Thursday, December 27, 2007

Six Phases of Revit

Alright Aaron this ones for you...

Six Phases of Revit Copyright 2003 Chris Zoog

Phase One - Initial Excitement!!!"Holy Crap! Look what I can do with this thing!"

Phase Two - First bump"Hmmmm...? Why won't it do what I want? That's not how I do it in (insert other cad software here)!"

Phase Three - Creamy Middlemmm... things are going more smoothly, now......mmmmm"

Phase Four - WTF stageThe family editor "eats you up and spits you out"!

Phase Five - The EnlightenmentThings really begin to click! You understand why things are happening in your model, and better yet how to control them and avoid problems. You have conquered the family editor.

Phase Six - Zen of RevitYou have mastered nearly all things Revit. You "know" what Revit "likes", and what it "dislikes" during model construction, a sixth sense, really. You spend your time exploring and tweaking advanced scheduling, OBDC, external parameters, AR3. You have a template to beat all templates, families for every situation.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Master Builder Meet Master Craftsman

So I'm sure most of you have had the chance to read Michael Tardif's article, and if you haven't you should, I believe the discussion needs to be started.

Of course, I had a couple of thoughts on it. The first is that we are dealing with stronger and apparently incorrect symantics when the demeaning term "master builder" is used. The article goes on to say that the title "captain or quarterback" might be better suited terminology, I think although it wasn't clear what he suggested be a better nomenclature for the new and emerging digital age of architects.

When it comes down to it we are talking about titles in names, but names are still very important. The reason why I still believe the terminology "Master Builder" to be the more effective of the two, (although I have still to hear a better terminology), is really simple. When you get down to the root of what we do and how we work everyday it's who we are.

The name architect was derived from the Greek arkhitekton (arkhi, chief + tekton, builder"). And if you really dig into the history and prolific artists of our profession, very few architects were just architects. Many were sculptors, painters, and musicians, many wrote poetry, studied photogrpahy and film. In essence, our profession has always been an artistic expression of form and use in the landscape. If you don't believe this and can plug your computer into a USB port in your head to avoid any apparent artistic impression then I am apparently incorrect, (however it could stilll be viewed as artisctic.) I digress, what I do know is that I have colleagues right now working for LucasFilms and Pixar creating 3d worlds that are increasingly becoming just as real as the worlds we percieve and walk around in and for certain are more real and intelligent than any BIM model to date. Realize that I'm talking about the digital landscape, the one we draw/model in every day to better communicate to our team mates how to build our creative visions and interpretations of space and form. Not too much of a stretch when you think about it, and I would strongly caution against not realizing the basic core of an architects need to build and create. To me captain is way too vague and frankly reminds me of a ship or Hunt for Red October scenario and I won't even start with quarterback.... as my Knasas City Chiefs haven't done too well this year.

Ultimately, what we are getting down to is a return to Master Architects. This is my suggestion. Just as Master Craftsmen, from a variety of trades perform the work and bring to fruition the vision of the artist/architect, so should the architect be realized. There is a reaon that in unions you go through the ranks as apprentice, journeyman, and foreman/master mason master carpenter etc.... It is because with experience and training you achieve a level of undertanding and a more proficient use of your time and leadership abilities. I believe that in our profession we do two things wrong here:

1.) We for some reason put an age limit on how quickly one advances in experience with years.
2.) We have so many titles at different firms that no one really knows what the other does.

The first is sort of a fundamental misgiving in our industry that with grey/no hair and experience you become more achieved as an architect. Although I undertand the basic concept and notion, what most people fail to realize is that the generation x and yers (generally speaking) are quick studies. For the most part, we don't need to draw a wall section 13 times to understand it. And as a result, we are starting to see more and more successful younger firms who have abandoned the 5-7. 7-10 and 10+ experience pattern have gone out on their own and fused technology and innovation with their practices to achieve results that might not have been possible in other firms. Ex. (David Adajaye, FACE NY and ElDorado KC)

He suggested Brunelleschi was a good example of a "bad" master builder. And of course this fella, if you've done your homework, wasn't exactly a "team player", but what I would like to see in our profession is a new and increased pride in what we do and produce. To be realized again by fellow professionals and contruction leaders as knowledgeable resources that increase productivity and make the building process go more smoothly and *gasp* even fun is my vision for the profession and believe me it has very little to do with my egocentric desire to take over ther world and have everyone worship me as our ego-less colleagues suggest.

And for heaven's sake Captains?! How about we all give each other tele-com names like Network Operations Technical Specialists and give each other mindless tasks like putting cover sheets on the TPS reports!

PS> Good architects are the ones who guide and direct the process encouraging collaboration among the team members. Great architects know that there is no other way but through teamwork and increased capabilities through collaboration and communication brought about by technology to make a project successful.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Revit Blog Info

I received a bunch of questions about how to create a multiple trade coordinated model if the design team isn't using BIM and then how to use the model for phasing and estimating. We've officially been through this process now about 7 times and what I have found works best is that if at ALL possible, talk your ownership or IT director to get a combination of a fiber optic data line we are getting one of these after the first of the year and let me tell you we have seen these things in action and they are sweet! Forget kilobytes/per second or megs/per second these new lines can actually transfer TERABYTES of data/per second! This starts to quickly put an end to the connect ability issues of being able to network everyone's computers together. This technology costs quite a bit as you can imagine every month and is really up to the amount of field personnel you have networked and the amount of data and connectivity that you need to transfer on a daily basis. Right now I believe Verizon in particular is moving into this market in relation to land lines.

The second option is zip and data transfer software called RiverBed. Essentially it makes a typical T1 line run about 5 times as fast when transferring data. The software automatically zips and then unzips the data to increase transfer speeds.

Regardless, what works best is the ability to have all Revit users be able to save to a central file at the end of each working day. By hosting the model on a server either at the architects or contractors office the need for additional models and copies is eliminated. Additional revision information can be tracked and logged in the model

and I'm going to have to continue this later because I have to go watch a movie now with the newly engaged Ms. Revit for Real....

BIM until it hurts...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Alright alright...sheesh

OK OK....due to an overwhelming request of emails to apparently know my name and email. (didn't know i was that popular!...i'm flattered!)

You can contact me either by commenting or by emailing me at:

I also am a gemini, like long walks on the beach and my social security number is....haha.

Interesting Thought for the Day

So I was sitting on the couch last night when i was completely wrapped up in a great discussion on information with my new fiancee. As we talked, I began to realize the fundamental shift that is taking hold of the global marketplace. Historically speaking, society began as an agrarian society, where foodstuffs, grain, livestock etc... were what was considered valuable and to a large extent the land/real estate owners who produced these goods were the ones who realized the profits after the harvest.

Of course we made a couple other shifts, (please excuse my abridged version of macro economics) but to me the next significant change was the shift to an industrialized society. In this society, the owner of the factory reaped the rewards of profit. Raw materials and products were transformed through an industrial process into usable components or machines that made life easier (in theory).

So with the development of tools and technology, that not only changed the face of the agrarian markets (combines, balers, etc..) but also began to automate the industrial processes we began to see another shift which moved us into technology and the digital age. By utilizing the technology and letting the tools do the work for us we began to see less and less of a need for dedicated workers in each of these market segments.

Enter education.

Now with the ability to learn and further all fronts in technology, science and innovation the last couple of hundred years have been nothing less than astounding. And everyone drones on about the exponential path that technology has been on. However, what's really interesting to think about is the new process of gathering, processing and guessed it...information. Almost in an agrarian sense, companies are making billions of dollars off of harvesting data and presenting it to a user in a processed format. Don't believe me. Try this website.

Google makes billions off of sifting through enormous amounts of data and presenting it to a user in a processed format that makes it usable. Now how does all of this tie to BIM you might ask?

Buildings contain enormous amounts of complex documentation, think about even with a good completed set of documents, how much information is still missing. I think we have really only begun to scratch the surface of where BIM will take us. When you begin to think about the enormous opportunity software developers have in this new and uncornered market to make information easier to input, extract, gather, and visually represent I think we will start to see our industry change significantly in the next 10 years if not sooner.

I was joking that we might even have google for buildings in the future where I can enter a keyword into a search engine and scan the BIM for relative components such as poly-iso insulation and see where it's located in the building.

Just a thought.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Integrated Project Delivery

Yep it's here.

Finally we are starting to see a significant change in the way we all work together.

Integrated Project Delivery or IPD (as our industry likes to create acronyms) has become a new method of project delivery that really starts to grasp the full potential of Bim and true integrated practice. A couple of books out there such as "Integrated Practice in Architecture" by George Elvin and "Construction Partnering and Integrated Teamworking" by Gill Thomas and Mike Thomas really start to dig into the more in depth part of the discussion, but I'd like to give you all a brief rundown of what it really means.

I wanted everyone to know what Lean Construction and Integrated Project Delivery means. As we start to use BIM technology more and as the industry starts to change we will see more and more knowledgeable owners asking for better project delivery methods.

Know that we are currently driving to be able to provide this type of delivery method. Recently we have even been requested to use this method yet, keep in mind that it will be a learning curve for everyone in the process.

First of all, Lean Construction was initially a concept developed by Toyota when they noticed that the amount of material, time and resources that they lost in the design to construction phase of their automobiles was almost 50% of their project cost. In essence, Toyota then developed a collaborative team approach right from the initial design meeting. This involved ALL players. From the engineers who were designing the engine, wiring, and computer systems to the interior designers who were designing the buttons, knobs, dashes etc… And what they saw was a huge increase in profitability (about 34%). I have heard that the typical project cost for a single car is somewhere in the neighborhood of 13 million dollars give or take. Needless to say when profitability increased by 4.5 million a car, they integrated it as a company standard.

In addition to management savings there were two more areas that increased the bottom line. The first was they began to notice as the teams worked together more and more that the amount of staff actually needed was significantly less (almost half) because the teams started to refine the process of knowing what questions to ask their teammates. This freed up other personnel to assist in other efforts or projects and again drove up the profitability of the project. The second area of savings was the amount of material. Toyotas own internal green effort was established to try and eliminate product waste. So while the teams were designing, the manufacturers (in the meetings) of the materials were able to produce their product based on the design to save waste. The example I heard was that instead of using a 4x6 standard piece of vinyl door covering that they switched to a 3x4 piece that worked just as well and again reduced cost and almost eliminated waste.

This concept then carried over to the construction industry. And the best definition I could find was as follows:
Lean construction is a “way to design production systems to minimize waste of materials, time, and effort in order to generate the maximum possible amount of value (Koskela et al. 2002) ”. Designing a production system to achieve the stated ends is only possible through the collaboration of all project participants (Owner, A/E, Constructors, Facility Managers, End-user) at early stages of the project. This goes beyond the contractual arrangement of design/build or constructability reviews where constructors, and sometime facility managers, merely react to designs instead of informing and influencing the design.

This is the opposite of 'business as usual' in the construction sector, where people do things on project after project in the same old inefficient ways, forcing each other to give up profits and overhead recovery in order to deliver at what seems the market price. What results is a fight over who keeps any of the meager margins that result from each project, or attempts to recoup 'negative margins' through 'claims', The last thing that receives time or energy in this desperate, project-by-project gladiatorial battle for survival is consideration of how to reduce underlying costs or improve quality'.

In essence Integrated Project Delivery and Lean Construction are synonymous terms. Both involve bringing all players to the table at the beginning of the project and both involve using the other teammate as a resource to create a “PROJECT FOCUSED” team as opposed to a Profession Focused one. In Australia, they call this “Project Alliancing”. Recently, I was lucky enough to work on a couple of projects that involved the entire team in this type of method and to be honest it was the most fun I’ve ever had. Both in learning what information contractors need and how the architect wants the design to look (not to mention shrinking the paper trail and endless phone calls).

The best example I can give of this collaboration was in a large scale projecte that dealt with local and international architects and us as the contractor, when we sat in a meeting recently where the American architect mentioned we would be drawing bathroom partition details. Our PM/contractor laughed and asked “Why?” The architect responded by saying, “So you guys know how to install them.” Our PM/contractor had obviously been through this before and his response was a series of questions that smacked the architects in the forehead, “Have you been trained in how to install those? Are you holding the warranty on the partitions? And lastly are you willing to take the phone call and go fix the product due to incorrect installation?” Our International architecture team kind of chuckled and the PM then said, “Please just dimension their locations and mounting heights and let me worry about installing them.” This sort of collaboration saves everybody on the team time and money and ultimately allows us as a contractor to have input in the actual construction, staging and phasing of the project from the beginning instead of trying to figure out how to do it later.

Iit is pretty important that you all know what we can start to expect from owners more and more. Also keep in mind that BIM is really the platform that allows this sort of collaboration and delivery method most effectively. Feel free to ask me if you have any questions, but keep in mind this is not “Design-Build on Steroids” but rather a totally new project delivery method.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Model To BIG??

Here's a helpful tip for those of you doing those hundred plus million dollar, multi-phased projects. When you notice that you're model is starting to drag (views and pan movement are chunky) close out of the project and try this:



Now select the model you want to open, and in the bottom right hand of the open screen you;ll notice a pull-down menu that asks



last viewed


slect the specify option and you can then tell revit which specific worksets you are working in and thus shrinking the amount of file size and load time it takes for you to open and work in the model.

Internal Teaching Tool

Teaching tool...not finger pointing right? the new release of architecture revit 2008 has a nice little tool added called show history which allows you to see who has edited the model along the design and construction process. Refer to the image below, but it's

File -->

Show history -->

then select you're Revit model in question. This will help especially if someone had a computer crash and you're trying to find out who still owns elements that need to be relinquished or saved...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Revit BIM and the unmentionable

I wanted to drop a quick note to everyone to let everybody know that as a whole this is what I am starting to see as the trends emerging in the world of Revit/BIM, as well as the fundamental changes that I believe will occur over the next two years in the architectural profession.

1.) FMI group in the 2007 annual owner survey says that the biggest problem owners have with architects are incomplete documents.

2.) Contractors surveyed replied that overall the largest problem that contractors have with architects are incoherent CDs and communication.

3.) Lastly the American Census Bureau now reports that over the past twenty years the entire AE industry as a whole is declining in perceived quality/value, technology use, and profitability.

Where we are at is a crossroads in our profession. I have said it before, and it couldn't be truer in our practice as architects and designers we are beginning to get away from the reputation and perception of master builder and are now being perceived more and more as "design professionals," with little or limited knowledge of the actual inner workings of a building and a total disconnect witht he actual construction process.

Here's where I'm headed...the Superdome in Louisiana, (the one that stood up to Katrina) was built using 31 pages of working documentation and was constructed in less than four years from 1971-75.

35 pages.

270,000 s.f., a complex laminella beam structure, advanced modern design and multiple trades.

How many pages would that take today?

Here's the tougher question. Why?

With BIM technology where it is and the professionals that form the very foundation of the AE communityI seriously question the practice of over-documentation. The CYA approach to design and construction is dead. Here's why:

Contractors don't look at your drawings. Gasp. I know. Be offended be scared. But you should be hacked off and wondering why the bathroom partition mounting detail that took you three days to draw won't even garner 2 seconds worth of the contractors attention. I know this is shocking and I know it was a detail in the standards library, but it is yet another point on the ever growing space in between what information architects thick need to be on drawings and what information the construction crews actually use to build. How it is actually built using the contractors "means and methods" to get it done, needs to be second knowledge to architects. Second to the necessary design language needed to create a better and more healthy and environmentally friendly world to live in.

I got asked this question five years ago when i was six months out of school by a contractor, "Why (when it is the contractor's responsibility to use the means and methods of construction they see most fit) the architect is detailing the head jamb and sill detail for a window they have not been trained to install, don't know the tools necessary to install it and will not be responsible for carrying the warranty on that aluminum storefront framing?" I asked what was important to show and the contractor looked surprised and just answered "Tell me at what depth you want the window to sit in the could even show it in elevation."

Think about it.

Engineers drawings are worthless. Ok so that might have been a bit harsh let me rephrase and say that engineers who draw information that is completely different from the MEPS subcontractors calculations and shop drawings...they're useless. Why waste time drawing what won't be built? The entire idea of a drawing is to graphically represent to the constructor what is to be built and installed. By using BIM, engineers now have the tools to grab the responsibility and rewards of a truly coordinated model and potentially stop many of the issues before they hit the field. The question that I've heard a couple of times now is why are subcontractors drawing in 3D and my engineers (who are supposed to be more techno-savvy) aren't?! Ask your ductwork subcontactor on your next project, it's scary. Also ask the steel fabricators too, sometimes they'll have 3D models they're using as well that might possibly help you link into your revit model and use for interference checking.

Confused? Wondering why the information is going to the CNC machines more detailed and accurate then ACAD lines? You got me too. Seems that it would be a whole lot more useful to the entire AEC team if either the subcontractor was brought on board in the documentation phase or that engineers stepped up and created BIM's of their portion of the project.

Collaboration = Success. I don't think I need to elaborate on this point any more. I think we've seen that the current way just doesn't work. The endless trails of phone calls and emails are bordering on ridiculous. Not to mention using old technology to meet today's needs! We have the tools and those who have chosen to use them are seeing the rewards.

So what's the new thing then? Anyone can complain about all of this, what works?

Integrated Project Delivery (US), Project Alliancing (Australia) or BIM Huddle, BIM Pit etc... Although some of these differ in detail the fundamental delivery concept is the same. Integrate the team. Will the subcontractor who barely knows how to turn the computer on be competitive in this process? No. Sadly. But more frightening are the firms both engineering and architectural who seem to think that they can wait until the last minute jump into the new technology and still remain competitive to their counterparts who have already used a successful implementation strategy. Will these firms be successful? Again unfortunately no. I've had some of the older guys here in the office reminisce about the good old days when CAD just entered the AE marketplace as a tool. Many of the hand drafting firms thought it was a fad or wasn't as effective as hand drafting. I was told many of those firms went belly up when they couldn't remain competitive in the industry.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not spitting on the little guy, but moreover giving the little guy the heads up and maybe even a step forward. BIM will change the industry. BIM has changed the industry.

Right, wrong or indifferent what we are seeing is the profession as a whole start to compete in the global marketplace. Firms in Kansas City are designing hotels in Dubai. New York firms are designing greening methodologies in China. This isn't a secret, but architecture is still a business. I remember when I was in architecture school that the Howard Roark (The Fountainhead, great movie with Patricia O'Neal and Gary Cooper) philospohy was that if you were a great designer clients would come to you, you could sketch some quick lines on paper and magically by the scene's end a building would appear. For the most part, this simply isn't true. If it is true then you are Frank Gehry or Stephen Holl and I am flattered you're reading my blog.

Here's the truth.

Our profession is choking. Am I saying that BIM is the answer to all of the professions problems? No. But what I am saying is that it is currently the only solution that I have heard of lately that even eludes to an improvement in the industry, making it more effiicient and frankly more profitable. I believe in the technology because I have used it. I believe them because as the "Old Guard" begins to retire that we are going to see more and more people file through the ranks of the profession with a working knowledge of relevant technologies. I also have seen the look on a workers face when he "gets" the 3D flashing detail you're able to represent to him, so he can build it correctly.

Tomorrow Integrated Project Delivery....

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Revit boat

For the record, yes you can model a boat for a parade float in Revit....

Just in case any of you weren't able to sleep at night.

Tomorrow's post promises to be much more educational.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Collaborative Website


apologies for the lack of new content. I have been putting this new collaborative website for the midwest together and doing some other jazz.

Fell free to join and sign the guestbook even if you don't live in the midwest. The first meeting is looking to be huge!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

DWF viewer

Obviously i don't claim to know it all and from time to time i run across new tools that many people might have known about but not many have used. I got a chance to use the Autodesk DWF viewer this past week. The viewer allows a user to view, orbit, rotate, walkthrough and make comments on the model at any given time. The beauty of this of course is that they can't directly edit the model, but they can click on buildling components to get exact square footage measurements and updated wall assembly and component information.

The real value we are seeing in this is that we have started including not only our ususal 3d renderings of a proposed building or space, but our BIM DWF file and the DWF viewer as well. The funny part is how involved the owner starts to get in the process and how they feel like they are more a part of the team when they can zoom around this thing.

It doesn't cost a thing to download and even from a marketing effort including the DWF viewer and file is a good way to put your firm ahead of the curve.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Revit or Nothing?! Are You Serious?

I am getting ready to hop on a plane here in a couple of minutes and I was thinking about my past week. I often give presentations and meet with Leaders from the A/E industry to discuss the future of BIM, how our firm is using it and more importantly where they are at in embracing the new technology.

This is usually when I get scared.

I usually hear that we are "experimenting" or "testing the waters" or "we love everything you say it can do, but we don't know if it's for us." This is usually when I calmly take a deep breath and wonder what they are possibly thinking. The resources currently available in forums, books, training and individual click...oh that's what it does!...undo, are there.

Yes they cost money.

Yes it is new technology.

Yes it will make your company more money.

I get asked all the time how can you be so sure?

I have worked on about fifteen projects from start to finish varying in size from multi-million dollar facilities to small school additions and with the software in house and set up properly I have been sitting in the driver seat multiple times as a PM with a good 100% set of CD's in front of me with 15-30 days till the 100% deadline. Then I get asked well what do you do with that extra time?

First of all there is no such thing as extra time.

And secondly, (this is the best part and what we should be getting to)


I get to go through and refine the drawings to a typically unheard of level. I address constructability issues. I write, rewrite and edit specifications. I take the drawings to a coffee shop, sit down with a contractor friend of mine and tell him to build it in his head and write down his comments (and then pay for his coffee). I have heard comments such as

"It's so nice not to have to write so many issues on a set of drawings! - City Code Manager

How long did this take?! And am I paying extra for this!? - Owner

"This is art." - Contractor

We're architects and yes we're still artists. Master craftsmen (and women). Individuals with a greater understanding of materials and the building process. I guess when you have experienced the full blown effects of a staff that is highly trained and eager to learn and adapt more as well as recieve comments like above you begin to realize that being an architect is much more than scrambling at the last minute, stressing over xrefs, linetypes and trying to remember if you changed something on every drawing. It has everything to do with creating coordinated documents to build off of right the first time.

The time for get it out the door and we'll "fix" it with addendums, doesn't work!

Want to get a contractor on your side? Hand them drawings that make sense, cut the RFI's they have to issue and see how easily you guys get through a change order (if any).

I'm going to get off my soapbox now, but do me a favor and if you have made the switch to Revit or any BIM product: MAKE IT WORK! There isn't any getting around the fact that it "Is the future." You don't see new user groups and blogs popping up every day on how to do the same old thing. To me, the debate isn't do we do it? But rather the debate should be on what does it take for us to get to a point where we can still have CAD project deadlines with BIM coordinated results.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Revit and On-Screen Takeoff..

This will be a quick one as I seem to be swamped this week at work. For those of you construction or design/build teams out there, I'm sure you're familar with On-Screen Takeoff. We have begun to interface this with our in house Timberline estimating software so that we can use the model for quick generic takeoffs and use On-Screen for all of our finishes and specialty items that haven't been included in the model. So far it seems to be working really well and this hybrid method of estimating really works well for a lot of the area architecture firms through various stages of the design process.

I linked the forum for On-Screen which is starting to be recognized more and more as the industry standard for 2d takeoffs.

Tomorrow I'm going to start a string of tutorials that introduce Revit in a little bit more fun and useful way.

Carry on.

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 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

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.