Page 1

Diamond Sponsor

Summer 2010

Lessons of BIM Integrated BIM... Integrated with What? 12 Tips for Efficient Conceptual Massing






Windows®. Life without Walls™. HP recommends Windows 7




S b c

Certified for AutoCAD® The only workstation bearing the “Certified for AutoCAD” label* The HP Z200 Workstation with an Intel® Xeon® Processor is designed for AutoCAD to deliver all the 2D and 3D performance needed for design and editing and the memory you need for your larger files. * All HP Z Workstations are certified for Autodesk applications. The certified label is for use with AutoCAD 2011 only, with certified graphics card installed. See for a complete list. © 2010 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. The only warranties for HP products and services are set forth in the express warranty statements accompanying such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. HP shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein Microsoft, Windows, Windows XP and Windows 7 are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies. Autodesk and AutoCAD are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., in the USA and other countries. Intel, the Intel logo, Xeon, and Xeon Inside are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and other countries.

A b s e a I b



ARCHITECTS - are you frustrated with how to effectively communicate preliminary design about the building site to civil engineers?

We have the solution for you! Siteworks™ for Revit® helps you convey design intent about the building site within the Revit model to help facilitate collaboration with civil engineers. Architects, designers and planners can shape the terrain for building sites using grading tools to model pads, parking lots, streets, sidewalks and retaining walls – all within the Revit environment. And because it uses native families, components and toposurfaces, designs become part of the overall Building Information Model and help you visualize the conceptual building plans.

Add your site components

Iterate conceptual design ideas

View videos at

Call 800-678-6565 to learn more. Visualize the preliminary site


4131 Westmark Drive • Dubuque, IA 52002 800.678.6565 • •

summer 2010


contents features


8 43 6 Editor’s Message

17 An Architect’s Perspective on BIM in Construction World

Cross-Discipline 8

Half a Million Square Foot Revit Projects? No Problem. 15 Integrated BIM... Integrated With What?

21 Lessons of BIM 23 Autodesk Quantity Takeoff: 5 Hot Tips 26 Navisworks is Not Just for Clash Detection

Civil Engineering 32 Civil 3D Guide to Data Sharing



43 Revitize Your Key Plan 46 12 Tips for Efficient Conceptual Massing

Structure 54 The Mass Family Editor, the Basics, Why It Does What It Does and Its Limitations

©2 forth for t Auto


Windows®. Life without Walls™. HP recommends Windows 7

To be updated

43 HP Remote Graphics Software The Power to Perform…Anywhere Anywhere you have a network connection at least. Down the hall, across the street, half-way around the world, HP Remote Graphics Software provides the real-time 3D screen sharing and remote access performance to get the job done.

© 2010 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. The only warranties for HP products and services are set forth in the express warranty statements accompanying such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. HP shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein Microsoft, Windows, Windows XP and Windows 7 are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies. Autodesk and AutoCAD are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., in the USA and other countries.

table of contents (cont.)

contents special sections & departments

AUGI AEC Edge Publisher Karen Popp


Acquisition-Steve Stafford - Technical-Brian Myers -

Contributing Writers

MEP 58 Revit MEp 2011 A must-Have for Electrical 62 You Can Do That With Worksets... Really?

Departments 14 Advertorial “Raise Your Performance and Productivity with HP Z Workstations” 30 Product PReview “FIRST LOOK: Leveraging the Power of Autodesk Inventor LT Suite for Architectural Element Design” 35 Autodesk Insiders 15 Questions with Jeff Hanson 40 AUGI Local Chapter Jacksonville AutoCAD User Group (JAG) 52 Inside Track AUGI | AEC EDGE brings you recent developments in Autodesk and AEC related software items. 60 Head’s Up HEAD’S UP! Updates, Service Packs and Top Known Issues (obtained from product pages at

Joseph Ales, Paul Aubin, Christian Barrett, Robert Bell, Richard Binning, Jeremiah Bowles, Jason Dodds, Brian Frank, Laura Handler, Jeff Hanson, Larry Longenecker, Courtney Pagani, Damon Ranieri, Pedro Rivera, James Salmon, Damian Serrano, Marcello Sgambelluri, Vanessa Vanbeusekom and Kara Vollman.


Keith Kelly 415.255.0390 x13

Production Coordinator

Spryte Heithecker

Advertising / Reprint Sales Karen Popp 415.255.0390 x19

Extension Media, LLC - Corporate Office President

Vince Ridley

Vice President, Marketing and Product Development Karen Murray

Vice President, Business Development Melissa Sterling

Vice President, Sales

Embedded Electronics Media Group Clair Bright

AUGI Board of Directors President

Mark Kiker

Senior Vice President David Harrington

Vice President John Morgan

Treasurer Paul Kirill

Secretary Bill Adams

Board Directors

Peter Jamtgaard Dario Passariello Ken Leary Donnie Gladfelter Jane Smith

60 Cover image: Bill Debevc, Autodesk, AutoCAD, Autodesk VIZ, Autodesk Architectural Desktop, Autodesk Revit, Autodesk Building Systems, Autodesk MapGuide, Autodesk Civil Design, Autodesk Inventor and DWF are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc. in the U.S.A. and/or in certain other countries. All other brand names, product names, or trademarks belong to their respective holders.

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 ®2010 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.


Essential Resources

for Design Professionals Using Autodesk Applications Print and Digital Publications offer valuable technical articles and product information Diamond Sponsor Purchasing guides for CAD professionals

Autodesk Partner Solutions

Diamond Sponsor

Purchasing guides for CAD professionals


Resource Catalog 2010

Autodesk Partner Solutions ®

Media & Entertainment Technology Innovators

Resource Catalog Europe 2010 Gold Sponsor

Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood. Image courtesy of Ubisoft.

2011 Edition

Printed on recycled paper

Affilliate Sponsor Affilliate Sponsor

Diamond Sponsor:


Published by:

Visit to stay current on news, product announcements and information on Autodesk-compatible applications.

Compare product research and read complete feature articles and case studies. Keep up with relevant blogs from across the blogosphere

Time-saving answers for design professionals using Autodesk applications

Editor’s Note

For those of you who are into statistics or trivia our five issues have benefited from sixty two (62) talented authors so far!!

Welcome Back! Welcome to our summer 2010 issue. We hope that summer vacations were pleasant, relaxing, and that getting back into work wasn’t too difficult. For our readers that are seeking work we wish you the best and don’t forget that AUGI has a career site to help you with your search: For this issue we are pleased to have an article about Autodesk QTO and Navisworks among others. We introduce you to another Autodesk Insider, Jeff Hanson. We tossed 15 questions at him to get a better sense of what it’s like to be a Technical Writer and Subject Matter Expert (SME). Our last issue didn’t deliver a MEP focused article so this issue has two and a third that we put under Cross Discipline because of the collaboration aspect of the story. Inventor isn’t necessarily the first product you think of for AEC work so Brian Frank with Autodesk has provided a product preview to help gets us acquainted with a new Autodesk product offering called the Inventor LT Suite. This issue is the first one with a new member on our team, Brian Myers. He joins us on the recommendation of AUGI Board Member David Harrington. Brian will serve as our Technical Editor. My role will continue as the Acquisition Editor. Brian will tackle the hard stuff, getting articles ship shape for publishing as well as chasing authors for their work from time to time. My role will be to recruit authors and find content for each issue. David Harrington smartly realized that I needed help to keep on doing this, so my thanks to David and welcome Brian!!

Thanks and Recruitment We always want to thank the authors who contributed their time and expertise to this issue, some new and some returning. Without them this magazine would be, well, empty! They are as follows:

Joseph Ales, Paul Aubin, Christian Barrett, Robert Bell, Jeremiah Bowles, Jason Dodds, Brian Frank, Laura Handler, Jeff Hanson, Courtney Pagani, Damon Ranieri, Pedro Rivera, James Salmon, Damian Serrano, Marcello Sgambelluri and Vanessa Vanbeusekom. For those of you who are into statistics or trivia our five issues have benefited from sixty two (62) talented authors so far!! If you really like a particular author’s work please let us know so we can apply pressure, friendly, loving pressure, to ensure they return, often! As always if you want to be a part of this magazine as an author or as an advertiser please let us know. • Steve Stafford - Acquisition Editor: steve.stafford@augi. com • Brian Myers - Technical Editor: • Karen Popp - Sales:

Planning As always we are actively recruiting for new articles for our next issue. Thanks for reading!

Steve Stafford

AUGI AEC Edge Editor Member AUGI Board of Directors 2006-08 AUGI Revit Community Forum Manager


Check out Paul’s latest Revit course at

with help from Paul F. Aubin

Visit today! Order books online, access resources, free downloads, and learn about training and consulting services


The Aubin Academy Mastering Series Out now! The Aubin Academy Mastering Series: Revit Architecture 2011 The Aubin Academy Mastering Series: AutoCAD MEP 2011 September 2010 The Aubin Academy Mastering Series: AutoCAD Architecture 2011 Late 2010 The Aubin Academy Mastering Series: Revit MEP 2011

RevitÊup withÊPDF

Bluebeam PDF Revu’s AutoCAD and Revit plug-ins provide more horsepower for high quality, one button PDF creation. Gear up your PDF by selecting and reordering sheets, adding dimensions, text stamps, hyperlinks and file attachments. Or, get in the fast lane and choose custom plot settings with Bluebeam batch to create the right set of PDFs the first time. Need more torque? Use Revu to collaborate with anyone, anywhere, at any speed with Bluebeam Studio.

Start your engine at

© 2010 Bluebeam Software, Inc.

feature focus


by: Damon J. Ranieri

HALF A MILLION SQUARE FOOT REVIT PROJECTS? NO PROBLEM. A Case Study of a Composite Revit File Scheme, Project Process, and Communication.

Introduction Cannon Design is an Ideas Based Practice, ranked among the leading international firms in planning and design for healthcare, science & technology, education, sports & recreation, commercial and government clients. At present, the firm employs a staff of over 1,000, delivering services in 17 offices throughout North America, as well as abroad in Shanghai, China, and Mumbai, India. We have implemented all f lavors of Revit firm wide. We have users ranging from novice to power user. The following case study examines a large scale tenant fit out for the Corporate Commercial group, an integrated in-house team involving almost all the disciplines and services our firm offers. The team used Revit to augment their work f low and project process. As the team used the tool and its features, they found that only by frequent communication with each other outside of the model were they able to leverage Revit’s potential for coordinated output. As one team member noted, “A Revit project team without both Revit prowess and a high level of effective communication, relegates Revit to just another documentation tool.” At the time of this writing the team has completed construction documents.

Background In the fourth quarter of 2009, our office began an urban, large-scale interiors project using Revit 2010. The team was lead by the interior design group, and included architects, Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing and Fire Protection engi

neers and designers. The majority of the work was designed in-house, with the exception of the top f loor, which engaged an outside MEP consultant. Most of the team had limited exposure to Revit at this point so we wanted to give them every advantage we could.

Model Planning We began by working with our Shanghai office to create a Revit model of the fixed conditions from as-built and record drawings of the existing conditions. This included all structural elements, the exterior walls, skin and core, and the MEP systems. The project team produced space planning documents, schematic design and presentation material for client and user meetings while the Shanghai office created the existing conditions model. When the completed existing conditions model was delivered to the project team in Chicago, the elements contained within needed to be merged into the models they were to ultimately reside in. The existing shell & core architectural and structural work remained as its own model, while the Plumbing and Fire Protection work was copied out to its own model. Any interior architecture existing condition was modeled in Chicago. Those elements needed to be merged into the standalone existing conditions model from Shanghai. This model was to be linked into all models used for the duration of the project. Finally, the existing electrical and mechanical work needed to reside with the new architectural, electrical and mechanical work in the “working” models, so that modeling new connection points and depicting the under f loor trench duct system was possible. The “working” models at this point had been developed summer_2010

*Du op be

©2 prod cons

Micr Auto the U

Windows®. Life without Walls™. HP recommends Windows 7

Build Better with Autodesk® Revit® on the HP Z400 Workstation Autodesk Revit is the cornerstone of the Autodesk Building Information Modelling (BIM) process; the HP Z400 Workstation with an Intel® Xeon® Processor, provides the multicore* power and performance to help you visualize and explore your projects before they are built so your designs shine before ground is even broken. *Dual-, Quad-, and Six-Core technologies are designed to improve performance of multithreaded software products and hardware-aware multitasking operating systems and may require appropriate operating system software for full benefits; not all customers or software applications will necessarily benefit from use of these technologies. © 2010 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. The only warranties for HP products and services are set forth in the express warranty statements accompanying such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. HP shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein. Microsoft, Windows, and Vista are U.S. registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. Autodesk Revit is a registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., in the USA and other countries. Intel, the Intel logo, Xeon, and Xeon Inside are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and other countries.

feature focus

Cross-Discipline to a schematic design level of detail. The process of merging the interior existing conditions modeling with the model produced by the Shanghai office was tedious and proved to be a painstaking process, but ultimately was a huge advantage to the architectural and interior design team. The existing conditions modeling for MEP was less useful, due to that fact our Shanghai office only received design intent record documents authored by the engineers of record. They were also asked to begin the modeling prior to the field surveys. This prompted a strategy of using additional levels for the duct and piping work that could be changed to the proper elevation after the field notes were available. This proved to be more problematic than helpful, especially later on in the project, when the additional levels caused confusion. The firm crafted and delivered a full suite of training tailored to the team, as well as Revit training specific to each discipline. The training consisted of 3-5 days (dependant on the discipline and team member availability) of Revit basics, essentials and advanced platform topics. The MEP group also received 2 days of discipline specific training. A trainer was brought in from Autodesk to further leverage 3D Studio Max with Revit. The team also received “Train the Project” styled training as the start date of the modeling efforts approached in earnest. The classes and training material were gathered and recorded (in the form of videos and step by step instructions) into a blog for quick and easy access by the team. The BIM Leadership Group of the firm was frequently consulted during the course of the design and document creation process. Finally, “Just in Time” styled training and troubleshooting sessions were scheduled with individual team members as well as the whole team as needed, delivered both by the firm’s centralized BIM Leadership Group and by key power users from around the firm. The team noted that this level of support allowed them to focus on the project and stay efficient and profitable. From previous project experience we learned that we needed to control the opening and saving times of the models. A Revit team consisting of almost entirely new users is going to be less efficient than the same team in a traditional 2D environment and coupling that with potentially unwieldy models (i.e. models that take 15 to 25 minutes to open) cripples a project team’s profitability and productivity. To get the team on the right track we felt it was crucial to structure model’s set up in such a way to ensure speed. The team was assigned a model (or BIM) manager, who’s responsibility it was to schedule weekly (or regularly occurring) model coordination meetings, schedule and perform model maintenance, and to be the point of contact in regard to the models. Typically, a team member on this project was given a workstation that had 1-2-4 Quad Core processors, with 8-16GB of RAM, and was running Windows Vista Business Edition in 64bit mode.


File set up schema From our past experience we had seen that Revit files begin to suffer in terms of performance at about 120 MB in size (mostly Revit 2009 projects running on Windows 32bit operating systems). For piping models this magic number lowers significantly, on some projects the optimum file size for a Plumbing / Fire Protection (PFP) model needed to be as low as 80 MB. For the scope of work planned, the team would approach this number fairly rapidly. The pipe modeling exercise had proven problematic on other projects throughout the firm since it had slowed the performance of any multi-discipline model in production significantly. The approach we settled on was to break up the models by groups of f loors instead of by discipline. Ultimately, we ended up with a low, mid, and high rise model for Architectural/ Interiors, Mechanical, and Electrical, (referred to as the “AME” models) and the same for Plumbing/ Fire Protection. These models were referred to by the team as the “working” models. The “working” models would eventually be linked together in a master or composite model. The 3D modeling as well as the annotation, tagging and dimensioning was done in the “working” models. If the team deviated from this approach they would end up having to use Generic Annotation symbols instead of intelligent tags. In Revit 2010, tags cannot reference an element in a linked model (see figure 1). Each “working” model had roughly 10 worksets on average. The preliminary testing had shown that if a designer only opened the “working” model whennecessary, with only the worksets they needed for the tasks at hand, the performance of the files was on par with CAD files. In order to ensure users kept their work on the appropriate workset, a user workset named “Open/ Closed” was established in each model. This workset that was not visible in any views and was set as the active workset before a user Synced to Central. Upon opening their files or on completion of a Sync to Central “Open / Closed” would be the active workset. This would act as a reminder, the “string around your finger”. When a user began modeling they would receive a message that the object they placed was not be visible in their view. Then they would then realize that they needed to set the appropriate workset for their work. The composite model was typically referred to as the “full” model by the team. The team needed to issue and schedule all sheets, rooms, and light fixtures for the entire project together, retain the links between f loor plans and sections, and maintain consistent standards for line weights, text styles, and revisions. In order to accomplish this a workset was created for each model that was brought together in the “full” model. This would allow the team to load only the information they needed at the time, without sacrificing the consistency and coordination they hoped to gain out of Revit. Since the sheets were all created in the “full” model, the view that was placed onto the sheet had to have a companion view


in the “working” model. The “Linked View” feature from the Visibility Graphics Overrides dialog box was used to achieve the desired results. Finally, in order to ensure that CAD information did not “pollute” or corrupt the “working” and “full” models, as had been our experience on previous projects, we established a CAD work f low standard. All 2D CAD information used to supplement the f loor plans, sections, elevations, and details generated from the Revit model was to be referenced into a blank CAD file before it was referenced into the view that was place on the sheet. The CAD information was also to be placed on its own workset whenever possible.

Successes At the time of this writing the average file size of the AME models is about 210-220MB. The average Syncing to Central time is under five minutes. The team has successfully been able to coordinate not only their sheets, title block information, drawing index, and batch plotting efforts, but also other electronic deliverable requirements. This includes DWF submissions to the authority having jurisdiction, Navisworks files, and DWG files for a number of outside consultants still working in 2D CAD (all from their “full” model and in some cases their “working” model).

feature focus


Navisworks animation. Composite prepared by Damon Ranieri.

Navisworks animation. Composite prepared by Damon Ranieri.

The Architectural team noted that the file scheme allowed them to take advantage of the power of Revit’s scheduling capabilities from the very onset of the modeling efforts. The team was able to accelerate their modeling effort by creating component families created from primarily 2D objects. This allowed them the efficiency of 2D modeling coupled with the power of Revit scheduling. The Mechanical group successfully used a typical f loor design created at design development as a starting point to quickly populate additional f loors in the model. They were also able to use the Revit space entity to accelerate their code requirement evaluations, area calculations, demand load calculations, and data entry into schedules and zoning.

Navisworks was used by the firm’s BIM Leadership Group and Training Coordinators to “spot check” the models as they progressed. By identifying problems and interacting with the team, additional training topics were identified, developed and rolled out.


The Electrical group was able to use the Revit scheduling feature to populate their luminaire schedule directly from the same light fixture families driving their working / check Panelboard schedules and circuiting systems model. They were also able to take advantage of production efficiencies by editing circuiting layouts and the associated circuiting tags more quickly. The Plumbing and Fire Protection group was able to model and populate the “arm over” condition of piping quickly 11

feature focus

Cross-Discipline throughout the model through the use of groups, and copying and pasting typical layouts throughout the models. This was done to ensure that this requirement was considered during ceiling coordination. This approach allowed the use of Revit or Navisworks for the team to analyze the ceiling planes and the areas above them.

Challenges As the project advanced and more users were spending more time in the model, there was not a way to ensure all information was on the proper workset, even with the “Open/ Close” workset strategy employed. Users also complained of confusion about where a bit of information might reside (i.e. tags belong to the view’s workset, and the object being tagged would be on a user created workset). As a result users were opening all worksets instead of just what they needed. This defeated the strategy of using worksets to mitigate file opening times. In addition, team members from all disciplines found it cumbersome to open an entirely different model to analyze various aspects of the design. For example, if an architect wanted to compare the space layout to the program and finalize edits, in many cases all three models would have to remain open on the user’s machine at the same time. In another case, if an MEP team member was picking up markups, the markups typically covered the whole project so that user would also have open all three models and additionally keep AutoCAD open to address information authored in the referenced CAD files. Due to staffing challenges in the Plumbing and Fire Protection group, those users had a tough time keeping pace with their counterparts in other disciplines in terms of their Revit skills. Even with additional emergency training from outside consultants, in house power users, BIM Leadership, access to the in house BIM blog, and “Just in Time” training sessions, the group ultimately delivered the project using CAD. At the time of this writing, the group’s training issues have been addressed and they plan to issue their next document set for the redesign and additional floors in Revit with the rest of the team. The Architectural team was disappointed that they could not dimension anything directly to geometry in a link; typically this type of dimensioning was done in the “full” model. If another user (i.e. the Mechanical designer) opened up the “full” model, but chose to not open a number of links that had been used for dimensioning, they would be asked by Revit if they would like to delete the dimensions that could no longer be resolved. If they did not answer “yes” to delete the dimension(s) they could not open their file. In the end, the architects ended up dimensioning in the “working” files so the dimensions would adjust with the walls if they were moved. For dimensioning between new work in the “working” models and the existing conditions model, the architects needed to draw symbolic or drafting lines in the “full” model over the geometry in the linked model that they wanted to


dimension. This ultimately improved the files’ performance when opening and Syncing to Central, but was considered to be a drawback of the approach. As many users are aware, tailoring a view in Revit is not an intuitive process. First time users grappled with getting their views to appear close to company and industry standards, and graphically their efforts were further complicated by the necessity to pull companion views from a “working” model into the “full” views referenced by the sheets. In such cases where certain annotation was coming from views created in the existing conditions model, and other annotation coming from another discipline’s “working” model, a significant amount of time would be spent troubleshooting why printed sheets looked a certain way regardless of whether that result was desirable or not.

Analysis Now that certain disciplines within the firm are working together in the same model more frequently, specifically Architectural and Electrical, we have discovered interesting developments emerge in project process and work flow. Historically, the Architectural group would place items such as light fixtures, data outlets, and receptacles in their schematic level CAD drawings to give clients and users a sense of how their space might be laid out. Since this was typically done in a set of files independent of the Electrical designers, a set of prints was made when the team was ready to have the Electrical designers begin their portion of the work. The design of lights and devices from the Architectural team was considered a starting point. As in many cases, the final location of certain items would be contingent on the Electrical designer’s analysis of codes, calculations, and products available that would work for the system. On this project, the architects, working traditionally at an early stage in the project created their own version of many of these families. This became an increasingly urgent issue when the team realized the hours and effort it was going to take to clean these families from the models in order to allow the Electrical team to begin their work using the families specifically developed for the Electrical views. In the end we found a way to work around the symbols and families that were placed at schematic design and space planning; we agreed that for future projects the official library of Revit families for the Electrical group would be used at all phases of the project process by all disciplines to allow the transition of responsibilities to take place more efficiently. This means that as families are developed, the input of all disciplines and users that plan to utilize the family need to be considered before the element can be part of the firm’s official Revit library. Overall the main objective of the file set up strategy was successful. The file sizes were kept in check, and the team remained productive opening and Syncing to Central times remained reasonable. In the future we will continue to split models but make sure that the bulk of the building or project remains intact per discipline. Currently for new projects, Architectural and electrical work remain together in the same model, as do Plumbing and Fire Protection, while the site, Structural, and Mechanical models remain separate. Revit 2011 has included features to lesummer_2010

verage the use of linked models (i.e. tagging through a link), so the composite or �full� model strategy is one that the BIM Leadership group still promotes and recommends depending on the goals of the project. There are features the team intends to use in Revit that require all the models for a project be linked together, such as drawing index schedules. It cannot be stated enough that the most important lesson for the team from this experience was that the lines of communication need to remain open and active outside of the Revit environment in order to take full advantage of the software and the BIM process. Teams need to know who to communicate with and how. They also need to allow time for regular communication with the rest of the Revit users on the project. This can be through weekly meetings, use of the Worksharing Monitor, instant messaging, email, telephone and most likely a combination of all of the above. What is imperative is that the communication is comprehensive and focused. One user talking to the person next to them is not effective communication on a Revit project. All users on a team need to be committed to the process and be willing to share information about their models,


listen carefully to each other, and then put that information to good use to benefit the entire team and project. 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

feature focus

Cross-Discipline 13

1323-258_CAD_Advertorial.indd 1

9/13/10 9:57 AM


Integrated BIM… Integrated with What?

Building information modeling (BIM) is a technology driven phenomenon sweeping the AECO Industry. Prior to the current down turn owners were clamoring for increased efficiency and productivity in the planning, design, construction, operations and maintenance of facilities and the infrastructure that supports those facilities. Many viewed BIM as a Panacea, and rushed to implement BIM programs. Institutional owners like the General Services Administration (GSA) and the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USCA) at the federal level, state officials in Texas, California and Wisconsin and a myriad of private owners adopted BIM guidelines of varying quality. In the rush to adopt BIM those owners overlooked the need to marry BIM to effective lean business processes and to develop integrated agreements and procurement processes that actually support and enable the use of BIM on one hand and lean construction processes on the other. BIM alone can increase efficiency and productivity for a few industry stakeholders. But Integrated BIM will, eventually, allow owners to leverage digital assets by connecting real time web-based information about building components, supporting infrastructure, building systems, as well as maintenance and operations programs. The graphic below visually depicts the correct balance between BIM, lean construction processes and the integrated agreements and procurement processes required to support those innovative new tools.

Integrated BIM… owners want it, how do they get it? Too often, owners – even sophisticated owners – have no idea how to procure effective BIM services. Further, too few constructors, designers, consultants and trade contractors understand BIM. Between cryptic BIM requirements in RFPs and cumbersome BIM guidelines owners seeking BIM seem to be confusing designers, contractors and trade contractors about what BIM is and why they want it. This article explores some – though by no means all – of the challenges to procuring an effective Integrated BIM. The AECO community must recognize the long term value of investing in Integrated BIM and deploying the collaborative and integrated processes necessary to procure Integrated BIM services.

feature focus

by: James L. Salmon, Esq

The current best efforts at BIM result in something called a Federated BIM model which is an amalgamation of models created on disparate software platforms by a series of disparate entities bound together, at best, by an integrated agreement related to a single project. Few of the entities involved – be they owners, contractors, designers or software providers – are prepared to work together cooperatively and collaboratively. The software tools are not interoperable and cannot, generally, share BIM data on a cross disciplinary basis. Once cobbled together the Federated BIM Model is most often leveraged by constructors, both general contractors and trade contractors, to increase the efficiency and productivity with which they deliver their services. The occasional windfall is pocketed by the entity it falls too and others are simply frustrated by a series of strange new business processes.

Figure 2 Figure 1

summer_2010 9:57 AM

Designers are particularly disillusioned with BIM as it calls on them to modify their business models, invest in new software, hardware and training and to accept the same fees for more work, at least the first time around. Even designers who recognize the


feature focus

Cross-Discipline need to leverage BIM in order to remain relevant are confused by the new business models and don’t know how to “sell” BIM to skeptical owners. The allegory of “Katy’s Birthday Castle” tells the story of the owner who receives a “Box of BIM Blocks”, with no idea how to reassemble the BIM Blocks, access relevant information or otherwise the advantage of the shiny the new digital asset that is purportedly being received. The full story of Katy’s Birthday Castle is detailed on the Collaborative Construction blog (http:// but the bottom line is the Federated BIM Model depicted above is torn down placed in a box, leaving Katy with a “Box of BIM Blocks”.

have other interests that merge, diverge and even clash with the owner’s interests. Real digital assets – i.e. Integrated BIM – that can be recorded, analyzed and accessed intelligently over time by relevant stakeholders will enable more of those staked holders to

A few sophisticated owners can utilize some, though not all of the BIM Blocks, but as far as most owners are concerned the Federated BIM Model might as well be a Braille Rubik’s Cube. The “Box of BIM Blocks” and the Braille Rubik’s Cube below depict

Figure 4

make more and better decisions about how best to utilize such facilities.

Figure 3

the dilemmas faced by owners.

Integrated BIM… what is the solution? Integrated teams of BIM enabled stakeholders formed in advance, trained together and deployed in an integrated, cooperative and collaborative environment is the key. That process is neither simple nor cheap but it is necessary if the AECO industry wishes to leverage BIM effectively. The “business purpose” of a single family home, a convenience store, a storage facility, a commercial warehouse, a hospital, a server farm and a regional hospital are all very different. The owner of each facility has one level of interest in the digital assets associated with each such facility and its supporting infrastructure, while the community at large, the owner’s employees, emergency personnel and others who interact with the facility


Conclusion Today more than ever we need to leverage information intelligently, effectively and efficiently. Integrated teams that learn to do so, throughout the life cycle of a facility, will increase the efficiency with which they deliver planning, design, construction, operations and maintenance services, gaining a market advantage over competitors who fail to do so. Entities and individuals interested in learning more about Integrated BIM, lean business processes and the integrated agreements and modified procurement methods necessary to support integrated teams should contact the author for more information. 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.



An Architect’s Perspective on BIM in Construction World

Having worked as an Architect for twelve years in the West, Midwest and East Coast, and then recently accepting the BIM Manager position with a California construction company, I have a unique perspective. When I started working in architecture, the 3D models being created were solely for client presentations. The models were meant to woo the clients and to allow the client to visualize their new building. Significant changes have happened in the profession since then. The construction company I was lucky enough to get a position with is DPR. If you aren’t familiar with them, here are some basic facts on the company. DPR Construction (, which was founded in 1990, is a unique technical builder with a passion for results. Ranked in the top 50 general contractors nationally over the last 12 years, DPR specializes in technically complex and sustainable projects for the Advanced Technology, Corporate Office, Healthcare and Life Sciences customers. What interested me in DPR is that they are continuously looking for opportunities to improve the construction delivery process by providing a higher level of quality service on projects of all sizes and complexities. DPR is a proven leader in green building, building information modeling (BIM), and lean/integrated project delivery. A fundamental reason that I took the position with DPR was because of the company values that it embodies of integrity, enjoyment, uniqueness, and ever forward. The fourth value is important in terms of BIM along with DPR’s company motto which is, ‘we exist to build great things.’ These great things are built better by using the right tools. DPR empowers and encourages its BIM engineers to choose and learn from any software they judge necessary. As an example of their commitment and expertise, DPR’s employees have played a dynamic role in the development of various software platforms. The use of Building Information Modeling has been a fundamental component to meeting the ever increasing demands of clients, shortened building schedules, and tighter budgets. The major software/ tools that DPR uses and I have become familiar with in the Newport Beach Office are as follows: ProjectWise, DProfiler, Timberline, Innovaya, Revit, laser scanning, MWF, Solibri and Navisworks. There are many tools we use at DPR. Usually the project constraints, owner, site, existing conditions and/ or DPR staff drive the needs for particular tools on a project. One owner may want summer_2010

feature focus

by: Vanessa Vanbeusekom

a particular deliverable of a model of their project with every outlet, light switch, and component labeled. Another client’s needs may focus on prefabrication of the shared head walls in a hospital. Each new project gives us a chance to find a way to make it happen. In order for BIM to become more useful it needs to have a comprehensive understanding of the entire process from operation, preconstruction, self perform, to construction. Each of these areas has break downs in efficiency. If each of these areas is better understood then the tools available can be skillfully utilized. Here is a brief synopsis of what I have learned at DPR in the past 3.5 months. A crucial component to the project’s success is communication. When teams are not communicating or working off of old data; they are being inefficient for that project. Every BIM project at DPR begins with a team meeting where the project objectives and goals are outlined. From there each team player in the meeting states the required information to complete their tasks. In these meetings at the beginning and throughout the project we are able to tap into the collective knowledge—this is what drives the team’s success. The tool that DPR uses to facilitate better communication between the team and the subcontractors is a product called ProjectWise version V8i by Bentley. It acts similar to a FTP site but it more effectively manages versions, allows for faster copying of changed documents, and easier coordination of documents; all within a secure and backed up environment.

Figure 1 - Model Based Estimating - Setup Phase

Once ProjectWise is in place our estimators can utilize the shared project models posted in ProjectWise. As the architect or engineer is working on their model the updates are sent directly to the models from which estimators are working. We have started to experiment with using DProfiler by Beck Technology,


feature focus

Cross-Discipline for conceptual based estimating. DProfiler software is designed to improve the early design decisions made in preconstruction; these decisions inform the designers on the cost ramifications of the change. It is a tool that enables greater clarity before moving forward on a design that exceeds the budget. If an architect is working in the best interest of the client, the model is shared. It does not make sense in terms of time and money spent to duplicate the initial effort. But there may come a point in the project where the shared model between the contractor and the architect becomes two models. This is driven by the diverging needs of the architect and the contractor. When the model is shared it is posted by the architects on a weekly basis to ProjectWise, where everyone on the team has the ability to view the model. From there, our BIM engineer would give feedback on creating the needed parameters to pull information from the model. In an Integrated Project Delivery, it is easy to convey but important for the team to understand the value of adding this additional information into the model. This extra work that is usually done by the architect pays off in two-fold. It improves the accuracy of the model for conducting the quality control and quality assurance part of the process as well as allows for improved and efficient estimating. Once DPR has the model they may create specific schedules and generate quantity information that can be extracted and used in another software program called Innovaya. The quantities extracted from the model may include concrete, spoils, studs, the list is endless. From these quantities a price can be applied from our data source of cost assemblies taken from Timberline, which are based on current market prices. Innovaya is the software that pulls the quantity and cost assembly together. As the architect’s model changes the quantity data extracted is quickly updated, which drastically reduces the estimating time and improves the accuracy of the estimates.

but is believed to be straight, this causes a cascading effect down the line for every subcontractor and their work. An example is a technically complex project of a renovation of a pharmaceutical manufacturer, where there is limited space for the new utilities. If one new utility is placed inaccurate there may not be room to coordinate the remaining trade work. In order to start a project on the right foot, we as contractors and architects need to have the most exact information. This information begins with a scan of the existing building. Laser scanning works by line of sight and to an accuracy of +/-2mm. The laser scanner we use is a Leica Geosystems Scan Station C10, which has the capability of scanning 50,000 points per second. Completing a scan results in a document called a point cloud that is a series of points that make up a model that reflect everything scanned in that space. If the scan is of a mechanical room where the clearances are tight, each piece of equipment is shown in a series of points. These points make up an image from which measurements, model coordination and clashes can be checked against. We have used laser scans to set the proper framework on jobs as well as midway through a project to resolve an issue that surfaced. If the team is not sharing a model, we may choose to create a new model. When doing this we tend to use Revit by Autodesk. The reason we use Revit is there is a template driven extension called MWF, a StruSoft Solutions software. MWF stands for Metal Wood Framer, it is a wall framing program. When used in Revit, it recognizes walls, doors, windows and openings. This tool will automatically generate the modeling of studs, king studs, framed openings and kickers. Why is this important? From experience, we have learned that critical MEP and FP conflicts occur in the field with metal framing that cannot be moved, which tends to be the case with king studs and specific equipment openings. When this metal frame information is modeled we are able to resolve conflicts by providing a model for the various trades to coordinate their work around the critical framing components. MWF also has the ability to create shop drawings for our self-perform employees to build from. On these drawings, every opening in the wall is designed and modeled into the wall prior to construction.

Figure 2 - Extracting Door Quantities by Type

Accurate estimates are critical to the project’s success but another component of importance is having a precise representation of the building. Usually a Tenant Improvement project is started from the as built drawings. The architect may model directly from these documents. The problem is everything is not built as designed. Why would this be important? If during the installation a subcontractor pulls a dimension off a wall that is skewed, 18

Figure 3 - Leveraging software to manage design changes. summer_2010

feature focus 20

Cross-Discipline This reduces the number of cut studs, waste, and allows for faster building of the project. A new tool that we have begun to experiment with is Solibri. It is a software program that checks for changes in the model, provides various code checks on the model, and some clash detection, but so far its clash detection capacities do not compete with Navisworks.

tools we use today; tomorrow’s tools hopefully work even better to streamline the estimating, design, coordination and construction of our projects. The feeling in the DPR office is rarely one of content but of ‘how can we be better next time?’

Lastly, in order to find and thus resolve problems in the models provided by the various trades prior to construction we use a tool called Navisworks by Autodesk. There are many tools for building in 3D. These tools are not compatible, except when it comes to programs like Solibri and Navisworks. In these programs the users are able to see the various 3D models combined into one. In this process a test is run which finds potential clashes and these clashes are then resolved. Usually we bring all parties together to visualize the overlaying of the models shown on large interactive screens called Smart Boards. Each of the parties in the room are able to visualize the modeled potential conflict and work together to resolve it by understanding the priorities of the various components.

Interesting Statistics on DPR: Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, DPR exists to build great things, including great results: • No. 57 – DPR’s recent rank on the FORTUNE 100 “Best Companies to Work For” list. • 6,100 – Number of projects DPR has completed across the country. • <10 - Number of years it took DPR to reach the $1 billion mark in annual revenue. • No. 33 – DPR’s current ranking among general contractors in the nation. • 0.93 - DPR’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recordable incident rate for 2009. With an incident rate less than 1, DPR continues to set new industry standards in safety when compared to the national industry average of 5.4. • 70 – Number of DPR projects currently using BIM.

With each project new tools and requirements tend to be needed. As an office we learn from past projects to find new practices for BIM. We learn from each other by holding weekly BIM calls, monthly webinars, workshops, an annual BIM summit, participate in conferences, and do research and development with Universities. Our goal is to move the industry forward through the use of BIM technologies, processes, and lean methods using a collaborative delivery approach. All regions of DPR have deep expertise in implementing BIM and we are also one of two general contractors that are working with the GSA under their BIM IDIQ meeting. The ever forward value at DPR is what inspires the BIM users to find more effective solutions. These are the BIM

Vanessa Vanbeusekom, NCARB, LEED® AP: BD+C, Ms. Vanbeusekom, a BIM Manager, has been with DPR Construction-Newport Beach, California for 4 months. Ms. Vanbeusekom has a Masters of Architecture from Montana State Univeristy and a Bachelor of Arts from the Univeristy of Minnesota. She is a licensed architect in Illinois, New York and Montana. Ms. Vanbeusekom is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional with a specialty of Building Design and Construction. (LEED AP BD+C) and Design. Vanessa can be reached at



Lessons of BIM

Right around the last time we contributed to AUGI/AEC Edge, Tocci Building Corporation was launching an affiliate company to provide VDC and IPD services, Q5. As we worked to educate and support a variety of clients and projects over the past year or so, we have learned some new lessons about implementing VDC, and have been reminded of some old lessons too. Here are a few:

relationships within the team are constant; the modeling methods are flexible.

Lesson 1: BIM Execution Guess Since one of our services is facilitating BIM Execution Plans, we have really streamlined and documented our previously internal, project-based process. As we did that, an interesting thing happened. First, our BEP got more detailed, especially the Level of Detail section – rather than using an Assembly Code-based spreadsheet, we transitioned to a very detailed, image and textbased system organized by Assembly Code.

Lesson 2: We all work for the project One of the challenges we repeatedly face working as a VDC facilitator is related to the Tocci-ism “we all work for the project”. One of Q5’s assets is its roots with construction, through its relationship with Tocci. No matter the project or problem, we approach it like a builder.

feature focus

by: Laura Handler and Courtney Pagani

This goes with what 37signals says about planning: that it’s guessing. That doesn’t mean don’t do it; it means plan in a way that enables flexibility. Although they recommend replacing “plans” with “guesses”, we will probably stick with the acronym BEP instead of BEG.

The hurdle that we face is that our role as Q5 is not the builder of the project, so we sometimes need to tread carefully to avoid stepping on toes. However, we have been continually reminded that “we all work for the project” is a good philosophy no matter our role. We are serving the role of virtual builder (so to speak) on Pier A, a historic renovation in New York, NY. Although our scope focuses on coordinating trade models, we (and others on the project) have found the need to step outside scope and do what the project needs, whether it’s working with another subcontractor on modeling or creating an additional report to locate clashes. Although the team has had typical challenges, the coordination process has gone relatively smoothly because of everyone’s willingness to pitch in as needed.

Figure 1 - Example of Level of Detail within a BIM Execution “Guess” for B2020200 Curtain Wall for the design phases of a project.

However, as we worked with teams more and more, we realized that we use the BEP as both a guide for modeling and then a team building activity. As we started working on the project, the items that were listed on the BEP were revisited, detailed out and sometimes modified. The framework of the BEP is constant; the


Lesson 3: Get the Model into the Field One of Q5’s clients, Crate&Barrel, has hired us for half a dozen projects to perform model reviews of design and fabrication models. Model reviews generally have two components: coordination review, which focuses on interdisciplinary coordination, and standards review, which checks model development again Crate&Barrel’s BIM standard. Through this, we are able to make sure that project is coordinated. For the components that are pre-fabricated directly from the model, coordination is carried through to execution. For instance, the prefabricated stud wall system “ just fits” with the steel. However, for items that are not prefabricated (or items that aren’t placed per their location in the model), we have run into challenges (read: we’ve had field clashes despite a clash-free design model).


feature focus

Cross-Discipline To be honest, this isn’t surprising. If the field isn’t using the model to install, issues are going to come up. We’re now working with Crate&Barrel to figure out how to implement BIM on its jobsites, even when the selected builder isn’t BIM-enabled. This solution will be part-technology, part-sociology (just like BIM), and will certainly draw from our experience of implementing BIM on Tocci’s jobsites.

Q5 operates similarly; although, we have no intention of becoming obsolete as a company! For instance, we don’t offer 2D conversions as a standard service; rather, we teach our clients how to efficiently convert documents into models. In general, we don’t do the work of project teams; we enable them to stand on their own two feet. It is far more rewarding to see a client doing their own work, just like it is far more rewarding to see a project manage navigate through the model to get information on their own.

Conclusion No, there is nothing ground-breaking here. We are just echoing thoughts that we (and others) have had in the past. But we figured, since these critical concepts had temporarily moved to the back of our mind, the same could have happened to others. We invite you to share your lessons learned with us: http://www.q5thecompany. com/2010/09/lessons-learned/ Laura Handler serves as Q5’s Director of Operations and Tocci’s Director of VDC. Apart from her duties at Q5 and Tocci, Ms. Handler is considered a national leader in BIM, serving as a key member of the AGC BIMForum, an organization dedicated to “making BIM work now”. She serves as a liason to the AIA Contract Documents Committee’s Task Group C, which focuses on digital practice documents, including the AIA E202, and is the chairperson of the Boston Revit Users Group. Ms. Handler teaches and presents frequently on the local and national level on VDC and Tocci’s use of this transformative practice. For more of her thoughts on VDC, IPD and the industry, read her blog: bimx.

Figure 2 - Caption: Modeled versus built of prefabricated stud wall system and structural steel on a Crate&Barrel.

Lesson 4: Become Obsolete When it comes down to it, implementing BIM is all about enabling the people who do the work, to do the work using BIM. Some firms slap a layer of BIM on top of their existing process, either using an isolated BIM person or outsourcing BIM. Even as a “BIM consultant” we don’t think that is the right way to implement BIM on project or within companies. The goal of Tocci’s VDC department has always largely been to become obsolete. In this stage of our implementation, we have a highly BIM-enabled group of people who are setting standards and doing modeling. However, each of them is treated like a project engineer on projects; the goal is for each of them to become cost engineers, project engineers and project managers – really, the goal is to have a fully BIM-enabled workforce. In that sense, we treat our VDC department as a training ground; a chance to be exposed to different parts of a project and learn the tools we use. After they are up to speed, they move on to a different role, but will continue to be “BIM-enabled”.


Courtney Pagani is a VDC Modeler and is responsible for the day-to-day management of all of Q5’s work with Crate&Barrel. Among many other things, she is key to the organization’s training program. Courtney holds a M.A. in Interior Design and maintains involvement in the design community by instructing studio design courses. About Q5 Q5, LCC, facilitates Virtual Design & Construction (VDC) and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) for building projects internationally. Driven by a desire for flawless execution and a passion for thoughtful design, Q5 delivers services on commercial, residential, institutional and healthcare project. Q5 is an affiliate of Tocci Building Corporation, a construction management firm and leader in application of advanced construction technologies.



Autodesk Quantity Takeoff: 5 Hot Tips

With Autodesk Quantity Takeoff 2010 (QTO) starting to take hold around North America, it seemed like a good idea to share some tips and tricks to a few common questions the come around. So read on for a more information about some new tools in QTO.

Single-Segment vs. Multi-Segment Linear Takeoff: When doing a manual takeoff using the Linear Tool you, whether using polyline or rectangular, you are given the option to utilize SingleSegment or Multi-Segment Mode. Let’s start by defining what these actually mean: Single-Segment Mode: Creates a single line or measurement for a series of continuously drawn segments Multi-Segment Mode: Creates individual lines or measurements for a series of continuously drawn segments. What does this really mean in simple terms? When using Single-Segment Mode during a Linear Takeoff a continuous group of lines is created, this in turn only places a single item in the takeoff palette. The sum total of the line is added together to create the total length. If you have to edit a line you are not able to since it’s all grouped together as a single line segment. There are grips so points can still be moved, but if its segment needs to be categorized differently or deleted then you may likely have to redo the entire segment. With Multi-Segment Mode each line is treated as an individual item in the takeoff palette. You are still able to click as many points as you need, but after your completing the takeoff, each segment is represented as an individually. From here you can, move, re-categorize or delete the segments as needed. Here is how I use the tool: If I need the entire segment to total, then I usually go with single segment, as a rule of thumb. If I may need them as individuals, then I use multi-segment.

View Defined: Shows only items that have been defined or mapped to a type View Undefined: Shows only items that do not yet have a defined type Catalog Items: Shows only items that were imported from a catalog. Project Items: Shows only items that were created in the current project. With Assignments: Shows only items that have model items assigned to them. Custom: Opens the Custom Filter dialog box

feature focus

by: Jason Dodds

The Custom Filter tool allows you to create up to 10 additional filters to display in the View Display drop down box. The filter name (which will appear in the drop down below Custom) will be based off of the word or phrase that you use for search criteria. Make sure to use the refresh button (next to the drop down) frequently to ensure the display of the right information. Refresh becomes important when you have View Undefined set and you’re going through and setting items to a type. The Refresh button will clear them away and continue to shorten the list. To clear the filters set it back to View All.

2D and 3D Composite Models in QTO: Ever received different models on the same project (Arch, Structural, MEP) and wondered if you could assemble that information into a single composite model for taking off in QTO? Of course you can but there are few things that have to be done, like exporting out the 2D DWF sets from each model independently (if you want the 2D information of course), and then creating the composite or linked model in Revit. Let’s explore a few of the steps below.

Takeoff Palette View Display: This is great for changing the display of the Takeoff Palette. With the View Display drop down, located on the Takeoff Palette at the top, you can control the display of items in the Takeoff Palette. This is useful for showing the items that are still Undefined or not assigned to a Catalog; essentially giving you the ability to filter the information in the project. (Note: filters are only applied to the takeoff palette and not the workbook or canvas). View All: Default display, shows all items


Figure 1 - Revit Links

• Create a 2D sheet set (or views) of each of the models that you will be using. Use your standard DWF export tools to create. Don’t forget to check the Properties and Rooms and Areas check Boxes.


feature focus

Cross-Discipline • Open one of the Models. When it comes to the 3D model, at some point in time these models have most likely been linked in the past, so this should go smoothly. • In the Insert Tab locate Link Revit. This will allow you to path to the individual files; you may have to do this a few times. From here you should have the models loaded. Create your 3D DWF as you normally would. Don’t forget to check the Properties and Rooms and Areas check Boxes. Feel free to use Manage Links to check what models have loaded or not and how they are displayed. Note: I usually start with opening the Arch or Interiors model (or whichever contains the room data) because room data does not seem to export through linked models. • Start QTO and import your newly created 2D and 3D DWF files. When you perform the model takeoff it will not actually tell you the name of model, it simply lists them as links, but at least you have all of your information from all 3 models in 1 composite QTO takeoff and the correct 3D information is linked to the corresponding place on the 2D sheet (or view). See image below.

setting up the specific information in Revit. You may find that ability to filter in QTO rather useful later.

Getting Rebar Out of Revit Structure and in QTO: This is another of the questions that I have been asked from time to time: “How can I get my Rebar out of Revit and into QTO?” It came up while at AU and then again this week. So I thought why not try and tackle the issue and see what I could come up with. The first hurdle to get over is getting the Rebar out of Revit as a DWF file. If you leave the Rebar in its default state and try to export the DWF the rebar does not display. You actually end up with some frustrating head banging against the wall trying to get the Rebar out of Revit. This is because you need to tell Revit to Display the Rebar as Solid instead of Unobscured. The steps are pretty straight forward: • Select the Rebar • Element Properties • View Visibility States > Edit • Change to View as Solid instead of View Unobscured for the 3D View

Figure 2 - Models Linked and 2D Sheets Imported

Filtering Levels\Areas: When you are using QTO there are no “tools” to filter information. Of course you can do a search takeoff to get specific information or go through and click on items manually, but what if you wanted to focus on a specific area of level? Well you would need the 3D model as well as corresponding 2D sheets\views.

Figure 3 - Rebar Elements Visibility States Dialog Box

So now that you have Rebar as Solid you can export to DWF for use in QTO. Bring the DWF into QTO and your Rebar should show up in a takeoff. See below image for example.

Once you have done a takeoff, search or model, open the sheet that you want to work with. Notice how the totals in the workbook change as you move from the model (above) where everything is displayed, to the sheet (below) where only the relevant items are displayed. From here you can create a report or export out All Sheets or Current Sheet Only to ensure you are getting the information needed for the specific area that you wanted to work with. Tip Alert: If an area or level did not exist in Revit that you need in QTO prior to creating the DWF sheet set, spend a few minutes


Figure 4 - Notice the Rebar is Now Displayed in QTO


As a side note, if you save the view down to Rebar only, export to DWF, you could import that DWF into Navisworks as well. Then you have the Rebar available in Navisworks by using DWF. Jason Dodds is an Autodesk Construction Technical Specialist, located in the Denver, CO, area. Jason has been actively involved in the design and building technology community for over 15 years. During his career, Jason’s focus and experience has been with construction, architecture, interiors, structures, MEP, construction administration, and technology for companies such as Michael Baker Corporation and Southland Industries. He has been involved in all facets of design and building processes and understands what it takes to complete projects from design, estimating, coordination, to fabrication. In his role at Autodesk, Jason plays an integral role in advocating and implementing the company’s Construction and BIM solutions throughout North America.

feature focus


RevitÊup withÊPDF

Bluebeam PDF Revu’s AutoCAD and Revit plug-ins provide more horsepower for high quality, one button PDF creation. Gear up your PDF by selecting and reordering sheets, adding dimensions, text stamps, hyperlinks and file attachments. Or, get in the fast lane and choose custom plot settings with Bluebeam batch to create the right set of PDFs the first time. Need more torque? Use Revu to collaborate with anyone, anywhere, at any speed with Bluebeam Studio.

Start your engine at

© 2010 Bluebeam Software, Inc.



feature focus


by: Joseph Ales

Navisworks is Not Just for Clash Detection

Introduction As soon as one hears the term Navisworks, they automatically think clash detection. That is really a shame because there are several other uses of the product that provide great value to the user. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the uses and benefits of Navisworks, and how one can incorporate Navisworks into the production workflow. In simple terms, Navisworks is a software package used for reviewing and communicating information about a 3D model. Pretty much any 3D file format can be read into Navisworks and multiple models can be combined into one file. As a model develops over the course of design, it can be refreshed in the same Navisworks file, negating the need to re-assemble models from scratch each time Navisworks is used. Navisworks in your Production Workflow In a typical situation a user will create a 3D model. This may be a model created in Revit, a model created in AutoCAD, a model created in Sketchup, or perhaps in 3DS Max. You can also bring in your structural analysis model. In order to get the model into Navisworks you can either just read the file in, if it is a file format that Navisworks reads natively, or you will need to export the file in a proper format. For example, if you are using Revit, you will need to export the file since Navisworks does not currently read native .rvt files. Your typical export format options would be either as a dwg file, or as an nwc file. The primary difference between these two formats is the way the model information is categorized. A dwg export will categorize the model in layers, whereas the nwc file will categorize per project level. See Figures 1 and 2.

Figure 1 - Model Imported asa dwg File


Figure 2 - Model Imported as a nwc file

When exporting as a dwg file from Revit, remember to select ACIS Solids in the export options if you want to be able to select discrete model elements. You may also have project information in 3D models other than Revit. When we design our retractable roofs, we often detail complex structural steel connections in TEKLA Structures. We will export these connections from TEKLA in IFC format and then bring them into Navisworks and combine them with our primary structural model in order to view all model information at once. This process is also used to bring in the geometrically complex parts of a project that may have been modeled in 3DS Max or similar programs. The terrain as shown in Figures 1 and 2 was brought in from Google Earth to Sketchup, and then appended to the Navisworks model. Another excellent use of Navisworks is to compare the BIM and structural analysis models. Unfortunately in most cases our BIM model and analysis models are separate models, but being able to bring them both into a single Navisworks file allows for a quick review of the models for missing or uncoordinated geometry. Before we decide what to do with our model, there is one more step I like to take, and that is make the model “look nice.” As you can see in Figure 1, a dwg import will present you with the gaudy AutoCAD color palette. An nwc import isn’t much better, just duller (see Figure 2). So go ahead and change the colors. Make the colors distinct, so you can visually identify groups of elements easily, and of course make them pleasant to look at. You can also take it a step further and create a custom material palette, as shown in Figure 3. The same model shown in Figures 1 and 2 is shown in Figure 4 with the custom palette applied.


convenient to share marked up dwf files than a viewpoint report or an nwd file.

feature focus


Figure 3 - Custom Material Palette

Figure 5 - Coordination Items Documented Through Viewpoints

So if you don’t want to run clash detection, and you want to take a tour of your building, walk-through coordination is your answer.

Figure 4 - Custom Material Pallette Applied

Now that we have our model in Navisworks, what do we do with it?

Walk-through Coordination When I go out to a job site, my primary task is to walk through the building and identify anything that is wrong, and make sure it is being built as I have shown on my documents (or should I now say model!) Wouldn’t it be nice to do the same thing before it is built, and identify problems before they occur in the field? Well, Navisworks is the perfect tool to perform this task. Think of it as creating your own virtual punch list. Of course, you cannot physically walk through the building (since it hasn’t been built) but Navisworks will provide you with an Avatar to walk through the building for you. The Avatar can walk up and down stairs (or fly if you want), bump his head if there is a beam in the way, and look around at anything you want. When you come to something in the model that is not right, you can document the issue in a couple of different ways. 1. Save the view as a viewpoint and title the viewpoint with a description of the problem. As you walk through the model you will slowly build up a collection of views that illustrate coordination issues. You can also use the Navisworks redline tools to markup these problems. This set of viewpoints can then be exported into a report or saved in an nwd file that can be shared with others. 2. Take a snapshot of the view using Design Review and mark up the problem that way. Design Review has superior markup tools compared to Navisworks and it may be more summer_2010

Visualization Not everyone is a master of 3D Studio Max, but everyone would like to produce nice rendered images of their model, or even produce a fly-through video. Fortunately Navisworks has made it fairly easily to do both. In order to render an image you will need to use the Presenter module. Navisworks comes with a whole host of built in materials, as shown in Figure 6. Since I am normally dealing with concrete and steel materials, I don’t want everything gray. I apply different colors to a basic concrete or steel material in order to differentiate various components. For example, my concrete and steel beams are red, my slabs are gray, and my foundations are green. Our purpose in rendering is not to create a photorealistic image but to produce a nice image that communicates design information to the viewers. Since you have already created your custom material palette (see Figure 3) it is easy to apply the materials to your model. The tricky part with the rendering is to apply the lighting properly. This will take some trial and error on your part to find out what works best. The image in Figure 7 was produced with the custom material palette and a spot light applied.

Figure 6 - Built in Materials


feature focus

Cross-Discipline Creating a video is pretty straight-forward. Make sure you are in Walk mode, select the Animation tab, and press Record. Now start walking. Just like a Macro Recorder, Navisworks will record the actions of your Avatar walking through the project. When you are finished, press Stop. The animation is saved along with any other Viewpoints you have and you can play it back whenever Figure 7 - Rendered Image you need to. Your animations can be exported as a video, or they can be saved as part of any nwd files you create. It is usually best to share your animations using an nwd file as the quality of the video is a bit better and the file size is smaller. Exported videos can get very large, very fast, if you want something of good quality and larger than a mobile phone screen.

Construction Sequencing The constructability of a project is an important consideration in the design process. It is generally not a good idea to design something that cannot be built. By using Timeliner in Navisworks, very simple to very complicated construction sequencing visualizations can be created. All you need is a construction schedule, and some persistence and patience in applying this schedule to the model.

Figure 8 - Gantt Chart

The construction schedule can be entered either manually in Navisworks, or it can be imported from a scheduling program. If you are not a contractor, then you will probably be using Microsoft Project as your scheduling software. I recommend that you link the schedule in, as it will be faster and easier to create in the scheduling software. A new feature of Navisworks 2011 is the ability to view a Gantt chart of the schedule (shown in Figure 8), which allows for easier visualization of the construction sequence. The tasks entered into your schedule will then need to be 28

applied to the relevant elements in the model. For example, if the task was “Form and Pour Foundations East of Grid C,” then you would select all of these foundations in the model and apply the task to these foundations. You have several options for setting the timing and appearance of the model elements as well. Using Task Type, elements can either be constructed, which means they will appear at the time they are built; elements can be demolished, which means they will disappear; and elements that are temporary, such as construction equipment. The appearance of the elements can also set through the Configure Tab, as shown in Figure 9. This is about communicating information, and Navisworks once again provides plenty of tools to accomplish the task.

Figure 9 - Configuration Options in Timeliner

We are just scratching the surface of what Timeliner can do, but a little bit of investment in time to learn this tool can pay off as you show your client some real-world aspects of building their project. The following tips will make your job a bit easier. 1. Group your elements together in Navisworks, rather than scheduling them one at a time, as it can get quite complicated and time-consuming to apply the schedule as the number of model elements increases. See Figure 10 below. 2. Make sure that you model in sufficient detail in order to map to the likely tasks in the schedule. For example, if you model your columns from foundation to roof in Revit, rather than level to level, you will need to re-model in order to capture the proper sequencing of the columns. 3. Run through the sequencing process a few times, as it is easy to miss some elements or assign them to the wrong task. Your finished construction sequence will be saved as part of your file, and you can export it as a video to share with others. 4. Under Settings, set the time of your simulation to an appropriate length. Set it too fast, and you won’t see anything. Set it too long, and it will get a bit tedious to watch. Again, some trial and error will be required.


cess, and in combination with Revit and Design Review, it will allow you to work more efficiently, produce better quality documents (and models), and give your firm a competitive edge in the marketplace. And I have not even mentioned Naviswork’s new Animation feature, which allows you to animate objects, cameras, and section planes. Thinking outside of the box is always a good thing but it is especially important in today’s economy when it is vital to set yourself apart from the competition. By using Navisworks to its full potential, you are showing your clients the added value you will bring to their projects.

Figure 10 - Screenshot from Timeliner Simulation

feature focus


Joe Ales is a Principal and Managing Director for the Los Angeles office of Walter P Moore, a consulting engineering firm based in Houston, Texas. He is part of the structural engineering service group of Walter P Moore and is chair of its BIM Implementation Task Force. He is also active in the BIM technical community, serving as Vice-chair of the Joint SEI – CASE Committee on Building Information Modeling for the Structural Engineering Institute.

Conclusion I hope I have shown you that Navisworks is not just for clash detection. Do not limit the use of Navisworks to just the BIM gurus in your office. Make it part of your normal production pro✔

Diamond Sponsor

Summer 2010

Lessons of BIM

AUGI | AEC Edge delivers mission-critical, game changing, industry leading, best practice advice on the AEC industry

Intergrated BIM... Integrated with What? 12 Tips for Efficient Conceptual Massing



Get your FREE copy TODAY



CIVIL ENGINEERING For All Marketing Inquiries Contact: Karen Popp • +1.415.305.5557




product preview

by: Brian Frank

FIRST LOOK: Leveraging the Power of Autodesk Inventor LT Suite for Architectural Element Design

Traditionally, designers have relied on the exchange of 2D drawings to communicate design intent. This has been particularly true in the AEC arena where architects, designers and engineers long relied on AutoCAD as the lingua franca of their designs.

defined in a single part design, the architect or designer can focus on the design, and let the manufacturer determine the best methods to create assemblies and fabricate the item. This method of collaboration provides the needed flexibility to deliver accurate design intent and rely on the expertise of the manufacturer to determine the best methods to fabricate.

Over the past decade, with the shift to BIM and 3D design processes for buildings as well as the architectural elements that make up or populate those buildings, a series of problems and inefficiencies has arisen.

The AutoCAD Inventor LT Suite’s DWG read and write capabilities enhance the user’s ability to leverage DWG based data in their workflow. Whether it is to model and modify existing 2D designs for customization, or provide required 2D documentation to others during the project, the suite delivers on the power of DWG workflows. In the case of the custom cabinet, the designer is able to quickly and easily leverage the 3D design to create drawing views with measurements that can be reviewed with the client or sent to the manufacturer.

• AEC 3D vs Manufacturing 3D. Architects now have 3D models but those models are different than – and have traditionally had poor linkage to – the mechanical models used by those who manufacture architectural elements. • Design translation errors. The re-creation of design data by manufacturers has lead to errors and misrepresentations in the designs. • Schedule impacts. Ultimately long delays have resulted as information was duplicated between architectural designers and the manufacturers that serve them.

A New Solution for Architectural Element Design To address these problem and inefficiencies, the Autodesk Inventor LT Suite was developed by Autodesk Manufacturing Solutions. Consisting of Autodesk Inventor LT and AutoCAD LT software, Autodesk Inventor LT Suite offers best in class 3D part-level parametric solid modeling software and 2D documentation software in a single package at an affordable price. The easy-to-learn software allows effective communication workflows between designers and manufacturers and even enables sharing of 3D data between Revit AEC CAD software and Inventor mechanical CAD. As an example of the capabilities offered by Autodesk Inventor LT Suite, consider a designer in a mid-sized architectural firm that is developing a cabinet for a client. The client has very specific customization needs, but the designer also needs to work with the fabricator to ensure that the cabinet can be manufactured. The tools in Autodesk Inventor LT software allow the designer to develop these custom elements easily and accurately. The designer can develop specialty items, such as curtain wall elements, anchors, customer fixtures and hardware, millwork, and others without having to worry about assembly modeling techniques. By using Autodesk Inventor LT software’s multi-body part modeling environment, which allows for distinct geometries to be 30

And because Inventor LT software allows the designer to specify things such as material selection and physical properties, the part or multi-body part being designed can participate in other aspects of the Digital Prototyping workflow, such as finite element analysis, photorealistic visualization, or plastic part simulation. This enables a refined workflow between designer and manufacturer that speeds time to production, and allows for faster communication during the development of the design. In the custom cabinet example, the designer is able to share with the client concepts and updates that are highly realistic and visually attractive. Finally, when the 3D mechanical model is complete in Inventor LT, it can be easily incorporated into the BIM or other 3D architectural designs through the use of the Inventor ‘shrinkwrap’ technology or the AEC Exchange tools which create and publish simplified 3D representations, intelligent connection points, and additional information in ADPx files for use with AutoCAD MEP, AutoCAD Architecture, and Revit. For architects and designers looking to enhance their capabilities to deliver 2D and 3D designs to their manufacturing counterparts and integrate 3D designs from their manufacturers into their BIM, the Autodesk Inventor LT Suite delivers the power of Digital Prototyping through the Inventor platform with the time trusted capabilities of AutoCAD LT at an affordable price. The ease of use and interoperability of the suite with the rest of the Autodesk portfolio makes it a valuable addition to any designer’s toolbox. Screenshot of a drawing of a custom cabinet developed using the Inventor LT software (Courtesy of Widom Associates)


Example renderings of custom cabinet developed with Inventor LT and visualized using Autodesk Showcase (Courtesy of Widom Associates)

A special offer for AUGI members Beginning August 16 and running through October 17, 2010 there will be a new seat rebate promotion for Autodesk® Inventor LT™ 2011 and AutoCAD® Inventor LT™ Suite 2011 software. Customers purchasing new licenses of Autodesk Inventor LT 2011 or AutoCAD Inventor LT Suite 2011 are eligible to receive a US$350 rebate per license purchased, up to 20 licenses per invoiced address. This promotional rebate is for new license purchases only.”


product preview

In addition, under a special relationship between AUGI and Autodesk, AUGI will receive commissions on any sales that result from readers purchasing software as a result of reading this article. To purchase, simply, follow this link http://www.augi. com/home/detail.asp?page=2099. Figure 1

An architect by training, Brian actively researches in the domain where Building Information Modeling and Digital Prototyping intersect, the mixing of architecture and manufacturing. A graduate from the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech, Brian worked as an architect in the Baltimore and New York metropolitan markets, serving residential, commercial, and institutional clients for seven years. He moved from architecture and planning to the construction and manufacturing industry where he served as senior project engineer at a façade systems company in New York, International Exterior Fabricators. There he was responsible for the design, manufacturing, and installation of mid-rise and high-rise exterior envelope systems. Having joined Autodesk in 2008, Brian brings a wealth of experience throughout the building design and construction supply chain.

Figure 2



feature focus

Civil Engineering

by: Christian Barrett

Civil 3D Guide to Data Sharing

THE COMMON QUESTION One of the questions I hear quit often is, “How do I share my Civil 3D® drawing”? This is a very good question, but there are several answers to this. One of the first things we have to determine is what do we need to share, who are we sharing drawings or data with and why? These questions are going to become more and more relevant as we all move into the BIM (Building Information Modeling) world! That is the world we are designing in if we are using Civil 3D, even if we are not yet working on a true BIM project. We have BIM software, but are we BIM ready? The Civil Engineering industry is currently going through tremendous changes. This is not only because of BIM, there is also Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Sustainable Designing, Value Engineering, as well as the economy or more specifically the lack of new development projects that are all part of the changes we are facing in the Civil Engineering Industries. The days of being able to have plenty of work by simply being an operating Civil Engineering firm are long gone, and the competition for new projects has increased significantly, and is only getting more competitive.

staff and overhead, as well as some that are already no longer in business, or are very close to being out of business! In the past it could be very common practice to not share your designs or drawings with anyone. Today that can make you a difficult firm to work with and at times make you ineligible to even compete on certain projects. Even sharing your data internally can be a little difficult at times, especially across different software platforms; including Autodesk® platforms that you may naturally think would be close to a seamless process, only to find out it is not necessarily that simple. Even the same software such as AutoCAD® Civil 3D® is not completely compatible with earlier versions of Civil 3D.

THINGS TO CONSIDER One of the things that need to be considered is what version of Civil 3D is going to be used for your design work and what version of the software is required for your design or drawing submittals. As contracts start to include not only the software that must be used, but the version of the software as well, this becomes not only important but essential. This is also important for internal use, if some of your staff or coworkers are on a different version

THE CHANGES Some people are trying to stay on the forefronts and are progressively adapting to the times, while others are ignoring the apparent changes that are occurring all around them. There are a few firms that have not slowed down at all during these tough economic times, but there are far more that have had to reduce Figure 2- Proxy State

than yourself or others, you may find that they can see the C3D data but not be able to edit it.

Figure 1- Earlier Version


You may also have staff that only has plain AutoCAD®, these users can have trouble working with C3D drawings as well as even if they do not have any need in editing the design data, they may only see rectangular boxes showing where the objects are in the drawing. What do we do in this situation, or similar ones? One option is very simple, the proxy graphics setting could be adjusted to allow non-Civil 3D users to see the objects, but they will still not be able to edit this data. By changing your proxy graphics setting to 1 instead of the default setting of 0, you are turning on proxy graphics which stores the last viewed image of C3D objects. The downside of this is that using this function increases the size of your drawing file. The 2 images shown here represent the same summer_2010

design data and scheduling before the project is started. This is quickly becoming an invaluable tool for project analysis at all stages of a projects lifespan in 3 and 4 Dimensions.

Figure 3- Proxy Graphics 0

Figure 4- Proxy Graphics 1

C3D drawing opened in AutoCAD with proxy graphics set to 0 and to 1. Video Link - Proxy graphics Settings user/civil3dguide?feature=mhum#p/u/12/wadCAXIsCLE

OBJECT ENABLERS Another solution is the use of object enablers that can be downloaded from the Autodesk site. These object enablers are specific to the software that someone is using that they want to view your data in. For instance if you are working with someone who is an AutoCAD user or a user of one of the AutoCAD verticals, such as AutoCAD Architecture, then they may need to download and install the Civil 3D object enabler for their product. This does not give them any ability to edit your data, only to view it. The complexity of our C3D objects only allows editing of these objects in the data’s original or native software. If you need to edit C3D objects then you are going to still need to use Civil 3D to perform these edits. You can also link drawings from Autodesk® Revit® to Civil 3D and vice-versa, to have a live connection that is always up to date and in sync. Figure 5- Revit Connection OTHER FORMAT OPTIONS There are several other file formats that can allow us to share our data; we can export to a DWG including older formats, Civil Objects to SDF, DXF, DGN, LandXML and several others (See figure 6). Through the use of exporting our data to one of these other formats we should be able to share our data with anyone on any design software platform. When it comes to BIM projects the most common and increasingly growing software choice for collaborating design data is Autodesk® Navisworks®, which allows importation of everyone’s data into a central platform that is not limited to Autodesk product file formats. It also allows owners, contractors and managers to run clash detection of all of the summer_2010

Figure 6- Other Formats

We also need to share our data in house with other Civil 3D users that are on the same version. The use of data shortcuts and vault references will allow us to share our design data for several reasons. Large projects that need multiple designers and engineers working at the same time, even just to separate our design data for ease of use, reduction of drawing size or to show our data represented in different states or with different styles applied, than one of the data sharing methods or needed.

feature focus

Civil Engineering

Creating data shortcuts is a simple process and is my preferred method of sharing Civil 3D data with other users or in other drawings. Autodesk® Vault® is another option, but it is more complicated and requires a vault manager to oversee the use and management of the vault server. However if your firm has more than one office location in which usFigure 7- Data Shortcuts ers work on the same projects this may be your best choice for sharing your Civil 3D data. Vault will work across a WAN or VPN where as data shortcuts may not work as well, if at all.

SHARING DESIGN DATA I strongly recommend never having duplicated data or drawings! Now I’m not talking about backups, I mean plain out copies of the same project. Of course we all need backups of our servers and the data stored on them, preformed on a very regular basis. I instantly go into panic mode when I hear someone say “I’ll email you the drawing” when they are talking to someone in their same office. The reason I am so overly concerned with this has to be the fact that I have been burnt, embarrassed, or forced to work extra hard to fix an issue caused by other users careless-


feature focus

Civil Engineering ness with our design data or drawings. You could say I learned this the hard way, more than once, and at more than one firm. The use of data sharing or even the use of simple external referencing can keep your designs in synch across the board, without having the risk of out of date data ending up in a plotted or digital final output. I’ve experienced many firms that lack any real standard of drawing control and allowing users to have multiple copies of the same project, sometimes in several locations on the server, or even worse on their own computer or workstation. Lacking a standard operating procedure for your drawings and data can easily create a weakness in your design process, allowing duplicated data is simply asking for trouble that could cost a company financially. In order to be ready for BIM projects we not only need BIM software, such as Civil 3D, we also need to have standard operating procedures in place. CAD management has always been important and one of the ways to increase profits on our designs, but now more than ever we need to be able to share our data with ease and confidence that the data is compiled and organized currently. Many firms have been able to overlook their weaknesses or lack of CAD standards, because their only deliverable was plotted sheets, and then the digital format requirements became part of the contract or municipality requirements. Soon, if not already, we are going to have to turn over our designs at all stages of the projects life, not only in a digital form, but in CAD format. Does your firm have their drawing standards in place that will allow you to send these designs to other firms and owners without concern for the content in your files?

OWNERS HAVE MORE CHOICES NOWADAYS Owners have a lot more choices nowadays as to what firms they do business with, and what requirements they can insist on for their projects. They are also able to have other firms do analysis on your designs, sometimes on a pro-bono basis. There are firms out there with enough free time and resources that they are taking on pro-bono work to do Value Engineering analysis, and then contacting the owners to show their results, or more to the point, the cost savings they have discovered in their analysis of other firms designs. If a firm can show a significant savings to the owners by reducing construction cost and leaving more money in the owner’s pockets, they can at times take projects from their competitors. At the same time when these owners have their next project there is a very good chance that they will be contacting their new favorite firm to work with on the next project as well! Christian Barrett is an AEC Applications Engineer at Applied Technology Group, North Little Rock, AR. He has over 10 years of Civil and Surveying industry experience as a CAD designer using Land Desktop & Civil 3D, and has been a CAD Coordinator at Multi-disciplinary Engineering/Architectural Firms. He was the creator and author of Autodesk Users Group International’s (AUGI) Hotnews column “The Civil Side,” and is a Civil Engineering forum moderator for the AUGI organization. As a civil applications technician and trainer, Christian has guided many engineering firms in the implementation of Civil 3D for design and CAD management, National CAD Standards, and Building Information Modeling (BIM) workflows.

Video Link -Sharing Data Options watch?v=LoB2zg3hNAE



by: Jeff Hanson

autodesk insiders

15 Questions with Jeff Hanson W

hat is your role at Autodesk Jeff?

This may seem like a straight forward question but it is not quite so simple. My official title is Technical Writer. Funny thing is I really don’t do all that much writing. Nobody wants to suffer through my writing. In the interest of full disclosure this article was edited by one of the team’s writers. Thanks Lisa! My role is Subject Matter Expert on the AEX UX (User Experience) Team; more specifically I am part of the UA (user assistance) team. So I am essentially an Architect on a team of writers. The writers know how to write and I know how to be an Architect. I help the writers understand our users better and bridge the gap. I will also provide some domain experience to the product designers or just act as another set of eyes when reviewing features which are being designed. Right out of the gate I get a tough question thrown at me. How long have you been with Autodesk and doing this, any other roles?

I’ve been with Autodesk for a total of 5.5 years now. I have been part of the user assistance team as a Subject Matter Expert for 4.5 years now. I think the first release I worked on was Revit 8.1. I think the documentation has improved a lot since then and I like to think I played a small role in some of those changes. Before I joined the User Assistance team, I worked in product support. I supported all of the AEC division products Revit, AutoCAD Architecture, AutoCAD MEP, VIZ Render (remember that summer_2010

one?) Heck, Revit MEP did not even exist back then. At the time we were all scared to have to start supporting Revit MEP, except Kyle Bernhardt of course. His excitement could not be contained. Yep, he started in product support too. Look how far we have come. Tell us a little about your background and how you came to be doing what you do now?

I went to graduate school at the University of Minnesota. When finished with school I stayed in the Minneapolis area and started working at a small commercial firm. It was a good office. Stable work and pretty committed to technology. I was always kind of a computer/software nerd so it was a great fit. The office bought the first release of AutoCAD Architecture (Architectural Desktop back then) and I dove right in. When a tiny company known as Revit Technology introduced their product it caught my eye and I suggested our office give it a shot. I think it was in Release 3 when we started using it. I was still the AutoCAD guy in the office, but did do Revit projects here and there. The way I got to Autodesk was because of my participation in discussion groups. I participated quite a bit and Autodesk invited me to a validation event they were holding in Minneapolis. They were showing some features that were in development at the time and wanted to see how I might like them or use them. At that event one of the people running it recognized my name from the discussion groups and suggested I apply for an open product de


autodesk insiders sign position on the AutoCAD Architecture team. I decided to go ahead and throw my hat in the ring. I did not end up getting that position, but I really liked what I saw at Autodesk and wanted to work for them. Once I officially did not get the designer position I applied for everything else I even remotely qualified for. I got hired less than a week later for the Product Support position. From there I just found my way to the user assistance team because it felt like a good fit for the kinds of skills I had.

tion, specifications, users’ feedback, design intent documents, use cases, etc… On the User Assistance team we need to go through all of that information and distil out the most important elements which need to be documented. Couple this with the fact we are trying to satisfy a group of users with very wide skill ranges. It can be difficult to find the right amount of information to present while not making it too simple or complex.

What does a typical day look like at your desk?

I live in New Hampshire and work in the Manchester, NH Autodesk office. I usually get to the office between 8:30 and 9:00am. Take time to go through e-mails I may have gotten through the previous evening. Seems like people at Autodesk work at all times of the day. I will come in to find e-mails sent to me at 1am or later. Of course Autodesk has employees all over the globe so I suppose I should not be all that surprised. During this time I respond to e-mails that come in to the Autodesk Feedback e-mail alias. So if you are sending us feedback I am one of the people who look at those and sends back a response. Then I will typically take a look at the AUGI, Autodesk, and Beta software discussion boards. Sometimes I will respond to a couple of posts. I still can’t believe this is an activity I used to do because I liked doing it and now I am actually paid to do it. I always wanted to find a job where someone will pay me to do something I would be glad to do for free. I guess I have one of those jobs now. I might then move on to consulting with one of the writers about a section of help they are writing, creating some storyboards for tutorial videos, or creating an image used for an illustration in help or for a tooltip. At lunch time I might be attending a design pinup. A design pinup is kind of like going back to Architecture school. A design for a new feature will be presented for input from a larger group. The design might only be an idea on paper or could be actually working pieces of code. It really depends where in the process the feature is. The reviews inspire more thought and help shape and define the feature moving forward. In the afternoon I might be back at my desk shooting video for the tutorial I wrote in the morning or maybe editing in a narration track for an already completed video. I posed for the picture shown in Figure 1. Before I leave for the day around 5:30 or so I will take another look at the discussion boards and follow up with any e-mails from the day. What kind of challenges do you and those you work with deal with?

I think the biggest challenge my team deals with is trying to figure out the right amount of information to provide to the users. When features are designed we generate mountains of informa36

Figure 1- Pausing long enough to take a quick photo

As an example I recently completed a series of 5, 2-minute videos, a total of about 10 minutes. To create these videos, I had a design document that was probably 25 pages, 8 10-minute demonstration videos, and pages and pages of feedback from a beta forum. Needless to say I had a lot of editing to do. I think the videos are successful, and we have been getting good feedback from internal people who have seen them. Can you say how many people work with you or perhaps how the work is shared?

I work directly with the writing staff. The team of writers divides up the work per major features of Revit. Some of the writers are more focused on Architecture, Structure, or MEP, respectively, but there is a lot of cross pollination or work on what we call “platform” features. I work with all of them to help them understand how tools in Revit might be used in specific situations. I might write an outline of the workflow used to accomplish a task. I might also create illustrations for them for use in the help documentation. The tutorial videos are produced by a smaller group. We all write storyboards and review each other’s work for content and technical accuracy. Draft videos are created by each author for review as well. I typically take the videos over from that point and finish them off. Sometimes I need to reshoot the draft video but sometimes I can use it as is. I also get the narration tracks recorded and edited into the video. One of the other team members takes them from that point and gets them posted to and YouTube.


autodesk insiders I am also currently managing the project for tooltips and tool clips. I will come up with an image or a video clip for the tool and then it will be reviewed by a larger team. The graphic is sent to a visual designer who makes any adjustments required. The help writers will author the text for the tool tip. All of this is brought together by one of the developers and then connected up to the correct button. The user assistance team and QA then make sure all of the components came together correctly and appear in the right place when a tool is rolled over. How much time before a release do you get to really figure out how to provide documentation for a feature?

This is a bit of a slippery question. It really depends on the feature. Some projects are naturally bigger than others and we typically have much more time to document these larger features. The small projects happen much more quickly. Of course things go wrong sometimes and a feature might not be working or gets significantly changed very near the end for one reason or another. This can sometimes create a big time crunch. One of the other big time constraints for us, which I did not realize until I was on the team, involves the translation process. We need to provide the English version of the documentation to the localization teams so they can get everything translated. Translating documentation takes a long time compared to localizing the software itself. Recently the help documentation delivery method was changed, what are some of the things that you and the gang hoped to accomplish by taking this route?

We hoped to provide a more consistent user experience across the wider portfolio of Autodesk products. Other products apart from Revit have converted over to web help too. Web help also gives us an opportunity to continuously update the help files. Typically early in a release cycle the user assistance team might do some routine maintenance on sections of the help not related to new functionality. Using web help these changes can be immediately published, without having to wait for an entire release to be published. Another advantage web help gives us is the ability to track help usage. We can understand what sections of help are used more than others and how they are being searched etc… This allows us to better target our efforts to improve the help. If we see that one section is being used a lot, then perhaps this is a good place for more work and additional information. How well has it been received overall? Any feedback, adjustments or plans you can share with us?

As with any change it can be difficult. I think it is just in human nature to resist change. It has not helped that the search functionality of the web help has been less than optimal. We are


hoping to make the search process a better experience moving forward. Many users are not aware they don’t need to be connected to the internet to access help. A local version of the help is installed and is used when a connection to the Internet is not available. I think we could make this switching behavior a little more obvious to the users and give them some ability to control it. It can actually be controlled in Revit 2011 and a solution is documented in the knowledgebase, but this bit of information is difficult to find unless you are specifically looking for it. Here’s a link to the knowledge base article just in case: 12&id=14994272&linkID=9243099 Do you find it is difficult to write for people that might not share your technical depth with the software?

I touched on this a bit earlier when talking about some of the biggest challenges our team faces. We always have to keep our audience in mind when writing and we have a very wide range of skill levels in our users. With the video tutorials we are attempting to address this a little bit by producing videos for specific levels of users. As we start to get more and more videos I hope we get various skill levels represented. This way we can offer something to a wider range of our users. We are also working with the way information in the help is presented to users. We have started to add some “rollup” type of formatting so a page can be quickly scanned by any level of user and then a section can be rolled out providing more detail or advanced information that may or may not be of use to a beginning user. Any tricks you use to help check how successful your efforts are? In other words do you guys get enough feedback to know that you are moving in the right direction?

I mentioned earlier, part of my daily routine is to check discussion groups. This is a really good resource for feedback. You do have to have thick skin when looking at feedback on the discussion groups because the feedback tends to be more negative. I am not saying negative feedback is not good, but sometimes there is little in the way of constructive feedback. There is not a lot I can do if the only comment is, “The videos are terrible!” Specifics and suggestions on how to make something better can help me make changes. A lot of times I find a follow up post goes a long way to letting a user understand I am on their side and want what we produce at Autodesk to be valuable to them as they are learning our software or trying to solve problems. We have also used our user research team to conduct some usability studies of our material as well as to include questions centered on user assistance in customer surveys.


autodesk insiders One more way we gather feedback, as I mentioned before, is with web help. We are starting to use some analytic information gathered there to help understand how the users are using help. We are new to this area and still trying to figure out exactly what the information is telling us and what we should do about it. You are active in the forums at AUGI, we really appreciate that. How much do you and others rely on the information that our members share there. I have already mentioned AUGI a couple of times and I personally find it and the Autodesk discussion groups for that matter, a great resource. I get feedback from it on things we have done. I find questions people are asking there and try to figure out if it is something that is “under documented”. I have developed tutorials from questions I see at AUGI. Believe it or not, I also find plenty of tips and tricks I don’t know as well. Those kinds of threads help me understand how users doing “real” work are using our products. Sometimes I wish I could ask a question there like everyone else can, but that would take some of the luster off my “Subject Matter Expert” title. You teach Revit in your spare time. Where do you do that, how did you get started and does this experience help you with your role at Autodesk?

I teach Revit at the Boston Architectural College and New Hampshire Technical Institute. One of my co-workers from product support was teaching at the Boston Architectural College and he asked if I would like to teach. They had lost a 3d AutoCAD teacher and needed a replacement. I figured it would be a good experience and give me a little extra spending money. That is never a bad thing. I eventually moved to teach Revit after telling the director there I thought that teaching the students Revit was more important than AutoCAD 3d. I have now been doing it for 3.5 years.

Where does the family fit into all this Revit time? What does a documentation guy do to unwind?

Well I have young kids at home, 6 & 11, so they consume a lot of my free time. All of the typical kids activities, soccer, gymnastics, music class, etc… I am sure you know the routine. I am basically a taxi driver. Beyond that when at home we like to play board games and my son and I have been known to play some XBOX together. My wife and I, I am going to have to admit, are couch potatoes. We like to watch TV and movies in the evenings. Sometimes you just have to turn off your brain. I just can’t wait to see who is going to be the first person kicked off Survivor. On the weekends the family has been known to go out into the New Hampshire wilderness to enjoy a hike in the forest or some time at a lake. We even go to the beach sometimes. You know New Hampshire has a full 13 miles of Atlantic coastline. When not spending time with the family I might even work on Revit projects on the side just to keep my skills sharp. Figure 2 is a hidden line camera view of one of my earliest Revit projects. Figure 3 is a recent project I worked on with a friend.

Figure 2- One of Jeff’s earliest Revit projects

I am just starting New Hampshire Technical Institute (NHTI) this semester after one of my co-workers at Autodesk got transferred out to work on the West coast. He was teaching Revit at NHTI so he brought me in one day and told the director I was his replacement. I think teaching helps me in my role at Autodesk. Teaching the same class over and over lets me see where users typically run into trouble using Revit for the first time. I bring this back to Autodesk to help target these areas in our documentation. A lot of times when I am culling through the huge amounts of information I have to create a video from I will try to think of things from the perspective of one of my students. I think about how I would teach this in my classroom. This process helps me narrow the focus of the video to the essential concepts and steps required.


Figure 3- A recent collaboration effort with a friend

Where do you see Autodesk product documentation in the coming years? Anything you can share with us?

I think there are still some things in store for the future. Our move to web help was one step along a path of changes. As we move forward we need to think about all of the information that exists out there which can help our users solve their problems or learn our software. Many users have multiple products and need multiple and complex solutions. Chances are the information exists out there for a user to solve their problem, but it is hard to summer_2010

autodesk insiders find all of it. The information exists in many dispersed locations. The user assistance teams (not just my team) here at Autodesk are just one source of information among many other sources of information. Understanding how what we produce fits into the larger picture is critical for Autodesk documentation in the near and distant future. Thank you for taking time away from your normal routine to help us get a glimpse into what you and the team you work with do. We may not give you the accolades you guys deserve when we complain in the forums about those “help” files but we do want you to keep striving to give us the help we need! Jeff has worked for Autodesk since 2005. A technical writer/subject matter expert, he is part of the team producing tutorials and Help files for Revit products. Jeff also teaches Revit at the Boston Architectural College and New Hampshire Technical Institute. Before joining Autodesk, he worked for 8 years in an architectural firm as a designer, project manager, and CAD manager. In his professional career, he has used Autodesk products to complete numerous commercial and multifamily housing projects. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Architecture from the University of New Mexico and a Master of Architecture from the University of Minnesota.

Diamond Sponsor

Summer 2010

Lessons of BIM

AUGI | AEC Edge delivers mission-critical, game changing, industry leading, best practice advice on the AEC industry

Intergrated BIM... Integrated with What? 12 Tips for Efficient Conceptual Massing



Get your FREE copy TODAY



CIVIL ENGINEERING For All Marketing Inquiries Contact: Karen Popp • +1.415.305.5557




by: Larry Longenecker, Richard Binning, Kara Vollman

AUGI local chapters

AUGI Local Chapters: Jacksonville AutoCAD User Group (JAG)

It is my pleasure to tell you about one of AUGI’s longest standing local chapters: the Jacksonville AutoCAD User Group (JAG). Although I moved away from Jacksonville more than two years ago, I manage to keep in touch with many of the members and would like to tell you about the group and encourage you to visit one of their meetings should you find yourself in Jacksonville. I’ll tell you about the group as I piece together discussions I’ve had with members of the group recently.

In the beginning… (as told by JAG President, Larry Longenecker) Our little group began around 1989, back when dos protected mode was popular. It took shape as an informal gathering of Civil & Architectural technicians and draftsmen. You know the type, if you are an AUGI member. We were all basically CAD buddies, you know geeks, although back then geek didn’t have quite the cachet it carries today. We all had the same problems and found it really helpful to compare notes and save time by sharing the problems that we overcame and the ones we didn’t. 40

We were a tight-knit group and really relied on one another. I can remember the phone ringing like it was yesterday and that familiar voice would ask for help with the “tilemode” command. “Zero or One”, they would ask as soon as the phone was answered. If the voice at the other end didn’t know the correct answer, they knew that by their third or fourth call, someone in the group would have the answer! Other times, the phone would ring as one member of the group had a plotter or tablet go down and invariably, the voice on the other end would have the answer or remember which other buddy had resolved that issue previously. Trust me, those plotters went down a lot in those days and we made a lot of phone calls to each other. We spent hours on the phone back then communicating back and forth. Although we initially resolved issues on the phone, we soon found a need to meet in person. By meeting together and discussing our needs, we resolved many more problems than we ever could have by struggling through them ourselves over a phone line. As time passed, the members ebbed and flowed but the group remained stable. The group grew mostly by word of mouth and with the summer_2010

assistance of a regular sponsor, Intellicon Solutions. I am proud to tell you that our sponsor stuck with us over the years and although they have a new name, Advanced Technologies Solutions, they are still the same helpful, generous, and technically savvy company that helped us grow our group back then. As we continued to grow, meetings were held at various offices throughout the city until the group simply became too large to accommodate all who wanted to attend in our typical small office setting. In the late 90’s the group began meeting in the training room at the Haskell Building on the river near downtown Jacksonville, Fl. The group was regularly drawing up to 30 attendees at each meeting then. It was during this time, that many special interest groups were formed to discuss special topics like programming, or customization.

The infamous cell phone incident…. (as told by Richard Binning) It was during this era that Lynn Allen made her first visit to a JAG meeting. I remember it well, the meeting was moved from the training room to the Café overlooking the St Johns River, because the RSVP count for the meeting had swelled upwards of 100 attendees. It was during this meeting that the infamous “ Cell Phone” incident occurred. I was there and can verify that it occurred just as Lynn describes and frankly she tells it best, so I won’t even attempt it. If you’ve seen Lynn present more than once, you must have heard the story. For those who haven’t heard it, a quick visit to Steve Johnsons blog will get you in the know. Recent History… (as told by Richard Binning) The biggest jump in attendance came with increased involvement with AUGI and recognition as an official Local User Group or LUG as they were known then. Becoming an official AUGI Local Chapter has been one of the most significant events in the group’s history, providing an abundance of valuable resources and giving more credibility to the group. Over the course of a few years, with more and more Autodesk visitors, the first AUGI CAD Camp, and an Autodesk University event held in nearby Orlando, Fl the group has grown and now regularly draws 30 to 50 attendees from a diverse membership that includes both professionals and students. Meetings held after local reseller, Autodesk, or AUGI events are sure to double the attendance. The JAG group follows AUGI’s lead in providing free resources to members. The group voted many years ago to keep the meetings free and refrain from sales pitches at the meetings. It is one of the strengths of the group and has helped to meld the group members together, making it even stronger in the process. JAG is blessed to have a dedicated local Autodesk reseller, Advanced Technologies Solutions, who not only supports the group with state of the art presentations, guest instructors, and visiting Autodesk experts, but is also there to cover the cost of refreshments each month when necessary. It wasn’t so long ago that the group relied on donations from local companies to help defray the cost of refreshments each month. As the group grew and matured, we were able to put in place policies like the one summer_2010

we have that addresses sponsorship opportunities. Our members communicate via email when not meeting in person, and if local companies wish to advertise career positions we send messages on their behalf. Should the company achieve success in hiring one of our members, the company, in return, agrees to be a pizza sponsor for a month or more. Note: We have not yet gone hungry!


AUGI local chapters

Present Day… (as told by Richard Binning and Larry Longenecker) Today JAG is still going strong. Members are able to network alongside some of North East Florida’s most talented CAD professionals and receive a quality education on the latest tips and tricks involving Autodesk software they use on a daily basis. Products discussed now extend well beyond traditional AutoCAD to include AutoCAD Architectural, AutoCAD MEP, Inventor, and the various flavors of Revit, Civil3D, and others. Becoming a member of JAG, means you’ll always have a core group of caring Autodesk Product Users who are ready and willing to assist if they can. It also means that you’ll always have a place to go on meeting nights, where you’ll be welcomed and fed. Even Christmas time finds JAG members meeting to have an informal night of laughs and good cheer as presents are shared and swapped in the annual White Elephant gifting that has become a tradition among design professionals in Northeast Florida. The group still meets at the Haskell Building every third Tuesday of each month at 6:00pm. About Our Sponsor… (as told by Richard Binning and Kara Vollman) I would be remiss in my duty if I didn’t take an opportunity to thank Advanced Technologies Solutions for their long standing support and sponsorship of JAG and of AUGI. They have been true friends of AUGI and JAG over the years and have never hesitated to throw in a helping hand many times when they saw a need and before being officially asked. They are true believers in local user community groups and stand firmly in the belief that these groups are crucial toward an individual’s success and can provide a strong educational forum as well as assisting with software support, networking, and career placement. The first user group they provided support to was JAG, but they didn’t stop there. Over the years they have supported both AutoCAD and 3DS Max user groups in the Northeast Florida area. In the past few years, they have extended their support to users in the area by being involved in the startup and operation of several other user groups throughout the South East. One of the most successful groups has been the Revit Professionals of Jacksonville, RPG. RPG was founded in 2009 by Advanced Technologies Solutions’ Senior Applications Engineer Rick Ross after assessing the needs of customers and the desire to form a support system geared around Autodesk Revit Software. Taking cues from JAG, they formed RPG and invited local users to meet on a regular basis to expand their knowledge of Revit products. Today, Rick is the BIM Manager for The Stellar Group and continues to perform as the primary leader and facilitator of



AUGI local chapters the group. RPG has seen enormous success in the last two years, growing to an impressive 114 members. I think one RPG member sums up the benefits of attending RPG meetings nicely: “this group will expand your capabilities and scope.” Revit Professionals has expanded beyond Jacksonville, Fl to Savannah, GA and also operates as a virtual forum online on a quarterly basis. RPG of Jacksonville meets monthly at The Stellar Group at 5:45pm. Currently, Advanced Technologies Solutions is focusing its efforts on growing a Jacksonville Civil 3D User Group and a Virtual BIM Managers Group, both of which are currently seeing a steady rise in attendance. The BIM Managers Group was established to provide direct support, educational opportunities, and peer-to-peer networking to an innovative new field in technology, the BIM Manager. With more and more firms adopting the BIM process and creating new positions to oversee the workflow, Advanced Technologies Solutions is confident that this group will become a crucial support system for BIM Managers in the State of Florida and beyond. For information on any of these User Groups, please contact Advanced Technologies Solutions at: 800.327.3035 or visit their website at: Larry Longenecker has 32 years of civil engineering experience in design, permitting and project management including master planning and design, utility design including pump station design, potable water design, gravity sewage system layout and design, project cost estimates and due diligence. His computer skills range from CAD software utilization, including Autodesk land development desktop R2006 through R2010


Civil3D. His project management experience includes primarily land development projects including but not limited to new restaurants, convenience stores, petroleum storage systems design, churches, office complexes, medical buildings, educational facilities and single and multi-family residential development and emergency operations center. He has been President of JAG since 2002 and prior to that its predecessor, Club CADD of Jacksonville dating back to 1991. Richard Binning is employed as Director of CAD Technology for Wakefield Beasley and Associates, inc. Richard has been a leader in the AEC industry for more than 15 years. He is an international speaker, past Autodesk University and AUGI CAD Camp presenter, and the author of numerous technical and non-technical articles. He has maintained a CAD/BIM/ Technology related blog, Beside The Cursor, since 2004. Richard is a project committee member of the National CAD Standard and is active in many industry organizations including having served on AUGI‘s Board of Directors for six years. During his tenure at AUGI, he led the organization for two years as President and served the community for two years as Local User Group manager. He is currently an administrator on the Forums. Richard is also a USSF licensed professional coach and enjoys coaching soccer in his spare time. He currently lives in Atlanta with his wife and son. You can reach Richard at Kara Vollman currently serves as the Marketing Director for Advanced Technologies Solutions, a Florida-based Autodesk Software Partner. She has over ten years of experience in marketing and graphic design. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and a Master’s Degree in Writing. Kara can be contacted at



Revitize your Key Plan

Introduction We’ve all worked on projects whose plans are too big to fit on a single sheet. The solution is simple right? Either reduce the scale (which is often impractical) or span the plans across several sheets with matchlines separating each portion. Revit even includes tools to help you break up your plan using dependent views and create the matchlines complete with view reference tags indicating which sheet contains the continuation. As handy as those tools are, they will be saved for perhaps a future article. In this article, we will discuss the one part of the matchline story not well represented by native Revit tools: key plans. Including a key plan gives a handy quick reference of where a partial plan fits into the larger footprint of the overall building. Unfortunately, there is no automated way to create a key plan in Revit. However with the process covered herein, you will be able to create a key plan without too much effort. Approaches to Key Plans Revit does not include a “key plan” tool, but there are several approaches to creating a key plan. Here are some options: Use a View—When first contemplating the creation of a key plan, it is common for one to consider simply using a Revit view set to a very small scale. The advantage would be that the key plan shape would automatically update when the form of the building changed. The problem with this approach is that you cannot include the same Revit view on more than one sheet. Therefore, for such an approach to work, you would need to create multiple copies of the key plan view. This might work OK if you only needed the key plan on a few sheets, but chances are, if you are working on a project that is big enough to require the use of a matchline and key plan, then you will also require dozens if not hundreds of floor plan views. So while possible to set up a view to do the job, in general this approach is impractical for most projects. Drafting—On the other extreme, you could simply draft the overall shape of your key plan directly on the sheet using Detail Lines and Filled Regions. The problem with this approach however is that you would need to copy these drafted entities to each sheet independently. If (when) your building form changes, you would be forced to modify potentially hundreds of manually drafted key plans across as many sheets. Not a good solution. Use a Legend—Unlike views, a single legend can be placed on multiple sheets. This eliminates the need to create dozens or hundreds of copies of the legend view, however a legend view is


feature focus

by: Paul F. Aubin

basically a drafting view – it does not show any part of the live building model. Therefore, if using a legend, you overcome the limitations inherent in using a view, but must still draft the shape of the building manually like the drafting approach. Furthermore, you will need a separate legend for each area of your key plan. For example, if your building is split into three regions spanning three separate sheets, you would need a legend showing area A, another for area B and a third for area C. Ongoing maintenance in such an approach is reduced to just three views making it much more manageable. Any of these approaches can do the job. Each has its positives and negatives. And they all require some degree of “work around” to form a complete solution. There is one more approach. It is still a work-around, but overall, it is the one I consider the best. Use a Family—We can create a generic annotation Family to represent our key plan and then insert it onto all of our sheets. To build the Family, you still need to trace the outline of your building using drafting tools like the other approaches above. Therefore if/when the building changes, you will need to manually adjust the shape of your key plan Family. However, since it is a Family, you will only need to change the shape once and it will update all instances in your project. Further, unlike the legend approach, you can build each key plan region into the Family using visibility parameters and Family Types. So you would have an Area A Type, an Area B Type and so on. For the remainder of this article, I’d like to run through a short tutorial to create such a Family.

Create a Key Plan Family To begin, you will need a project with a good sized floor plan. You can open a new project and simply draw a large building outline with some walls if you like. But if you have a project already that uses matchlines and a key plan, you can work directly in there if you like. The basic process is as follows: • Duplicate an overall floor plan view and change the scale to something very small like 1”=200’. • Drag the view to a sheet. Directly on the sheet, trace around the building outline of the view using Detail Lines. Add Detail Lines demarcating the divisions between each matchline zone of your plan. • Select all of the Detail Lines and cut them to your clipboard. • Create a new Generic Annotation Family and paste the contents of the clipboard.


feature focus

Architecture • Create a Filled Region for each key plan zone. • Assign visibility parameters to each Filled Region and set up Types to control them. • Load the completed key plan into your project and add it to your sheets. There you have it: seven easy steps. Easy as that right? OK, let’s break it down. You can perform this tutorial in any version of Revit, but if you are not in 2011, the precise steps might vary slightly. A sample file in 2011 format is available here: http://augiaecedge. com/Downloads/ 1. Create a new Revit project and draw some generic walls to form a large building outline. a. Make the outline about three to five times larger than the space surrounded by the four elevation markers in the project. b. This will give you a project requiring about three key plan zones. c. As an alternative, you can open a suitable existing Revit project. 2. Duplicate the default floor plan view, rename it Key Plan Temp and change the scale to 1”=200’. a. If necessary, hide geometry to make it easier to trace the outline. 3. Create a new sheet and drag the Key Plan Temp view onto the sheet and position it. a. Verify that the scale works for a key plan. If necessary, enlarge or reduce the scale of the Key Plan Temp view before continuing. b. Working on the sheet view (do not activate the view), trace the outline of the building using Detail Lines. The Detail Line tool is on the Annotate tab or you can press DL. Note: You will not be able to snap to objects through the viewport. You will have to trace by eye. Just get close, zoom in and then use the arrow keys to nudge the lines as required. The key plan geometry just has to be recognizable as the building footprint, not exact. c. Add Detail Lines at each matchline location as well. We need to copy the lines from the project to the Family Editor. Revit will not let you do this from a project view, but will allow it from a sheet. This is why it is important to trace directly on the sheet, not in an active view.

Figure 1


4. Select all of the Detail Lines on the sheet including the ones representing the matchlines and cut them to the clipboard. 5. From the Application Menu, choose New > Annotation Symbol. Select the Generic Annotation.rft template and then click Open. a. Delete the red note onscreen. b. Paste the lines from the clipboard and place them roughly in the center of the screen. Move the pasted lines into the desired position relative to two Reference Planes onscreen which intersect at the insertion point of the Family. 6. Create a Filled Region (Home tab) in the shape of each key plan zone. (Use the <Invisible Lines> style for the edges). 7. Open the “Family Types” dialog (Home or Modify tabs). a. Add a new parameter. Name it Zone C, make the type of parameter: Yes/No, group it under Identity Data and leave it a Type parameter. b. Create two more Type parameters with the same settings named: Zone B and Zone A. Parameters appear in the list in the order you create them and you cannot change the order later, so create your zones in reverse order from last to first.

Figure 2

8. Still in “Family Types” on the right, click the New button to create a new Type. a. Name the new Type something like: Zone A and then click OK. b. Uncheck each Zone except Zone A. c. Repeat for each Zone, test to be sure everything is correct and then click OK to dismiss Family Types. Tip: Creating individual Types and manually checking and unchecking the boxes is perfectly suitable. However, if you wish, you can use formulas to automate selection. Create an Integer parameter named simply: Zone. In the formula column next to Zone A, type: Zone = 1. Next to Zone B, type: Zone = 2 and next to Zone C type: Zone = 3. Now try different numbers for Zone. When you choose 2 for example, Zone A and C will uncheck and Zone B will check. For this approach to be most effective, modify all of your parameters and change them to Instance parameters. summer_2010

With all the work in “Family Types” complete, we just have to link up the parameters to the visibility of the Filled Regions. 9. Select the Filled Region representing Zone A. a. On the Properties palette, click the small parameter link button (to the right) next to the Visible parameter. b. In the “Associate Family Parameter” dialog, choose Zone A and then click OK. c. Repeat for each Zone.

Figure 3

It will not preview the visibility of the Filled Regions in the Family Editor, so to test the Family and make sure everything is working, load it back into your project. 10. Click the Load into Project button. 11. On the Annotate tab, click the Symbol tool. (Revit might place you in this command automatically). a. Place an instance of your key plan on a sheet. b. Repeat for the other sheets. c. Use the Type Selector to choose the correct key plan zone for each sheet.

Wrapping Up As you can see, there are plenty of ways to approach the challenge of creating a key plan. I like the Annotation Family approach best because it gives a good deal power and lots of flexibility. For example, if your building footprint changes, you just repeat the Detail Line steps to trace the changed portion of the building, paste it into the Family and make adjustments to the Filled Regions and reload it back into the project. All instances of the key plan will update. I tried to get clever with linking up the parameters in the key plan with some custom ones on in the titleblock Family, but alas, you cannot add Shared Parameters to sheets. My goal was to be able to manage which key plan was shown on a sheet from a sheet list schedule instead of having to open each sheet, but it did not work out. There may be a way to do this with the Revit API, but that is an exploration for another day or a topic for a future article. Until then, I hope you find this technique useful in your projects.

feature focus


Paul F. Aubin is the author of many CAD and BIM book titles including the widely acclaimed: Paul F. Aubin’s Mastering Revit Architecture and Mastering AutoCAD Architecture (both rebranded this year as part of the Aubin Academy Mastering Series). Paul has also authored video training both on his website and as an author for Paul is an independent architectural consultant who travels domestically and abroad lecturing and providing Revit® Architecture and AutoCAD® Architecture implementation, training, and support services. Paul’s involvement in the architectural profession spans 20 years, with experience that includes design, production, CAD management, mentoring, coaching, and training. He currently serves as Moderator for Cadalyst magazine’s online CAD Questions forum, is an active member of the Autodesk user community, and has been a top-rated speaker at Autodesk University (Autodesk’s annual user convention) for many years. His diverse experience in architectural firms, as a CAD manager, and as an educator gives his writing and his classroom instruction a fresh and credible focus. Paul is an associate member of the American Institute of Architects. He lives in Chicago with his wife and three children.

Figure 4



feature focus


by: Jeremiah Bowles


Many of the most compelling reasons to use Revit for Building Information Modeling are to solve the building issues earlier in the design process. Many early adopters of Revit saw Revit as tool to capture the concept of the building in early design and were not so focused on creating a construction drawings set. These early adopters captured what I call the “essence of BIM” by providing the needed information to expedite decision making. These adopters also experienced the promised productivity that BIM can provide to an already tight schedule. Over the years one of the most compelling and underutilized tools in Revit Architecture have been the Conceptual Massing tools (aka building maker tools). For some Architecture firms these tools are a boon to providing a streamlined workflow that reduces restarts and provides their clients with a good foundation in early design. I have found that these tools can provide greater value than just massing and visualization when applied in a strategic method. To some Architectural firms these techniques don’t require a full rework of workflow as they may be using Rhino, Sketch Up, and AutoCAD in massing applications. Although they may have realized limited success with these tools they have not fully realized the full potential of reducing restarts, redrawing, and capturing of the valuable information provided by Revit’s BIM offering. Another advantage is that Architecture firms that are using the Conceptual Massing have noticed their clients feel that their preliminary designs resemble a building and not just a colored cartoon set (which actually may be desired). The Architects that have shared the Conceptual Massing workflow have actually delivered on BIM’s promise of increased productivity and have helped solve building problems in early design without binding their designers’ hands.

MASS TEMPLATE AND SETUP The conceptual mass tools work with specific building Element Tools. We begin by creating a “New Conceptual Mass” from the start-up screen. The New Conceptual Mass is a new family that was previously only available as an in-place mass when drawn in the project environment (see Figure 1). After the mass object (usually the shape of a building) is drawn we load the mass family into the project where we can associate specific objects to the mass’ shape, more specifically the faces. http://www.screencast. com/t/ZTdhZjkzMDQt 46


These objects are restricted to four building maker tools: Walls by Face, Roof by Face, & Floor by Face; this includes Storefront or curtain glazing but is restricted to rectilinear (i.e. vertical forms) See Figure 2

1. CONSTRUCTS & PARAMETERS When starting a mass there are 2 primary constructs already set up and one level grid. These reference planes are usually pinned so if your project extends beyond these boundaries make sure that you temporarily unpin them to extend them beyond the project like a traditional family as this will aid you in locking down geometry, but don’t forget to re-pin these reference planes as we want our family to maintain an origin once we place it in a project. Use reference planes to define common points vertically, especially when trying to align your scanned napkin sketches into place. Once you have these sketches in place, make sure to pin these down also. Once you start to develop your mass you will identify areas in a project that need to be flexible and adjusted in the project space. First draw the work plane and then align the model to the work plane and select the lock function. I found establishing work planes very valuable when creating shade devices for establishing proper day lighting validation. I also like to use this to maintain summer_2010

The second option is to host a new form on top of the initial extrusion and treat these as two separate extrusions. http:// Sweeps Creating a sweep form requires a path and profile, this can also include a swept blend. The secret to a sweep form is to create points on a line and create the profile on the work plane of point (note: this work will be perpendicular to the alignment including arcs and splines) http://www.screencast. com/t/OWNkZDk1ZT

feature focus


Figure 2 – Revit Project Tools

consistent set-back distance for storefront windows. Establishing work planes is not enough, we also need to add a dimension and turn these into parameters. When drawing a form I like to select the “pick” button to deliberately select the work plane I want to work on.

2. FORM CREATION STRATEGIES Forms are created with a combination of Model Lines, Reference Lines, & Points and the form creation tools. When creating a form you simply pick a work plane and start drawing model lines that represent the faces you want to create (see Figure 3).

Figure 4 – Sweeps & blends

Creating a blend form is similar to a loft and a sweep but both ends have different profiles. The process is similar in that you have a path and 2 point hosted on that path with different profiles. This allows for us to have one form blend into another. http://www. Figure 3 – Lofted forms spline, with edges, and stack/join

Loft Forms Creating a loft form starts by creating an extrusion then adding a profile to it by selecting the form. As we add profiles we can twist and turn the form but these create b-splines also called NURBS. These forms can be rationalized now through rationalization and custom patterns. If you don’t want to create curvilinear forms and want to have planar forms you have two options. http://www. The first option is to add an edge to opposite corners and then later add the profile. This acts like a bed sheet, forms will sway like a spline until you pinch in-between at two ends. summer_2010

Complex NURBS (including parameter controls) Creating a spline through points is done by placing at least 3 points and selecting the spline tool. This tool is great for creating revolve forms and also creating NURBS and wave like faces. These forms are easy to create but if you want to exercise control over the points after the form is created you will need to draw with reference lines or change the properties of your model lines to be reference lines by selecting the “is a reference” checkbox. Now when you add a parameter to the point through these splines you can parametrically control the behavior of the spline as it is being driven by the points (see Figure 5). http://www.screencast. com/t/ODY4OTJmY2


feature focus


Figure 5 – NURBS with parameterized points

Those of you that may have used massing before may have noticed that there is no more curtain panel by two points. Now you will need to build a mass or a face to create these curtain elements. This is a much better solution as I can continue to edit and manipulate the form. Manipulating points, faces and lines requires a selection of the units and then using the gizmo to manipulate the points. See Figure 6 for outline of tools.

Figure 7 – Cutting & joining mass & project

5. SHOULD I DELETE THE MASS Many times I am on a site visit with a customer or prospective customer who is playing with massing and they draw their form and quickly delete the mass element. I had one case where the client had deleted the form, and a few days later were having issues. Having a form turned off visibly is a lot easier than redrawing an element from scratch. It’s also sometimes easier to edit the mass than it is to edit the wall. We do massing to create complex forms and also edit them later as the drawing advances. 6. SOLID FORM EDITING TECHNIQUES There are also forms that Revit tools can’t create without edits. When creating a roof I can do a profile extrusion but I can’t change the outline shape of that extrusion. This can be done by creating an in-place mass form, preferably a void, and void out the material that we don’t need.

Figure 6 – NURBS with parameterized points

3. VOIDS & SOLID TO VOID CONVERSIONS Creating void forms is fairly simple and only requires a polygon and selecting create form, this will create a void form which will subtract any solid that it comes in contact with. Voids however are difficult to control and don’t mix well with multiple solids. I like to create my solid form and manipulate this into place and then change the solid to a void. This will allow me to select the geometry I want to cut rather than relying on the void’s hosting. This also helps to maintain independence from the hosted work plane or face. 4. CUTTING AND JOINING ELEMENTS If drawing the walls in 2d could tell the full story we wouldn’t draw building elevations, interior elevations, and building sections. Many times our building shape and construction is very complex. If we could draw in Revit every building element editing every wall profile, we would spend hours drawing something I could draw in a mass very easily. Furthermore if we drew this in 2d we would find ourselves calculating, checking and rechecking our sections to see if what we drew in elevation matched what we drew in sections and plans, never mind if we needed to change something. This is where I like using cutting & joining elements to assist in form creation. You will need to create the forms, whether solid or void, and use the cut & join tools to make these edits. Now in Revit 2011 we can cut out solid forms from other solid forms making it easier to separate buildings with different materials (see Figure 7). 48

The massing environment is usually not the best environment to created sloped roofs; especially those roofs that resemble residential or resort style roofs. My best practice is to bring my mass in, add walls then do a roof by footprint using those walls; as the walls change in my mass so should my roof shape in the project.

7. WHEN TO STOP MASSING & USE PROJECT EDITS One of the biggest complaints I get from modelers is that no design tool can do everything; this may be true with most programs and is true with the conceptual mass as well. Although the conceptual massing can’t do everything, once in the project there are several tools that can clean up the drawing and actually make it look like a building with character and not just walls with a painted surface. The first area where the project tools work better than attempting to mass is using the roof by footprint. This tool will calculate the roof pitches and intersects based on the walls that are selected. I typically recommend using this tool for almost all pitched roof instances. When modeling a building I have seen many hours waste modeling extruded foam shapes, wall reveals and trim profiles. As these could be modeled in the conceptual massing family it would be best to create these either as wall sweeps / reveals or gutters and take advantage of the profile family to reduce the number of times you redraw an individual profile. This also reduces the redraw for later design as these can be re-used as part of the elevations and details. These synergies are advantageous as there will be summer_2010

no miscommunication to the client of the designer’s intent moving forward into design development (see Figure 8). http://www. Although this may not be obvious, I have seen people model individual curtain wall or storefront mullions in other design programs. They say that this isn’t time consuming but when compared to using the Revit project tools for curtain walls / storefront walls the time saved for layout alone are saved even when learning these tools for the first time. The other embellishments can be addressed by creating simple place holder geometry for standard shapes using Revit Families; these objects include: Lintels, Corbels, Quoins, Keystones, Pediments, Surrounds, & Vents etc. There are other tools handled by system families including: Gutters, Cornice, & Soffits. http:// These tools not only help in placing these but can be scheduled for rough quantity take off. The last component that should be placed in a project is columns. These include: architectural columns, pilasters, piers, and capitals. Capitals can be nested into a typical column family to allow flexibility to the designer when swapping between column types.

Figure 8 – USE PROJECT TOOLS - Sweeps, Reveals, Model in place

8. FORM REITERATION & DISOLVE The greatest thing about Revit has always been the ability to revise, reiterate and manage change. As we know our designers are always taking an idea and developing it further. One of the biggest critiques of the new massing tools in Revit 2010 was the inability to revise a form once it was created. In Revit 2011 they have allowed us to edit the original model lines and dissolve the make-up of the form. Included with this is also a work plane viewer, this viewer option allows us to have a view (where one may not exist) perpendicular to view to create a detailed and accurate edit of the shape. 9. SKETCHUP USES & CHALLENGES One of the biggest obstacles for designers is that they are a creature of habit or ease. Whether a designer is still using bumwad and colored pencils or a combination of AutoCAD & SketchUp they can easily integrate these tools into a Revit workflow. Some Designers are importing their preliminary forms into Revit conceptual masssummer_2010

ing and others are taking the Revit project via AutoCAD export into SketchUp to “make it sketchy”. I also recommend using Autodesk Impression to keep things sketchy and loose also this tool is a hidden gem and is a Subscription Entitlement. If you are able to scan a bumwad sketch this can be easily inserted into the different level views and scaled up or down to make the drawing to scale. Make sure to pin these down in the views, mostly so you don’t accidentally select them. After you place these images, begin tracing the major shell elements and begin to create your exterior mass form.

feature focus


If you are using SketchUp you need to understand that you are not modeling solids but are creating faces. These faces can be imported into the Revit mass family and then imported into the project to use the wall by face and roof by face tools. Because you are not working with a solid form Revit can’t break up the mass by floor levels. The other limitations with SketchUp stems from the fact that the forms created are not solids but faces and as a result you are unable to create schedules and do rough QTO. Also when changes are made to the SketchUp model we are unable to update to face since the faces are unintelligent. Similar to the rules for over modeling the mass forms in Revit you must also be careful to not over model your SketchUp form.

10. PRESENTATION DRAWINGS Outside of exporting your project to SketchUp or printing your project views to PDF and then adding color in Photoshop most studios should seriously explore the new visualization offerings with Revit Architecture 2011. In 2011, Autodesk added two new visual styles to our views. The most impressive of these visualization styles is the realistic view. These views are similar to partially rendering the project and allow ambient occlusion (i.e. realistic material mapping). This tool with a combination of the sun path tools can provide realistic and accurate sun studies. Another impressive tool is the ability to take background photo images and place them inside the background of your rendering images (see Figure 9). If these fixes are not enough you can always use the FBX export to Autodesk 3ds Max Design for extreme photorealistic images and walk through animations.

Figure 9 – Renderings with background images


feature focus


One of the final tricks is to use a combination of paint and split face to “paint” on generic walls your materials. This trick is quick but doesn’t provide that accurate of a presentation and presents similar to other design products. YmMwZDcw

11. SCHEDULES AND QTO One most commonly forgotten aspect of BIM is the I or rather the Information, sometimes I call this the intelligence of BIM. Most times designers that favor a specific product for their design tool or technique will talk about the speed of laying out design as if this were the only aspect of conceptual design that was important. This superficial assessment usually doesn’t take into account the other nuances happening in the project; including: Programming, estimating, 2d plan creation, and validation of the program against client expectations. When you add all these variables together you will see a more comprehensive view of what is being done in early design and that it’s not all about the Building & the Model as the model Intelligence is also a major factor. See figure 10 for examples. First take advantage of the Mass Schedule as this schedule can provide baseline information about a project including: gross

Figure 10 – Preliminary Design Data

floor area, gross surface area and gross volume. Another Schedule is the Floor Area Mass Schedules; this schedule includes more detailed information including floor perimeter, floor area, floor volume, & exterior surface area. We can further tap into other parameters like wall material take-off or floor material take off by creating additional schedules. One important step is to finish drawing in the interior partitions. These are important, especially if you want to take advantage of validating the building program. I have taught some clients to even create program validation formulas using conditional formatting. This room schedule can be used to validate when we are out of specification. 50

Another tool is Autodesk Quantity Takeoff (QTO). This tool is a Construction Managers friend as it works with BIM models, CAD drawings and scanned images including PDF.

12. ENERGY ANALYSIS IN EARLY DESIGN One last area that should not be ignored is how to leverage our early design data for sustainability. This is where I believe Revit and other Autodesk tools have a significant advantage over the competition. You will need to complete your building by drawing the interior walls and laying out a rough ceiling grid. Your building model can then be exported to Autodesk Green Build Studio (GBS) which is now available to those on subscription with Revit Architecture 2011 & Revit MEP 2011. With a little preparation you can take your rough model into GBS and gather rich information about your building’s energy usage based on location, building type and the data found in your building model. These calculations may not be engineer accurate but are a good baseline to start. GBS also lists possible alternative energy potentials based on your area that you can explore. Another tool is Autodesk Ecotect; this tool is something that goes beyond GBS into day lighting and detailed energy analysis. See your local reseller for more information on this tool and Ecotect. One other tool in Revit is the sun path tool; this tool is similar to the Ecotect tool except that we can directly manipulate the sun based on date and time directly in the Revit environment. This can aid in developing passive solar design and validate where shadows are cast to value engineer canopies, roof overhangs and sun baffles. These also can be used as a valuable presentation tool that has tangible, content rich graphics that simulate sun studies. These tools can be valuable assets and can help you to differentiate yourselves from the competition. http://www.screencast. com/t/OWRkYzg5M

CONCERNS, CONSEQUENCES, COMPARISON & CONCLUSIONS These techniques are but a good start to understanding Revit Conceptual Massing. I don’t recommend walking in to your lead designer and slapping this article on his desk and tell him he’s doing it all wrong, remember to have a bit of tact. When working with an Architect be sensitive to the ego and that you may very well be moving his cheese. Don’t compare or criticize his tools, just provide him with a new set of tools, rules and a little bit of vision. I would focus on developing a solid conceptual template. The biggest reason most companies don’t undertake doing conceptual massing is that they are worried their designers can’t use the program or are so addicted to their other tools that they are not willing to change. To address this I removed most of the barriers that would cause confusion or challenge the designers. One technique is by creating flexible families that are not too specific. Another is to teach them to place components as place holders and coordinate with them to create the actual content they need. Eventually they will feel more comfortable as you create more content for them to use that isn’t so overwhelming. If you enjoyed this article and want to know more feel free to contact me to discuss a customized business assessment and I can help you decide if these tools are right for you. summer_2010

Jeremiah Bowles is an AEC Applications Engineer in Kansas City Metro area for Applied Technology Group, an Autodesk Gold Partner. He has been in the AEC industry since 1992 in many AEC facets. His early adoption of BIM including Revit has helped him to be an industry leader and innovator. His experience helps him to provide applicable knowledge with relevant business context. He started while in Architecture school in Structural Design and his Architecture studio experience is primarily in Public, Transportation, Religious Facilities, Higher & Lower Education, and Residential Design. He paid his way through College by winning drafting & design competitions through VICA (Skills USA), and other craftsman fairs. He can be found speaking at AIA, CSI, SEA Conventions, and Revit User Groups in the Mid-Western United States and as a speaker at Autodesk University. As an Architecture Major he also holds a B.A. degree in Business Management with a focus on Strategic Communications and Technology Integration. He is

currently undertaking a Masters in Construction Management. This article is a preview of his 2010 Autodesk University hands on learning course titled: Revit conceptual massing – merging “old-school” techniques with technology strategies. He also has online quarterly workshop expanding on Revit Conceptual Design, contact him for more info. As a consultant he provides services including: Business Assessment, Strategic Technology Planning and Implementation, BIM/CAD Standards Management, Revit courses in Architecture, MEP & Structure and other BIM applications. He can be found on LinkedIn or by contacting him at

feature focus


Diamond Sponsor

Summer 2010

Lessons of BIM

AUGI | AEC Edge delivers mission-critical, game changing, industry leading, best practice advice on the AEC industry

Intergrated BIM... Integrated with What? 12 Tips for Efficient Conceptual Massing



Get your FREE copy TODAY



CIVIL ENGINEERING For All Marketing Inquiries Contact: Karen Popp • +1.415.305.5557




by: Stephen Stafford

inside track

AUGI | AEC EDGE brings you recent developments in Autodesk and AEC related software items Autodesk Labs: Photo Scene Editor for Project Photofly Photo Scene Editor for Project Photofly URL:

Figure 1 - Photo Scene Editor for Project Photofly

The Overview reads: “Capturing the reality as-built for various purposes (renovation, energy analysis, add-on design, etc.) is now becoming possible using your standard digital camera thanks to advanced computer vision technologies developed by Autodesk, called Camera Factory, and now made available through Project Photofly.”

Autodesk Labs: Project Snap Project Snap at Autodesk Labs URL:

Figure 2 - Project Snap for AutoCAD

The Overview reads: “The idea behind Project Snap is that it connects Autodesk users to their design content (DWG, RVT, IAM) regardless of where the data resides (local or network folders, Autodesk Seek, Autodesk Buzzsaw, Autodesk Vault). With Project Snap, you can instantly find your design content without waiting. Project Snap creates an index of your data based on where you instruct it to look. That index of design metadata (file properties, objects in files) is used to instantly locate design content. For phase 1 of this technology preview, you can do this for local drives while working in AutoCAD without leaving AutoCAD. Think of it as a vastly improved version of Design Center”



Autodesk Labs: Firefox Add-On Firefox Add-On at Autodesk Labs URL:

for Revit Families, a content manager that lives inside the Revit environment. You owe it to yourself to have a look, it might just be what the doctor ordered?”


inside track

Figure 3 - Firefox Add-on is ready

The Overview reads: “The Firefox add-on for Autodesk® Design Review software lets you view DWF™ files using Mozilla™ Firefox® 3 for the Windows® operating system. Now you can view embedded DWF files in Firefox much the same way as you do in the Microsoft® Internet Explorer® browser. Note: The Firefox add-on for Autodesk Design Review does not support scripting or automation in the browser because Firefox does not support COM controls.”

PointKnown - PKNail PointKnown URL:

Figure 4 - PointKnown’s logo

Overview: “PKNail is software that is being developed by PointKnown Building Solutions. The purpose of the software is to improve the process of measuring existing buildings and then building a model using Revit. It’s based upon using the Leica Disto D8 surveying tool. The software is not yet commercially available but they made a video (posted at YouTube) that demonstrates how it works. It is a little over 8 minutes long. If you’ve ever measured an existing building you might want to spend 8 minutes and watch. Jim Foster is the person doing the demo and he has a blog called BIM, the Built Environment and Stuff. The link for their YouTube video appears below if you want to watch it now.”

Watch a video of it in use, presented by Jim Foster. Video URL: watch?v=mfWyqWUqEMM Jim’s Blog URL: Autodesk Labs: Firefox Add-On Kiwi Codes Solutions URL: Overview: “This organization started out developing special applications for the New Zealand market. They recently expanded their effort into a more universally interesting project, a Browser summer_2010

Figure 5 - KiwiCodes Solutions Logo

AUGI Wish Lists Expand to include Revit Structure and MEP AUGI Revit Wish Lists URL: Overview: Revit Architecture has been the only Revit product to have a AUGI wish list for many years now. AUGI is pleased to announce that they exist for the other two versions. The following are the recent Top Ten Wishes for Revit Structure and MEP: Revit Structure August 2010

Revit MEP - August 2010

#1 - Framing Member Disallow Join

#1 - Piping Schematic View

#2 - Improve Block Text Notes

#2 - Interconnection of Linked MEP Elements

#3 - Free Tag Rotation

#3 - Electrical One-Line Schematic View

#4 - Tag Top of Footing

#4 - Down Save Revit Files

#5 - Tag in 3D View

#5 - Optional Connectors

#6 - Stacked Fractions

#6 - Sloped Ceiling Annotation Display

#7 - View Reference and View

#7 - Duct/Pipe Insulation Overhaul

#8 - New Element Class: Panel

#8 - Export/Print Panel Schedules

#9 - Automatic Revision views

#9 - Visibility/Graphics Improvements

#10 - New Tool: Match Instance

#10 - Loop Arrowhead for Leaders

View all results for Revit View all results for Revit Structure: http://www.augi. MEP: http://www.augi. com/revit/results3.asp com/revit/results2.asp

Until next issue! If you’d have some news to share with us for future issues please let us know. Likewise if you are a user of a featured product or news item and would like to write a review, we want to know. Contact the editor:


feature focus


by: Marcello Sgambelluri

The Mass Family Editor, the Basics, Why It Does What It Does and Its Limitations

Introduction The mass family editor, revamped in Revit 2010, gave Revit users a new set of modeling tools to model free form geometry. This opened the door to the Revit community to create complex shaped mass families. If you are not familiar with the mass family editor, or if you are a seasoned mass family creator read on because this article if for you. This article will provide the reader with an overview of the basics of element creation in the mass family editor, its limitations and information on why particular elements and commands behave the way they do. For example, have you ever wondered why the “spline through points” command allows the spline to take a particular path through multiple points that were selected? This article will answer questions like this one and much more. I will also share some of the mass models I have created in the past. This article is intended to be used as a building block that the reader can use to create complex mass families of their very own.

Revit geometry within the mass modeling environment because only parameters can be placed on native elements.

What is possible? Ever since the new mass modeling tools became available in Revit 2010, I have tried to stretch the limit of geometry and parametric complexity in every mass family that I built. I have spent 100’s of hours working in the mass modeling environment over the past two years and I have concluded that practically any shape is possible to create, given enough patience. Figures 1, 2, 3 show some of the mass families I have built in the past. These were all built out of native Revit elements in the mass modeler.

If you are relatively new to the mass family editor it is best not to get it confused with the traditional family editor. Quite simply, in 3d view, the traditional family editor has a white or black background and the conceptual mass family editor has a grey background as shown in Figure 4.

The new mass modeling environment and what is up with this grey background? The new mass modeling environment is a special type of family editor that is available for all the Revit products, Revit Architecture, Revit Structure, and Revit MEP. This mass modeling environment is used to create a very specific type of family called the “conceptual mass family”. It is important to note that new to Revit 2011 is the adaptive component family. This new adaptive component family, as well as the in-place mass family, also uses the same modeling tools as the conceptual mass family editor however they serve completely different functions. While the conceptual mass family is classified as a “mass” family the adaptive component family is classified as a “component” family. We will not cover the adaptive component family or the in-place mass family in this article.

The conceptual mass family was mainly intended to build masses, not elements that could be used as templates in projects that you could then apply complex elements to its surfaces such as walls and curtain wall. Also, it was intended to aid in mass studies for programming. Since the mass modeling environment is a family editor, there are many tools that are available to you including adding parameters, nesting other non mass family, importing other cad formatted files etc.

Reference elements Reference Planes, Reference Lines, Reference Points Unlike the traditional family editor, you will be spending 90 percent of the time modeling in 3D views in the mass editor. There are three types of reference elements: the plane, the line and the point as shown in Figure 4. Figure 1,2 & 3- Vehicle Models and Airplane models I have built in the Revit Mass Family Editor using Native Revit Elements

I would admit that it is easier to create complex shapes, including vehicles, in 3dsMax. There is a major advantage to creating native


Reference Points Reference points are a completely new element to Revit since version 2010. They are essential when creating complex geometry. They can be used to define the ends of lines and ends of surfaces. Reference points have local and global coordinates that have three reference planes associated with them. The global coordinate summer_2010

system is fixed in space and is set relative to the orthogonal directions of the modeling environment. The local axis is set based on the reference point’s “hosted” element. It is important to note that the local axis is able to be rotated while the global axis is not. The global axis is represented by a green, red and blue colored axis as shown in Figure 4. The local axis represented by an orange and red colored axis. You are able to toggle between the global and local axis by clicking the space bar.

What if your spline needs to have 100’s of points? It would be a pain to have to individually click all those points. Therefore, it may be more convenient to use the second method. The second method for creating splines thru points is to select pre-drawn points and then click the “spline through points” command. What path do the points take? Well, I have finally gotten an answer from the developers on how this works. See Figure 5

feature focus


Figure 5- Points and the Path the Spline takes through the points

Think of the points as a group with an average “path” similar to a linear regression line. This is represented in Figure 5 with an arrow. The spline will take the path through the points that are closest to this average path. It is not recommended you use the second method if your spline is circular because the spline will have a serpentine pattern.

Forms and Voids Create Forms In the traditional family editor you were only allowed to model five basic masses as shown in FIGURE 6. Figure 4- 3D View of Reference plan, Reference line and Reference point with global axis

Reference Lines Reference lines in Revit 2011 are similar to the previous reference lines used in the traditional family editor. The major difference is that reference lines can now be curved. Curved reference lines only have reference planes at their ends while straight reference lines have four reference planes as shown in Figure 4. It is important to note that any spline curve is able to be converted to a reference line. Reference Planes Reference planes are the same in the mass editor as the traditional family editor. It is important to become very familiar with using the reference plane because it is the fundamental ingredient when modeling any complex geometry in Revit. Reference planes have the ability to be used as work planes. Splines and Surfaces Splines and what path thru the points is it taking? There are two methods for creating splines. The first method for creating a spline is by clicking individual points. By clicking the “spline through points” command then placing control points one at a time the spline will follow a set path.


Figure 6- Form creation tools in the traditional family editor and the mass modeler

The new conceptual mass modeling tools allow you to model these five basic types and much more using only one tool called the create form tool as shown in FIGURE 6. The program is smart enough to know for example which of the five mass types you want to create based on what you have selected prior to clicking the create form button! FIGURE 7 shows what form elements are created when certain types of spline/curve elements are selected. I will not go into any more detail about how to create these types of forms however I will point out that you would these same procedures to create


feature focus

structure void forms. Please note that when you create a form through splines the splines will be “consumed” or removed when the form is created however reference lines will not be consumed.

What are these surfaces and what path thru the splines is it taking? Did you ever wonder how these form surfaces are calculated? Ever wonder why you cannot create a form when you select three or more splines? It turns out that these surfaces are something called Hermite surfaces. If you want more information on the formulation of these surfaces I recommend a Google search. These forms are not allowed to self-intersect, for good reason. This means that when you try to create a form over three or more splines and it does not allow you to create a form it is because the form is self-intersecting. This creates a lot of headaches when you try to create complex surfaces that need many splines. Do not get discouraged when creating complex forms in Revit. It helps to understand that these forms in Revit are very basic because they were intended for building facades and the only way to be successful is to keep trying. Finally, let’s examine what path the form will take when multiple splines are selected. It turns out that the path the form takes is similar to the path the spline takes through points as shown in FIGURE 9. The splines here are shown as vertical lines and form a group with an average “path” similar to the points in Figure 5. This is represented in Figure 9 with an arrow. The form will take the path through the splines that are closest to this average path. You may ask why this is important. Unlike the “spline through points” command where you are able to “pick” a specific path where the spline will follow, with forms, you cannot pick a path through specific splines. Therefore, the only work around to this is to create your form and then physically move the splines to the correct location.

Figure 7

Known Limitations Let’s face it, the mass modeling environment is relatively new to Revit. Therefore limitations and bugs are to be expected. The good thing is that Revit 2010 took a major step forward in giving users the ability to model free form geometry. It is important to be aware of the limitations so you will not waste your time trying to do something when in the end it is not even possible. • In the traditional family editor you were able to create groups and you are not allowed to do this in the concept mass family editor. • You are not allowed to create solid form with a closed spline constructed out of one spline. You must use at least two splines.


Figure 8- Splines and the path the Form takes through the Splines

• You are not allowed to join two surfaces together. You are only allowed to join two solid forms together or a void and a solid together.


• Closed splines or elements contained within other closed loops (annulus/washer shapes) do not create forms. Leave elements slightly open as a workaround. • You are not allowed to add a Profile in any location other than the U direction on a surface. You are not allowed to add an edge in any location other than in the V direction. Also some surfaces and solid are not allowed to have edges. • Most times it is not possible to Hide Joined Solids • Voids Auto Join to solids that are not in contact with each other.

What is next? Now that you have the basics down I encourage you to play with the massing tools and create something amazing to share with the Revit community. See Figure 9 and 10, I built this Revit Elephant, with parameters, using the same basics described in this article. It has hundreds of separate splines and thousands of separate control reference points. Good luck and happy mass modeling!

Marcello is the BIM Manager at John A. Martin & Associates Structural Engineers in Los Angeles, CA. He has been using Autodesk products for over 15 years including AutoCAD, 3ds Max, and Revit Structure. He is a member of the ASCE-SEI BIM committee and continually speaks at structural professional conferences across the country. Marcello teaches classes regularly at Autodesk University that focuses on free form modeling in Revit and beta tests the yearly releases of Revit Structure. He has worked on many projects that incorporated complex geometry including the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, CA, the Stata Center at MIT, and the International Terminal Expansion at LAX. Marcello received B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering and is a licensed Civil and Structural Engineer.

feature focus


Figures 9 & 10- The Revit Elephant



feature focus


by: Robert Bell

Revit MEP 2011 A Must-Have for Electrical


The 2011 release of Revit MEP is one that is of great significance for the MEP industry, in particular for the electrical field. The number of enhancements and improvements can take your breath away. Even if electrical is not your primary discipline the improvements in the interface and performance make it worthwhile to implement. If electrical is your primary discipline, you should do everything in your power to implement this release and get your current projects upgraded.

actly as rectangular ductwork at each detail level (see Figure 2). Both conduit and cable tray do not have BIM capabilities such as knowing what wiring and cabling is routed in them.

However, with the good comes a bit of the bad. Some of the new features are incomplete or do not work as well as they could. There is also an interface change that has a significant impact particularly in the electrical field. These issues will be discussed throughout the article.

Conduit and Cable Tray At last you no longer need to â&#x20AC;&#x153;fakeâ&#x20AC;? conduit or use families of cable tray that do not act as connected system families. This release provides system families for both conduit and cable tray. These families act similar to duct and pipe in that they are aware of their connected fittings. This means that you can adjust the offset of an entire run without being forced to select the individual elements. Conduit and cable tray can be modeled either with or without fittings. When you elect to not use fittings you still get elbows and such but the fitting marks will not display in Fine detail level. You can also schedule the entire lengths of conduit and cable tray when modeled without fittings. When fittings are modeled they will need to be scheduled separately from the straight segments.

Figure 1

Also welcome is that the conduit, while specified by trade size, draws with the actual outer diameter of the conduit. While placing the conduit without fittings you can alter the bend radius of elbows so that you can use concentric bends for racked conduit rather than fixed radius elbows (see Figure 1), where appropriate. There are two new connectors, broadly categorized as a surface connector, for connecting either conduit or cable tray to families. When you make a connection to either of these connectors you are shown a plan view of the surface to which you are connecting, allowing you to move the connection anywhere on that surface. While there are various types of cable tray provided, only ladder tray is visually distinguishable from the other types, and only at Fine detail level. Cable tray in elevations and sections appear ex58

Figure 2

Customizable electrical panel schedules Electrical panel schedules have finally gotten the attention they so desperately needed. Autodesk has provided a panel schedule template feature to permit customizing the appearance and data summer_2010

that appear in the panel schedules. The template approach even permits the support of client- or jurisdiction-specific panel schedules by transferring templates from one project to another. Editing a panel schedule template is similar to editing a spreadsheet. You are provided with a grid structure with cells that can be assigned text, parameters, formulas, and even images. Cells can be merged and unmerged. Rows and columns can be inserted and deleted and cells can have borders and fills (see Figure 3).

Load Classifications and Demand Factors Demand factors and load classifications received a lot of attention in this release. Instead of being limited to changing the demand factor by load in 2010, this release provides 29 different demand factors and the ability to create even more based on three different ways to calculate the demand: a constant, by quantity, and by load (see Figure 4).

feature focus


Figure 4

Revit MEP 2011 blows the doors off of 2010â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s four static load classifications. This release provides 28 different load classifications and the ability to create even more (see Figure 5). Figure 3

There are 3 types of panels supported: branch panels, switchgear, and data panels. It is easier to add spares and spaces to panels. Spares can be assigned a load value. There are some rough spots in the panel schedule templates. Below is a list of some of the common issues: 1. The number of slots for a branch panel is specified by the template. So if you need to change a 42-slot panel to a 30-slot panel you need to use a different template. 2. You cannot add a wire size parameter to the schedule templates. 3. The units in the load analysis section of the panel cannot be changed expect by changing the units for the entire project. 4. 2-section panelboards connected by subfeed lugs are not possible with the current panel schedule templates. 5. Using the standard circuit naming in panel schedules so that only circuit numbers show on the panel schedule causes circuits in other schedules such as equipment schedules to show only the circuit number and will not include the panel name. Unfortunately, other than manually typing circuit numbers in panel schedules there is no other workaround.


Figure 5


feature focus

MEP The new panel schedule templates can report data based on load classifications and the demand factors assigned to the loads. Although it may take a while to go back thru your content to assign the new load classifications to the electrical connectors the effort will be worth it when modeling the power system.

Copy/Monitor lighting fixtures and mechanical equipment Additional elements may now be copied and monitored from linked models. Two important element types that can be copied are lighting fixtures and mechanical equipment. This permits the engineer to coordinate between the trades. The original elements can be copied or the element’s type can be mapped to a corresponding type In the MEP model. This option would be useful where the architect’s element does not contain the required connectors or the model is incorrect. It is possible to set up the copy/monitor of these elements so that new elements in an updated linked model are located, displaying a dialog box allowing you to deal with the new elements. However, this feature does have some issues. At times, copied elements come in flipped in the MEP model and are all but impossible to return to a correct orientation. Over time, hopefully the reasons why certain elements flip can be determined and the issue reduced in frequency.

Tag elements in linked files You can now tag elements in linked and nested models. It is important to note that the tag can only display the data and cannot change data in the linked model. Some discipline will be required by users when tagging linked models. When a linked model is unloaded the tags will not display but they still exist in the host model. However, if a user removes or deletes a linked model the tags will be deleted from the host model requiring the tags to be reapplied. Tag elements during placement Many elements in the electrical disciple have additional data displayed by tags. With this release you can add tags at the same time you are placing the element. This is a great time saver when placing lighting fixtures. Create ceilings using walls from linked files One issue that faces lighting designers is that sometimes the architect has not yet placed ceilings in a model by the time they expect the lighting modeling to start. Shocking, I know. Although ceilings could always be sketched, this release allows the designer to use the automatic ceiling tool to place a ceiling with a single pick in the center of a room. Filters can be applied to linked files This feature gives the MEP engineer the ability to change the display of elements in linked files. This can be useful in many dif-


ferent ways. For example, you can create filters to show fire rated walls differently than non-rated walls.

User Interface You can now repeat the last command by hitting Enter. Alas, hitting the Spacebar does not repeat the last command. You can also right-click with the mouse and repeat the last command from the shortcut menu. This release also introduces a modeless Properties Palette. This palette is especially welcome for those that have widescreen or dual monitors. The palette will display only the properties that are common when multiple elements are selected. The type selector is also part of the modeless Properties Palette. This is an improvement over the type selector on the ribbon because the type of element is shown the entire time you are placing devices, including a thumbnail image of the family. However, with the good comes the bad. The change to the modeless Properties Palette has an unintended effect on default elevations. Electrical families are where you will see the largest negative impact. Families can be assigned a default elevation, such as 18” for electrical receptacles. This allows the designer to place receptacles without think about their elevation because the large majority of receptacles are at 18” above the finished floor. The modeless Properties Palette, rather than honoring the default elevation, uses the last elevation entered in the palette. So, after starting a new project, the very first element you add (let’s say it is a receptacle) will be assigned an elevation of 0 instead of the default elevation (see Figure 6). If you happen to catch the issue, you can change the elevation in the modeless Properties Palette to 18” and place many receptacles, all at 18” in elevation. However, let’s say you then need to place a light switch. The elevation of the light switch will be 18” rather than 48” by default. This means that it will be far too easy to place wall mounted elements at incorrect elevations. And the puzzling omission of Figure 6 the Elevation parameter as a taggable/schedulable parameter still continues, leaving little recourse for quality control of element elevations.

Performance improvements Autodesk claims that graphic performance has increased 30% overall and that mechanical and electrical drawing display can be summer_2010

up to 200% better. This reviewer has noticed that the application does “feel” more responsive. Revit MEP 2011 also provides a setting to turn off load calculations in spaces. Before this release, there was no way to prevent Revit from constantly updating the loads. This setting, which is found in the Electrical Settings dialog box, can be turned off when it is not important to calculate the loads in the spaces. While this setting is turned off the loads in a space’s properties will show as “Not Computed”.

Conclusion Even with the rough spots this release is a compelling one for electrical design. Although conduit and cable tray are the most visible electrical enhancement, it is the improvements to the electrical distribution modeling that are the real meat of this release. The panel schedule templates along with a robust approach to demand factors and load classifications finally provide Revit MEP with the necessary tools to consider dropping external spreadsheets to produce panel schedules. Electrical designers should get their projects migrated to 2011 and start all new projects in 2011. To continue to use older versions of the application is like asking architects to use a version that cannot draw curtain walls. What are you waiting for?


Robert is the Design Technology Manager for Sparling, the largest specialty electrical engineering and technology consulting firm in the United States, headquartered in Seattle Washington. He provides strategic direction, technical oversight, and high-level support for Sparling’s enterprise design and production technology systems. He is instrumental in positioning Sparling as an industry and client leader in leveraging technology in virtual building and design.

feature focus


Robert has been writing code for customizing AutoCAD since the release of AutoCAD v2.5. For most of those years he worked at an MEP firm. He developed a series of applications for use with AutoCAD similar to AutoCAD MEP years before Autodesk released that product. These in-house applications gave that firm a distinct competitive advantage over other firms in that market. Robert is one of the more popular speakers at Autodesk University. He has been speaking at that event every year since 2002. He has spoken on topics such as AutoLISP/Visual LISP, VBA, the CUI, and customizing AutoCAD from the perspective of CAD Management. He has also taught ATP classes for Autodesk User Group International (AUGI). Robert has been a speaker at AUGI’s CAD Camps. Robert served on AUGI’s Board of Directors for three years.


feature focus


by: Pedro Rivera and Damian Serrano

You Can Do That With Worksets… Really?

Back in 2006 our company signed a contract to provide Architectural and Engineering design services to the Department of Veterans Affairs. It was a joint venture with Ellerbe Becket Inc. Our mechanical and plumbing portion was 900,000 sq. ft. The entire project was 1.2 million sq. ft. and it was one of the largest projects our company had ever worked on. We were very happy we landed a big job but we were also a little bit worried because it had to be done in Revit MEP. “How are we going to do this?” we thought. Our Mechanical Department didn’t really have a lot of Revit MEP experience at that time, but one thing we were sure of is that large Revit models can be very slow. We had pretty decent 8gb RAM computers at that moment, but still if you try to open an entire 250 megabyte model you might be waiting a while before it opens. Our Architecture Department had more experience with Revit and they were using Worksets to make large files more workable. As explained in the Revit help, a Workset is a collection of modeled elements. Worksets were initially created for multiple user collaboration, allowing them to borrow chunks of a model and preventing other users from making changes in the meantime. But since you can also borrow individual objects, Worksets have become more of a tool to improve model performance. Pedro admits that at the time he was a bit skeptical about this: “Architects told me about worksets and how to use them to optimize model performance. I said ‘Worksets could make the Revit model faster? .................. what’s in your coffee?’ “

breakdown it was easy for all Revit users to become familiar with the linked models from other disciplines. The mechanical models were split in worksets by level and system, for example LEVEL 1 DUCTWORK , LEVEL 1 PIPING, LEVEL 2 DUCTWORK, LEVEL 2 PIPING and so on. We also set up worksets for elements like MECHANICAL EQUIPMENT. This was very helpful in the initial modeling stage, but later we combined worksets when possible, for example LEVEL 1 PIPING and LEVEL 1 DUCTWORK merged into LEVEL 1 HVAC workset. In addition, worksets were created for the different Revit Links. While our Architecture Department uses one workset per linked model our Mechanical Department found it more useful to combine multiple Revit links into one Workset based on how you need the links for particular tasks. For example, Electrical Power linked model and an Electrical Lighting linked model were placed in a workset called RVT LINKS - ELECTRICAL POWER AND LIGHTING. You definitely want to minimize the amount of worksets you have in a model as too many worksets may make it difficult for the users to model in the correct one. One thing to absolutely avoid when creating worksets for linked models is having all the Revit links assigned to only one workset as shown in Figure 1.

The main benefit of worksets is that you can partially open a model loading only the elements assigned to the opened worksets, without having to load all other elements and links you don’t need for your particular task or area. How you set up the worksets is critical for collaboration and model performance. While Worksets can also be used for controlling visibility as an override, our office has a policy of not using Worksets for controlling visibility. Partially loading elements and multiple user collaboration are much more important than any visibility aspect of Worksets.

The project setup The largest building of the project included a Clinic and a Hospital. These two areas combined were close to 900,000 sq. ft. We knew we needed more than one model. You are probably thinking one for the Clinic and one for the Hospital, right? Nope. We set up a total of 11 models for HVAC, Plumbing, Fire Suppression and Medical Gas. We looked at how the architects split their models and followed a similar set up. By having a similar model 62

Figure 1

This is a huge problem for Revit users who only want to load certain (but not all) Revit Links. As previously stated, we created more specific worksets and assigned the Revit Links to them as shown in Figure 2.


Figure 2

Figure 3

Initial BIM Coordination We had a BIM kickoff meeting with Revit users to discuss all aspects of BIM regarding this specific project. Kickoff sounds like a one-time meeting and you are done but we later discovered that it would be better to meet regularly to make sure everyone followed procedures correctly. We explained how worksets were set up and the reason they were set up that way. We also went over the main benefits of partially opening a model:

Default Workset Opening We also thought to ourselves, “well, if they don’t Open Specify, we can set up the model to Open with the Specify option as a default.” To accomplish this we re-created the central file (of course using the same file name and location) and selected “Specify...” under the File Save Options (Figure 4). Now they were prompted automatically with the Worksets dialog box after clicking the open button. Little by little, as people got more familiar with worksets and open specify, they seemed to embrace it. We kept progressing on the models and even though the models got larger in size, people got used to only loading the necessary worksets and the models were still running at considerable speed.

• Improved modeling speed. • Improved saving and synchronizing time. • Partially opening Worksets will only affect your local file and not the central file.

feature focus


Open Specify As the models got larger in file size, some people complained about how slow the Revit models were. The first thing we would ask was “Did you open specify?”. “No” is what most people replied. “Well, it’s only a matter of clicking the pull down button right beside the Open button and selecting “Specify...”. This brings the Workset dialog so you can specify which worksets you want to open, instead of using the default opening option. We made a picture to show them that if you are only working on the 3rd level, then you don’t need to load Level one, two, four and five. Plus you don’t need to load all the linked Revit models (see Figure 3). Some people just refused to open specify. In our position sometimes we have to be a little of a psychologist to deal with people’s personalities and attitudes. We think they didn’t want to open specify because they got a sense that they wouldn’t see everything they needed. That is a true statement IF you did not model in the correct workset, which is why we always stress so much the need to place the objects in the correct workset. They were also worried about how open specify would affect the central file. It doesn’t. If you open specify, partially loading worksets only affects your local file. It was very hard convincing them of the open specify tool but we killed negativity with creativity when we actually took a stop watch and timed how long it took to open the whole model versus open specifying only the area they were directly working on.


Figure 4

Modeling in the correct workset In order for all this to work properly, it is critical that objects are placed in the correct workset. It seems obvious, but a lot of times users just don’t realize what workset they are working on, thus creating objects in the wrong workset. Revit 2011 has helped a


feature focus


Figure 5

lot by having the Active workset shown in the Status Bar (Figure 5), but at the time we were using Revit 2010 and most users were confused about this. Also, when objects land in the wrong workset there is no easy way to troubleshoot. Workset property cannot be scheduled, so the only way to move objects to the right workset is by isolating worksets, finding the offending objects and changing their workset property manually. Again, we cannot stress enough how important it is to place objects in the right workset, so when you partially open a model you get what you expect.

Now Revit Veterans Our first big Revit MEP project was a success and it received an Honorable Mention at the 2010 AIA TAP BIM Awards. Even thought we had a tight schedule, not enough Revit experience, not enough Revit users and a big project, we were still able to complete the project with quality engineering and provide the owner with a MEP BIM deliverable. Now everybody is more efficient with worksets and other Revit MEP features. Throughout this experience we learned that people will resist the unknown, but if you stay persistent in trying to convince others on what you believe in, eventually they will embrace it. We also learned that even though Revit MEP still has some limitations, sometimes you have to be creative and adjust to change to achieve what you desire. Not only did this experience make us better at using Revit MEP, it also made us a better Mechanical Department.

Damian is a Project/BIM Coordinator at RLF Inc. With 19 years of experience in the AEC arena he has been a primary force in RLF’s migration from CAD to BIM. Damian is a Revit Architecture Certified Professional, and also an Adjunct Instructor at Seminole State College of Florida and Valencia Community College. He implemented the first collegiate BIM/Revit courses in Central Florida. Damian has a degree in Building Design and Construction and an Architecture degree from University of Buenos Aires, Argentina. About RLF Inc. RLF is a nationally recognized Architecture, Engineering and Interior Design firm located in Winter Park, Florida serving the Regional, National and International Community. Founded in 1935, RLF is leading the pack in implementing BIM for large healthcare and federal projects. Among many awards, RLF has recently been named 2010 AIA Florida Firm of the Year and received an Honorable Mention at the 2010 AIA TAP BIM Awards for the 1.15 million square-foot Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Orlando, FL.

Pedro is a Mechanical Designer/BIM Coordinator for RLF Inc. With more than 10 years of experience, he successfully implemented BIM technology to the Mechanical Department. He specializes in the development, training and implementation of Revit MEP® and Navisworks®. He also established Revit MEP® organization and standards for the Mechanical Department. Pedro has an Associate of Science degree from ITT Technical Institute.



headâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s up

HEADâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S UP!

Updates, Service Packs and Top Known Issues (obtained from product pages at AAutoCAD/ACA/AMEP Top Knowledge Base Issues How to find the product key for your Autodesk software id=12996001&linkID=9240617 How to control network license access using an options file id=7459915&linkID=9240617



by: Stephen Stafford

2010: AutoCAD installation and licensing training videos id=14173981&linkID=9240617 How to transfer stand-alone licenses in Autodesk products (video) id=13409518&linkID=9240617 How to understand and manage your Autodesk licenses (video) id=14852836&linkID=9240617



headâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s up How to install and configure the Network License Manager for Autodesk products (video) d=13503006&linkID=9240617 2011: Windows system requirements for the Autodesk Network License Manager d=4791200&linkID=9240617 2011: FLEXnet feature codes for Autodesk products d=15224763&linkID=9240617

Updates and Services Packs - 2011 AutoCAD 2011 Update 1 d=15569492&linkID=9240618 AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT Layer Manager Hotfix d=7440746&linkID=9240618 SAMReport-lite for Windows 7 d=15105775&linkID=9240618 Autodesk InfoCenter Hot Fix d=14898367&linkID=9240618

2011: Resolving user specific issues by resetting AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011: Resolving installation issues with a clean installation of AutoCAD Civil 3D 2010: Resolving installation issues with a clean installation of AutoCAD Civil 3D Tool Palettes are missing Install AutoCAD Raster Design on a 64-bit operating system

Updates and Service Packs - 2011 Missing Language Pack and Performance Hotfix General Hotfix AutoCAD Civil 3D 2010 Update 3.1

AutoCAD 2011 CHM-Based Help d=15068206&linkID=9240618

Hotfix - Civil 3D MAPINSERT d=15502603&linkID=9240698

Asian Character Command Line Input Hot fix For AutoCAD 2011 d=15008935&linkID=9240618

Raster Design Crash-on-Exit-Hotfix d=15152409&linkID=9240698

Liveupdate Hot Fix for French/Italian/Spanish AutoCAD 2011 64-bit versions d=14928753&linkID=9240618 PublishToWeb Hot Fix for French/Italian/Spanish AutoCAD 2011 64-bit d=14928540&linkID=9240618 Autodesk Materials Library 2011 Update 1 d=14835465&linkID=9240618


Civil 3D Top Support Issues

AutoCAD Map 3D 2011 Point Cloud Hotfix d=15234899&linkID=9240698 Certified Hardware XML Database Update d=7440746&linkID=9240698 SAMReport-lite for Windows 7 d=15105775&linkID=9240698 Asian Character Command Line Input Hot fix for AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 d=15033401&linkID=9240698


Ecotect Top Knowledge Base issues

Revit Architecture 2011 Top Knowledge Base Issues

Know Issues List d=15445413&linkID=13734494

Revit network licensee troubleshooting d=13744786&linkID=9243099

Printed Manuals or Help for Autodesk 2011 Products d=14913682&linkID=13734494

Sharing a Revit File with a previous release d=15649365&linkID=9243099

Cascading Sequences for Autodesk 2011 Products d=14885918&linkID=13734494

2010: Revit install and licensing training videos d=14012833&linkID=9243099

Navisworks Updates and Service Packs

2010: Unable to recover lost network license while Revit is running (Download for Update 2 and Subscription Advantage Pack Builds) d=14309812&linkID=9243099

TimeLiner / P6 Web Services Hotfix =15128670&linkID=10382102 Autodesk InfoCenter Hotfix =14898367&linkID=10382102

2011: Launch warning reads “Some features may not be fully supported by the video card and driver on this computer” d=14636373&linkID=9243099

Z+F Hotfix =15073382&linkID=10382102

2011: How to use the Guide Guide (Video) d=14916087&linkID=9243099

Updates and Service Packs

2010: Revit crashes with error message d=13641513&linkID=9243099

2011: Navisworks Installation and Configuration User Guides =15024540&linkID=10382101 Navisworks Exporter in Revit causes localization error =15175458&linkID=10382101 2009: DWG file displays wireframe instead of objects =11905759&linkID=10382101 Navisworks installed as a network seat will not start =14340444&linkID=10382101 How to prevent Revit lighting fixtures from exporting as geometry =14974481&linkID=10382101



head’s up

Revit Structure 2011 Troubleshooting Troubleshooting Revit Structure d=14877904&linkID=9243182 Troubleshooting Whats New in 2011 for Revit Products Troubleshooting View Display problems in Revit Troubleshooting Common Revit Install and Licensing Issues Troubleshooting Product Stability Issues in Revit



head’s up Troubleshooting Revit Families

Updates and Services Packs Revit Architecture 2011

Troubleshooting Revit Memory Usage and Performance

Web Update #1

Troubleshooting Revit Upgrades and Migration

Web Enhancement List 2011_ur1.pdf

Troubleshooting Revit Worksharing

Revit Structure 2011

Revit MEP Troubleshooting

Web Update #1

Troubleshooting Revit MEP

Web Enhancement List 2011_ur1.pdf

Invalid K-factor Applying spot elevation tag to pipe Tagging two circuits on one device Cannot create “Other Air” mechanical system from ribbon

Revit Structure 2011 Web Update #1 Web Enhancement List rme_2011_ur1.pdf

When drawing pipe or round duct you are unable to select fractional diameter values



CLIMB TO NEW HEIGHTS. AUGI CAD Camp will bolster your skills in one day.

Take your career to the next level by attending AUGI CAD Camp 2010. During one-day of intense Autodesk product training and invaluable networking, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll discover how to instantly impact your productivity.

Join us for AUGI CAD Camp 2010. For more information, visit www.

Windows®. Life without Walls™. HP recommends Windows 7

Bring your Ideas to Life with Autodesk® 3ds Max® on The HP Z600 Workstation Bring the power of the HP Z600’s Workstations with dual Intel ® Xeon® Processors (now with six cores*), Intel® HT Technology** and blistering performance to bear on your most detailed 3ds Max visualizations and animations, and breathe life into your designed world. ** Dual-, Quad-, and Six-Core technologies are designed to improve performance of multithreaded software products and hardware-aware multitasking operating systems and may require appropriate operating system software for full benefits; not all customers or software applications will necessarily benefit from use of these technologies. **Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology (Intel HT Technology) is designed to improve performance of multi-threaded software products and requires a computer system with a processor supporting Intel HT Technology and an Intel HT Technology-enabled chipset, BIOS, and OS. Please contact your software provider to determine compatibility. Not all customers or software applications will benefit from the use of the technology. See hyperthreading for more information. © 2010 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. The information contained herein is subject to change without notice. The only warranties for HP products and services are set forth in the express warranty statements accompanying such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. HP shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein. Intel, the Intel logo, Xeon, and Xeon Inside are trademarks or registered trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and other countries. Microsoft, Windows, and Vista are U.S. registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation. Autodesk 3ds Max is a registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., in the USA and other countries.


Summer 2010 issue


Summer 2010 issue