developer, they leave much to be desired from both urban and aesthetic
perspectives. In addition, city planning officials would likely have concerns. However, by utilizing the new conceptual mass
tools in Revit Architecture, these issues can be more readily addressed.
2.2 Responding Intuitively to Urban Context
For the tower to respond to its urban context, the programmatic volume requires fundamental modifications to create better
public space at the street level.
To address this, the north face of the conceptual mass is split using the Add Profile and Add Edge tools, allowing for a more
generous pedestrian walkway and providing better light and air to the adjacent building to the north.
contributed white paper
Performing this action allows the design team to manipulate the conceptual mass in a variety of ways. In this situation, the
lower section of the mass is moved away from the adjacent building. As a result of moving the east face of the conceptual
mass, an entrance plaza and public space adjacent to the low-rise residential district can be created. With the quick edits in
place, potential city planning concerns have been addressed.
2.3 Increasing Project Precision
In order to understand the impact that design modifications have on the programmatic requirements, the conceptual mass is
updated in the Revit Architecture project. Accordingly, the mass floors and corresponding area schedule in Revit
Architecture are both automatically updated to reflect changes.
With modifications in place, the current conceptual mass is now 1,990 square meters over the program target. Up until this
point, design modifications have been made graphically via direct manipulation techniques. In order to better control the
precision of future modifications, reference planes and parameters are now added, enabling increased degrees of control
through numeric input.
With the introduction of bidirectional parameters, the model is modified using both numerical and graphical means. Changes
made using the direct manipulation tools will now conversely update the numerical parameters in the model. The
introduction of parameters also provides the flexibility to make changes directly from within the project environment, giving
the design team instant feedback from area schedules.
The tower design now satisfies the requirements of both the client and city planners; however, additional steps should still
be taken to further refine the building form and environmental impact.
2.4 Minimizing the Impact of Shadows
Reducing the overshadowing of the tower on neighboring buildings and streets becomes the primary concern at this stage
of the design process. By enabling the interactive shadow tools within Revit Architecture, the design team can quickly
identify troublesome areas. To address these areas, the west face of the conceptual mass is altered to reduce the impact of
shadows on the existing towers to the west of the site. With this simple action, the project team reduces the effects of
overshadowing, sculpts the top of the tower, and verifies that modifications meet program targets.
spring_2009 3
contributed white paper
2.5 Maximizing Solar Collection
With the building form beginning to take shape according to programmatic and site requirements, consideration is now given
to designing for solar collection.
Autodesk Ecotect™ Analysis 2010 software, an interactive early stage building performance simulation tool, is used for
solar insolation analysis. After importing the building form into Ecotect Analysis, tests reveal that the buildings to the west
cast shadows across the western face of the tower, while the southern face, particularly near the top, is largely
Based on the information provided by Ecotect Analysis, the southern face is further refined in Revit Architecture. Using the
Add Edge tool, an edge is added to the south face, creating a top vertex that is then modified via direct manipulation. The
result is a decreased angle of incidence to the sun.
Performing a second insolation analysis of the updated building form with Ecotect Analysis reveals an increase in solar
radiation, indicating that the surface is now positioned to maximize photovoltaic panel solar collection.
2.6 Exploring Design Alternatives
Using the completed mass as an underlay, additional design options are more readily explored. For this purpose, a series of
profiles are created using “associative” 3D snapping, constraining sketches to the base mass, while a curvilinear tower is
lofted through these profiles.
The design is then modified by changing parameters, with revisions automatically reflected in both mass options. With the
mass family updated and loaded into the Revit Architecture project, switching between mass types can be performed more
quickly and seen together within the updated area schedule.
Parameter-Driven Design Options
Curvilinear Tower Option
The second curvilinear mass adds additional floor area, but also reduces the overall height of the building form. The result
is a new building form that still meets area targets, but also slightly reduces the shadows it creates on neighboring buildings.
3. Custom Panelization: Creating the Custom Panel
In addition to the new Conceptual Mass environment, Revit Architecture now provides an environment for the creation of
custom panel families and tools to automate their population onto the surfaces of mass forms. The result is a simplification
of a once complex technique, now making it more readily accessible to all building designers. When creating Panel Design
there are three key requirements for the design of custom panels.
contributed white paper
Solar Shading
The envelope panelization should vary in density and depth based on orientation and adjacent buildings, providing solar
shading that will minimize heat gain due to direct solar radiation.
Cost and Constructability
The designer should use precise material takeoffs and surface area calculations to assist in determining the feasibility of
different panelization designs. Additionally, with respect to the construction process, a decision should be made as to
whether off-site or on-site fabrication is the more cost-effective and appropriate solution.
The panel pattern should be iteratively studied and aesthetically related to the geometry of the mass, ultimately contributing
to the iconic qualities of the tower design.
3.1 Defining the Pattern
In order to quickly test different paneling options, the Divide Surface tool is used on the faces of conceptual masses. Initially,
the isocurves (UV) of the surfaces are displayed based on either the number or spacing specified in the options bar.
These curves and their intersections form the basis of various predefined patterning options selected from the Change
Element Type drop-down list.
Visibility of these patterns is toggled using the Pattern Visibility button. Spacing, rotation, and justification of the pattern are
easily controlled by directly interacting with the model and receiving instant visual feedback.
Divided Surface
Hex Surface Pattern
Arrow Surface Pattern
These patterns become the basis of user-defined panels created in the new custom panel family environment. After
evaluating several options on each mass, the rhomboid and hexagonal patterns are selected for their respective aesthetic
associations with the faceted and curvilinear masses respectively.
4. Designing the Panel: Panel-Based Solar Shading
The patterns are now used to understand the potential effects of orientation and solar radiation on the panels. By exporting
this model to Ecotect Analysis and running a solar insolation analysis, the project team is able to determine which faces are
receiving the most direct solar radiation and the resulting amount of shading required.
contributed white paper
The information resulting from this analysis will become useful in determining the panelization approach and the panel
configuration on each mass by informing the shape of the frame and density of the panels.
4.1 Customizing the Panels
Within the new custom panel family environment, a rhomboid pattern is used as the basis for a new panel family. The width
and depth of the frame are controlled using interactive dimensional parameters. In order to vary the density of the panels,
the project team mimics a process of recursion, where the first panel is divided into four, and then subsequently each of
these panels are further subdivided into four additional panels. Using visibility parameters, different types are created within
the panel family. This allows the project team to vary the density of the panel based on solar shading and collection, as well
as constructability and aesthetic considerations.
Finally, the faces of the frame are painted, which allows material takeoffs to be extracted from the project once panels are
Another custom panel family is created for the curvilinear mass using the Hexagon pattern. Rather than controlling the
frame width by changing a dimensional parameter, a graphical control rig is created by using offset reference planes that
drive a named parameter. Like the rhomboid panel, materials are painted on the frame, making it possible to schedule
surface area after the panels have been populated.
4.3 Populating the Panels onto the Building Form
With two panel families created and loaded into the conceptual mass model, new panel types are chosen from the Change
Element Type drop-down list, making it possible to apply panels to each face of the mass. Individual modifications are then
made to the panels based on existing solar performance and aesthetic requirements. This is done by selecting the
appropriate panels and switching between the different types that were created within the panel family. In accordance with
the panel requirements, denser panels are used in areas of greater solar exposure.
4.4 Using Quantitative Data to Inform Final Design Decisions
Now that the panelization approach for each mass has been determined, scheduling tools are used from within the Revit
Architecture project to quickly calculate the number of panels and the surface area of each material used.
contributed white paper
Since the underlying masses are controlled parametrically, the project team can continue to update and refine the design
based on this information, incorporating real-time feedback and modifications, until it is finally concluded that the preliminary
design with the custom rhomboid panel patterning is the most optimal design solution for project requirements.
This white paper and speculative project have demonstrated some of the potential uses of the new conceptual design tools
available in Autodesk Revit Architecture 2010 software. The enhanced intuitive design environment helps give designers a
notable advantage through the pairing of robust parametric modeling tools for earlier concept development with an
already comprehensive and mature BIM platform. The result is a natural extension of the Revit Architecture design
environment into a highly capable conceptual design solution for sophisticated form exploration, custom patterning, and
About the Authors
CASE Design, Inc.
CASE is a design technology consultancy based in New York City. CASE provides strategic advising to architecture,
engineering, and construction firms seeking to transform their practices through technological innovation. We help our
clients identify and implement technologies that enable more effective coordination, communication, collaboration, and
information exchange. For more information, visit us online at
Autodesk, Autodesk Revit Architecture and Autodesk Ecotect Analysis are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or
affiliates in the USA and/or other countries. All other brand names, product names, or trademarks belong to their respective holders. Autodesk reserves the
right to alter product offerings and specifications at any time without notice, and is not responsible for typographical or graphical errors that may appear in this
© 2009 Autodesk, Inc. All rights reserved.
spring_2009 7
feature focus
Revit Cross-Discipline
by: Laura Handler
How to “BIM-Enable IPD”
ost recently, I finished working on the first
IPD project on the east coast (how’s that
for a superlative), Autodesk’s AEC Headquarters in Waltham, MA. Tocci was awarded the
project with KlingStubbins in May of 2008 and
obtained the Certificate of Occupancy on January 15, 2009. My role on the project was as Tocci’s BIM Lead;
together with the BIM Lead from KlingStubbins, Sarah Vekasy,
I was responsible for the BIM (you know, Building Information
Model) on this very very BIM-enabled project. Our process wasn’t perfect; we didn’t have too many IPD role
models to look up to (I think there have been less than 10 IPD
projects in the country..ever), but it worked. I don’t know if what
we did could be replicated on other projects, by other teams, but
perhaps I can provide a jumping off point.
Some Background on IPD
I won’t pretend that I can actually explain the contractual intricacies of IPD (for that, Google Howard Ashcraft), but it is helpful
to understand a little about IPD before getting to the “how to”.
Pure IPD requires a single tri-party contract between the principle participants: owner, architect and builder. There are 4
overarching principles that support IPD:
• Early substantive involvement of key participants
• Joint risk and reward through an incentivized profit pool
– no one wins unless everyone wins
• Joint project management with decisions by consensus
• Zero litigation
Tocci held IPD sub contracts with key subcontractors that held
them to those same principles.
Figure 1: The project’s BIM Execution Plan (BEP) developed by Tocci, KlingStubbins and Autodesk
BIM-Enabled IPD requires a shared model between design and
construction. There is no “our model” and “their model”. We used
several Revit files to comprise our model. Our models were organized by discipline; everyone had access to everything, at all times.
(See Fgure 1)
Before any modeling happened on the project, Sarah & I sat
down to establish and negotiate all of our BIM Standards, which
we documented in our BIM Execution Plan (BEP), see Figure 01.
We had to figure out technical Revit things like worksets, phases,
and browser organization, but other, more “social” processes, for
instance, protocols for when a central file crashes. We also though
out some way to achieve “gate keeping” (translation: to make sure
that I didn’t inadvertently move anything I wasn’t working on),
but we didn’t end up using any of them because there was so much
trust in the team.
One of our major planning activities was merging our individual
Revit templates to create a project template. We mostly used the
standards we developed and documented in our BEP, but we did
run into some issues that we hadn’t considered. For instance, we
had to figure out how to handle the project number because we
have different project numbers (it actually wasn’t the world’s most
creative solution – we just added a parameter for a second project
number for Tocci to use).
A key component to integration for the project was co-location.
During the design period, I worked two days per week at KlingStubbins’ office, at “my” desk next to the design team. Originally,
this was only our solution for model-access – whenever I needed
to do work in the (our) models, I would just go to work at KlingStubbins. Co-locating gave me the opportunity to input content
into the model as well as export information, but the majority
of my work at KlingStubbins wasn’t actual model contribution. I
was able to review and document material selections and options,
review schedule and milestones, explain modeling strategy, plan
meetings, etc. A lot of this could have been accomplished over the
phone (and on the days that I worked in the Tocci office, it was),
but it was easier in person. (See Figure 2)
feature focus
Revit Cross-Discipline
Figure 2: Reviewing the process for modeling walls in three
More importantly, I really think that it created a sense of team
and understanding. During “their” deadline weeks (for instance,
permit deadline), I really felt the stress and tension, and on more
“fun” days (for instance, the folding paper days during design concept), I was able to understand the concept behind their design.
Since I understood why things were happening, I was in a much
better position to communicate to other team members at Tocci.
Modeling Strategy
Model strategy was big part of our BEP, but some of the items
didn’t get resolved for several weeks. Walls
We knew from the start that we would eventually model walls
as three components, in the method ala construction, but we
couldn’t figure out when. We ended up doing it a few weeks before the permit set went out. After a few discussions, we agreed
on a multi-step plan to do this. The process was too lengthy to
describe, but it started with KlingStubbins doing some organization work in the model with walls (setting wall location as: Core
Centerline). Then, I came in and started “breaking”. I had a very
systematic approach, included both tracking progress and accu-
Figure 3: Illustrating the wall breaking concept
feature focus
Revit Cross-Discipline
racy in Revit and on a printed 2D RCP (with several colors of
highlighter, of course).
The resulting walls were a little bit more difficult to work with,
but we made do. Although there were some issues with graphics
(in a view set to coarse, the edge of each wall can still be seen,
making drawings look “muddy”), I think they made detailing wall
sections slightly easier (at least that is what KlingStubbins said!).
And the walls made construction much more streamlined; we
used the model for partition layout (direct to Total Station) and
visual scheduling.
Lighting Fixtures
The lighting fixture debate wasn’t how, but where: in the architecture RVT or the MEP RVT. Architecture places the lights and
references them in design documents, but MEP needs to connect
to and coordinate with them. We knew that they couldn’t be in
both models (for quantity takeoff reasons), but couldn’t figure out
the best way to approach them for quite some time.
I won’t get into the heated debate we went through, but luckily,
we came to a conclusion just before we needed to start placing
them. The lights were placed and annotated in the MEP model,
by architecture, and then architecture referenced specific views in
the linked files.
On Site
Naturally there is a great
deal more I could write
about our experiences
once we got to work on
site. I’ll touch on just one
for this article. We posted
these renderings on site
(Figure 04 and Figure
05), so that
the field staff
would have a
better sense
of the overall
design intent
for the affected areas.
For this project, we placed
between 12
and 14 renFigure 4 & 5: Renderings installed on-site
site. Even though
we have a shared model with KlingStubbins, these are Tocci-produced renderings. We definitely benefited from the renderings
that KlingStubbins did during design because a lot of the custom
materials were already set up and we had access to all of the JPGs
KlingStubbins used.
It was really exciting to place the boards on site - when I placed
them, the drywaller came over and started discussing how the
cantilevered piece of the curved wall could be supported as well
as the ideal sequence for installing the drywall and the metal ceilings. It was exactly what we were hoping would happen!
Editor’s Note: If you are interested in learning more about this project,
Autodesk created a video and it is posted at Youtube. You can watch
the video using this web address:
She is the Virtual Construction Manager at
Tocci Building Corporation, a construction
management firm outside Boston, working to
implement and integrate virtual construction
into current practices. She began working with
Tocci, implementing VDC/BIM, in June of
2006. Laura also manages Q5, a subsidiary
of Tocci, which provides VDC and IPD Facilitation Services. Laura serves as a leader of the AGC BIMForum,
Boston Revit Users and Group and other industry organizations.
She publishes her thoughts about her work at
The Tocci Building Companies provides leading building services
throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Our philosophy is simple — we all work for the project. We collaborate with our partners to
actively serve the project, deferring individual objectives, to compel superior job performance and unqualified success. Q5 leverages Tocci’s
knowledge and experience with VDC and IPD to provide facilitation
services for projects around the world.
KlingStubbins is an internationally recognized design firm with over
sixty years of experience providing professional services in all major
disciplines within the realm of architecture, engineering, interiors,
planning and landscape architecture. KlingStubbins is committed
to design excellence and quality, in design, technology and service.
We are nationally recognized leaders in sustainable design, consistent
with our commitment to support the communities within which we
work and live. We are innovators in project delivery, including BIM
technology. Above all, we are focused on the needs of our clients, integrating their business drivers into the creative process, resulting in
projects of enduring value.
Autodesk, Inc. is a world leader in 2D and 3D design software for the
manufacturing, building and construction, and media and entertainment markets. Since its introduction of AutoCAD software in 1982,
Autodesk has developed the broadest portfolio of state-of-the-art
Digital Prototyping solutions to help customers experience their ideas
before they are real. Fortune 1000 companies rely on Autodesk for the
tools to visualize, simulate and analyze real-world performance early
in the design process to save time and money, enhance quality and
foster innovation. For additional information about Autodesk, visit
Revit Cross-Discipline
A Little Help From My Friends
Collaboration between consultants
his is a brief overview of concepts that you
can utilize when you have an all Revit environment to greatly improve collaboration
between building professionals and deliver your
projects on time with higher quality and improved
efficiency. You can begin to study these concepts
further if they apply to your project needs.
Same Version
The team must be aware of the versions of Revit that are to be
used in a collaborative environment. This is now a lot easier as all
3 Revit platforms refer to the year release. If the project is to span
across a time zone when a new release is made, the team must
collectively agree that all members will upgrade at a particular
time or not.
Same Build
It is important that each discipline is running the same build of
Revit, within each office & discipline. If this is not the case, errors
could result when a Save To Central is done. You can determine
which build you via Help menu > Product License and Information. The build is displayed at the very top as shown in Figure 1.
feature focus
by: Bruce Gow
Linking Files
Linking is the preferred method for collaboration and the subject of this article. Linking allows use of Copy / Monitor to
alert team members that a copied / monitored object has been
amended by another team. Each team is in control of its own
part of the project.
One possible disadvantage is that sometimes an element may be
created by each discipline. An example of this is a WC (toilet)
created initially by the architect then recreated by the MEP team.
Only the REvit MEP WC in their file can be connected to a Sanitary and Cold water system.
It is possible to use a workshared project in a collaborative environment, but that is the subject of another article.
Each team for a large project should have a BIM Manager as part
of their structure. The BIM manager is an experienced Revit user
who also understands, intimately, the demands of his own as well
as the other disciplines. The BIM Managers will determine and
agree to the teams’ responsibilities to minimise rework. As an example, The architects may not model the sanitary fittings for the
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Revit Cross-Discipline
reason mentioned previously. The Architects may be responsible
for the ceilings because they are controlling the ceiling height and
the grid set out. In this case, the MEP BIM Manager may determine that the light and Mechanical fittings are not to be hosted
elements. If the ceiling is moved they will need to move these
fittings independently.
Copy / Monitor tool
The Copy / Monitor tool not only copies certain elements from
the linked file to the host file, but also sets up a monitoring process
so that if a change is made in the linked file, the user of the host
file will be alerted when the linked file is reloaded. There are only
certain elements that can be copied and monitored from each of the
3 Revit platforms: Grids, Levels, Columns, Walls & Floors.
You will note that the MEP team cannot copy / monitor ceilings,
for instance. It is important to be selective about what is copied as
Revit will slow down significantly if too many elements are copied. At a minimum a team should plan to use Copy/Monitor for
Levels and Grids.
Coordination Review
A Coordination Review warning displays, when monitored
elements have been modified and linked. The warnings can be reviewed using the Coordination Review command. Warnings are
applicable to elements in the current project or between a host
and a linked project. Warnings can occur because of these violations/conditions:
• An original monitored element from the linked project has
• A copied monitored element in the host project has
• Both the original monitored element and the copied element
have changed.
• The original element in the linked file was deleted.
• The copied element in the host file was deleted
Interference Check
The Interference Check tool finds intersections between the solid
geometry or volume of elements in a project. These can be a set of
selected elements or all elements in the model. It is important to
understand that processing time using this tool can vary greatly.
In a large model, simply checking all categories against each other
can result in a report that will take a very long time and is not
To reduce processing time, select a limited set of elements or a
limited number of categories. Consider the “low hanging fruit”.
Every professional has a sense of which things tend to experience
interference coordination problems, like structure and HVAC
equipment. Interference Checking is fundamentally between
Categories of elements whether in linked files or within the same
project. Limiting the tool to a couple of expected categories at a
time mean fewer returns and easier verification/resolution. This
means that you work through the various expected conflicts to
verify if you have any at all. Once those are worked out you can
begin to search for more arcane issues by choosing their categories instead.
In a traditional arrangement, the Architect will commence the
project and get the fundamentals of the design worked out in a
digital form. The Structural Engineer and MEP Engineers will
then get this prelim design from the Architect and commence
their own design work analyzing the building’s requirements and
begin integrating their work within the context of the architectural framework. The Architect would then receive and review the
Structural Engineer’s model by linking it into their own model.
The workflow relationship between each firm is characterized by
using these features: Linking Models, Copy/Monitor and resulting Coordination Reviews and Interference Check.
What are the Engineers interested in copying / monitoring from
the Architects Model ?
Will they be used for structure or
will the structure be offset?
Level and Grid Standards
Do they agree?
Level and Grid Standards
Will they be revised? Are they split
or continuous?
Are structural walls indicated?
Are Structural floors shown? Will
they be revised?
What is the Architect interested in copying / monitoring from
the other Models ?
Sometimes, if they add new Levels
Sometimes, if they add new Grids
Primarily the Architect will run Interference Checking against
elements in the Structural Engineers Model.
Architect & MEP Engineer
The Architect will issue revisions as the project progresses to the
MEP engineer. The MEP Engineer will position the architects
design in context , create his own spaces and zones, commence
analysis and then start on the design for the MEP systems. The
MEP Engineer uses Linked Models and Coordination Monitor
as their primary coordination tools. In some cases, the MEP
team may monitor levels in the Architects design. The Architect
will coordinate with the MEP Engineer by using linked models
What is the MEP Engineer interested in copying / monitoring
from the Architects model ?
Sometimes this may be necessary
Level Standards
Do they agree
The Architect is primarily interested in running an Interference
Check against the MEP elements in the linked model.
Structural Engineer and MEP Engineer
Both parties use Linked Models and Interference Checking.
Structural Engineer
1.Receives the Architects
model, then links it into
his project model file. Uses
Origin to Origin to link.
2.Changes Visibility setting
to Architecture ( or Coordination )
3.Selects Tools > Copy/
Monitor > Select Link ( selects the architectural model )
4.Monitors or Copy/Monitors the elements in the architectural model that he deems necessary.
5.Develops the structural model.
Structural Engineer
1.Receives the Architects revised model. Saves it in the same
location as the previous version.
2.When it is reloaded, they may be alerted to changes by the
Coordination Monitor for Monitored or Copied elements
3. Follow the process outlined
above for the architect and Interference Check. Note that
comments may be accessed using
the “ In a Linked Project” tab.
You can begin to study
these concepts further if
they apply to your project
MEP Engineer
1.Receives the Architects model, then links it into his project
model file. He selects the link and checks the parameter for
Room Bounding in the Type Properties. ( Allows the linked
file to determine spaces ) Uses Origin to Origin to link
2.Changes Visibility setting to Architecture ( or Co-ordination )
3.Selects Tools > Copy/Monitor > Select Link ( selects the
architectural model )
4.Monitors or Copy/Monitors the elements in the architectural model that he deems necessary.
5.Sets up his own Spaces and Zones.
6.Develops the MEP model
1.Receives the Engineering models and links them to their
model file using Origin to Origin.
2.Review and Coordinate Review warnings and resolve them.
3.Run Interference Check between selected elements of the
linked models and theirs.
4.If necessary elect to copy and or monitor engineering levels
from the other models.
When Models Change
1.A warning dialogue appears when the revised model’s link is
2.The changes can be viewed – Tools > Coordination Review
> Select Link.
3.The Coordination review dialog reveals the alert and gives
the host the opportunity of Accepting, Rejecting or Doing Nothing. ( If a Monitored element has changed, then
Modify, Rename or Move are available )
4.The architect revises his model as necessary and reissues it to
the consultants.
spring_2009 feature focus
Revit Cross-Discipline
MEP Engineer:
1. Receives the Architects and/
or Structural Engineers model
and then links it into his own project, saving in the same location as
the previous version.
2.Review and Coordination Review items if necessary.
3.Use Interference Check. ( Tools > Interference Check > Run
Check. )
4.Address any elements identified by the Interference Check. (
Open an Interference Report ). Refresh after each conflict is
resolved. ( Tools > Interference Check > Show Last Report )
The process is reiterated. Each discipline address issues relative
to their context but in the full knowledge of the building model.
Naturally your project conditions may vary. It is important that
each firm communicates with each other frequently and that each
firm’s team understands these tools. Without them the project’s
collaboration/coordination effort may not be improved much
over existing practices.
Bruce is a registered architect who has worked
as everything from print boy to director. His
architectural background includes work on
a wide range of project types, including commercial high-rise, hospitality, health care, and
residential/commercial developments. He is a
Revit; Implementation Architect/Applications
Engineer with KarelCAD. He works in Australia and New Zealand, where he demonstrates Autodesk products;
trains and implements Revit; Architecture, Structure, and MEP; and
supports Autodesk products for a broad client base. Bruce is active
in the Revit community, organizing the Revit User Group Brisbane
(RUGB ). He is a moderator for the Autodesk User Group International Revit Community , a speaker at Revit conferences, and he
writes a blog on Revit topics called “Revitalise”.
feature focus
Revit Cross-Discipline
by: Matt Mason
Extending BIM Design Value
Using the Revit API
n application programming interface (API)
allows users and developers to extend the
capabilities of an existing application by
writing a program or script that adds new functionality to the software. The Autodesk Revit API
allows programmers to change elements in the
Building Information Model (BIM) directly or to access the data
to perform specialized tasks.
Power users and software developers are taking advantage of the
Revit API to create their own
custom tools. By using the Revit
API, they are able to enhance
Revit’s power to improve workflows and create better building
designs faster. This article will introduce readers to the Revit API
and present some of the ways that
developers and dabblers alike can
use it to supercharge Revit.
• basic design automation and configuration
• simple family creation and management
• automated export and printing
Some functions that still need refining today, but will no doubt be
better supported in future releases include:
• interactive (pick and place) applications
• larger-scale design automation
• batch automation
The Revit API is still
relatively “young,”
especially compared to
A Work in Progress
The Revit API is still relatively “young,” especially compared
to AutoCAD with its more than 25-year history of APIs and
customizations. Autodesk officially introduced the Revit API
in Revit 8, just over four years ago. Since then, it has steadily
expanded and improved. While there are still significant limitations, the API has now reached a point where it is quite useful for
solving a wide variety of problems. The key is to understand the
strengths and weaknesses of the API and whether it presents a
good fit for your particular need.
Some functions which are a good fit for the API today include:
• data extraction and import
• geometry extraction
• property manipulation
• building analysis
Programming: VSTA versus
Visual Studio
Autodesk offers two ways to learn how
to program with Revit. Developers can
choose between different programming
environments: Microsoft Visual Studio
or Microsoft Visual Studio Tools for Applications (VSTA).
For people already familiar with programming AutoCAD, the Visual Studio
approach is similar to programming AutoCAD.NET or ObjectARX, in which commands are built separately, compiled, and
then tested inside the CAD system.
Programming using VSTA is conceptually similar to Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), where developers work inside of the
CAD system and build projects to embed into a Revit document
or to keep in a separate project file.
The good news is that the debate about whether to use VSTA
or Visual Studio is rarely about the “power” of a particular approach, which was often the case when working with AutoCAD.
Weighing the benefits of VSTA or Visual Studio is more dependent on the specific project objectives—specifically, deployment
issues and who will be doing the development. Both use the same
languages (Visual Basic.NET or C#) and the API is almost
Figure 1: Manage Ribbon Tab - Macros Panel - VSTA Tools (Macro Manager & Macro Security)
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Revit Cross-Discipline
Figure 2: The Add-Ins Ribbon
identical. However, Visual Studio has approximately ten percent
more capabilities in Revit than VSTA.
toe” into the Revit API, the more serious programmer will want
to use Visual Studio. (See Figures 1 and 2)
In terms of cost, VSTA is free and included in the Revit install in
Revit 2010 products). The free “Express” version of Visual Studio has enough capability – with a few limitations. Progressively
more powerful versions come with higher price tags. The biggest
benefit of Visual Studio is that it is easier to develop applications
with secure source code. In VSTA, the source code tends to be
visible to anyone interested. There are also different approaches
to deployment of applications in the VSTA versus Visual Studio approaches. For the serious developer, Visual Studio also
provides access to a next-generation user interface, database integration, and other tools.
Looking at Visual Basic Code
The sample source code below (Figure 3) shows an example of
what programming with the Revit API is like, including scanning
the Revit project for certain elements (rooms), then interacting
with the rooms. In this case, it shows how to read information,
such as the perimeter, or write information, such as the Room
Floor Finish. (See Figure 2)
Using VSTA, all “macros” are accessible on the “Manage” ribbon
under “Macro Manager”. Using Visual Studio, the developer defines “Commands” which are available on the “Add-Ins” ribbon
under “External Commands.” Visual Studio also allows programmers to define “Applications” to run when Revit starts up,
as well as to further enhance the user interface, including making
simple Ribbon Bar Panels. While VSTA is a good way to “dip a
Configuring Revit for Add-Ins
Do-it-yourself programmers who create Add-Ins that perform
a useful function can modify the REVIT.INI file to tell Revit
where to look for the new Add-In. An example is Avatech’s Door
Mark Update add-in, which automates door mark updates when
changes inevitably occur.
To add a simple command to Revit, users can add or update the
[External Commands] section of their INI file (Figure 3).
Figure 3: Programming with Revit API Using Visual Basic
on both the AUGI and Autodesk sites specifically targeting Revit
development topics.
Figure 4: Updating the External Command Section of Revit’s INI
The “ECCount” setting (Figure 4) describes how many External
Commands are in the INI file. Then programmers need to define the following four lines (Figure 5) for each command (where
<num> indicates the number of each command):
External Applications are similar to External Commands, but
instead of encapsulating a new Revit command (which runs on
a document), the External Application works with the Revit application in general. It can be used for mundane purposes like
Figure 5: Explaining each line of information that you need to add.
setting up a customized user interface (with custom commands,
menus, and toolbars)—or for more interesting purposes like
keeping track of different events within Revit.
Configuring Revit to work with External Applications is similar
to External Commands, but in a different section within the Revit.INI file.
EACount, as seen in Figure 6, refers to the number of External
Applications and each application must have a ClassName and
an Assembly Path.
Figure 6: Configuring Revit to Work with External Applications
The Revit Software Development Kit (SDK) download, available free from Autodesk, contains a tool called the “Revit Add-in
Manager” that automates the process of loading Add-Ins to the
Revit.INI file. Commercial developers create install programs
that modify the Revit.INI file automatically, so this process is
not usually necessary for commercial software. Finally, more advanced firms may keep a centralized copy of the REVIT.INI file
that is deployed to each machine in an automated fashion.
Learning the API
Anyone can download the free Revit SDK from (
The SDK provides good documentation, beginning with the
“Help” file. It also includes a “Getting Started Guide,” as well as
a more in-depth “Developer Guide.” Autodesk has also posted a
video training class on the SDK page titled “DevTV: Introduction to Revit Programming.” Finally, there are discussion boards
The Revit API has now reached a stage of maturity where it can
significantly improve how firms leverage Revit. As Building Information Modeling continues to enter the mainstream, the early
adopters of the Revit API will have even greater advantages over
their competitors. For those who have previously performed customizations in AutoCAD, perhaps now is the time to look at the
Revit API.
Matt Mason and his software team at Avatech Solutions engineer new applications that
improve the bottom line by automating and
streamlining processes for manufacturing,
architecture, engineering, and facilities management organizations. Matt has a long history
orchestrating systems integration and software
development in computer-aided design for manufacturing. He speaks about software development at Autodesk events
across the country, and blogs at
matt mason blog spot
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What’s New in the Revit 2010 API:
(Part of the What’s New in the Revit 2010 API series)
The Geometry area of the Revit API has a few interesting and
helpful enhancements in the 2010 version.
Probably the most obvious of the enhancements were made to
support Revit’s new conceptual massing capabilities.
While there was previously a HermiteFace class to represent
the surface – we now have a HermiteSpline element for the
splines that can be created (which will probably result in many
more HermiteFaces as well – since it only takes one button to
go from spline to face).
The HermiteSpline exposes its control points and tangent
vectors (nice touch). WARNING: For those of you who have
been using Tessellation – like we have on our Earth Connector application – be prepared for an explosion of points
as Revit Users start using splines. The 5-point spline shown
above tessellated into 287 points… (I probably have to start
investing some mental energy in a “reduce” function – because
that’s pretty heavy!).
As I joked about in one of the previous posts – Autodesk has finally
broken down and added the Point concept to Revit (yes, yes – the XYZ
class was there before – but Points are now first class geometric objects).
View full article online at:
Revit Cross-Discipline
A Trainer’s Perspective:
Key Requirements for a Successful
BIM Implementation
oving to BIM is a “business decision”. It’s
less about a simple “CAD upgrade” and
more about a deliberate business decision
made by owners who know that BIM will impact
their firm at all levels. Once the owners have made
this decision, the first aspect of this venture is for
the owners to support their staff.
The key group of individuals needing the most support during
this transition is the project managers. They are the ones who
are responsible for project deadlines. They need to be told by the
owners of the company that BIM is the strategic future of their
firm and that the owners will support their needs in order to get
the job done. It is fair to say that architectural firms who have
made a successful transition to BIM have done so with aggressive
support from the firm’s owners and executive staff. Said another
way, other firms stumble with implementing BIM because their
Project Managers lack the support from the owners and their
projects inevitably return to 2D CAD.
The move to BIM is a gradual change. One should avoid an
overnight, office-wide shift to BIM. Instead, the change is done
project by project. As new projects enter the office, BIM teams
are applied to those projects. As for existing CAD projects that
are past 30% DD, it is recommended they remain in 2D CAD.
It is essential to hand pick the right project manager and team
members for the firm’s first BIM project. Look for people who are
“open-minded” and flexible when it comes to their work methods
with CAD. BIM demands great patience from a “new” user and
the PM must understand that his or her team will go through
various levels of frustration during their “first” BIM project. One
should also be looking for team members who are enthusiastic
and enjoy sharing their knowledge with others. Once the first set
of new users has gone through their first BIM project, they can be
planted into future project teams. One must be aware that once a
first team gets through the painful learning curve (and yes, it will
be “painful” at times) during their first BIM project, they become
a huge asset and support to future teams new to BIM. One other key aspect of a proper BIM implementation is the
translation of your existing office CAD standards into BIM.
Project managers can be quite passionate about the graphic quality of their projects. If the PM makes a print of a plan, section
and elevation view of their “new” BIM project and discovers that
the lineweights, dimension tick marks and text heights don’t
match their existing office graphic standards perfectly, he or she
spring_2009 feature focus
by: Cyril Verley
could potentially close the BIM project that day and return to 2D
CAD. One can expect an experienced BIM user to take about a
week to translate existing 2D CAD base standards such as title
blocks, lineweights, dimension / text styles and custom door and
finish schedules. Once the BIM standards are set, the training
of the staff should begin. If the training is done first, your first
BIM project will not have the proper office BIM standard graphic
settings. Requirements for Properly Training Your
Office Staff in BIM
When moving to BIM, it is not simply an annual software upgrade that the CAD users can teach themselves. Building a BIM
model requires the re-education of staff on how a project is designed and documented. If the users are not properly trained and
use BIM like 2D CAD, their chances of failure are quite high. If
the firm’s move to BIM is to be successful, training is required. If
training for the staff is not planned, making the change to BIM is
not recommended.
One should also consider different types of training for various
staff within an office. The most important group that requires
training first is the firm owners and senior staff. This is best
provided through a half-day presentation that explains and demonstrates why BIM is an essential business decision for their firm.
It is important that this group understands all the ramifications
of this change and its impact on all levels of their business.
The next group of users that requires training is that of the
project managers who do not use CAD day-to-day. A single day
hands-on class should be enough time to teach these PMs how to
maneuver through the BIM model, find views, add a note, check
a dimension, view a sheet and make a plot. It’s critical this group
understands and can contribute to the organization of their project with their team. If they are not included, they might become
alienated from the BIM process. This can have negative implications on the project and result in negativity for firm wide success
of the implementation. Project Mangers need this kind of inclusion in the process. The final group to be trained is the production users. Their handson class is the most intensive and will take the longest. This class
should be for “production users” who will be using BIM dayto-day. The ideal attendee for this class is a project manager or
project architect who uses CAD daily. These are the perfect users
given their knowledge and past architectural experience. They
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will be the ones to mentor the rest of the production (junior) staff.
Expect this type of class to be split into two, one-week sessions.
Training BIM with “Train the Project”®
In our industry, there are many companies that provide BIM
training (for production users) with a three-day class using a
“generic” building type that has little or no connection with the
types of projects designed in an actual office. This training has
seen some success but it is not the most effective type of training.
Instead, the “ideal” training experience for production users is
a training process pioneered by CDV Systems called “Train the
Project”® which means to train on one or two of the client’s own
“live” office projects using the client’s own computers within the
client’s office environment. This type of training has been successfully used at firms such as HOK, SOM, AECOM and NBBJ. It is
an intensely focused learning experience for the production staff,
teaching exactly what they need to know to build their live office
projects using BIM. If the questions of the users attending the
training pertain to building a curtain wall or custom stair they
designed within their own project, their class time will be more
focused and more productive.
Learning BIM is a very large undertaking. The quantity of what
needs to be learned is the equivalent of learning AutoCAD and
Architectural Desktop simultaneously. The best odds of success
come from dividing the “Train the Project” training into two
parts. The users spend their first training session going through
all the commands to build all the major categories of their project
(i.e. using walls, doors, windows, floors, roofs, noting, dimensioning, sheet setup, printing, etc). Once that first training session
is completed, the users continue working on their project for a
period of about seven to ten weeks. During the seven to ten week
period, as per the instructions from their BIM trainer, each user
will keep a log of questions regarding the construction of their
new BIM project. When the second session of “Train the Project”
training occurs, each user will present, during class time, a list
of BIM questions specifically related to their project. Once those
questions are answered, the class continues with more advanced
BIM features which drill deeper into the program and which are
always related to their project-specific issues.
There are bonuses that come with “Train the Project”:
• The production users are learning BIM.
• These same users are learning BIM by building their own
“live” office projects.
• With the guidance of the trainer, the users are also learning how to build and organize their live office project from
• By the time the first week long session of training is done,
what they have built during class time becomes their office
project going forward.
• If the BIM office standards were done properly, the users
would also be learning how to use their new office standards
during class time AND for their first project.
• Since the users are actually “working” on their office project
during class time, the firm can expect that 40 to 50% of class
time becomes “billable time” to the project.
When Should “Train the Project” Occur?
For firms interested in the idea of “Train the Project”, it is recommended not to train on a project that is in schematic design. It’s
difficult enough to learn a new BIM software program while at
the same time keeping up with ongoing project deadlines. It is
asking too much of any user to have them learn BIM, keep up
with project deadlines and use BIM as an “SD design tool” on
their first BIM project. Two out of three is okay, but if users are
told they need to do all three, there is the high probability that
their first BIM project will fail and return to 2D CAD.
Instead, this type of training should be scheduled when the office
project has been brought to the start of design development level
using existing 2D CAD. If the project is at a DD level, the major
design decisions have already been made, allowing the users to
focus on specific modeling issues during the class. In the class,
the DD set of CAD files are imported into the plan view of the
BIM model and “traced” by the users. The users then continue
building their project model while learning BIM.
Using BIM as a SD tool is possible but not for a user’s first project. Once the users have gone through a completed BIM project
in DD and CDs, they know how to maneuver through the entire
BIM program. Their next BIM project can then start at an earlier
phase like schematic design. What Happens After the First Week of
To reiterate, implementing BIM requires changes at all levels of
an organization. Once the first week of training is completed,
there are some key protocols that must be put in place if BIM is
to flourish within the office. First, the project users who have been
trained MUST remain on the project using BIM. They are new
to BIM and in order to take full advantage of the training, they
need to remain working on their project for at least seven to ten
weeks. Once they have gone through this initial learning curve
and have created their list of advanced BIM questions, they are
then ready for the advanced training class. If, however, they are
pulled from their BIM project too early and put onto a non-BIM,
2D CAD project, they will lose their BIM training within seven
to ten days and will be required to repeat the first BIM training.
Another key aspect of a successful BIM training experience is to
place the desks of all the team members close together. Unlike
2D CAD, BIM projects demand more communication between
the team members. If the team is spread throughout the office,
communication becomes more difficult among team members
and will negatively impact on the quality and quantity of their
BIM work. It is also recommended to seat new BIM users next to
experienced users. To be an experienced user, one first needs to
cross the learning curve on a tight rope. If there is someone close
by to offer slight “nudges” of help, they will make that trek more
quickly and less painfully. spring_2009
All users new to BIM will experience various levels of frustration:
it is unavoidable. The cause is a form of “2D CAD Brainwashing”.
All users new to BIM need time to break themselves from their
past 2D CAD habits. In fact, one should not be surprised to hear
comments from green BIM users such as: “I can draw this faster
using 2D AutoCAD”. Don’t worry. If you tell them to persevere
and you give them the opportunity to get through this very steep
learning curve, they will get through it and become believers of
BIM. Again, be sure to seat your team properly to reduce the
frustration they will experience.
BIM’s Return on Investment
Again, the BIM learning curve is steep. There should be no expected ROI from a user’s first project. In fact, the project might
break even or require additional time to complete. However,
once a user has gone through a DD and CD project experience,
the start of their next BIM project will be the start of ROI. So,
depending on the size of your projects, it could be five to seven
months before a ROI is seen.
But keep in mind: if your first BIM project is well built, you
should see a savings during the construction administration
phase of that project. Again, if the essence of BIM is “a coordinated document set”, then CA should be a pleasant surprise with
few change orders. Moving forward, once the team members have been given the opportunity to experience BIM on at least one completed project, a
dramatic saving of time will be realized. The BIM project teams
will not require as many people, they will produce models more
quickly and they will be able to create 3D visuals at a fraction of
the cost of sending it out of house. And again, there will be the
added bonus of a smooth CA phase.
One more recommendation for offices ramping up with BIM:
Most BIM products have all kinds of “nifty” features such as
rendering, animation, photo realistic imaging, marketing graphics,
etc. While the team new to BIM might start off attempting to focus
on these advanced features, they must be told their primary focus
for their first BIM project is a “coordinated document set”, nothing
more. Time and again project teams spend precious billable project
time on 3D graphics and lose sight of their primary focus.
Going Forward with BIM
One final thought: For years we have been numbed by all the
promises we have heard concerning what 2D CAD will fix. BIM
is now here and it could not be more exciting. During the time
your office is bringing BIM online, it is recommended to request
your business partner, your project managers and your production staff to avoid sharing any details about the use of BIM at
your office to folks outside your office.
That’s right. You should not tell your colleagues, your competitors and especially your client or contractor about the details of
your BIM usage. Time and again a project manager proclaims to
his or her client the virtues of BIM and when the client demands
results a week later, the production users are unable to perform
because they are still green to BIM. Many firms have waited
spring_2009 months to a year or more while preparing their staff before announcing their use of BIM. This is an important point to wait
until your office is fully entrenched in BIM before making any
formal announcement.
BIM’s ultimate impact within an AEC firm is the call to bring
the three major parties of a project more closely together: the
Owner, the Architect and the Builder. BIM’s effect to a three way
contract, known as “Integrated Project Delivery” is the pinnacle
of contractual collaboration. Recognizing IPD’s momentum, the
AEC industry is providing new contractual documentation such
as the AIA document: C195 Single Purpose Entity Agreement
for IPD or the Consensus Doc 301 for IPD. These contracts
consider the implications of allowing the owner, the contractor
and the architect open access to the BIM project. This accessibility hopes to keep projects on time, on budget and with reduced
construction errors. However, one must also consider the liability of a BIM as well as the potential exposure not only of all the
data in the model but also of all the inherent BIM standards of
the firm, in itself representing a substantial investment. Moving
to BIM is a sobering endeavor; one which involves support from
the owners, Executive staff and a well thought out plan of action. The benefits of BIM far outweigh the challenges and bring the
patient user closer to the real building, allowing a more complete
view of the model. There is no doubt BIM is here to stay and will
continue to impact the business of design and construction for
years to come.
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Editors Note: This article was written and intended as a companion to another article written and published elsewhere earlier this
year. In its original context this article was titled “The Business
of BIM - Part 2”. Unfortunately we are unable to include the first
part “The Business of BIM - Part 1”. If you are interested in reading this companion article you can find it here:
h t t p : // w w w . c d v s y s t e m s . c o m / c o n t e n t / i n d e x .
*“Train the Project ”training was inspired by a comment made by a client of CDV
Systems nearly five years ago. During a BIM class, this client commented that his
concern was not the cost of the training, but rather the loss of $65,000 per week of
“non billable hours” as a result of BIM training on a “generic model”. Within a week
of that conversation, CDV Systems developed its unique approach to BIM training.
Cyril Verley, founder of CDV Systems has
been practicing architecture for 23 years, registered for 18, an AEC consultant for the
past 15 years with the last 7 years focused on
Revit services (14 months prior to Autodesk’s
purchase of Revit). He can be reached at
[email protected]
CDV Systems, Inc. (, founded in 1993, is a privately owned consultancy offering a full range of on- and off-site Autodesk
Revit Architecture, Structure, MEP and CodeBook services for all user
levels for clients worldwide. For more information, please contact us at
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by: David Thirlwell
A General Contractor’s Venture into
recent phone conversation with our local
software reseller started: “Please help! I’ve
been selling a lot of Revit and Navisworks
licenses to local Contractors because they love
what BIM can do. And I’m holding a lot of classes
and most of the students are picking up the software well.” And he continued, “But, I keep getting calls a few
weeks following the training asking, ‘Now what? Now that my
team knows how to use the software, how do we do BIM?’ How’s
anyone else doing BIM? ...and I don’t know what to tell them!”
Coincidently, I was contacted by Steve
Stafford with AUGI the next day to
write an article about how BIM is
being utilized by General Contractors and its benefits.
Motivation for
adopting BIM
My Employer, Current
Builders looked to BIM
technology in order to
save money and
pursue a fundamentally improved method of delivering all of
our projects on-time, at or under budget. As a result, we have
been successfully preventing significant coordination errors
of all kinds on a full range of projects. Resources such as the
AGC’s Contractor’s Guide to Building Information Modeling
and numerous Construction Users Roundtable (CURT) whitepapers have given Current Builders’ leadership an avenue toward
changing the way we plan and perform as a company. These papers emphasize that although Building Information Modeling
is technical and quite expensive, mastering the technology can
and has had industry-altering effects. Further, applying BIM effectively offers predictable, consistent and reliable ways to plan
and prevent many problems with the entire building process
including the building lifecycle. The benefits reach all corners
of the AEC industry, much like the same fundamental technology and processes have done and continue to do for Engineering
and Manufacturing industries. The increasing complexity of the
building lifecycle processes, legal requirements, and documentation
should resolve the entire AEC industry to reduce delays, rework,
legal disputes and miscommunication. BIM presents us with
the capacity to accomplish these reformations.
Defining BIM and VDC
There are seemingly endless
variations of the composition and definition of ‘BIM’
and if there is a consensus
on the fundamental meaning then I certainly missed
the memo. Much to the
chagrin of those
who advocate
an all-encompassing
de f i n it ion
we’ve opted
to limit the
acronym to
regard the
centered on relational building data. At Current Builders and
other industry organizations, it is becoming established that
Building Information Modeling (BIM) refers to a set of tools
(i.e. the technology, toolset, or ‘means’) and Virtual Design
and Construction (VDC) encompasses the processes, goals
and concepts (i.e. ‘methods’) of applying BIM as well as other
technologies. VDC involves the
communication and collaboration between project participants
using toolsets as diverse as BIM
and product lifecycle management (PLM) systems as well as
estimating and scheduling systems.
model. Regardless of the number of team members exchanging
native BIM models, a well-managed VDC environment should
be able to leverage relevant information into BIM. The team
should also be able to extract coordinated data out of BIM and
into the field via data and drawings.
At Current Builders we have
been mostly limited to lonely
BIM due in large part to the
availability of BIM collaborators on previous projects.
Yet, we have had the luxury of
developing an effective and unrestrictive implementation plan
as well as a very practical set of
deliverables along the way. This
VDC environment allows us to
focus on our greatest immediate cost-saving potential: the
prevention of design and constructability issues. As most of
us know, errors and omissions
across all planning processes are
often discovered just before or
at any time after work has been
performed: resulting in delays
accompanied by rework and/or redesign. The delays, the rework,
and the redesign often have unintended consequences which
propagate additional issues through later stages of construction.
...applying BIM effectively
offers predictable,
consistent and reliable
ways to plan and prevent
many problems with the
entire building process
including the building
I have observed that Contractors and leaders in related
fields are less interested in the
technical ‘means’ of BIM, than
in the processes and ‘methods’
of VDC. Therefore, Contractors are trying to get a grasp
of what BIM means in the
greater paradigm of VDC and
of any changes to traditional
project relationships, such as
Integrated Project Delivery
(IPD), that may be accelerated as a result. While a flood of articles about BIM focus on what can be done using BIM, most
do not even hint at how to achieve a strategy for applying these
capabilities. This lack of strategic communication is particularly
true in regard to construction-related applications. Furthermore,
there are very few sources that describe what VDC production
might comprise for a Contractor. Implementing VDC
For Current Builders, VDC is still largely being integrated inhouse in the absence of BIM collaboration with other project
team members. John Tocci, Sr. of the AGC’s BIM Forum has
coined the term “lonely BIM” to refer to this typical, earlyadoption arrangement. This is not to say that we have or are
going-it-alone, but that collaboration with the owner, designers,
and subcontractors is performed through live meetings and/or a
semi-manual exchange of data as opposed to a native BIM collaborative environment or “social BIM.” The major distinction
is that under lonely BIM, there is a greater reliance on the competence of fewer individuals to construct the discipline-specific
BIM models: often from existing construction documentation.
VDC in the lonely BIM scenario thus relies on a single or few
project team members for the authoring of a combination of
BIMs representing each critical discipline to accurately represent the contract documents. However, a well-managed VDC
environment requires that all necessary project team members
are able to study and provide input to the BIM development. In
the Current Builders VDC environment this is accomplished
via live meetings online or offline as well as through the review
and markup of thin BIM models such as a DWF or Navisworks
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VDC in Design-Bid-Build project delivery
This delivery method inherently creates an extreme environment
for BIM and VDC and will continue to do so until all parties are
BIM-enabled and interoperability is no longer a major concern.
Don’t expect this to be the case soon. To date, Current Builders
has not yet received a BIM from an outside party for project use.
This simplifies our interoperability concerns since we are able to
define all aspects of the BIM to match our particular needs, but
also involves a significant upfront expense for 2D conversion (i.e.
interpreting the Construction Documents into BIM) thereby
limiting BIM almost entirely to a post-bid start.
The resulting fast-track nature of this VDC scenario places
Current Builders’ foremost concern with a fully-coordinated
project. The product of this coordination effort is a field package that provides both task-oriented drawings to field labor and
comprehensive visualization and planning material to project
management at all levels. As this VDC package continues to
develop from project to project, the management teams will
increasingly leverage BIM and related systems and collaborate
with other project participants to troubleshoot, update, manage and analyze the project. This collaborative effort includes all
project parties with particular emphasis on the design team and
owner early-on and then with trade subcontractors throughout
building systems coordination.
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Results from an on-going VDC project
Current Builders has developed a preliminary analysis of our
largest and most complete VDC project to help measure the
effect that the technology and processes have had on historical
costs. While the VDC process had not yet incorporated many
of the efficiencies including analysis improvements to clash detection and field deliverables, the results have been impressive. For these preliminary metrics, we used the total number of RFIs
as opposed to change orders, as they represent a more accurate
relationship to total cost over-runs. Using four very similar and
recent (non-VDC) projects as a benchmark set, we have compared slightly projected figures to the in-progress VDC project
(now just weeks from completion of the two-year project). We
were able to cut the number of actual RFIs to less than half of
the benchmark average. Additionally, many of the most significant issues were identified and resolved prior to any field work
being carried-out. As a result, the administrative, per-RFI cost
was cut to 1/5th of the benchmark average. A large factor in this
improved performance has been the comprehensive and unambiguous methods of RFI issue discovery and communication
with the aid of BIM technology.
The results of these improved numbers are dramatically expressed in the total additional project costs. Total additional
project costs include total cost over-runs + BIM / VDC costs. Total cost over-runs were calculated using: actual + projected
RFIs & Change Orders as well as estimated delay costs for the
Owner, Contractor, and Architect. BIM / VDC costs are based
upon the costs of 2D conversion (i.e. BIM creation) as well as
administrative and capital overhead (including all VDC). Using this formula, the over-runs were reduced to approximately
1/15th of the total additional project cost benchmark average
(i.e. RFI administration + Change Orders/2 + all delay costs).
For full disclosure, the average of total Change Orders on the
four benchmark projects was cut in half to provide a rudimentary, conservative method of depicting Change Orders directly
related to coordination issues: using company experience and
a rough survey of project data. Finally, with the extraordinary
efforts of the project management team as well as an effective
VDC program the project will complete months ahead of schedule whereas each of the benchmark projects were delayed many
months beyond the prescribed completion date.
Although the resulting savings in time, direct and indirect costs
are specific to the issues that arose on this one particular job, we
have seen proportionately similar results on a number of other
projects. With such impressive results, BIM and VDC have
been mandated for every Current Builders project in the future.
Where are we going from here?
Current Builders is continuously pursuing advancement in BIM
and VDC capabilities. While the greatest effort on every project is likely to center on clash detection and the resolution of
problems in project documentation, we expect that the severity
of these issues will decline as more disciplines adopt and pro-
duce designs using BIM. Thus, we are beginning to incorporate
a wider range of BIM capabilities to provide a more comprehensive set of project planning and monitoring information. We are
seeking to expand our VDC environment to incorporate 4D
simulation and 5D estimating data and expanding our capacity
to work with BIM from other software platforms. At the same
time, we are focusing a greater effort on securing design-build
and even integrated project delivery (IPD) contracts in order
to leverage BIM and VDC more comprehensively in the planning process.
Suggestions for adopting BIM and VDC
As stated in the now aged AGC’s Contractor’s Guide to Building
Information Modeling, implementation of BIM requires unwavering and comprehensive support from the very top of a company
as well as a persistent and dedicated champion to interject these
new tools and strategies. This person may, or may not have CAD
experience, but he or she should be well aware of the distinction between the responsibilities and liabilities of professionals
and the means and methods of the contractor. In my case, I was
hired by Current Builders because of my cross-discipline experience in order to address Building Information Modeling and
Virtual Design & Construction. I was chosen to research BIM,
its implementation and manage model production as well as field
application. I could not do this successfully without the full support from the highest levels of the company.
About Current Builders
Current Builders has delivered quality construction projects
throughout Florida for more than 30 years and is now performing work throughout the Southeast United States. We offer
a full range of construction management and project management services within many standard delivery systems including
design-build, design-bid-build, and construction managementat-risk. Current Builders also self-performs concrete structures
including tunnel form, tilt-wall, and Garage Beam systems. The
Current Builders team has built hundreds of successful commercial, industrial, multi-family, assisted living and government
development projects throughout Florida.
David Thirlwell is the BIM / VDC Manager
for Current Builders at the corporate headquarters in Pompano Beach, FL. David earned both
a Bachelors degree of Design in Architecture in
2001 and a Masters degree of Building Construction in 2007 at the University of Florida.
He has approximately eight years of total work
experience amongst architectural, specialty
engineering, and construction fields. He draws upon more than
fifteen years of computer hardware and software knowledge. This
experience includes numerous feature-based, parametric modeling
systems. David was hired by Current Builders in May of 2007
and was tasked shortly thereafter with an executive mandate to
explore and champion the adoption of BIM and to guide its integration into our company operations and culture.
by: Anthony Hauck
autodesk insiders
An Autodesk Design/Build Project
ello, my name is Anthony Hauck. Before
becoming Autodesk’s Revit Platform
Product Manager, I spent ten years as an
architect, cad consultant and project manager for
various design and construction firms, followed
by more than a decade in the IT department of
a large Architecture and Engineering firm. Moving from a professional design firm to a software company seemed like a major
cultural change at first, what with learning a new organization,
new profession, and new industry, but as the shock subsided, I
came to realize that I’d returned to my roots. Creating software
isn’t like manufacturing widgets as much as it recalls designing
and constructing a building.
Months and sometimes years before a developer defines his first
new variable on a project, Revit product managers are gathering requirements from a wide range of constituencies. Just as
an architect sits down with a client to understand the needs a
new building must satisfy, product managers are combing many
spring_2009 sources to understand Revit user needs. Customers meetings,
briefings, surveys and focus groups, AUGI forums and wish lists,
support requests, corporate initiatives, and Autodesk Developer
Network feedback all contribute to the product manager’s requirements for the next release.
If you have any design experience with an institutional client such
as a university, you already understand this process; you meet and
converse with many constituencies for your design. Each department, sometimes each faculty member, has specific requirements
for the new facility. Merely understanding client issues is demanding, but articulating those needs properly is the first step
in satisfying them. When the same issues arise from many constituencies, priorities for your new building or your new software
become clearer. The software product manager’s task then seems
deceptively simple. He or she must present the list of identified
problems and requests to a team of overachieving problem solvers
with one mandate: meet the customer need.
autodesk insiders
Conceptual Design
The product manager now engages in a series of discussions with
product designers, software developers, and quality assurance
testers. Seemingly obvious issues can initially appear murky to
people who haven’t talked to dozens of customers for months.
Problem statements are collaboratively adjusted, refined, and
clarified, sometimes with help from customers who raised the
issues. When everyone on the team understands the problem,
the product manager can expect them to study it for a time and
return with an estimated magnitude of the solution.
If you were designing a building for a university client, you’d be
in that pleasant time of design possibilities when clients think
they’ll be getting everything they want. Unless, of course, they’ve
built a few buildings on the campus in the past, in which case they
already suspect you’ll be telling them they’re over budget.
When it looks as if the product manager has requested more
resources than the product design, development, and quality assurance departments can offer, he or she advocates, negotiates,
adjusts scope and employs a lot of creative thinking. Sometimes
projects are deferred, consolidated, or assigned more modest
goals. Sometimes a project can be scheduled over more than one
release, splitting the research and execution. Some projects will
be reallocated to corporate development teams to produce services for multiple products. Some projects are simply dropped.
Given this task in a building design project, you might be combining science labs or scheduling them into another funding phase to
bring your project back on budgetary track, or convincing the client that two wings look a lot better than three anyway.
Most software product managers are former users of the software, and like many architectural clients, they want everything,
and they want it now. But they know that time, space, physics,
available expertise and expenditures have to be considered. Priorities are reordered, new scope is determined as we move into
the next phase.
Schematic Design
The Product Design team studies the presented user issues and
begins to sketch out possible solutions, working their way toward
a solidified design. Feature teams form around projects. Just as a
building project team would have professionals focusing on the
showcase atrium while other experts think about the best way
to organize the library, software experts and experienced designers are settling on some large decisions in various feature projects
that will guide the remainder of the development cycle, and
they’re including the product managers in a series of discussions
which boil down to a single question: Will this proposal satisfy
the expressed need?
After a few or many iterations, the team and the product managers are satisfied with the proposed solutions, development has
agreed that the various approaches are workable, and quality assurance has an idea of what they’ll test.
In your university facility project, your clients have accepted the
renderings and the basic organization of the building.
Design Development
Now designers earn their paychecks. Architects find out their decisions have unforeseen implications, and they make adjustments
to the building design. They also discover unanticipated benefits
and synergies in the design, and realize opportunities they hadn’t
predicted. The building project team researches aspects of the design more thoroughly, questioning experts of all kinds and having
many productive hallway conversations.
The same creative process applies to software design. In a highly
collaborative process, product designers will conduct rigorous
customer research on early prototypes, developers confirm that
the new feature is not destabilizing other parts of the product,
and QA is assembling test plans to ensure coverage of all the feature’s interactive permutations. The communication within the
team is constant. Product managers attend many meetings with
the team to determine how a lot of smart and expensive people
are going to spend the next several months of their lives. Time is
irreplaceable, and there’s never enough of it.
Construction Documents
Thousands of decisions make up a project. When designing a
building, you select everything down to the hinges and locksets,
the light bulbs and the signage fonts. The product design and
development departments of the Revit team make similar decisions, down to individual messages and icons, mapping out subtle
behaviors, doing their best to dramatically improve the user experience. After much discussion between all the departments, the
designs are complete, well documented, scheduled, resourced,
and ready for assembly.
About a third of the way through the Revit product cycle, developers begin coding new features. Just as general contractors will
issue Requests for Information to architects, development leads
are asking product designers and project managers to clarify intent or asking them to make a judgment call when alternatives
appear. Even as the new features are taking shape, the Revit team
adjusts as its understanding becomes more thorough.
Maybe you’ve been sent into the field for your new university
building, because an unforeseen site condition has been revealed.
The construction crew is staring at you, waiting for a decision.
On the Revit team, sometimes the software product manager is
in this position, sometimes the product designer, and sometimes
it’s the lead or individual developer, but someone makes the call,
deals with the implications, and the work proceeds.
When the project is nearing completion, the clients will start
showing up on site more often, examining the realized design.
In software, this practice corresponds to the Beta testing period
when selected customers put the developing product through
its paces, discovering issues ranging from performance lags to
autodesk insiders
display problems to unexpected interactions with existing data,
generating information for the next stage.
Punch List
Quality assurance has been with us all along, testing, advising,
and communicating some of the most urgent customer needs
they’re hearing from support. Development marks features code
complete, and the QA folks start breaking them. Through automated and manual testing, QA accumulates lists of problems
they’ve discovered along with those reported by customer testers,
and development fixes them, working in a rapid feedback loop.
Any of the various departments on the Revit team can file a problem report for investigation, but it’s QA that takes the lead, like
an architect walking through the completed building, noticing
missing locker doors and damaged sinks needing replacement. In
software development, they’re bugs, and the developers will spend
a couple of months fixing them.
Otherwise known to the Revit team as “shipping the product”.
Autodesk customers let us know how perceptive we are, or how
deficient, and we’re listening closely because about six months
before shipping the product, the product managers had already
started researching, thinking and writing about the next release,
and they want to make sure they’re on the right track.
spring_2009 Every year there’s a budget to improve your building, or your
software. You can renovate, refinish, construct additions, or dynamite obsolete sections, but you’ve got to be certain the building,
or the software, is going to stand up when you’re done. As both
architect and facilities director, you advocate for the users of the
facility and protect the integrity of the building or the software,
and ensure that the product you care about will be relevant and
useful for a long time to come.
The process of building a software release is so similar to the
architectural design and construction process that my initial unfamiliarity with the industry gave way to a quicker understanding
than I had anticipated. After more than ten years focusing on IT
support for architects and engineers, it’s been a great transition
to focus again on detailed projects to help out some of the best
clients in the world, the customers of Autodesk.
Anthony Hauck has been involved in architecture, engineering, construction and technology
for more than 20 years. As an architect, millwork project manager, software developer and
IT Director, he has always looked to technology to help solve the problems facing the AEC
industry. He joined Autodesk in 2007 as the
Revit Platform Product Manager and is responsible for the technological portfolio of the Revit vertical products
and the development of the Revit API
by: Stephen Stafford
AUGI local chapters
AUGI Local Chapters:
South Coast Revit User Group
Editors Note: This section will be dedicated to introducing our
readers to a Local Chapter. Local Chapters are the physical side
of the organization. Many members carry on real friendships
and relationships via the website but they may never actual meet
each other face to face or shake one another’s hands. Our Local Chapters on the other hand are real, face to face and every
bit as important to the organization as a web site. In contrast
many of the members of a Local Chapter may rarely interact
with each other on the web. The ideal situation, we believe, is
when our members find a balance between our real and virtual
presence as a resource. Some members don’t have an option to
attend a Local Chapter meeting because one doesn’t exist near
them. This is an opportunity to start one and the AUGI web
site is the place to find some resources and to ask for help! We
hope you can connect with a Local Chapter and if not maybe
you are the right person to start one! If you’d like your chapter
included in an article like this one in the future just send me an
email: [email protected]
The First?
This Revit User Group is one of the earliest to
form. Its first meeting was either October of
2000 or January 2001. Unfortunately we couldn’t
ascertain which is correct prior to press time. We
believe that the very first Revit user group was
RUGI (Revit Users Group International), which also started
the RUGI web site. Robert and Jerry Cox started the group in
Florida and the web site sprung from that. The Revit Technology
Corporation (RTC) funded the site as it hosted most if not all the
available content that didn’t ship with Revit already. Their site is
now closed and the content that was stored there is now in the
AUGI Exchange as well as scattered around the web at places like
Revit City.
Getting Started
South Coast Revit User Group (or SCRUG as its members know
it) was started by Jim Balding, the Director of Wimberly Labs,
the technology R&D arm of Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo
(WATG). Their first meeting had about twenty people and they
had a “Show and Tell” as well as a “Q&A” session. WATG provided the venue as well as food and drink. Jim and WATG were
very early adopters as they were part of the “alpha” evaluation
group of firms that were approached by RTC, these early previews
were simply called “pre-release version X”. From all accounts, Jim
is early adopter #4. The group decided to meet quarterly. The average attendance was around 35
people for the first few meetings.
A couple years later at the encouragement of the membership,
Chuck Keeley (the Building Territory Manager for Autodesk)
and Autodesk the group started
meeting monthly.
have to wait outside until we were done with the presentation,
everyone signed. He started to demo release 1.0 claiming it to be
7.0. Keep in mind that this group now had some very experienced
Revit users, one who shall remain nameless who actually used
release 1.0 too, and they were all lured in although some were
a bit confused, including the local territory sales manager from
Autodesk. Sadly Jim couldn’t
keep the charade going very
long because he was trying so
hard not to laugh. When he saw
that even Chuck Keeley seemed
to buy it he gave in and told everyone the truth after just a few
minutes but every person was
fooled or at least a bit confused,
Mission Accomplished!
...AUGI and the Revit users
in Southern California
certainly appreciate their
In February of 2002 Autodesk
and RTC announced a slight
change in plans, Autodesk intended to purchase RTC! The sale
was in the spring of 2002. With Autodesk came some changes to
the group, namely in the form of more support. The group found
sales staff and local resellers were willing to help offset the cost
for food and beverages as well as Autodesk sending various staff
to present at meetings when they were already in the region for
other reasons. The group had previously enjoyed visits from some
of the RTC staff but the frequency of these visits increased a bit as
well as how much could be shared with the attendees.
Special Guests
A little name dropping, the group got to meet Leonid Raiz and
Irwin Jungreis who together founded RTC. David Conant, who
is the first person hired by RTC with a professional architectural background which makes him around employee #3, visited
the group at various times both before and after the Autodesk
purchase. The group also met Marty Rozmanith (original Product Manager), Matt Jezyk (current Product Designer) and Dave
Lamont (CEO of RTC).
April Fools 2004
One meeting (April 1, 2004) in particular holds a special place
in Jim’s memory. At the time I had recently joined WATG myself and Jim was planning the next meeting and discussing the
agenda. He had just been given permission to show the soon to be
available release 7.0 and he mention to me that it would be interesting to compare release 1.0 with 7.0. At some point during the
discussion it changed from comparing them to using 1.0 as an imposter for 7.0. Jim couldn’t resist and took it to another level. He
contacted Steve Burri, the product support manager at the time,
and asked him if he could provide a fake but convincing looking
Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) that Jim could ask the meeting attendees to sign. There was also an accompanying cover letter
explaining the importance of the secrecy and how Autodesk had
reduced the executable and file sizes by using “stack-bit data packing”. This gave a certain legitimacy to the charade.
As the meeting began Jim made a big deal out of the NDA signing
process, even saying that anyone who wasn’t willing to sign would
spring_2009 department
AUGI local chapters
Favorite Memories
While preparing this article I happened to speak with Chuck
Keeley and he shared a couple of his fond memories with me.
“For me one of the most memorable things Jim ever did at one meeting was when a newbie asked how easy it was to learn Revit and Jim
asked him, “Have you ever seen Revit or used it before?” He answered
no. Jim asked him to “take the wheel” and sit behind the laptop. He
asked him to draw a wall without offering any help. He did it. Then
Jim asked him to put a door in the wall. He figured it out.”
And one more.
“I remember when our member Donald Sutherland walked into a
meeting for his first time at WATG. I said hi and asked him if he was
a Revit user. He said he just bought it a few weeks earlier. I asked him
how it was going so far. He replied that he had finished 10 projects
already (they were mostly home additions)! I was shocked so I asked
him where he was trained. He said he trained himself with the tutorials and visiting the AUGI support forums. That just proved to me
that Revit was intuitive and that smart dedicated people could learn
it on their own.”
Passing the Torch
In 2005 Jim decided it was time, after five (5) years, to pass the
leadership of the group on to someone else. The group held an
election in May 2005 and there was a tie between Jay Holland
and Miguel Cuevas so they both agreed to share the responsibility
to run the group. Jay and Miguel have both worked for a number
of area firms that have been using Revit for many years now. Jay
recently started his own consulting firm called BIM Mentors. Today the group meets at the offices of LPA, Inc. in Irvine, CA.
They still meet on the third Thursday of nearly every month. We
say nearly every month because occasionally they cancel a meeting around holidays, otherwise they meet very regularly. They
now have between 30 and 100 people at the meetings these days,
higher numbers when the presentations are particularly compelling as can be expected. Their greatest draw is usually the eve
of new releases. For the Revit 2009 release they had to split the
meeting into two separate sessions. The current membership is
AUGI local chapters
in excess of 400 people. SCRUG is an affiliated AUGI chapter.
They require little support from AUGI and they receive sponsorship support from Autodesk via Chuck Keeley and local resellers
so that membership remains free.
SCRUG spawned, in some fashion, nearly all the current users
groups in Southern California which boasts quite a few now!
Specifically these groups were formed by members of SCRUG:
RUGIE - Revit User Group Inland Empire (Scott Davis), SDRUG - San Diego - Revit User Group (Cathy Hadley), LA
RUG - Los Angeles - Revit User Group (Tom Weir & Jay Zallan). There are others and there may be some past relationship
with SCRUG that we are unaware of at this writing. The following image (Figure 1) shows the current compliment of the Local
Chapters focused on the Revit platform products in Southern
[bim]x blog spot
Jim certainly put a lot of effort into the group over the years and
now Jay and Miguel have been ensuring that the group stays
strong. AUGI and the Revit users in Southern California certainly appreciate their dedication. The group would not have
enjoyed the high quality food and beverages as well as first class
venue accommodations without the dedication and care provided
by area firms, the Autodesk resellers and Autodesk. So we’d (I say
“we” as a member of SCRUG myself and as an AUGI member)
like to say thanks to Chuck Keeley (Autodesk), Ray Dube (L.A.
CAD/U.S. CAD), resellers KELAR, CVIS, Microdesk and host
firms WATG, LPA, Carter-Burgess and CH2MHill.
Revit focused Local Chapters
Los Angeles
- LA Revit User Group (various firms host)
- LA MEP User Group –Arup
Long Beach
- LB Revit User Group – LB Community College
Orange County
- South Coast Revit User Group – LPA
- OC Revit Structure User Group – KPFF
- OC Revit MEP User Group – LPA
Inland Empire
- RUGIE (Revit User Group Inland Empire) WLC & HMC
San Diego
- SD Structural User Group
- SD MEP User Group – Barnhart Heery
Figure 1: Local Chapters Focused on Revit in Southern California
It just wouldn’t have happened without you!!
Thanks to Jim Balding, Chuck Keeley, Scott Davis and Jay Holland for the back story and fact checking.
Compiled and written by: Steve Stafford
My Take on Navisworks 2010
I just read through Volker’s post on Navis 2010 and found it very
informative, but of course, I have comments of my own! I enjoyed
particpiating in the 2010 beta, and was thrilled to see some of my
requests come to fruition (probably because everyone else was requesting them too!).
The updates to the interface (ViewCube & Steering Wheel) are
helpful. Although I initially hated ViewCube, I really like it now
and am happy to see it in Navisworks (and I love that we can actually turn it off, too!).
And yes, as Volker mentioned, there are improvements to the
measure tool, sectioning and visualization (finally - a horizon in
But I think that the most important improvements weren’t included (or weren’t covered in great enough detail) there.
First and foremost, shared coordinates are finally recognized from
Revit. So now, we don’t have to worry about ‘Override Transform’
just because someone set up the various models out of allignment.
I see this fix as a huge benefit to collaboration. Often times, we
have no control over where other parties place their model (in reference to 0,0,0). (The next step will be to recognize ‘New UCS’ in
the AutoCAD export, right Richard?)
Yes, viewpoints are exported from Revit, but graphic overrides
aren’t maintained. We’re a little frustrated with that.
The improvements to clash detection are really exciting. Clash reports are normally so cumbersome, with hundreds or thousands of
clashes in a list. The ability to organize things by folders is helpful;
the automated “group clases involving item” is even better. New
graphic abilities in clash detection are really helpful: the animated
transition from clash to clash, the ability to view a clash in context
and the transparent dimming will be really helpful during coordination meetings. Oh, and we appreciate the additional clash status
of “reviewed”, but why can’t we make custom statuses?
We love this release - in fact, we’ve already upgraded to it (still using beta of course) for current projects because the new features
are worth it.
View Laura Handler’s blog online at:
by: James L. Salmon, Esq.
attorney at large
Achieving IPD in 3D
Achieving Integrated Project Decisions, Design and
Delivery through Collaborative Agreements, Building
Information Models and Lean Construction Methods
The Integrated Revolution
Building Information Model software, advanced
hardware, lean construction methods and related
business process improvements enable Integrated
Project Delivery that saves time and money while
improving building quality. Integrated Project
Delivery (IPD) is revolutionizing the building industry.
One critical element in the successful implementation of IPD
is the ability for professionals to quickly see problems and solutions through visual relational databases that are known in our
industry as Building Information Models (BIM). When combined with proven Lean Construction methods BIM produces a
surprising array of benefits.
BIM and Lean Construction dramatically improve business
processes and enhance productive and profitable collaboration
among industry professionals whose interests have traditionally
been adverse. The advanced visuals and professional collabora-
spring_2009 tion inherent in BIM and Lean Construction have lead to another
critical element; new contracts (Collaborative Agreements) that
enhance confidence in these new business processes, reduce risks
and increase rewards. Deploying BIM and Lean Construction
methods through Collaborative Agreements in an IPD environment results in IPD in 3D™.
Success of IPD in 3D ™ Teams
IPD in 3D™ is the innovative project delivery model advocated
by Collaborative Construction Resources and bolstered by a new
generation of Collaborative Agreements. IPD in 3D™ empowers
owners, designers, contractors and others involved in the building industry to use new visualization tools and processes with
confidence. IPD in 3D™ also empowers stakeholders to achieve
integrated Decisions, Design and Delivery, all of which are critical for success.
IPD in 3D™ enables proactive use of information-rich BIM and
proven Lean Construction methods within the framework of a
attorney at large
new generation of Collaborative Agreements to create graphic
representations of key project data that prompt better decisions,
more complete and timely designs and more efficient delivery and
production. Teams that use IPD in 3D™ tools and processes save
time and money while improving quality.
Government reports, industry BIM Awards, and independent academic case studies demonstrate integration produces
high-quality projects on-time and under-budget. Sophisticated
consumers of complex design and construction services are demanding collaborative teams utilize integrated decision making
processes to enhance design and delivery, which in turn saves
time and money and increases quality.
Intelligent and effective use of these powerful new tools and
processes is enhanced by new legal instruments. Over the past
several years, a new generation of legal agreements known as Collaborative Agreements has begun to emerge.
Insurance industry statistics indicate approximately 80% of all
construction claims originate with owners or members of the
project team. Contractual provisions that substantially reduce
the number of such claims -with
contractual waivers and laddered
collaborative dispute resolution
mechanism - will, at a minimum,
reduce litigation costs and project
related insurance premiums. But
use of these innovative Collaborative Agreements in an IPD in 3D™
environment have the potential to
revolutionize project delivery in
many other important ways that
reduce costs and shorten construction schedules.
2008 and the latest generation of AIA IPD Documents released
October 17, 2008. Collaborative Agreements recognize and leverage the critical nature of parties’ relationships. This new generation of
agreements is based on existing and valued relationships while
traditional transactional agreements create legal relationships
without reference to the
quality of the underlying relationships.
...Intelligent and effective
use of these powerful
new tools and processes
is enhanced by new legal
Collaborative Agreements Serve as the
Keystone that supports IPD
Integrated Project Delivery has been touted in the U.S. building industry for many years. Only recently, however, have the
disparate legal, design and construction communities coalesced
behind a project delivery model that empowers stakeholders to
take advantage of design and delivery innovations simultaneously.
The keystone that supports the effective and simultaneous use of
innovations manifested in BIM and Lean Construction methods
is the new generation of Collaborative Agreements.
The ConsensusDOCS 300 Standard Form of Tri-Party Agreement for Collaborative Project Delivery, released in September,
2007, was the first such agreement released on a national scale
and was quickly followed by similar offerings from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The Integrated Project
Delivery Guide, (IPDG) created by the AIA California Council
and published nationally by AIA, provides a good overview of
Integrated Project Delivery concepts and serves as a backbone
for the AIA’s new General Conditions Document, AIA A295-
deployed in an IPD in 3D™
environment enable use of
advanced visualization tools
to align economic interests
for the benefit of trusted business relationships over time. Key provisions include those
that call for waiver of claims
related to decisions made by
consensus, laddered dispute resolution mechanisms, the use of
third party independents as dispute reviewers and the use of
“pain share-gain share agreements.”
Traditional contracts can be modified to include or accommodate many of these approaches but are often executed with no
such modifications.
Waiver of claims for consequential damages related to decisions
made by consensus is a critical feature of a fully functional Collaborative Agreement. Such waivers do not mean the parties will
never disagree or have disputes, it simply means that an entire
category of claims will be eliminated by consensus of the parties
and claims that do surface among the parties will be resolved
through predetermined steps outlined in “laddered” Alternative
Dispute Resolution (ADR) provisions contained in the Collaborative Agreement. spring_2009
attorney at large
Laddered ADR clauses are not new, but the use of an Independent Dispute Reviewer or a Dispute Review Board as a step on
the ladder is more unique. ADR mechanisms can be rendered
even more effective if the parties agree to forego traditional litigation and adopt binding mediation / arbitration as the ADR
mechanism on a project wide basis. Collaborative enterprises that develop a high level of trust among
team members are better positioned to act in their combined strategic interests and to successfully respond to evolving economic
and technological environments. Experienced project managers
consistently confirm trust is important to successful project delivery.
Binding subcontractors to these innovative resolution mechanisms can be a bit tricky as lien statutes in most states bar parties
from waiving their lien enforcement rights. Good local counsel
can help you craft joining agreement that address these issues,
and still bring your subcontractors on board as collaborative
members of an IPD in 3D™ Team.
IPD in 3D™ and the innovative tools required to achieve it offer a
foundation from which IPD in 3D™ Team Members can pursue
trust based business methods.
Building Trust is Critical to Achieving PD
in 3D™
IPD in 3D™ is best implemented on projects with authentic collaborative teams formed at the insistence of enlightened owners
willing to invest in high quality planning, design, production and
delivery efforts. IPD in 3D™ Teams cannot be formed in the absence of trust. Collaboration and trust cannot be established in a
vacuum and require committed stakeholders who clearly see the
potential rewards of their collaborative efforts. None of the tools necessary to achieve IPD in 3D™ can be successfully deployed in the absence of open and honest communications
among team members using IPD in 3D™. Building trust among
IPD in 3D™ Team Members is a difficult, but critical process. Trust is the foundation for organizational commitment to any
collaborative endeavor. Collaborative teams, especially of the
caliber required to achieve IPD in 3D™ must build trust among
the various team members.
The new generation of Collaborative Agreements that form the
contractual framework for IPD in 3D™ are a PRODUCT of the
parties trusted business relationships, not the BASIS for those
trusted business relationships. Consumers of Building Industry Services
will Benefit from IPD in 3D™
Sophisticated consumers of building industry services see increased efficiency and productivity in almost every other sector
of the economy. They are stunned and dismayed when the construction industry insists on delivering services in accordance
with project delivery methods that date to business processes
developed in the aftermath of World War II.
spring_2009 James L. Salmon, Esq. President, Collaborative
Construction Resources, LLC is a collaborative
consultant and the creator of these IPD in 3D™
concepts. Salmon advocates the use of advanced
BIM technologies, Lean Construction methods,
Collaborative Agreements and other IPD in
3D™ processes. His Collaborative BIM Advocates group provides free membership, national
networking opportunities, custom symposiums and online webinars.
James Salmon, Esq would like to thank Michael Bordenaro, CoFounder of the BIM Education Co-op™ for editing assistance with
this article.
Don’t Think Do-Revit blog spot
Pain share gain share agreements are another key to the success of
an IPD in 3D™ Team and are an excellent mechanism for aligning economic interests of team members in advance and ensuring
all parties are working together to achieve integrated delivery in
ways that optimize the whole, rather than the disparate parts. These agreements are complex, but well worth the effort.
Entities and persons who deliver design, construction, maintenance and others services to the building industry must adapt to
the use of innovative new tools that increase efficiency and productivity or find themselves and their companies at a competitive
disadvantage. Those who master these tools will have a competitive advantage in the dramatically changing economic market
place. Those who don’t will fail.
Some thoughts about Revit files
STC is no more. Now it’s SWC. To me this is harder
to say and awkward. I think I may just stick with
saying “sync” from now but am saddened by the loss
of the revit language. STC was one of those phrases
that you knew you were part of an exclusive club being a “reviteer”. Say the password and you get to join
our club. Oh well. Autodesk obviously thought it was
confusing to users. “Syncronizing” is more appropriate to what you are actually doing.
To view this blog online go to:
feature focus
Revit Architecture
by: Robert Manna
Revit in a Large Firm
A tale of implementing Revit
My name is Robert Manna and I am a staff architect/BIM implementer. I’m writing to share our
implementation story with the hope that it will
help you to help others as we all work to change
our profession(s) or possibly to confirm and validate your own firm’s experience doing so as well.
Starting out small (in a big firm)
In December of 2003, my firm’s involvement with Revit began
with a single project team of four people who decided to try
this up-and-coming piece of software on a high-rise residential
project. At the time Burt Hill had about 350 staff members in
six regional offices. Today, Burt Hill now an international Architecture, Engineering, Planning and Design firm has 1,000
people in 12 offices spread around the globe. During this time
of extraordinary growth, a team of dedicated individuals have
worked together to implement Revit
architecture as our tool of choice for
Architecture and Interior design and
documentation. Now, five years later
we’ve used Revit for over one hundred
projects and a majority of our Architecture and Interiors staff have been
trained to use Revit.
advantage of this new approach to design and documentation
with these developments in technology? None of the attendees
knew it at the time, but that meeting was the start of our BIM
implementation. Even at that point we made some key decisions
that have guided our efforts over the years.
The critical philosophical point was our vision of Revit as one
piece of a larger practice change, from a 2D document-based
workflow, to an information-model based workflow. Revit would
be one of a set of tools we will use together, to drive building
The first and most critical decision was a strategic one: Implement BIM broadly across the whole organization. Not only
did we want to see all offices adopt the technology, we wanted
everyone to move at the same rate, and to work together as
much as possible. When
it came time to plan how
we would achieve these
ends, we looked at a number of approaches, but a
few important points bear
Revit would be one of a
set of tools we will use
together, to drive building
Firm Structure
Burt Hill strives to be a single firm
and while each office has unique attributes the distribution and
application of new tools like Revit and a process like Building
Information Modeling (BIM) are considered important enough
that they should be applied in all offices in the firm, as equally
as possible. In 2006 our CEO issued a challenge for the firm
to plan to be 100% BIM by April of 2009. How have we done?
We’ll answer that a little later. The decision to issue this deadline
was based on a handful pilot projects that took place in various
offices over the previous three years. The first pilot ran for almost
a year before two more pilots started almost simultaneously in
early 2005.
Getting Started
In the fall of 2005, representatives from the pilot project teams
met to discuss the status of Revit and whether it was worthwhile
to continue to use the software. The purpose of the meeting was
not just to evaluate Revit, but to consider this new work flow and
the tools that were being used; was there an opportunity to take
A major decision was to
focus on education and
training, which we described as “training our way out of this mess.” Burt Hill
historically provided internal training, for example on
2D Microstation, and it became apparent to us that
our own Burt Hill experts could provide better
relevant training and coaching than external
trainers we were familiar with. External
trainers knew (but not always) which buttons to push, but too often missed the
critical impacts that changing software
and workflows have on practice.
Another choice made after that meeting was that the effort to implement BIM
should be done as a “project” with a separate
budget and manager, not simply an “IT” effort. This was important as the majority of
the “team” has been made up of professionals whom also practice
architecture (and what they teach).
Thanks to these early decisions and planning, our efforts have
met with reasonable success. The largest project to date is the
completion of our second pilot project, the 120,000 sq ft Dorrance Hamilton Building. Another important measure, we
believe, is that we have had very few employees who wanted to
go back to using CAD. People at times might be frustrated, or
angered by limitations or bugs in the software, but they want to
remain engaged with the software.
We are very proud of our own education program. Initially when
there were only a few projects we engaged in two day blitz sessions to teach and help start a team off on the right path. As
the number of projects increased we decided this required a real
education curriculum. Using “college” as a model, we started and
continue to develop a broad series of courses broken up by skill
level and topic, with identified “tracks”. In 2008 we delivered
more than 100 courses, with 68 course hours available to
teach. The courses teach not only which buttons to push,
but how to apply the tool(s) in practice, best practices,
and any issues/limitation that may exist.
As part of the system, our educators never teach in their home
office as we find that it lends greater credibility to our educator
because the students are not already “too” familiar with him/her.
This way they don’t walk into a class with predetermined ideas
about their expertise. As part of our education effort we’ve also
invested in a wiki to document the curriculum and provide a
source of information that all users can contribute to.
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Revit Architecture
We have been very successful getting feedback from our user base
as well as providing information. For example we do a monthly
e-newsletter via e-mail. It is short and follows a set format and
the text is kept to a few sentences or bullet points with images
as necessary. This allows us to provide useful, quick and easy to
absorb information to everyone. We solicit feedback using our
Survey Monkey account. The surveys were originally born of the
desire to get immediate feedback when an education course is
complete, however we’ve also found it useful for learning what
users need in the way of content, or what we can do better to
serve their needs. Surveys are a “window looking into” our professional staff, allowing them to
guide and participate more directly in our BIM
In the last five years there are some things we know now that
we wish we knew then!
Perhaps the biggest thing that we did not fully grasp when we
started was the impact the process of change would have on
our firm and business as a whole. We have since learned that
it is critical to “manage expectations” and set realistic goals,
otherwise it is very easy to lose support and momentum.
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Revit Architecture
2D CAD has historically been the application of “drafting technique” to the computer. The concept that our “finished” product
(drawings) is actually a by-product of another process (modeling) is not something always easily “taught”. Therefore we strive
to have staff, who have a diverse range of professional experience
and opinion(s), participate
in the implementation to ensure that we have a balanced
approach to serving all the professionals within our business.
Plan, plan, and plan
some more
While we have done a fair
amount of planning, what we
never did, due to our organic
growth was to truly sit down
and define a clear set of goals;
or what it would mean to be
successful (particularly after
the CEO’s deadline).
It is critical to reward
hard work and loyalty. A
$30 steak, or even a trip
to Autodesk University
is a small expense when
compared to the latent
knowledge highly involved
staff carry with them...
We have found that the change
in process affects so much of
our business that the bigger
task has become change management. In fact the specific
software we are talking about does not actually matter to us
nearly as much as we must teach the process change of “modeling
to design and then document”. However, this type of change is
disruptive to the process of our core business, which is delivering completed designs. The fear introduced by such change must
be dealt with, and the only way to deal with it, is to plan and
strategize for it.
Rewarding effort
It is critical to reward hard work and loyalty. A $30 steak, or even
a trip to Autodesk University is a small expense when compared
to the latent knowledge highly involved staff carry with them,
particularly when going to great efforts to train and disseminate
knowledge. The ability to recognize these people also requires
that the senior management of the firm support this process of
transition. As such we are continuously modifying how we work
to embrace the future, trying to find new ways to measure what
and how we do our work. There are any number of ways to show
talented and motivated staff that they are truly appreciated and
it is critical to success considering that this transition involves
such a high degree of change.
As part of the willingness to plan, we have also been willing to
pay the cost. The core planning group of about six people have
regular conference calls, and meet in person quarterly. Smaller
project teams like the education group also talk and meet regularly. The effort to transform the process by which we practice
our business has reached beyond “IT”, which has required us to
realize that while we might see that there are certain outcomes
for the firm that would be beneficial, there are only specific goals
that the BIM Implementation team can reach on their own. We
cannot for instance, change our
Human Resources department,
or our business technology
group. We must operate within
certain constraints.
Burt Hill continues to work
hard at our BIM implementation. Earlier we wrote that our
challenge was to be 100% BIM
by April 2009. We revised this
earlier “simply stated” goal to,
being able to support 100% of
Architecture and Interior projects using Revit as the primary
tool, which we believe is a subtle
but critical distinction. It is
“easy” to turn teams loose with
the software and hope for the
best. It is a completely different
matter to be able to do that and
have successful projects. The key is being able to provide the support required to achieve that success.
We also have to be patient. Considering the typical size and design schedule of most of our projects, we have yet to see very
many “returns” on projects designed using Revit. To date, we’ve
had three large buildings (nearly) completed as well as a variety
of small projects. 2009 and 2010 will be when we start to see a
great deal of our work actually built and we look forward to seeing the finished buildings!
Robert currently lives in Philadelphia with
his wife Krista, herself a Revit expert, and is
planning an eventual move back to the Boston
Area. Robert graduated from RPI and has
been with Burt Hill for six years, working on
a number of projects including the Dorrance
Hamilton Building. Robert currently divides
his time between writing curricula, lending
support to project teams, and managing content firm wide. In 2008
he received a Burt Hill Internal Research Grant to explore Crowd
Simulation as a generative tool. Sometime in the future he’ll work on
a real project and build a house outside of Boston (designed in Revit).
Robert blogs at and can be reached via
e-mail at [email protected]
Revit Architecture
Getting Oriented with Revit’s
Coordinate System
ost new Revit users that make the
switch from a CAD platform often find
themselves a bit confused about Revit’s
seemingly invisible coordinate system and unfamiliar terminology. On closer inspection one
can draw many similarities between the two. The
following is an imaginary conversation between an inquisitive
newcomer and a seasoned Revit user…
What are Shared Coordinates?
All design applications need a coordinate system to locate objects
in space. Revit’s coordinate system might seem invisible at first,
but it is there nonetheless! In fact, it is very similar to the one
in AutoCAD. The Project Coordinate system in Revit is fixed,
just like the World Coordinate System (WCS) in AutoCAD. But
what is the User Coordinate System (UCS) in AutoCAD equivalent to in Revit, you might ask? In Revit it is called the Shared
Coordinate System, and just like a DWG can house multiple
UCS’s, an RVT project can have multiple Shared Locations.
What does the “Manage Place and
Locations” in my project do?
This dialog is equivalent to the one in Autocad where you can see
the various named UCS’s. Each Named Location stores a unique
feature focus
by: David Baldacchino
Shared Coordinate System (a unique origin and orientation). The
read-only text box “Angle from Project North to True North”
displays the rotation between the Project Coordinate system and
the Shared Coordinate system for the selected Location. Project
North is the Y axis of the Project Coordinate system, while True
North is the Y axis of the Shared Coordinate system of the current Location. (See Figure 1)
Where is my Project Coordinate system
When you start a new project from the “default.rte” template, the
Origin is located somewhere near the center between the elevation annotation. There is no visible cue, but there is a simple way
to locate it accurately. Assuming you have Autocad, start a new
DWG file, draw a “crosshair” centered on 0,0,0 (WCS) and keep
a saved copy handy. Now link this file in a Revit plan view by
using the Origin to Origin option. This will line up the WCS of
this DWG to the Project Coordinate System origin. The “crosshair” in the DWG marks the origin and orientation of the Project
Coordinate System. You can mark it with some reference planes,
pin them to prevent unwanted shifting, and then delete the link.
Remember that this coordinate system is unmovable; the origin
and orientation are fixed, just like the WCS. You could do this in
Figure 1: Manage Place and Locations
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Revit Architecture
orientation, you can use the “Specify Coordinates at a Point” tool
or acquire coordinates from the aforementioned “Origin” DWG
when located at the Project origin. (See Figure 3)
Figure 2: DWG file linked using Auto - Origin to Origin
your office’s project templates so everyone can easily identify the
Project Origin. (See Figure 2)
Where is my Shared Coordinate system
When you start a project from the default template, you will find
that there is already a location called “Internal”. In contrast to
Autocad, a Revit project always has a Location, whereas a DWG
does not need to contain a named UCS. “Internal”’s Shared coordinate origin and orientation coincide with those of the Project
Coordinate system. It is important to note that changes to the
Shared Coordinate system are automatically saved to the current
Location. If your Shared coordinate system has been modified
and you want to control the location of the Shared origin and
I’m not following what you mean
by “acquire coordinates”. Could you
elaborate further?
There are two ways to modify a Shared Coordinate system. You
can do that by Acquiring Coordinates from a DWG file/ RVT
project, or you can Specify Coordinates at a location. Typically,
we would use the Acquire tool when linking in a DWG survey
or a Site RVT project, after positioning and orienting the link
properly in relation to the building. This procedure is the most
“transparent” and does not require us to be bothered with origin locations. When you acquire coordinates, the host project’s
Shared Coordinate system is aligned with the DWG’s WCS or
to a UCS that Revit recognizes, or to the linked RVT project’s
Shared Coordinate system.
I tried this but Revit says that it cannot
acquire coordinates from a model
with multiple named locations. What’s
If this happened when acquiring from a DWG, then Revit found
multiple UCS’s that it recognizes and doesn’t know which one to
use. You can acquire from DWG’s that have only one recognizable UCS. In the absence of such UCS, the WCS will be used
instead. The same will happen with a linked RVT project containing multiple named locations. In these cases, you might have
to manually specify coordinates at a point to locate your Shared
Coordinate System.
There is however another way to acquire coordinates in such
situations. Select the link, go to its properties and at the bottom,
click that little button on the right (probably it is saying “<Not
Shared>”). In the “Share Coordinates” dialog, click the “Change”
button and select the UCS or Location you want to record as
your host project’s Shared coordinates. Then select the “Acquire”
option and click “Reconcile”. Since Revit is also not capable of
publishing coordinates from projects containing multiple locations, this technique will help you achieve that goal too.
What’s all this about publishing
Acquiring forces your project’s shared coordinate system to align
to the link’s UCS or current Location. Publishing does the inverse: it takes your shared coordinate system and forces your
link’s UCS or current Location to align to it. When you publish,
you need to save these changes to your link through the Manage
Links dialog if you want to retain them, which will modify the
linked DWG or RVT. If you forget, Revit will present you with
the option to do so when closing your project.
Figure 3: DWG file linked using Auto - Origin to Origin
Earlier you mentioned that Revit
recognizes certain UCS’s in a DWG link.
How does it do that?
Revit recognizes a UCS in a DWG if the name is prefixed with
“REVIT60-”. So for example if you name a UCS as “REVIT60spring_2009
Site”, Revit will display this as a Location called “Site”. If there
are other UCS’s that do not follow this naming pattern, Revit
will ignore them.
depend on the active view’s orientation. For the purposes of this
example, let’s assume that True North is 30 degrees off the West
of Project North.
What happens when I use the tool “Rotate
True North”?
This tool has to be used in a plan view set to True North orientation. When you use it, you’re changing the orientation of your
Shared Coordinate’s Y (True North) and X axes in relation to
the Project Coordinate System. The default rotation point is your
Project Coordinate System’s Origin (another way of pinpointing
that origin!). Keep in mind that if you rotate about a point other
than the Shared origin, the Shared origin will be relocated along
the circumference of a circle with radius equal to the distance between the Shared origin and the rotation point.
When you Rotate True North, the end result will seem as if the
building turned in the same direction as your specified angle, but
the model geometry doesn’t actually move.
a) If you link into a plan view set to Project North, the DWG
will be oriented so the Y axis is vertical in your view, regardless of whether the option is checked or not. In other words,
the Y and X axes will coincide with the Project’s Y and X
Imagine you have 2 sheets of glass on top of each other: On the
bottom is the Shared Coordinate system and on top is the Project
Coordinate system and the model geometry tied to it. Let’s say
you rotate 20 degrees clockwise. Since the view is fixed to True
North, the bottom layer doesn’t move and the top layer (the Project Coordinate system and model) rotates 20 degrees clockwise in
relation to the Shared system. But keep in mind that the Project
Coordinate system is fixed, so in reality the Shared Coordinate
system has rotated by 20 degrees anticlockwise! This is why when
you rotate True North in one direction and you have a linked
DWG or RVT placed by Shared Coordinates, it will seem to rotate in the opposite direction in a plan view set to Project North.
If unlike me, you don’t care about understanding exactly what is
happening “behind the scenes”, I suggest you think of this tool
as “Rotate Building with Respect to True North” instead, which
will help you to better visualize the end result.
What happens when I relocate my
When you use this tool, you’re relocating/moving the Shared Coordinate system’s Origin by a certain distance in any direction.
The same effect can be achieved by using the Specify coordinates
at a Point tool, where you can also specify a different angle between Project North and True North, achieving the same thing
as the Rotating Project North tool. If you pick a point that is not
the shared origin and specify a different angle, the Shared Coordinate System will rotate around that point, thus displacing the
Shared Origin to another location relative to the rotation point
as explained earlier. This is hard to see in a view set to use True
North, so to study this behavior, tile two windows: one set with
True North and one set with Project North. It will be a lot easier
to observe this behavior.
What does the option “Orient to View” do
when I link/import my DWG?
This option is only available when “Current View Only” is unchecked. When “Orient to View” is selected, the end result will
spring_2009 feature focus
Revit Architecture
b) If you link into a plan view set to True North, the DWG’s
Y and X axes will match the Shared Coordinate’s Y and X
axes. In this case, the Y axis will be vertical in your view. If
the option is unchecked, the dwg’s Y and X axes will match
the Project’s Y and X axes, which in this case would result in
your link being rotated 30 degrees to the East of True North.
Another way to think about this is consider that most elevations
drawn in cad are in Model Space and using a Plan orientation, of
the possible 3D view orientations in AutoCAD. In a plan view
in Revit, if you import an elevation file and leave this option unchecked your elevation will “lie” on the floor. If you import this
file into an elevation view and leave it unchecked it will still “lie”
on the floor. However, if you Check this option the file will now
be oriented parallel to the view and “stand up” like a proper elevation.
When I use the Specify Coordinates at a
Point, it shows my Elevation as 4’-0”. Why
is that?
This happens mostly when picking something in a plan view in
the host or linked project, and is less common with flat DWG
links. The tool is actually picking an edge at the cut plane of your
view, which is probably set to 4’-0”. To get the exact elevation, use
the tool in a 3D view to be sure you are picking the correct point.
Oh look at the time! This feature is quite capable but it does take
some getting used to. Next time around we’ll tackle the new features
in Revit 2010 as well as continue our dialog! Thanks for reading!
David Baldacchino works for SHW Group in
Texas where he practices architecture and also
helps manage their BIM implementation effort.
He is passionate about Architecture & Design,
but also cares a lot about the project delivery
process. He presented Revit classes at Autodesk
University 2008 and they were very well received. He is currently serving as Product Chair
for the Revit community at AUGI. He writes the Revit blog: Do u Revit?
I do! Its focus is on the Revit platform, discussing techniques, software
issues & bugs as well as sharing tips and discussing BIM topics. He
married in 2003 and now he and his wife Lori just recently left on a
journey of a lifetime hoping to be able to adopt a child from the Ukraine!
Blog Address:
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Revit Architecture
by: Christopher Lay-Fox
Lay Christopher Fox
Key Requirements for a Successful
BIM Implementation
eaders of AUGIWorld Magazine may be
familiar with my series of articles on Revit
Architecture and Revit Structure. I’m very
pleased to be contributing to this issue of AUGI
AEC Edge. In this article I’ll cover some “best
practices” with Revit Architecture when working with Interiors.
The first topic I’d like to cover concerns a Revit object that you
can’t see in most views, the Room. Rooms hold information about
the spaces they define. They pick up borders from walls, floors,
ceilings, roofs and user drawn room separation lines. Rooms
automatically know their dimensions: being able to subdivide a
design by area and volume puts an immense amount of useful information at your fingertips. Whether your buildings are small or
large, relatively simple or intensely complex, proper use of rooms
will enable you to collate and display spatial properties and calculations quickly and effectively. Rooms combine with the Color
Scheme property of orthographic views (plans, elevations, sections) to let you place color fills instantly. The ability to represent
copies of a floor plan side by side, colored by department, floor
finish or other variable--and to change these views in real time-makes a designer’s conversation with clients or reviewers quicker
and more complete.
The real utility of rooms appears not in colored views, but in the
prosaic Room Schedules you can set up in any building model,
even small residences. Room schedules allow you to slice and dice
the spatial information you have painstakingly created by placing all those walls. Quantity statistics for floor coverings, wall
finishes and applied decorations are automatic and reliable when
you place and schedule rooms. For commercial properties, design
firms can now consider facilities management services as a possible revenue stream because tracking room occupancy over time
is so easy.
Here’s my “best practice” tip No. 1: Create a room schedule in
your project templates and fill it in with rooms named according
to your usual practice. Even with the smallest residential projects
where you will not bother to number rooms, you will re-use the
same room names (living, bedroom, bath) over and over again;
save yourself some repetitive typing and pick the name of the
room you are placing in a project off the available list. Revit will
show the rooms in the schedule as Not Placed until you create
room objects and assign them. (See Figure 1)
Figure 1: Create your room names in an empty schedule, and
assign rooms from the list
The second schedule to create, if you have any sort of room classification system, is a Room Key schedule. In this schedule you
define room types, or Room Styles, the name Revit will give this
schedule by default. The name you give the Key in a Key Schedule
is available as a field in your regular room schedule, so you can
assign a key to each room. The Key Schedule will include other
fields, such as finishes; each row is a room style that defines finish
values. In the room schedule, you assign styles to rooms to drive
room finish designations, which will save repetitive typing even
if you have only ten rooms in your project. If you design office
towers, hotels or commercial spaces, Room Key schedules are not
optional companions to your room schedules, but the efficient
way to populate values that will inevitably repeat. Once you create “Carpet 1” and “Carpet 2” as floor finishes they will appear in
a list so you don’t have to type the same thing over and over, but
picking several values in room property fields or in each row of a
schedule is simply asking for needless error to creep in, besides
being a waste of time. (See Figure 2)
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Revit Architecture
Figure 2: Room Keys, from their own schedule, fill out fields in the Room Schedule automatically
If you know your room types before you know your rooms, create
your Room Key schedule first, and
making your Room Schedule will
be slightly simpler. As with a Room
Schedule, once you have a working
Room Key Schedule, put it in your
project template!
Figure 3: Finish Schedules
provide totals by Finish type.
You can collect finishes to get convenient area totals by making very
simple schedules that do not have to
appear on document pages. As with
all schedules, you can export these
to spreadsheet applications
very quickly. Save to the
same file name and location
to provide updated figures
as the project develops.
Figure 4: Energy and ventilation
properties of Spaces in MEP
spring_2009 My last point about rooms
takes us out of Revit
Architecture, at least temporarily. Room elements
are important and useful in Revit Architecture;
their equivalents in Revit
MEP—Spaces--are fundamental. Spaces in MEP
hold energy usage information such as lighting and
ventilation requirements
and heat loss calculations.
MEP puts the required
fields into the properties of
pre-existing or new spaces,
and the user populates the
values during MEP operations. MEP places spaces
automatically where rooms exist. Revit Architecture can read
these fields, but does not create them by any currently available
tool, although you can always create custom parameters. (See
Figure 4)
My point is this: green design requirements will only grow in importance over the coming years. Energy usage calculations will
very soon be part of most if not all building applications. In Revit,
room objects are the vehicles for energy information. The rooms
you place in Revit Architecture for spatial calculations are used
by Revit MEP to provide energy use parameters. External energy analysis packages can read and work with the data in Revit’s
rooms to verify energy consumption for a given design. Firms
designing energy-conscious buildings will develop methods of
combining room spaces, systems data and external energy calculations so that they can iterate designs to reach sustainable design
goals. It all begins with the room.
Chris Fox is the Revit editor for AUGIWorld,
and has written numerous articles on Revit Architecture, Revit Structure and Revit MEP. He
has written Autodesk Official Training Courseware for Revit Architecture and Revit Structure
and Introducing and Implementing Revit Architecture 2009, published by Autodesk Press.
Chris recently moved from the US to Australia,
and is leading training classes in Revit through corporate, university
and technical school contacts there. You can reach him at [email protected]
feature focus
Revit Architecture
by: Toby Maple
A Tutorial for Line Based Families
his short tutorial is intended to introduce
you to the Detail Component Line Based
Family. It will show you how to make your
own “arrow” that can be used to indicate a sloping slab, a stair “down” arrow or perhaps a simple
leader without text. Keep in mind that there
are many practical examples of line based detail
component families in the stock libraries of metric and imperial
Detail Components.
Let’s get started!
There are two family templates for “2 pick” families or otherwise
known as Line based Families (similar for Imperial content).
• Metric Detail Component line based.rft
• Metric Generic Model line based.rft
In a default installation of Revit these reside in C:\Documents
and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Autodesk\RAC 2009\
Metric Templates
Metric Detail Component line based.
Figure 2: Checking the Family Category Assignment
Figure 1: Choosing a Family Template
1) File menu → New → Family→ Metric Detail Component line
based.rft (See Figure 1)
2) Settings menu → Family category and Parameters → Detail
Items → You can’t change this. This how Revit knows what category
to put the object under. Whenever you start a new family you have a
second chance to assign the correct category with this dialog.
3) Design Bar → Family Types→ Click New to add at least 1 new
Type – if you don’t do this (See Figure 2) your family may not
update properly when reloaded into a Project. (See Figure 3)
Figure 3: Add a new Family Type
Note that you cannot delete or rename the Length parameter as
it has been locked out by the developers.
4) Click OK
5) Settings menu → Object styles - Add your Company’s predefined Object Styles before you Load this into any Project!!!
Otherwise you will end up with unused sub-categories. Let’s use
the subcategory “ARROW”. Click OK
feature focus
Revit Architecture
Figure 6: Adding Labels/Parameters to Dimensions
8) The Parameter properties dialog appears. (See Figure 7)
Figure 4: Add a object style
6 ) Sketch using Reference LINES to make controlling the arrow
head angle possible. Reference Lines have actual endpoints that
honour their location whereas Reference Planes do not. Always
use Reference Lines to define Angular constraints. Add dimensions to control the angle within the family.
Figure 7: Creating the Angle Parameter
Name: “Arrow Head Angle”
Group: Dimensions (This is where it will appear in the properties
dialog box in the Project)
Choose “Type”, not “Instance” (This means all Family types of the
same family will use this parameter)
Figure 5: Sketching/Adding Reference Lines
7) Add Angular dimensions between the new Reference Planes
and the existing Reference Plane. Click on “Label” on the Options Bar and select Add Parameter.
spring_2009 9) Test your work! It is important to “flex” the family to make
sure it works BEFORE adding any more geometry or line work.
(See Figure 8) Change the angle if it works move ahead, otherwise figure out what went wrong now. It is no fun to backtrack
when you encounter a problem only to learn it was a minor thing
you did many steps earlier.
feature focus
Revit Architecture
Figure 8: Testing/Flexing the family
10 ) We need to add a parameter to control the head length too.
ADD Dimensions (It is important to dimension from the inside
to the outside, Revit takes this into account when trying to control the dimension parameters.)
Figure 10: Define Head Length Parameter
Figure 11: Creating new Family Types
Figure 9: Dimensions to define Head Length
11) Apply Labels to each dimension according to the figure 10.
This time it is an instance parameter so I can control each families
head length independently to other families. (See Figure 10)
12) Create “family types” so there are several “Angled Heads”
within the one family. (See Figure 11)
a) Open Family Types Dialog again
b) Click Rename
c) Rename the existing Type 1 to 45°
d) Add a few more types as shown in Figure 12 and don’t forget
to change the parameter “Arrow Head Angle” to match your
new types.
Figure 12: Adding new Angle Family Types
TIP: To create a degree symbol for fonts that support it: With Numeric Lock enabled on the numeric keypad, press and hold the ALT
key and then press 0, 1, 7, and 6 on the numeric keypad. Release the
ALT key. You can also copy and paste a symbol from the Windows
Character Map application if a degree symbol is part of the font that
you are using.
TIP: To get the copyright symbol, same as earlier! The Copyright
symbol © code is ALT + 0169.
14) You may want to add a “Control Double Arrow” to make it a
bit easier to flip in a Project. (See Figure 15)
13) Time to add the line work and constrain it to our Reference
Lines as we now know these work. Click on “Lines” from the Design Bar and select “Arrow” from the Type Selector. Remember
we created the Object Style earlier? (See Figure 13)
feature focus
Revit Architecture
Figure 15: Adding a Control - double arrow
15 ) Save the family and load it into a project, test your work!
Figure 13: Line work using Pick and Lock
Use the Pick and Lock Option. You will also have to change your
dimension “Head Length” to dimension the Head linework not the
Ref Line in the previous step. Flex the family a few more times to
make sure it all works by opening up the family Types Dialog and
changing the name drop down and clicking Apply. (See Figure 14)
Congratulations! Your first Detail Component Line Based family! These are the essential steps for any such content. Remember
to define the Reference Planes or Lines first, then add dimensions
and parameter followed by testing. After testing proves your concepts are working then add the line work!
Good Luck!
Toby is driven to manage HASSELL’s ongoing
implementation of Autodesk Revit globally, as
part of their Building Information Modeling
(BIM) solution. He has extensive expertise
in overcoming challenges in introducing this
technology across organizations. As the Revit
Systems Manager for Woolworths Limited, he
implemented the BIM standards, methodology
and workflow, created content, and trained 20 existing personnel as
well as 5 external drafting companies (total 100+ people) in these standards. He then worked for AEC Consulting Services implementing
& mentoring the use of Revit into many organizations and differing
disciplines. He also taught Revit students (through AEC Systems)
scheduled training and on-site. Toby is the Group BIM Manager for
HASSELL. He manages the Revit system nationally, and specifically
BIM as a methodology, not just as a drafting tool. He has 3 children
under 3 years old - so nothing fazes him anymore!
Figure 14: Flexing the Family and “Built By”
feature focus
Revit Architecture
by: Mark Kiker & Steve Stafford
Revit in High School
Meet Two Progressive Teachers and their program
Who are they?
They are Glen Stevenson and Bill Brown and they
are full-time “Drafting” teachers at Santiago HS.
They think that their school may be the only one,
at this time in the state of California, that has two
full time teachers like them. Santiago High School
in Corona, CA is located near the I15 and I91 interchange. There
are about 4000 students in the comprehensive high school that is
part of the Corona-Norco Unified School District.
About the Program
They put together an Architecture/Engineering/Manufacturing/Computer
Animation program that utilizes Autodesk’s software such as AutoCAD, Revit,
Inventor and 3D Studio Max as well as a
couple other products that are not part of
the Autodesk portfolio. The Corona-Norco
Unified School District is very supportive of
Industrial Technology programs like Engineering and Architecture. Greg Lomeli, their
Curriculum and Instruction support at the district level, has been an invaluable supporter of the
program. He facilitates the acquisition of all the expensive hardware, software, and training necessary to
run a progressive Engineering and Architecture program.
Santiago Students start out in a course written by Glen and
Bill called “Intro to Engineering and Architecture”. Students
start by sketching and board drafting, Yes, using parallel
rules and triangles. Bill says, “We feel students need to
physically measure utilizing decimal inch, metric,
and architecture scales to get a better sense of proportion. They need to be able to layout drawings,
scale drawings, project views, and letter according to industry standards”. Santiago students
make blueprints, how very
their drawings
and, after a re-
view, have the opportunity to make revisions if they are not up to
industry standards.
Their goal is to guide and if necessary change the mindset of their
students so they understand that drawings must be correct, not
close to correct. If a change has to be made, they make it! In their
first quarter students do not touch the computer, they are learning
the physical side of things as mentioned before. Students start AutoCAD training during their 2nd quarter. They utilize AutoCAD
to draw mechanical objects utilizing orthographic projection and
dimension their work using ANSI standards. During their 3rd
quarter they utilize AutoCAD to create a set of construction drawings. The students are given a design problem, a small residential
program, to solve and create the Construction Documents. During
their 4th quarter they utilize AutoCAD and SketchUP
to create 3D
architectura l
and mechanical.
coming out of this first
class have a decent
skill-set and are ready
for the next step(s) in the
Students that are
interested in pursuing Architecture
as a career take
Bill Brown’s
Architecture Design classes. Revit is used to create the working
drawings for student designed work. Students get 180-360 hours
of Revit training and practice through the 1-2 years they spend in
the Architecture Design classes.
Inspiration and Achievement
Six years ago Bill saw a
Revit 5.1 workshop at
Santa Barbara City College and felt it was the
future. A month later,
ADT was gone from his
program and Revit was
implemented. Since then
some students that have
been part of this Architecture design program
have won the last 5 California SkillsUSA/VICA
state championships in
Architecture and have
been in the top 8 in the
nation for the last 3 years
in a row. Students in this program have worked right out of high
school for Revit-using companies such as Friedmutter Group,
WLC Architects and HMC Architects just to name a few. Students attend AUGI Revit User Groups in Rancho Cucamonga
and Irvine to network with professionals and learn the latest Revit trends.
25” architecture class at RCC-Norco is now a Revit training class.
Bill is currently teaching the class, but hopes to turn the class over
to a Revit professional next Fall.
Engineering Too!
Santiago students also have an excellent pathway in Engineering.
Glen Stevenson takes them from the Intro to Engineering class to an advanced
CAD class that utilizes Autodesk Inventor to design or reverse engineer
and draw parts to industry standards.
They also study Design Manufacturing where students use Inventor along
with MasterCAM software to produce
parts utilizing CNC (computer numerically controlled) technology. Santiago
students entering Engineering schools
have a big advantage in that they know
how to graphically communicate their
design ideas (with current technology)
to industry standards before they step
foot on a college campus.
feature focus
Revit Architecture
...“We feel students need to
physically measure utilizing
decimal inch, metric,
and architecture scales
to get a better sense of
proportion ...
A State Grant
Bill recently won a state grant to provide training to teachers,
from the middle and high school levels to the community college
and university levels, in California to properly use Revit software
through 14 monthly workshops. Professional Revit users are
currently teaching teachers how to use Revit at Santiago High
School once a month on a Saturday from 8-4. Bill recruited some
really knowledgeable Revit users from a variety of local firms and
consulting organizations to teach each session. The workshop
topics include Schedules, Families, Massing, Site
work, Structural, Construction documents and
details, Central files and Work sharing,
Graphics, Materials and Rendering,
Integrating other software programs
into Revit, and Curtain Walls/
Storefronts. The best part is the
workshops are FREE to the
teachers! The grant also paid
for software to begin implementation of Revit training
at Riverside Community
College (RCC). The “ARE
spring_2009 The Future
Santiago’s Architecture and Engineering program is always looking for potential employers of its graduating students, as well as
to find excellent guest speakers. Their fundamental goal is to prepare their students for real work. They strongly encourage their
students to pursue summer internships while they are in college
to gain “real-world” knowledge that will enhance their college
experience, and better prepare them to be productive employees
immediately after college. For Bill and Glen, their belief and effort in this program has provided some of the most rewarding
moments of their careers.
If you’d like more information about their program you can reach
them via email:
Bill Brown: [email protected]
Glen Stevenson: [email protected]
This article was prepared/edited by Steve Stafford from documents
provided to AUGI AEC Edge by Bill Brown.
by: Stephen Stafford
inside track
The latest Autodesk AEC
related information!
web address:
A little bit about them in their own words: “Autodesk Labs is home to innovative new technologies and collaborative development. Its mission is to
involve you, the customer, in the progress of design
technology solutions. We’re not a beta program
(although Autodesk does have an active beta
community), or a usability team, because the
technology we work with is too new to be
a product. The user feedback that you
provide to Labs is really on product
ideas, while they’re still in an early
conceptual stage. The best way
to learn about Autodesk Labs
is to start experimenting
You can use this
address to visit
their “About” page:
There are two recent
additions specifically focused on Revit products; Revit
STL Exporter and RDB Link Tool for Revit.
We’ll give you the information you need here to
find them there.
Revit STL Exporter Posted on April 4, 2009
Blog Post title: Revit STL Exporter now in
the labs
web address:
What does it do?
“It is a proof of concept tool that is
intended to be used with the Revit 2010
products. They write, “It is designed to
take a 3D Revit building information
model and create an STL file that can
be used for 3D Printing. We invite
you to take it for a spin and see what
you think. We look forward to hearing
your feedback”.
RDB Link Tool for Revit - Posted on May 7, 2009
Blog Post Title: RDB Link for Revit Family No Available on
Autodesk Labs
web address:
What does it do?
Quoted from the Lab’s
overview: “The RDBLink
tool allows the user to export
data from the elements in a
Revit project and maintain
relationships against data that
exists outside of Revit. The
tool allows for both import
and export of the project data
and will allow the user to
make changes on the database side that affect the data
within the project once imported. Also, during subsequent exports
of the data to the same database, only data from the project will be
affected, so any new fields or tables added to the database for your
own purposes will remain intact along-side the newly exported data.
The RDBLink import tool provides a grid view of the data to allow
the user to make any final edits before import. This grid control also
allows the user to create Revit Shared Parameters which will add
new fields for those parameters to the database in the related tables.
Changes to these new fields within the database will update these
Revit Shared Parameters upon future imports.”
This blog is not sanctioned by Autodesk but belongs to Zach
Kron, an architectural designer and software analyst with
Autodesk. Using the tagline “Practical Notes on Making
Impractical Things” Zach has been posting very interesting examples of “impractical” things that
he has made while “proofing” or
“testing” the new massing capabilities of Revit 2010.
...The user feedback that
you provide to Labs is
really on product ideas,
while they’re still in an
early conceptual stage...
The Revit Clinic
Using the tagline “Preventative and Rehabilitative BIM Care”
authors Harlan Brumm, Kathryn Poulos, Ryan Duell and
Jeremy Smith contribute posts that deal with issues reported to
them in their roles in technical support as well as tips to avoid a
trip to the clinic in the first place.
The Building Coder
Using the tagline “Blogging about the Revit API” author Jeremy
Tammik has been prolific in the informative posts about using
the API that has been steadily increasing what is possible.
Inside the Factory
Using the tagline “Designing the Revit user experience” authors
Tom Vollaro, Erik Egbertson, Tsvetan Tsvetanov and Lilli
Smith share insider stories of the many months of research that
went into the 2010 release for the Revit platform. They are also
beginning to use the blog as a way to garner user input.
spring_2009 department
inside track
Beyond the Paper
Using the tagline “Advocating
advanced technologies for bringing design, review, virtualization,
and simulation in environments”
author Volker Joseph shares information regarding the Navisworks
product line and Autodesk Design Review/DWF.
Using the tagline of simply “Bim and Beam” authors Nicolas
Mangon, Wai Chu and Tom Culotta contribute posts that
support the Revit Structure product. Tips and Tricks as well as
recent feature updates or extensions are frequent items.
Inside the System
Using the tagline “The MEP BIM. Sustainability. New Technology” author Kyle Bernhardt set the standard for Autodesk
Revit bloggers with his initial efforts supporting the MEP
product. His frequent insightful posts with supporting short
videos have yet to be outdone by any other Autodesk blogger.
Kyle was formerly the Product Manager for Revit MEP and
has more recently taken a new role supporting the products
that focus on sustainable design like Ecotect and Green Building Studio in addition to Revit MEP using a broader title of
Industry Product Manager
It’s Alive in the Lab
Using the tagline “It’s Alive in the Lab” author Scott Sheppard
as been even more prolific than Jeremy or Kyle with his nearly
two or more posts a day habit. Indicative, we believe, of the
nearly overwhelming number of things they are working on “In
the labs”.
Information Compiled from the Autodesk web site: by Steve Stafford
feature focus
Revit Structure
by: Tom Weir
Growing Revit Structure
ike planting a young tree on a warm spring
day Revit implementation requires lots of
nurturing in order for it to grow and bear
fruit and for it to become a robust part of the design process within your firm. This article will focus on those steps that were taken by my firm,
Brandow & Johnston Structural & Civil Engineers to accomplish
this goal. We are five years into our implementation of Revit
Structure and now all significant new projects are developed using
BIM techniques. We have completed over 200 buildings in a real
production setting in the past four years. Projects have included
such projects as mulit-building school campuses, churches, and
mid-rise office buildings. We have worked with projects that use
steel, masonry and wood as their primary material.
When Autodesk bought Revit we were already searching for a
product that would move us into the 3D design world. 2D CAD
reached a peak with Autocad R14, the best 2D CAD release
ever. The march toward 3D design then began for us in earnest. The venerable third party add-on Softdesk Structural had been
bought and dead ended by Autodesk so we were looking for a replacement. We started trying to implement ADT3.3 but after a
year-and-a-half realized it was a very poor product. At that point
Revit was bought by Autodesk and we realized now that they
had two competing products in the Autodesk lineup. Seeing the
implications for the future we dumped ADT and immediately
jumped on the Revit bandwagon.
So what strategy did we use to implement Revit? Basically we
kept our 2D Autocad process going then started a second parallel
process in which we increasingly used Revit. I did the on-board
tutorials and started my first project in production eight weeks
later, a large parking structure. I picked the parking structure
because I reasoned that though it was large it had a minimum of
objects that would need to be modeled; such things as concrete
columns, PT beams, and shear walls. Nothing too complicated
about them. I have seen other firms start with projects like a large
medical center. Not such a good idea for a first project.
Figure 1: Steel dome structure on a large church project
Innovation is crucial these days in the AEC field as the technology
we use so rapidly changes and evolves. We get that! We believe
that we enhance our competitive advantage through our adoption
of the building information modeling process. Of paramount
importance to our effort is to increase our responsiveness to our
clients by better communicating our structural design intent and
anticipating design problems early on during the course of the
project through the building of the virtual model. While the virtual model is a tremendous visualization tool we
cannot afford to build a 3D model alone for only that purpose.
With Revit we kill two birds with one stone and derive both the
visualization benefits and the construction documents at the
same time and for the same cost. 58
Figure 2: Our first project was this large parking structure. Think of
how many objects need to be modeled
We started by only doing a portion of the project in Revit. This is
a good strategy to follow. You can fairly easily do structural plans
and elevations so we started there. Typical details and other sections were done in Autocad. This enabled us to keep using all of
our resources as efficiently as possible. While a small group of
enthusiastic Reviteers worked on Revit others could still be using
Autocad as they got up to speed with Revit. Then on the next
project we got a little further with the use of Revit. Slowly over four
years we managed to completely transform our in-house processes. That maximized the use of staff and software licenses as we transitioned from one technology to its successor. We stayed on this tack
for several years until all aspects of a project could be completed
using Revit Structure. By then our whole staff had learned Revit
to some degree. I will admit that we have not gotten too far in the
use of the analytical model. We had too many problems with the
integration links and few engineers learning enough Revit to get it
to work.
your problems. For that reason we try to task our assignments to
each person according to their level of understanding. Someone
can be adding beam tags into a model and in that way become more
comfortable in the Revit modeling environment while not having
to be responsible for the whole project.
We also have to focus a lot of attention on how much to model. When we started using Revit the extent of our model building
reflected the scope of our contract. We were basically creating
the construction documents. One has to be very careful not to
model more than necessary as it is easy to get carried away and
blow your fee right out of the window. feature focus
Revit Structure
As the years passed we started to look beyond simply producing
documents to providing a BIM solution for the job. We emphasize that the integrity of the model must be maintained in order
for a true BIM solution. It is easy to get into a time crunch and
start faking things in 2D just to get your job out. But the problem
is the more you fake modeling the less integrity the model will
have. So when you start doing clash detection, if you are working
with an architect who is also modeling, or supplying the model to
a down stream partner like the construction team you do not have
an accurate model.
Figure 3: Retrofit of NBC Universal’s famous Stage #1 was done
100% in Revit Structure for the new Tonight Show
Start the project in Revit, partially or not, and if all hell breaks
loose, for whatever reason, simply export the whole project to Autocad and complete it there. That is a great relief valve for stressed
out design teams who are struggling to transition to BIM but also
must adhere to project deadlines. As far as we are concerned project deadlines always trump software implementation.
Figure 4: An entire high school campus with seven buildings
Remember that Revit is not like Autocad. When 2D CAD was
first implemented in the 1980’s it was a direct transfer of hand
drafting techniques to computer aided drafting techniques. That
is basically a linear evolution while the transition to Revit from 2D
CAD is a quantum leap. I always discourage people from thinking,
“I did it this way in Autocad, now how can I do it that same way in
Revit?” Don’t go there! The techniques are so significantly different that you will undoubtedly produce bad results.
In summary this is an exciting time in the AEC field. The introduction of building information modeling is drastically changing
the way we do our work. At Brandow & Johnston we believe we
are better able to anticipate design problems when we create our
virtual model, as well as better coordinate with our architect and
other design team members. We also are able to help owners better visualize their project. For us there is no turning back to the
old ways of working. If you have not dones so yet it is also time for
you to make your move to the future.
We decided to use a 5 year implementation process that would take
us to the point where we would be providing a full BIM solution
to our clients. That would also allow our staff time to transition
to this new way of working. We first started training those who
were enthusiastic, who had some modeling sense, and who had
“Stickwithitness” in order to work through the frustrating and difficult development that is required. Our training was done almost
entirely in-house. We have weekly training sessions that focus on
issues from the previous week. While training is important people
tend to need to be in a real production setting to cement their learning. Training has no necessity to it. In real production you don’t go
home until the deadline is met so you are highly motivated to solve
Tom is Associate Principal and Director of
BIM & CAD Operations at Brandow &
Johnston Inc., a structural and civil engineering consulting firm, where he has worked for the
past 28 years. An early adopter and enthusiast
of Revit modeling software, he is the founder
and co-president of the Los Angeles Revit Users
Group. Tom wrote the first AOTC Revit Structure Essentials manual for Autodesk, is a moderator on the AUGI
Revit Structure forum, and has taught at Autodesk University for the
past four years. He is a frequent speaker and is co-author of Mastering Revit Structure 2009 published by Wiley Publishing.
feature focus
Revit Structure
by: Elizabeth Shulok
Integrating Analysis Programs with
Revit Structure
f you have ever exported a Revit® Structure
model to an analysis program, you may have
wondered how all of your building data is
transferred from one application to another. Or
perhaps more likely, you may have wondered why
it wasn’t all transferred correctly on the first attempt! It’s just
beams and columns, so why is exporting such a problem?
and which were merely accommodations for analysis and should
be ignored.
Integrating analysis products with Revit Structure presents many
interesting challenges. The level of complexity depends greatly
on how different an analysis program is from Revit Structure. However, there are many common issues that all analysis links
must address. As a software developer who worked on the link
between Revit Structure and the RAM Structural SystemTM,
and is currently working on a link between Revit Structure and
Bentley Systems’ STAAD.Pro®, I know first-hand the types of
challenges faced by someone attempting to link Revit Structure
with an analysis package. Let’s examine just a few of them.
The key to managing change is to somehow maintain a link between corresponding elements of the two programs. Identifying
corresponding elements on export is fairly straightforward, even
in the case of multi-story columns or curved beams, where one
Revit element may correspond to multiple analytical elements. The challenge is storing this information so it can be retrieved
when the Revit model is updated from the analysis model. Variations in Scope
No two structural modeling programs handle the same scope of
structures. Invariably, when exporting from Revit, there will be
some modeling condition in the Revit Structure model that cannot be modeled in the analysis program. A good analysis link
must be able to anticipate and address such limitations.
Change Management
Another important issue when developing a bi-directional link
between Revit Structure and an analysis program is how to identify and manage changes to the structure. Revit provides a mechanism for storing data with certain elements via a Shared Parameters file. Since most analysis programs
have some kind of unique identifier for elements, that value can
be stored with the corresponding Revit element. The value can be
seen in the Element Properties window, and can be accessed programmatically when importing changes from the analysis model.
For example, the Revit Structure model may have multi-story
columns, walls with more than 4 nodes, or curved beams – situations which invariably cannot be handled by the one analysis
program you depend on. Typically the analysis program has some
way to approximate those conditions closely enough for analysis
purposes, but this may require special modeling methods. How
then should these conditions be handled on export?
One less-than-ideal option is to simply ignore members that cannot be exported “as-is” to the analysis program. And when there
is no good way to approximate the condition in the analysis program, this may be the only option. If, however, the developer can anticipate the way the engineer
would most likely model the condition in the analysis program,
the data can be automatically adjusted on export. Multi-story
columns are broken at each level, a bounding rectangle replaces
a wall polygon with more than four nodes, and a curved beam
is converted into a series of beam segments. Of course, changing the data to accommodate the analysis program presents its
own challenges. We now need to consider which changes were
intentionally made and should be sent back to the Revit model
Unfortunately, there are some limitations to shared parameters. While they work fine for elements such as beams, columns, and
braces, they cannot be assigned to all categories of elements, such
as materials, types (i.e. section profiles), or grids. This limitation
makes it more challenging to keep track of these items in a bidirectional link.
Section Profiles
Now that we have examined
two high level concerns of integrating an analysis program
with Revit Structure, let’s look
at just the issues dealing with
section profiles. Although this
seems like it would be one of the
most straightforward parts of
the process, it can be the most
time-consuming to address.
that the double-angle sections in Revit are limited to a fixed number of spacing values (0”, 3/8”, or 3/4”), imagine the fun trying to
map double-angle sections from an analysis program that allows
the engineer to enter any decimal value for the spacing.
Concrete sections provide their own fun. Remember that we
cannot store the analysis program’s unique ID for a concrete
section with the Revit type, so
we must find another way to determine if an element’s size has
been changed by the analysis
program. An obvious solution
for concrete sections is to use the
name as an identifier. Since they
do not have standard names like
steel sections, we can simply pass
the Revit name for the section to
our analysis program and assume
if the name varies on import, the
size has changed. feature focus
Revit Structure
... why it wasn’t all
transferred correctly on
the first attempt! It’s just
beams and columns, so
why is exporting such a
Just considering the standard
AISC steel sections, one program might use a fractional
value in the name of a section (i.e. HSS20X12X5/8) while another uses a decimal naming convention (i.e. HSS20X12X.625). This is a simple example that can be overcome with either automatic name conversions or text files that map one name to the
However, double angles, or at least American double angles, are
more complicated. In addition to a standard name for the single
angle used, there are two other pieces of information associated
with double angles: the spacing between them and whether the
long or short legs of the angles are back-to-back. The AISC shapes database lists double angles with all this information encapsulated in the name: a ‘2’ at the start of the name to
denote that it is a double angle; then the single angle name; the
spacing, if any, is denoted next; and finally, for angles with legs of
unequal length, either ‘LLBB’ or ‘SLBB’ is appended to the end. However, what if the engineer changed the name of the section in
order to comply with company standards, without changing the
actual dimensions? Or consider STAAD.Pro, which names prismatic sections automatically based on dimensions, rather than
allowing a name to be specified. In this case, we must resort to
comparing dimensions of the concrete sections in order to identify a change, or we simply update every concrete member in the
Revit model.
These are just a few of the many issues an analysis link must anticipate and address. As you can see from this short introduction,
there are a variety of complications underlying what may, at first
glance, appear to be a simple data exchange. The difference of
methodologies and nomenclatures may present challenges for integration, but the ability to leverage best of breed modeling and
analysis tools is usually well worth the effort.
Elizabeth Shulok is the founder and President
of Structural Integrators, LLC, a software
company based in Southern California that
provides integration tools for the structural engineering industry. Prior to starting Structural
Integrators in 2007, she spent nearly 9 years as
a software engineer at RAM International and
Bentley Systems, specializing in interoperability
issues. She has worked extensively with the Revit API over the last 4
years. She can be reached [email protected]
Although Revit follows the AISC convention, analysis programs
vary in their use of nomenclature. The two I have worked with
allow the engineer to separately specify the angle profile, whether
short or long legs are back-to-back, and the spacing. Considering
feature focus
Revit Structure
by: Jamie Richardson
Revit Ready - Looking Back
How it all started
am Jamie Richardson, the CAD/BIM manThe biggest obstacle that needed to be hurdled during the first
ager at Ericksen Roed & Associates where I
few months was fully obtaining Executive Management Buy-in to
have worked for almost 13 years now. I have
using Revit Structure on our projects. Yes, we had purchased the
always had an interest in CAD related programs
software, but how does using this software change our current
and especially like the problem solving that can
work flows or how much information should we be modeling? We needed to discuss these things with other design team
go along with using them. In fact, I am that guy
members during the contract stage of these projects with the
that solves a Revit related problem today, than dreams about
understanding of what software package we would be using to
it that night to come back the next day with 3 or 4 more solutions that are better than the one I had the day before. I know…
produce construction documents. I also soon realized that very
my wife tells me every day. How do I
few people outside of the design teams were
make it stop? Anyways, I would like to
truly thinking about Revit and some actu... if an answer can’t be ally thought it was called something a frog
briefly tell our story about how we got
would say “Rivit”. I also realized that the
started using Revit Structure at Erickfound, move forward
sen Roed.
knowledge a typical user needs to know is
much different than the knowledge of an
with what makes the
Every firm looking to implement Revit
executive. I quickly continued to educate
hopefully has the opportunity to have
myself to further understand the capabilimost sense...
ties of the software as well as determine how
at least one individual that has passion
it would fit into our existing environment.
for the software. Someone who doesn’t
sit back and wait to be told how the
To do this, I was modeling my current projsoftware is going to work or what it
ects using Revit Structure over lunch and after hours in addition
takes to roll it out to users, but someone who will dig in, find the
to working on them in AutoCAD for production. This was not
answers and, if an answer can’t be found, move forward with what
only an excellent way of self teaching, but it allowed me to add
makes the most sense from searching through resources available
3D views to enhance current projects that were being done in
to them. In our case, this individual happened to be me. Without
AutoCAD. It is amazing how much hype was built up with those
at least one user like this, it can be difficult to keep up with the
reviewing the documents when they started seeing these views
ever changing capabilities of the software as well as the new work
showing up in our set. We actually received calls from contractors
flows created that need to be different from when2D CAD software packages are used.
telling us how much they liked seeing a 3D view for a complicated
area of the building.
Our Revit Structure implementation started about 4 years ago
when I received a post card in my mailbox announcing the first
Strong efforts were made to contact our clients and those who
release of Revit Structure. From that point on, things moved
were in charge of their Revit implementation to help us get a good
forward rather quickly. The first thing I did was gather up the
understanding of how they were using Revit in production and
executives of the firm along with some of our power users from
how we could collaborate together on projects. Networking like
both the engineer and drafting side and arranged an onsite demo
this with our clients allowed us to educate them about where we
to show them what the benefits of using the software could do for
were with implementing Revit Structure as well as show them the
us. After this demo, we were convinced enough to buy two seats
limitations that we may have modeling certain structural systems.
of Revit Structure. The only thing we had to do then was find the
With most of our Architectural clients starting to use Revit, we
time to use it. At the time we really did not have the manpower
pretty much dove right into working on projects with users learning as they go. Typically an architect will start out with one Revit
to switch over nor did we have the time to train, and of course
project where we were getting multiple requests from various cliwe still were not quite sure what we were getting ourselves into.
ents to do their projects in Revit Structure. We definitely had to
What we did have was a few of our larger clients making a strong
be selective in choosing which projects made more sense to model
commitment to switch from Architectural Desktop to Revit Architecture. This was probably one of our biggest motivators to
with the current capabilities of the software.
continue on with our efforts to implement Revit Structure into
our environment. If we didn’t, then we knew that we could potenAs I was educating myself, I tried to educate everybody else. I
tially lose projects to those that were using Revit Structure.
made my best attempt at taking everything that I learned and
shared it with those around me. Twice a week I had little Revit
Show and Tell sessions in the lunch room where I would show
those that chose to attend what was going on. I showed the structural models that I created and walked through how easy it was to
create schedules to show information from the model. This really
got a lot of attention and slowly created more interest throughout
the office as well as started to spread the conversations outside
the office to our clients. With all this constant activity of talking
about Revit Structure it was easy to see who were going to be
our Revit power users. Those who continually showed up for our
Revit discussions or those who continually asked questions, was
a good indication that they had an interest about being part of the
first wave of users to learn and help implement Revit Structure.
The Revit Ready Plan
After these few months of working on Revit and actually having a project almost completed, we found that we were producing
projects in Revit Structure but didn’t quite know where we were
going with it all. What would be our next steps? We felt that we
were educated enough to start working on more projects, but we
would need more people involved. Up until now most of the time
involving education was either while working on a live project,
over lunch, at night, or on weekends. We needed to get a plan in
place which would allow new users to get involved and not expect
them to work extra hours to learn it all. We also needed to make
sure that, as a company, all of the executives and employees understood what our plan was so as they talked about Revit with
outside clients they were educated enough to have the conversations and let them know what our plans were. This is when we
decided to put in place the “Revit Ready Plan”. This plan basically
stated by January 1, 2007, Ericksen Roed & Associates will be
ready to produce as much work in Autodesk Revit Structure as
our clients’ request. This was our first big commitment in saying
that we would use Revit Structure in lieu of AutoCAD. A Revit
project would be 100% Revit, the use of AutoCAD would not be
acceptable nor would it be a safety net to fall back on. We would
make it work. We also developed the “Roadmap to Revit Plan” to
help layout our initial plans for implementation and let everyone
in the company know the direction we were heading and why. We
highlighted things that we thought we needed to focus on and
outlined a basic method for training. These plans allowed us to
have a clear path that everyone understood as well as a set goal
for us to achieve.
Words of Advice
I would like to share a few words of advice that we used along the
way as we progressed through out implementation.
spring_2009 feature focus
Revit Structure
• Communicate internally, communicate externally and keep
the communication ongoing. The use of Revit on a project is
still new to everybody and the new workflows involved need
to be communicated.
• Find your key people that have the motivating interest and
put them at the top of the pyramid where they will prepare
and enforce your standards. Our pyramid started out with
me, we have 2 to 3 users who are now sophisticated enough
with Revit where they are our go to people for others joining
the team.
• We started out with what I call Baby Steps; we only did
what we felt we were capable of doing at the time and stayed
within the limitations of the software. I never really set out
on this journey with the idea that we had to outdo the next
guy. My main goals were that I wanted every Revit project to
be a great experience for everyone involved throughout the
construction team, we still needed to issue a good set of construction documents on paper and I wanted the motivation
level of those involved at their highest.
Where are we now?
A lot has happened since that initial year of getting up and running, today we are moving full steam ahead. We have definitely
reach the point where we no longer ask “should we do this in
Revit Structure?” rather we say “why would we not do this in
Revit Structure?”. Not counting a multitude of marketing / preproduction projects, our now dozen users are in the process of
completing our 38th project produced 100% in Revit Structure.
We are continually adapting to the ever changing workflow and
are putting more and more information into our models. Our
client relationships are getting stronger and our collaboration
workflows are becoming more efficient. I believe that a big part of
our successful implementation is that our executive management
didn’t shy away from this thing called “Revit” 4 years ago. They
jumped on board immediately and have supported it ever since.
Jamie D. Richardson is a CAD\BIM Manager
at Ericksen Roed & Associates, a Structural Engineering firm based in Saint Paul, MN. Jamie
has been instrumental in the rollout of several
versions of AutoCAD as well as the implementation of Revit Structure. He has been an avid
speaker on Revit Structure at Autodesk University and is a coauthor of the books Mastering
Revit Structure 2009 and 2010.
by: Stephen Stafford
head’s up
Recent Known Issues and Problems documented by
Autodesk and AUGI members
Source - Autodesk Revit Architecture Service & Support
Web Address:
Issue: You want to know what the product key for your Autodesk® Revit® 2010-based product is
Revit 2010-based Product Keys:
• 240B1 - Revit Architecture 2010
• 241B1 - AutoCAD Revit Architecture Suite 2010
• 595B1 - AutoCAD Revit Architecture Visualization
Suite 2010
• 255B1 - Revit Structure 2010
• 256B1 - AutoCAD Revit Structure Suite 2010
• 297B1 - Revit MEP 2010
• 257B1 - AutoCAD Revit MEP Suite 2010
• 589B1 - Autodesk Revit MEP-B 2010
Issue: You want to know if you can switch your user interface
back to the pre-2010 user interface.
Solution: There is no way to switch your user interface back to the
user interface used in pre-2010 Revit products.
Issue: You want to know where Revit 2009 menu commands are
located on the new Revit 2010 ribbons.
Solution: There is a special guide in Revit 2010-based products
to help show you where tools in the 2010 user interface are located compared to previous versions of Revit products. To access
this tool, click the arrow next to the question mark button in the
upper-right corner of the screen and select the Where is my Command option.
Issue: You would like to reset the Autodesk® Revit® Architecture
2010 user interface (i.e. the Ribbon, Quick Access Toolbar, and
Project Browser) back to the out-of-the-box version and remove
any customization that has been applied.
Solution: Download a script to automate the repair from this
You can do this yourself as well, visit this address for the explicit
Source - Autodesk Revit Known Issues Documentation for Revit 2010
Windows Vista OS without SP1 installed
• Some Revit functionality, such as the Alt key and right-clicking on the Ribbon, may cause unexpected results if Service
Pack 1 is not installed. Please upgrade your Windows Vista
OS to include SP1.
Windows Vista OS using Window Aero color
• Some tasks may cause the ribbon to show as a blank graphic.
Hover over the blank area with your cursor to restore the
Large DWG Imports (Present in previous releases
and still in 2010)
• DWG imports with entities further than two miles apart (after scaling) may cause accuracy issues and are not allowed.
Very large DWG imports should be subdivided into smaller
• DWG imports with coordinates (before scaling) longer than
ten digits may be truncated to zero and become corrupted.
head’s up
Automatic Join Geometry (Present in previous
releases and still in 2010)
• Hierarchal joining rules between element categories cannot
be changed. e.g. Slabs always cut columns when the Join Geometry command is used.
• Automatic Join Geometry does not occur between Wall and
Slab categories.
• It is not possible to disable automatic Join Geometry, but
joins can be manually un-joined.
• Joined geometry may impact performance.
Network Deployment (Present in previous
releases and still in 2010)
• The deployment will fail if the computer creating the deployment has the same Revit Architecture version currently
installed. You must uninstall the conflicting version prior to
creating the deployment.
Opening Revit Architecture from a Revit file
• Double-clicking a Revit file icon only opens the latest build of
Revit Architecture, if it is the most recently installed version
on your computer.
• Currently, Revit Architecture supports only one keynote
table file per project. Users can, however, combine multiple
keynote standards into this single file.
• Currently, free unassociated keynotes not supported, nor is
keynoting of detail lines (such as batt Insulation). You can,
however, keynote a nearby element and move the free end
leader to the desired location.
Un-Enclosed Room Re-Tag
Windows Explorer and Revit-based product
thumbnail previews
• Revit-based product thumbnail previews may display incorrectly, showing only as Revit file icons, in Windows Explorer
Room Bounding Instance Parameters (Present in
previous releases and still in 2010)
• Currently, not all room bounding elements (such as in-place
ceilings and in-place floors) have an on/off Room Bounding
spring_2009 • Currently, if a room tag for an unenclosed room is deleted, it
is not possible to add a room tag back to the room without
first making it a properly enclosed room. Use a room separation line to fix the room prior to re-tagging.
Editor’s Note: This represents just a selection of issues that are more
likely than some of the others to affect users. Please remember to visit
the Autodesk Support website for the latest information on documented issues.
Information Compiled from the Autodesk web site: by Steve Stafford
feature focus
Revit MEP
by: Jarrod Baumann
How to Play Nice:
Sharing Revit Models Between Disciplines
any architectural firms have been using
Autodesk’s BIM platform Revit Architecture for quite some time. As of late,
consulting engineering firms are joining in the
BIM process and all parties involved have a keen
desire and need to make good use of each other’s 3D models. As
always taking a plunge into any new software platform is not easy. Making this change, however, can be very beneficial!
Nothing encourages the coordination phone calls like a 3D
view of a room showing HVAC ducts protruding into the living
or working spaces, or sloped sanitary piping piercing a tapered
girder. So let’s talk about how to get your models to interact well
with each other, producing good 3D designs and clean construction documents.
Figure 1: “Ductwork routed through vaulted ceiling space”
First, a bit of background. In an Architecture/Engineering firm,
it’s possible to have all the different disciplines operating on the
same computer network and working directly on the same Revit
model. This would provide the greatest degree of interaction and
coordination between the architectural designers and the various engineering discipline designers. For instance, a “wall based”
electrical receptacle could be placed on a wall or a “ceiling based”
light fixture in a ceiling as soon as they exist in the common
model. If the architectural designer deleted the wall, this would
also delete the “wall based” receptacle in the same fashion that a
window in the wall would be deleted. However, even some A/E
firms choose to separate their models and use a process similar to
the one below.
Working in a consulting engineering firm will mean receiving the
architectural plans from someone else. Linking Revit models is
very analogous to xref ’s in AutoCAD. In AutoCAD we would
receive the .dwg file, strip it of most of the data, leaving only the
geometry we will directly reference and then link this reduced
size file by means of the xref command.
The process can be quite similar with Revit. After receiving the
file, you can delete any or all of the views, I prefer to leave floor plan
views for reference, and then purge the file. All of this is purely
for reducing the file size and speeding up the software. Next you
create a new Revit project file, using a template, and link the architectural file in to your project. The views that were deleted in
the link, have no affect on the 3D geometry in the model leaving it
as the reference for your Revit project file. You would then create
views, insert equipment, model and annotate with much the same
workflow as the architectural designers.
Sometime later the architect and other consultants will likely
want to do the same - link your model in to their project files. As
you know an MEP consultant’s model contains only MEP objects. It will not contain walls, floors, ceilings and so on. So when
an architect links the MEP model only ducts, pipes, conduits ☺,
light fixtures etc. will be added. This process allows each of the
project team members to compile their own copy of a complete
building model. The ability to see how all disciplines interact
with your design is a tremendous benefit to our industry. The
best we could do before this 3D workflow was to develop sections
in the “crucial areas”. These non-interactive sections just don’t
compare to a parametric 3D model with live views that update
automatically as revisions are made.
When there are revisions we all swap models again and if you
are careful about reusing the same file name and placing it in the
same location, the updated link file will load upon opening your
project. This being the workflow brings us back to the title of the
article “How to Play Nice”. What are some good methods for all
involved to make our models easier for others to use?
Rules to Play by:
Common Origin Point
Having a predictable linking point is essential. Since the architect typically goes first, their model will have an origin (0,0,0
point) already established. Consultants when creating their project file, link in the architect’s building model using the “File >
Import/Link > Revit…” command and the default is the “Auto
– Center to Center” option. This is a poor choice because Revit is
using a center point based on the modeled geometry in the linked
file and your model will have different 3D extents, making the
swapping of models later unpredictable. Establishing a common
origin point between all team members is as simple as using the
“Auto – Origin to Origin” option instead.
Figure 2: Using the Origin to Origin option for linked models
This is the best practice for everyone linking in another’s model
including the architect when receiving the consultant’s models.
If you have already been misled by the default option, you can
easily adjust the origin point of your model to match that of the
architects using the “Tools > Shared Coordinates > Specify Coordinates at a Point” command within Revit. First you will need to know where that origin is in the architectural model. Simply use the same command within the architect’s
model to identify a point and do the math from there. By the
way, for multi-building sites, keep your eyes open for an upcoming article regarding “Shared Coordinates”.
feature focus
Revit MEP
Deleting Objects vs. Changing Types
This applies to everyone creating elements that will host other
elements, but primarily to the architect creating the walls, floors,
and ceilings. When making changes to the architectural model
one common thing to do is delete an object and redraw it. This
is entirely reasonable for the architect but can create more work
for your consultants. As an example, let’s say you are adjusting
a room layout and want to change a wall location. If you move
the wall and send your consultants the updated model, then their
face based light fixtures or receptacles will usually move with it
automatically. If you delete and redraw the wall, however, these
elements will be orphaned and will need to be re-hosted to the
new wall. The same goes for changing a wall or ceiling type. Select
it and change the type instead of deleting and re-creating it.
Good Drafting/Modeling Standards
A good case study to illustrate this would be a restroom toilet
stall. This is usually a family in the architect’s model made up
of several other nested families and line work. The water closet
is one nested family, the partitions and grab bars and so on are
another, and the disabled access clearance is usually drawn with
symbolic lines. The visibility for each of these items will need to
be handled independently by the plumbing consultant. The stall family for instance, might be of the family category
“Specialty Equipment” while the water closet is a nested family of
the category “Plumbing Fixture”. The plumbing consultant will
typically need to show the stall partitions but will often want to
turn off visibility of the architects plumbing fixture and place his
own. This is required because the plumbing consultant is responsible for making the detailed fixture selection and will need to
schedule, annotate and connect piping to the element within
Figure 3: Identify / Set your model origin point
spring_2009 Figure 4: Shared plumbing fixture
feature focus
Revit MEP
his own model. This level of interaction cannot be accomplished through
the linked building model. So, the
key to making this control possible
for the consultant is to ensure that
the nested plumbing fixture within
the stall family is “Shared”. Use the
“Settings > Family Category and Parameters” command.
...the architect can use
the linked lighting
model to produce
perspective views ...
The disabled access clearance lines
will generally have to be turned off
entirely in order not to obscure the
piping system in plan view. The opportunity for poor drafting
standards is shown when the architectural reviteer doesn’t use a
single standardized line style to represent similar symbol types
throughout a project. This means that the plumbing consultant
spends numerous additional hours finding the specific categories
of line styles to turn off in his construction document views.
Let There Be Light
Lighting components and design are an important aspect of any
aesthetically pleasing architectural design. It should be one of
our goals as cooperative BIM modelers to reduce the need for
duplicate elements within the compiled building models. In this
effort it would be desirable for the lighting designer to model and
place lighting fixtures in lieu of them residing in the architect’s
model. This means additional effort for the lighting designer to
create reasonably accurate and detailed 3D fixtures that also cast
light well within a rendered view. If this is done, the architect
can use the linked lighting model to produce perspective views,
rendered or otherwise, in their client presentations and construction documents.
sibility rests with the mechanical and
lighting engineers. However, a well
constructed architectural model will
make the task of detailed analysis
much less difficult.
In practice this includes things like
simple wall joins, appropriate family
categories and accurately modeling
building elements that are behind the
scenes. For instance, unconnected wall
heights should accurately reflect intended construction. Both full height
walls that extend to the structure above and walls that stop at the
ceiling should be modeled that way.
We, the composite project design team, already put a tremendous
amount of information into our “Building Information Model”,
adding a bit more increases its usefulness exponentially.
In closing it can be said that good consistent standards should be
old hat to all of us but it seems we always need to be reminded
when starting something new. It’s just like taking little Johnny to
the park for the first time and reminding him to share and play
Jarrod Baumann is currently the BIM/CAD
Manager for Design West Engineering,
creating standards for and supporting the engineering and production staff of the mechanical,
plumbing and electrical design departments.
He has had much practical experience utilizing AutoCAD since 1995 and Revit MEP®
since its release in 2006 on a wide variety of
MEP projects in the commercial, educational, medical, and residential fields. Jarrod has led the team tasked with implementing Revit
MEP for Design West Engineering as well as assisting major HVAC
manufacturers with developing their Revit content for distribution.
Figure 5: Accurately modeled building elements
Energy efficient construction is an important goal for everyone
in our industry to pursue. BIM has the potential to make this
pursuit easier. In order to fulfill its potential, designers from all
disciplines will need to cooperate in the creation of high quality
models for use in model based analysis. Much of that respon-
Revit MEP
Five Steps to Success with Revit MEP:
The Reality
his year our firm was able to identify a
significantly sized project to apply Revit
MEP, from concept through construction
documents. We are a 300 person plus integrated
AEC practice. The team consisted of 10 members of our MEP
staff dedicated to the project. Although the experience proved
challenging for the team, the knowledge we gleaned was invaluable.
Image 1: A screen shot of part of our MEP model.
The key to delivering projects with this tool is mitigating the
most crippling weakness of Revit MEP: sluggish model performance. This reality makes or breaks the decision to apply this
tool to future projects. The promise of increased productivity
was rather elusive during this process, but we were able to keep
the team afloat with the proper hardware, consistent training,
regular model maintenance, strict modeling practices, and strict
saving practices.
Step 1: Proper Hardware:
Over the next few years, there is a good chance that users on any
Revit MEP project will be new to the product, and will likely not
be using the best modeling practices. In a Worksharing Enabled
project this not only slows the individual down, but can hobble
the entire team with a sluggish model. By the time our team was
working on construction documents, they were running Dell
spring_2009 feature focus
by: Damon Ranieri
Consistent training is
an absolute must in this
working environment. ...
5400 Quad Core Workstations with Vista Business 64bit, running 16Gb of RAM, and had ATI Fire GL 256MB Graphics
Cards. While throwing hardware at any workflow issue is an
expensive solution, the reality is the team will need this wiggle
room if they are going to stay on schedule.
Step 2: Consistent Training:
Consistent training is an absolute must in this working environment. We contracted with a Revit consultant out of Rhode Island
for a week of implementation training. This was followed by a
week of over-the-shoulder direct project training from the same
consulting group. During preliminary studies and schematic design, we offered in-house bi-weekly trade specific workshops. As
new hires were added to the team, the firm utilized the application specialists from the IT department to deliver a week long
in-house version of direct project training. Finally, we utilized
web conferencing to deliver one-on-one training on specific topics
as needed during the entire duration of the project. The amount
of information needed for each team member to be successful
is vast. Even power-users, who can remember all the different
concepts, will need their memories refreshed when it comes time
to perform the task at hand.
Step 3: Regular Model Maintenance:
As stated earlier, inefficient modeling practices are a fact of life
as a firm begins transitioning into this new approach. By setting
up a regular schedule for model maintenance the team was able
to keep a handle on saving and regeneration times. This maintenance involved addressing the linked central files from the other
trades, the central file itself, the modeling and the size of the
central file.
Linked Central Files:
About midway through design development it was decided that
linking directly to the architectural model became too cumbersome. The designers were already spending a fair amount of time
waiting for each other to save, if the architects were accessing
feature focus
Revit MEP
their central file, that time was tacked on. The solution was having each trade save a detached copy of their central file to an
isolated location two to three times a week. This also mitigated
the frustration of MEP designers who were trying to lay out areas that kept changing with each Save To Central.
Central File:
The model manager began coming in late on Monday so she
could begin a maintenance process on the model after the team
did their final Save To Central for the day. This included a compressed Save To Central, Purge All, and Save As of the project
to a new Central File. The act of doing a Save As on a Central
File rewrites the database without the residual data from deleted
and purged information, temporary information, and a variety
of errors.
At several points during the project the model became so sluggish that design stopped and all efforts shifted to cleaning up the
file. When the warnings list reached 200 to 300 warnings, the
performance of the Central File seems to
circuits were not going to be modeled became a crucial part of
improving model performance.
Model Size:
Once the 120Mb file size was reached, a decision was made to
break up the work so the model could return to an acceptable
size and level of performance. In this case, all 2D work, details,
schedules, etc. were broken out to a separate Central File, and
the 3D model was isolated in the original central file. The model
returned to the 120Mb size fairly quickly and ideas were tossed
around about how to split up the 3D work. The MEP families
often have connections to systems belonging to multiple disciplines, so having separate mechanical, electrical and piping
models would become difficult to coordinate. Separating the
model either geographically or by HVAC zones was considered
more seriously. Due to the project schedule, splitting up the 3D
work never occurred.
Image 3: A hosted family and its Visibility Settings.
Image 2: Caption: Just some of the warnings we encountered.
slow down significantly, 15 to 20% by our estimates. The team
utilized the System Browser to move devices and equipment to
the system or circuit they were ultimately intended to be on. The
program is constantly re-calculating system totals, and the larger
the system, the longer it takes before it moves on to the next.
The program considers 50 or more parts on any default system
a warning, which compounds the sluggishness. It also spends
longer on open systems, attempting to calculate flow values for
a finite amount of time on each open connector, pipe and duct.
Capping or terminating open pipes, ducts and removing connectors from electrical devices and equipment families whose
Step 4: Strict Modeling Practices:
An offshore consultant was used to build many of the families
used at the beginning of the project. They were given specific instructions on how we wanted the family parts assembled so that
the regeneration time of graphics could be managed. They were
told the majority of parts were to be face based, non-hosted, or
non-hosted/ workplane based depending on the part. They were
not to let any 3D entity show in the Course Detail Level views.
The families’ 3D models were to be as simplistic as possible. Only
enough detail to provide adequate collision detection and identification while coordinating was permitted. When the modeling
shifted to the more specific needs of the designers and technical
leaders involved, more of this work was done in house, applying
these same fundamental rules. The team became fairly adept at
creating and adjusting families, and updating these definitions
in the model.
Moving forward we will
apply this experience
and knowledge to future
projects at the very
beginning and leverage
the BIM workflow...
Image 4: Save to Central history exported and reviewed in Excel.
Step 5: Strict Saving Practices:
Managing the saving process is paramount to keeping the team
productive in this working environment. The Save To Central
process is linear, so when the model begins to perform sluggishly,
the Reload Latest and Save To Central times can reach upwards
of 20 to 25 minutes a person. The leadership experimented with
staggering the team members’ start times, so no two individuals
were trying to execute their final Save To Central of the day at
the same time. A simple 2D Save Page was created, and it was
required that before a Save To Central was executed only this
page could be showing on the user’s screen, allowing Revit to
resolve the saving process more quickly. Instant messaging and
Autodesk’s Worksharing Monitor was installed on all team
members workstations so they could communicate when they
were about to Save To Central, or see if anyone else was saving. Team members were encouraged to make use of the Editing
Requests feature to avoid as many extra Save To Centrals during
the day as possible. Worksets were also created for each trade,
linked file, and common element set, and the team members
were instructed to only open the worksets they needed for their
day’s task. The fewer worksets they initially opened, the less time
it took to Save To Central. Unfortunately, when the time came
to coordinate a discipline’s design against the other trades, all
worksets needed to be loaded.
spring_2009 feature focus
Revit MEP
Ultimately, the reality of working with Revit MEP is that many
features that are included are not fully developed and ready for
a consulting engineering group, very few performed without
some kind of workaround. Therefore, the overall performance
of the model often commanded the attention of the team. The
focus on performance involves so much effort that any productivity advantage we expected to realize was nonexistent. In order
for a firm like ours to fully adopt Revit MEP for all projects we
need to feel confident that the average model can provide at least
the same productivity we see out of our traditional 2D CAD
production. Moving forward we will apply this experience and
knowledge to future projects at the very beginning and leverage
the BIM workflow. We remain hopeful with the promised improved performance in the new new release of Revit MEP, that
we can confidently continue to take advantage of BIM to better
understand more complicated designs and layouts, communicate
design intent to players outside of the MEP team, and participate in virtual clash detection earlier in the project process.
Damon J. Ranieri is an applications specialist
at OWP/P, focusing primarily on the MEP
Department. Damon has been heavily involved
in the migration of MEP design to BIM since
2004 at this and his previous firm. Currently
he is developing in-house Revit training and
documentation, and is studying the current
strengths and limitations of interoperability
between the trades’ preferred software. He can be reached at [email protected]
feature focus
Revit MEP
by: Joel Londeneurg
Joel Londenberg
Putting the ‘I’ in your BIM content:
Revit MEP families that capture
design intent
ast year, at Autodesk University 2007, I met
someone in the hotel elevator. He pointed
to my Revit MEP pin and asked how it was
going using the software. I said that there were
some frustrations but we were doing ok (there was
no point in bragging, the elevator ride was too short). His answer
to me was “Yeah, maybe when they get more content.” Then the
doors opened and he walked out.
This idea of waiting for someone else to make my content didn’t
seem to fit. I’ve worked in several offices that used AutoCAD. Not one of them used only blocks made by others. Each firm has
always set its own standards for what is shown, how it looks and
so on. Even when AutoCAD files were available from outside,
in every single case they got modified; cleaned up, paired down,
spruced up, and so on. Why wouldn’t this same idea apply to
Revit MEP?
Long story short (too late, I know) – we have either modeled from
scratch or heavily customized nearly every family that is used in
our projects. This means every piece of equipment, air terminal,
receptacle, symbol, light fixture, plumbing fixture, exit sign, piping and duct system family, view reference, annotative tag and
level head (did I miss any?).
We’ve done this not because we want to work for Revit, but because we want the software to work for us.
Revit is Easy?
There is a difference between something being easy and it being
simple. To be honest, Revit MEP isn’t either one. There is inherent complexity in any piece of software that intends to mimic
building systems with enough accuracy that it can assist in the
engineering calculations, produce 3D models for visualization
and clash detection, and coordinated 2D documentation. Any
interface that would interact with this complex model is going to
be difficult to master. In addition, there are a number of things
that we just can’t change. Much of the functionality is simply
hard coded like, for instance, the display options for Duct Rise
Drop symbols. (See Figure 1)
Despite these obstacles, there are certainly enough benefits to be
worth its pursuit.
So how can we get Revit MEP to pay us back for our efforts, how
can we get Revit to work for us? One way is by carefully crafting
Figure 1: Preset Duct Rise Drop symbol options
our families. They can be easier to use, provide user feedback and
help with coordinated construction documents.
As we go through this ‘How To’ we will mainly focus on the more
MEP specific parts of the family construction. All disciplines
need flexible 3D geometry, so there are many sources for learning
more about that.
“We . . . Are . . . Family”
Let’s begin with an Air Terminal family. This will give us several
examples of how we can put more of the ‘I’ in our BIM model. Even if you are not an air-head like me, this will still be useful for
learning the family building principles.
One of the most detailed Air Terminals supplied by Autodesk
OOTB (out of the box) is “Supply Diffuser - Rectangular Face
Round Neck - Hosted.rfa”. This is a face hosted family that
changes size based on a handful of built in family types. It is
appropriately generic so that Autodesk is not unfairly promoting one manufacturer over another. However, when it comes to
actual use, there is not enough information built in for it to be
helpful with day to day design and drafting, as well as being modeled somewhat inappropriately for display in a project.
When considering how your model is oriented to the ceiling, it
is good practice to model it protruding down below the ceiling
plane. In a surface mounted frame, this mimics reality, the frame
is below the ceiling. For a lay-in-grid ceiling the air terminal is
technically above the ceiling plane as it sets on top of the t-bar. spring_2009
Modeling this technically accurate case would cause the problem
of the air terminal not being visible in a camera view unless the
ceiling was specifically cut (this is not possible with a linked architectural model). Also, if you model it to be exactly coincident
with the ceiling plane, Revit will not know the correct way to display each of the two coincident surfaces. However, if you simply
protrude it slightly below the ceiling plane, it is visible when you
expect it to be.
The Min/Max parameters are for reference only and do not
limit the actual flow setting within Revit, i.e. they will not prevent you from assigning a flow outside of this range. You can,
however, use these parameters for your drafters/designers to
make selections from. Embedding Intelligence
You can also use these parameters to create immediate user feedback within the project in just 4 easy steps! feature focus
Revit MEP
Go to the “Ref. Level” view and create some sort of warning that
will notify the drafter while placing Air Terminals in the project. You can use symbolic lines shaped like the common “No Smoking”
sign. So that this user feedback never prints on our construction
documents, set the symbolic lines type to <Invisible lines>
Figure 2: Revit’s display of coincident surfaces
Most firms will want to base their Revit families, Air Terminal or
otherwise, around the specific manufacturer that is in their standard specification. One common Air Terminal manufacturer
has face sizes that adjust with each neck size along with optional
frames for mounting in lay-in-grid ceilings. You will want to set
up your family types to replicate your office standards with such
considerations as air flow, noise criteria, pressure drop, etc. Any
given air terminal size will have an effective range of Flow that
meets these standards. Once you make those determinations
from the manufacturer’s catalog data, you can store that effective
range in each family type. As you can see from the screen shot
below, Min Flow and Max Flow are built in parameters for all Air
Terminals. To do this, simply set up family types to represent the
size you desire and input your chosen flow range. For example,
given a 6” neck size you may choose to limit the design flow to
between 0 and 95 CFM.
Figure 4: User feedback – Step 1
Next, select the symbolic lines, and assign the visibility of these
lines to a new parameter called “CFM_Error” Figure 5: User feedback – Step 2
Figure 3: Min/Max CFM parameters
feature focus
Revit MEP
Finally assign a formula to the CFM_Error parameter that is
activated when the flow is not within your set range i.e. outside
your company standard. Note that the current Flow setting in
the screen shot is greater than the Max Flow parameter, causing
the box to be checked.
location and air flow need to be identified. The size of an Air
Terminal can be determined with the assistance of the family. For non-typical designs, the Min/Max does not prevent you from
specifying outside that range when you want to.
Controlling Geometry
Another feature you might like to add is a better display of the
lay-in-grid panel. To do this we will once again be linking our geometry to flexible parameters. What we are aiming for is a good
display of the 24”x24” panel in a 3D view, as well as in plan view. First, let’s revisit the extrusion that hangs below the ceiling plane. In the image above, it is just pegged to the edge of the face size. A
more accurate display should show it about 2” larger than the face
size for a surface mount frame and a fixed 24”x24” for the grid
ceiling frame. To satisfy both of these situations, you will need
to dimension the length and width of the extrusion and label that
parameter “Frame_Size”. My preferred method for keeping this
extrusion centered is by using a dimension to the center reference
planes, with a formula driving it to be half the size. Figure 6: User feedback – Step 3
Once you have set the Min and Max flow parameters for your
various Air Terminal family types, you can then place them in
your project. This example shows 3 family type sizes. Currently
all three sizes show the same flow rate, however, this is below the
minimum flow settings for the two larger size families. The “No
Smoking” symbol is only visible when you either select or hover
over the incorrectly sized family.
Figure 8: Flexible model geometry
Figure 7: User feedback – Step 4
What have you accomplished by this basic process? You have
nearly eliminated the need to keep the manufacturer’s catalog on
your desk because most of the relevant data is stored in the family. There is also less work required for the engineer/designer to
convey the design to the drafters. For typical situations only the
You will also need a parameter to set the Air Terminal as either
surface mount or grid. To create this parameter, use the add button in the family types dialog box, name it “T_Bar”, discipline
“Common”, type “Yes/No”. It can be either instance or type depending on your preference for selecting it within a project. Once
you have both these parameters, use a conditional statement to
either drive the frame size to be 2” larger than the face or 24”
independent of the face. As you can see from the images, this
“Yes/No” parameter drives the dimensional parameters which, in
turn, drives the model geometry. spring_2009
michelle louw blog spot
Figure 9: Flexible model geometry – Option 1
Revit Technology Conference 2009
– Melbourne Australia
Hi everyone
I’m working on a few exciting projects and time is
flying by so forgive my brief invite but I wanted to at
least make the time to let you know about this event
and what I’m currently working on.
feature focus
Revit MEP
Many of you will already know about the Revit Technology Conference that is being held in Melbourne
this year (2009) but for those of you who want to find
out more please look up the following link:
To register for the RTC 2009:
I will be speaking at the event myself again this year
and am looking forward to sharing more of my experience. I will post my talk handout on this blog after
the event for anyone who can’t make it.
18th of June, Thursday, Stream 4 (1.4.3)
– Industry Panel Bitter or Better
Figure 10:Flexible model geometry – Option 2
Just like Revit MEP as a whole, crafting families may not be either easy or simple. However, after some time is spent in careful
creation, using these families in your projects can be both.
Joel Londenberg is currently a Revit Project
Manager for Design West Engineering. He
leads their mechanical and plumbing design
and supports electrical design for a wide range
of projects. These projects are in fields such as
retail, commercial, educational, medical, custom
homes and multi-family housing, and ranging in
size from 3,000 to 300,000 square feet. He has
also worked for manufacturers performing equipment design using
various 3D software packages. Joel has also been part of the team
tasked with implementing Revit MEP for Design West Engineering
as well as assisting major HVAC manufacturers with developing their
Revit content for distribution.
I have been invited to be a part of an industry panel.
We will be talking about the lessons we have learnt
through our various implementation journeys with
Matt Rumbelow. I think this will be an invaluable talk for anyone who is beginning on their own
implementation journey or for management who are
finding the implementation process more difficult
than they had originally anticipated. There will be a
wealth of experience on the panel.
19th of June, Friday, Stream 2, (2.2.1)
– Advanced Revit Families and Generative
I hope to provide some information on External
tools, what that all means and what it makes available
for Management and drafters. I’ve had to do a lot of
research to get some of the information and am still in
the process of finding out more… I’ll also be taking a
closer look at how components can help you create a
standardised and automated Revit office system.
Hope to see you there ;-)
To view Michelle’s blog online go to:
feature focus
Revit MEP
by: Jim Keller
Revit MEP Implementation at
CTA Group
A Struggle with Promise
evit was first introduced in 2007 to our firm
when BIM was the new exciting buzzword
in the A/E industry. It seemed like anyone
fortunate enough to use Revit on their projects
would soon be the industry leader for all others
to follow. However, implementing Revit throughout all of our
offices and disciplines proved to be a tougher sell. Our architects
and structural engineers embraced Revit early on as Revit Architecture had been available much
longer. When we rolled MEP out to
our engineers in 2008, it was a different story. They realized that there
was a major difference in maturity
between the software applications.
familiarity that AutoCAD gave them. Although they continued
working by porting things back and forth between the two products, things started to click over time with MEP. They realized
that the promise and continuity Revit brought to their project
was too big to be ignored. They also recognized, Revit MEP was
key to CTA’s cornerstone belief in providing the best possible
integrated design.
Getting Better!
In order to get our engineers to feel comfortable
with the output of their
drawings, we had to
have a sit down with
them and listen to their
concerns. One item for
example, electrically the
symbols were quite different. The symbols that
came out of the box left a
lot open to interpretation
in our engineer’s opinion.
They were not used to seeing symbols for lighting, power, etc.
being displayed in the manner they were.
...anyone fortunate
enough to use Revit on
their projects would soon
be the industry leader for
all others to follow ...
Not Us!
It seemed easy for our engineers to
find reasons not to get involved with
Revit MEP. MEP’s saving grace was
that our firm had made a commitment to BIM from the beginning.
With energy and load analysis, along
with interference checking, the engineers realized what a benefit this product would be for our clients. However, a deeply
ingrained engineering mentality of “I have a process that works,
why change” meant that a easy or seamless MEP integration into
CTA’s integrated design philosophy would be a challenge.
On our first project, as soon as the engineers entered the schematic design phase, mixed emotions became apparent. While
many of them understood the potential MEP could bring, it
didn’t keep their frustration levels from running high. We found
out there were several issues to overcome. First of all, our engineers came from a 2D background that allowed them to easily
control the look and feel of their drawings. Now came Revit
MEP and with that, the perception that control over their drawings was slipping away.
In another instance they had been frustrated because they didn’t
realize that they could gain control of how the linked Architectural and Structural models were displayed. To facilitate our
discussions we had them print out views and sheets and mark up
anything they felt didn’t work. We took those markups and went
into our Revit MEP project and made the required adjustments.
When it came to addressing their symbol concerns, we ended up
creating or editing the families so that the 2D symbology was
exactly what they were used to seeing. In some cases this required
us to build all new content, in other cases it was just a matter
of manipulating what was there. Once we had their buyoff, we
implemented these changes in our office MEP template.
Things Look Different!
The symbols, line weights and general appearance of their drawings were different now. The engineers felt that the clarity they
were used to was gone from their documents. The temptation
to do much of their work back in AutoCAD proved too great.
The engineers needed readability; they needed the comfort and
It wasn’t until we got the project out the door, and had a chance
to sit down with the entire team, that the benefits could be
fully recognized. While our engineers were focused on their
tasks and their own MEP model, they didn’t completely
appreciate the benefit it gave to our own Structural and
It Doesn’t Fit?
Due to the learning curve the engineers were going through with their
first project, it was taking them longer to produce drawings. However,
Revit MEP ended up saving the
team time and money as drawing
duplication was eliminated and interference and conflicts became
visible. For example we had
an instance where our HVAC
team could not get all of their
equipment into the basement
area. This was easily visible
when they started to layout all
of their ductwork and ran
some interference checking.
With the way the structure was designed at
first, there just wasn’t
enough room. As a result of this discovery,
our structure team
made some changes,
and just two feet was
added to the basement
area. This level of coordination and integration
provided the opportunity
to easily catch a real problem and it was made possible
and real because we used Revit.
Once the engineers were able to
focus on the larger picture, they
quickly saw how Revit MEP could
play a much larger roll in what they
are doing today.
Looking Ahead
Finally getting a project done that
utilized all disciplines in Revit made
it a much easier decision to start the
next project. Before we finished our
first project, the perception was that
producing documents with Revit
MEP couldn’t be done. Once
completed, those who stayed
with the project had some bragging rights. Sure it was painful
spring_2009 at times, but at this point Revit MEP became real. Our other
offices saw the development and what was accomplished. Soon
they wanted to be a part of what was going on. They realized
that based on the direction we were heading, if they didn’t get
on board, they would be left behind. Those who braved our first
project came out looking like war heroes. They also brought
credibility to the software, and they continue to be advocates for
Revit MEP.
While it may still be a small step with Revit MEP and our
engineers, the value they gained in using Revit will keep them
wanting more. Benefits such as the ability to generate three dimensional drawings and integrated design far outweighed the
negatives. In time and application our engineers see Revit MEP
playing a large roll as an analytical tool. Energy Analysis, static
calculations, loads analysis, and cost estimates are just a few of
the items that keep them pressing on. Long-term goals have them
working on ways to deliver the intelligent model to the contractor
and client and removing paper documents as a necessity.
Jim Keller is an Associate with CTA Architects
Engineers and is their BIM Manager. CTA is
a 400 person firm that provides A/E services
nationally and internationally.
Some thoughts about Revit files
do-u-revit blog spot
Architectural folks. This is important but more so because CTA
is a multi-discipline firm and we have the added motivation to be
better coordinated than separate firms might have. We enjoy a
level of access and control over the whole process that separate firms do not.
feature focus
Revit MEP
So now with the new feature built into Revit that
recognizes the “DNA” of a central file and automatically checks the option to create a local file with the
appended username, adding the word “central” at
the end could actually cause confusion when your
local file is named myproject_Central_dbaldacchino.
rvt. This is why we’re probably going to stick with a
script for creating local files like in the past, so we can
control the naming conventions, besides some other
benefits. Hopefully we’ll have an even better userfriendly version, which is still in the works.
That brings me to the purpose of this post: Why don’t
the developers implement a file extension system that
identifies what type of file we’re dealing with? Perhaps
.rvc for Central files, .rvl for Local files and leave the
.rvt for non-workset enabled files. This would make it
totally clear what you’re dealing with, eliminating the
need for arcane naming conventions. A unique, easily
identifiable icon for each file type would also be a very
welcome addition.
To view Dave’s blog online go to:
(to come)
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All architectural design by Hummel Architects PLLC. Photography by William Cox, The Land Group.
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