Tuesday, July 31, 2007

CSI Uniformat Discussion Forum

Here's a helpful website for you guys if you are interested in the latest release of the CSI Uniformat book. After talking with Bob Johnson, it looks like they aren't anticipating this release very quickly (next couple of months), but it will include fire ratings, UL reference listings and other valuable information within the new format.


If you can think of anything else you would want to have on the Uniformat codes you can enter it on the discussion forums or comment on this blog.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Revit Tutorial - Creating a Section Perspective Part 2

Let's take our Revit Section perspective model to MAX. Based on the previous tutorial we now know that we have our view camera and section box setup. So we can take our 3d view...

And export it as an ACAD .dwg or however you like to export your files to get them into MAX. (I prefer ACAD dwg's because the plane and vertices editing in Max is quite a bit easier.) To do this go to File>Export>CAD Format

On a side note apparently I've switched to color now...moving on. The following dialog box will come up. MAKE SURE YOU CLICK OPTIONS! Before you export your drawing! I guess it's not that dramatic if you're a 3d max/viz pro, but you'll want to change your exporting options to ACIS Solids before you do. Like so...

Alright save the file as an ACAD version your MAX/Viz will recognize. (I've had some problems importing later CAD versions with later MAX versions) Then open Max.

From Max, select File>Import>and then select your file. Select Completely Replace Current Scene and then ok. You should get a nasty message that says your crop box will be ignored and the world as we know it is coming to an end. This is basically to fake you out and if you are a worthy Revit guru you will click OK anyways and open your file. Miraculously your crop box region has been saved and looks exactly like it did in Revit. As follows...

Word to your mother. Now assign materials, work your lighting magic and get a raise.

Revit Tutorial - Creating a Section Perspective Part 1

So you want to create a building section in perspective that ooo's and wows the client or your

project manager? Fair enough. To do so let's start by going to an overall plan view, preferrably one that's large enough or has your crop regions turned off to get a full view of your building. From this view create a 3d view from View>Camera on your design sidebar like so...

Now you should as always get a pretty 3d view that shows your building in glorious perspective. From here, we need to go to the view properties of your new 3d view these can be found in your 3d views on the side right click on the view or right click in your new 3d view and select properties. Scroll down and check the box that says "section box"

You should get a view now that looks something like this. Drag and pull the crop box to reflect the view you want to show and then go back to your 3d Camera View, it should show a section perspective of your building. Something like this.

From here you can toggle on and off the visibility of the crop box and apply shadows, etc.. from Revit. In the next tutorial we're going to export a section view to Viz/MAX even though some walk among us that don't believe it can be done!
Have a great Friday!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Revit or Death?

So I have a brief rant, commenting section on the current track that Autodesk keeps stumbling down. I would say walking, but it's very similar to my 3-year old niece waddling towards a wall at full speed and not necessarily knowing how to apply the brakes or if she should just accelerate on through.

Here's the deal. Autodesk has now released Architecture 2008, Revit MEP, Revit Structure and might soon release Autodesk Contractor. Ok. Autodesk has metaphorically circled the wagons on the building industry. And lately with their acquisition of NavisWorks have made it relatively clear they have every intention of shooting down (or buying) any worthwhile competition. So who is drawing the line and telling them what is worthwhile and what isn't? For example, right now I have to go and buy third party software applications to make Reivt interface with them.

- ESpecs for exporting and creating a semi-comprehensive specification of the materials from the model.

- Innovaya - the only program to create a worthwhile estimate that links to true estimating software such as Timberline (the MC2 plug in is still in development) and project scheduling such as Primavera

- Timberline's software to generate and work in Innovaya.(of course)

- IES or the full version of lighting/energy analysis software. A preloaded version comes with 2008 MEP, but doesn't produce too much worthwhile.

- Lastly, if anyone builds it i will need to buy an atcually useable library of walls that are based off of Revit's decision to use the CSI's Uniformat Code to detail out wall and building component assemblies.

During a User-group meeting last night I just for fun added these numbers up for each station to contain these programs that could very easily be used on a daily basis. (I'm not including Max, Viz, Google Earth/Sketchup Pro, etc... even. ) It's currently 23,000 bucks a station. This doesn't include the required training, or maintenance, support and subscription fees for these programs.

I'm no math whiz, well actually I am pretty good, but at 23 grrr a box, you gotta wonder how many medium to small size firms are going to be able to afford any of this! I just submitted a software proposal to ownership and you could kind of tell I was even a bit embarassed by the cost of all these programs.

I guess where I'm headed with this, is that if Autodesk is truly making the move to be the industry leader in software then they should do it. Otherwise, stop now and let us try and figure out how we're going to pay for all of this. Maybe I'm the only one who sees a huge oppotunity for Autodesk to truly create either an umbrella software package or group packages with these third party software suppliers at an affordable cost.

That's what I got today...architecture software ain't cheap.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

7.24.07 NIBS Posting

Deborah and Team,

I was in transit when receiving this string and was really excited to see it reach this point. First of all I am a young architect, and I have been working independently with a local group of colleagues, architects and software developers and we have begun going through the somewhat arduous task of creating an in house library of wall assemblies. Keep in mind, anyone can develop these exact same standards and assemblies as they are simply based off of the CSI Uniformat assembly codes, which dovetail into RSMeans components. (We use Revit in house, which defaults to these standards, which seem to work pretty well. Additionally, I have seen that other BIM platforms have similar capabilities and defaults.) Unfortunately in our case, we seem to be out running Autodesk's current capabilities/offerings and have found that we need to streamline our own processes.

So far, the easiest way to compile multiple elements with their own inherent information is into an assembly that contains all of the individual component information linked to that assembly code. For instance, in a typical 3-5/8" stud wall with 5/8" gypsum board each side. The 5/8" gyp bd with a level 4 finish would be a RS Means assembly of 092910.30 2050. The 3-5/8" metal stud @ 16" o.c. would be RSMeans 092216.13 1640. The Uniformat assembly code then contains the Means data for both of these assemblies into an assembly number, (incidentally C1010190) Needless to say this is what third-party estimating programs break back down for you in the estimate as well as how third-party specification writing software create outline specifications from an exported model.

Here's the hitch. The Uniformat code in our opinion needs to be updated to literally contain a significant enough amount of detail to actually be useful. Even the ability to add RSMeans data to the wall type for additional information would be really helpful. We have started to discuss developing an add-on routine that asks a series of questions. So when a wall is to be modeled, (much like some proprietary specification software, but less detailed) questions such as, "Does this wall have vinyl wall base? What width is the base? Does this wall have cove molding? Is this wall fire rated? Etc.." After these questions are answered most walls in the model are able to be generically modeled and simply match the properties of other similar walls in the model. As an architect, when at times I want to just model a building quickly, and I don't want to answer questions. At this point we would model with these generic walls. Generic walls would then remain highlighted or a unique color associated with them to indicate they need to have additional information added to them later. Another option, would be to simply increase the number of pull down menus in the properties to allow us to select "Chair rail - with a yes or no carrot" that we expand on in the specifications to really dig into it.

As far as custom walls, ceilings, floors etc, the basic assembly substrate might have RSMeans or Uniformat codes but then it would be up to the "Modeler" to create these model components upon this framework. For instance 4" wide by 1/2" Recycled Teak Wood Slats are not an assembly identified in Means and probably never will be. Architects in my opinion would still need to input custom information into the documents. The way we have talked about this is much like the "Master Mason" of history. Using the model to construct all of the assemblies and typical information possible but infusing it with the creativity and detailing unique to the architectural profession. Essentially we are the Master Craftsman showing the builders how the building is built (Paper is optional) but with a far greater resource at our fingertips.
Essentially what we aim to create in the model is a useable tool for a BIM capable construction or design build company to use for quicker more accurate estimate and quantity takeoff, export a pretty decent set of specifications from the model and the ability to construct a relatively accurate BIM for 3D views, presentations and construction documentation.

I would personally suggest that CSI "own" the library (since they own the Uniformat code) if they would be willing to annually maintain, update and add additional information to such a library. Perhaps a non-profit group could receive, review and post new assembly data to a larger shared library website. That would be ideal, I know we wouldn't mind sharing our work!
Thanks and kindest regards,

BIM Director

Friday, July 20, 2007

Revit Estimating

I was going to title this blog "your ass-embly is grass", but thought better of it. Also I saw the new Harry Potter movie (don't judge...you saw it too) and all i can say is that A.) Apparently there's no more quidditch at Hogwarts (much to my chagrin) and B.) Dumbledore's blue lightning bolts strangely resembled a Jedi knights... just a thought.

Moving on...Revit now has the capability to work with a number of cost estimating platforms that you might or might not be aware of. The first is, US Cost which titles its software Success Estimator and runs through an ODBC database called Success Design Exchange. The two programs in this blog base their cost estimation off of Assembly Codes inherent in an elements properties. I found that this the easiest way to compile multiple elements with their own inherent information into an assembly that contains all of the indivdual component information linked to that assembly. For instance, let's start with a typical 3-5/8" stud wall. 5/8" gyp bd with a level 4 finish would be a RS Means assembly of 092910.30 2050. The 3-5/8" metal stud @ 16" o.c. would be RSMeans 092216.13 1640. The uniformat assembly code then contains the Means data for both of these assemblies into an assembly number, (incidentally C1010190) Needless to say this is what both estimating programs break back down for you in the estimate.

Our company originally looked at getting US Cost in house however we ran into some major snags in regards to actually creating General Contractor type estimates. The format to be quite honest is geared more towards architecture firms who are interested in creating cost estimates in early schematics and design development rather than full on quantity, labor rates, unit costs, bid day alternates, etc.. To that end, I'm not bashing the software and I'm sure the product can be worked around to be effective for that type of application. It just wasn't what we were looking for. If you want more info their website is:


The second bit of software, is Innovaya. And I think they're really starting to see where the whole movement is headed and definitely getting closer. Innovaya works directly with Timberline cost estimation software to perform more detailed cost estimate takeoffs. They are geared more towards the General Contractor or the architect/engineering/design firm who wants a bit more input into the estimates and the ability to show some of the scheduling and 3D phased items. The program also allows the user who doesn't have the Timberline software to export to excel at any time. The great part about this software is the following:

-Ties in with primavera scheduling software (including Sure-trak)

-They have their own timberline template established that specifies the paths for additional assembly codes to their file instead of spending a month trying to get all of that down

-Has real time scheduling and animation capabilities on-screen to show owners and project managers the different levels of completion once the components of the model have been phased in.

I gotta say we have been most impressed with this software and it's ability to work with everyone in the process, from architect/designer, through project scheduling। We get the demo next week and I'll be sure to let everyone know if it has the bells and whistles it says.


the last bit of software is MC2 and in regards to estimating really had the most capabilities as far as breaking the estimate down and estimation flexibility. However, from a BIM point of view they aren't there yet. They apparently are contracted with Innovaya to start work into a comprehensive product that ties into MC2 instead of Timberline, but this product is still in development for release potentially early fall.

Lastly, I have started the somewhat exhaustive process of developing a standards library of many of the basic uniformat assembly of walls, ceilings, floors, doors, etc... If anyone knows of a comprehensive library that is shared I would love to know about it। In the meantime I will be creating quite a comprehensive standard of uniformat assemblies that I can hopefully provide here in a couple of months। If any of you want to start messing with creating and editing the classifications i recommend saving out a copy of the text file located here and playing with it.

C:\Program Files\Revit Architecture 2008\Program\UniformatClassifications.txt

Game on.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

gbXML - LEED and Energy Analysis

I don't know how many of you have started working with Revit and it's ability to export it's data into a gbXML format, but it's pretty amazing to work with. The "Green Building XML Schema" is really pretty effective once you have your model oriented and boxed up correctly. Here are a couple of hints before you use your model to run an energy analysis:

- Button down the hatches - make sure your walls aren't overlapping - and that everything is properly joined- (especially at the corners!) and inserted, including glazing within wall constraints, doors, you get the picture...

- Make sure your roof is accurate. You can model pitch, overhang and thickness really easily. (It's also interesting to play around a little with a roof that only has a thickness and is designated as "Insulation" you can assign r-values as well with your model - depending on how you have your RS Means assembly codes set up.) Make sure there aren't any holes or space between the walls and your roof.

- Obviously, make sure you have your model oriented to the correct "true north" orientation.

- Place in the coordinates of the project location. Revit has a bunch of default places under Settings> Manage Place and Locations...

- And lastly specify the type of project. This is under Settings>Project Information>Energy Data and then specify Office, Restaraunt, etc...

The website to use is http://www.greenbuildingstudio.com/gbsinc/index.aspx

Register and then follow the directions. You will get 5 free "runs" for each new project (usually this is ample, unless you are going for a Gold/Platinum/or Living LEED certification.)

The web based program will provide:

- Industrial energy and resource flow analysis
- Actual and prototype building energy simulation (DOE-2)
- Building energy model calibration
- Resource sustainability analysis
- Whole-building and end-use level energy performance analysis
- Multi-facility energy performance analysis (monitoring and simulation)
- Energy performance class/competitor benchmarking
- Technical potential project screening
- International technology assessment

Make it Greener.

Creating the "Completed Model"

So boys and girls here we are. Flying around in our Jetsonian cars, using interoceanic pneumatic tubes to feed the hungry and BIM modelling to put together buildings. Kind of. One things for sure unless you have no desire to be profitable or even remotely efficient there will be NO more CAD.

It's like our industry has decided to grow up a little bit and start to matke an attempt at catching the automotive, aircraft and electronics industry. This is all good! We need to start thinking about a building as a built piece of highly functioning equipment. How then do we even start? To what Level of Detail or LoD do the models need to go? What is the extent of intermodel information liability? And why in the world haven't we developed a necessary assembly standard while we have the chance and before everyone and their cousin decide to establish their own? (everyone remembers CAD standards right?!)

I'm going to try and expain where I am in the industry. And how working with software developers, contractors and fellow architects and engineers we are beginning to put together a complete puzzle. But this is just the entry article so for starters I would encourage everyone if you're not already actively involved to join a forum or discussion group. Secondly, join the damn NBIMS, or (BIM standards committee.) It's free and we need to make sure that as we begin to embrace this new technology that we are doing it smarter. The whole anti-Rand, collective is more intelligent than an educated group of technology leaders thing.

Here is a list of websites I encourage everyone to check out:





To give a brief background about myself and who I am (because i would hate to read a blog by a stranger). I am an architect. I work with a design build contractor in the Midwest and am tasked with integrating BIM into the company. Overwhelming? At times. But here's the thing, after essentially three to four months of web research, webcasts, presentations and tradeshows I am starting to see a completed picture in the industry. Hang on to your hats.

First of all we're behind (United States). You might know this or you might not, but I was amazed to learn in the fast track design build Asian market, models are being shipped around and 2d drawings have ceased to be a standard. Their BIM and "ours" is different. They have started to work with programmers specifically because the modeling platforms (Revit, Bentley, Catia, etc..) aren't responding fast enough to the technology they introduced. Thus, we are seeing an influx in third party software applications in the industry. Programmers are being hired to develop tie in software not only for the firm, but to sell back to the industry (are you listening Autodesk?). Here's what I know is being worked on. Unfortunately, a lot of this is still "in development" but i will let you know as soon as they release any of the programs I have listed below.

Currently wall assemblies in Revit are based off of a Uinformat code, which ties back in to specific components that make up the completed wall system. This is being taken further. A huge standard library of wall assemblies is being built to break down models into even more detail. To keep file sizes small they are loaded in from a server. The wall type is chosen after a series of pop ups are answered that input the information into the model. (For example: Does this wall have a vinyl base? What level finish will this wall recieve? etc..)Does this take more time? Absolutely! But think of the information that could be created in the wall! After asking if the walls are able to be edited and types changed after they are modeled, including the ability to create custom wall assemblies. The response was, one could edit every wall in the project in a relatively short time. Custom assemblies are then created by one or two in-house "gatekeepers", or simply put fellas who know how to insert all of the pertinent information into the script.

The model is then sent to the contractor who can then turn around real time estimates as the assemblies and quantities are already built into the model and the software they are using allows them to take the model and link it to estimating software (Timberline in my case) and produce same day estimates. The contractor takes the model and adds phasing information to walls doors, floors etc... By including phasing and scheduling information contractors and sub contractors can see in 3D what is to be built and by what date. The model will remain with the contractor and will be updated at regular SD, DD and % CD phases. The contractor should not be modeling walls or inputting anything but adding scheduling and phasing information!! This is important because from a liability standpoint the drawings and model information created still lies with the architect to maintain adherence to life safety, ratings, and code compliance issues.

It doesn't stop there. Customized walls are to contain component keynote information. These keynotes are shared to produce Construction Documentation while at the same time keynotes are shipped into a specification writing program. Once again, the model then creates a rather detailed set of specifications (not complete - front end docs, general conditions and other information aren't in there yet). Of course as components are added and subtracted the specs can be quickly updated to reflect this information change.

The architect then recieves information from the MEP, S and any other consultants to create a "completed model." Conflict management is then performed on the model and ductwork that runs into beams, lights that hit structure and pipes that go throught the 13 million dollar glass bottom pool are resolved.

Once construction has commenced, the model is shipped to fabricators who highlight areas of conflict or concern and send the altered model back to the architect or engineer for approval. The architect then signs off on the model change and overlays the new information on top of the existing information in a new and dedicated workset.

Finally, the completed model including all in-field changes and change orders (hopefully not many) are then handed off to the owner as a useful tool for Facility Management. Instead of the 2d blueprints being put in an old boiler room that looks like something from a bad David Lynch film, the model on CD allows the owner to have a constant up to date 3d record of changes, alterations and additions to the property.

Eventually building material websites will get on the ball and provide information that ties in all model components with an associated assembly code, mark, rating, etc...and at some point in the future a cost database website will allow us to link our building components to the web to get real time pricing information as well as directly order components from the manufacturer.

Of course, this just seems like the tip of the iceberg. And a number of these are just programs that are being developed in their infancy, but I wanted to give everyone an idea wof what was out there.

BIM it up and BIM it right.

BH out.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

BIM - Jumping in Head First

This post will be a concerted effort to keep fellow frends and colleagues up to date on our ever changing industry of design and construction. Hopefully, in the next posts that are to follow I will begin to create a substantial dialogue among other users that have helpful input.