Archive for May, 2011


Imported CAD File Not Visible

May 27, 2011

Ok, you’re just finalizing the import of the ACAD file into Revit and the interface says “Left click to place the file”.  You faithfully do as instructed and “Where’s the ACAD file?”  Well depending upon how you selected the placement control in the import dialog window the ACAD file could be anywhere but fear not.  Turn off the Crop Region control at the bottom of your work area interface.  Now right mouse click and select “zoom extents”  This should now bring the imported ACAD file into view.



BIM Lawsuit Offers Cautionary Tale

May 20, 2011

A lawsuit over construction of a life-sciences building at a major university stands as the first known claim related to the use of building information modeling by an architect. Furthermore, the claim and its settlement serve as a cautionary tale to others using BIM, says the insurer.

“The creators of BIM claim its use reduces risk, and indeed it can—like any other tool, if it is used right,” says Randy Lewis, vice president of loss prevention and client education at the Denver office of XL Insurance, which provides professional liability insurance to licensed design professionals. “If you don’t use BIM correctly, you can get into trouble.” 

…read the entire article…

BIM Lawsuit Offers Cautionary Tale | News | Architectural Record.


Export a webpage.

May 20, 2011

Revit is full of often overlooked hidden gems.  Here is one that I thought I’d share that creates a complete webpage with click-able hot links.

It allows for one to export a complete set of documents that are fully integrated into a nice little web page in HTML format.  The nice thing is that all of the sections and detail markers that are click-able in Revit are also click-able in the webpage and will bring you to the page or view exported. Note: Screen shots below are from Revit Architecture 2011.




Locked to a Reference Plane?

May 18, 2011

In an effort to reduce file sizes and bridge staff 3D family construction inexperience and time limitations on projects we often use 2D symbolic line representations of kitchen equipment in lieu of full 3D families.  One of our staff happened to create a 2D family of grouped lines that was somehow locked to the reference level of the family that is used as the finished floor.  Here are things to look for when this happens and how to break the lock.

1.  Check to make sure the group is not locked to the reference level.  Click on the group and look for the lock symbol. Click on the lock symbol to toogle between locked and unlocked.

2.  Was the family constructed using model lines?  If so they were referenced to a specific plane when created.  Select all the 2D lines and use the “Edit Work Plane” button in the tools bar found under the Modify Tab.  Upon selection the program will prompt you to I.D. the reference plane you want them associated with so make sure you have a reference plane in place you want to use as your target.

To unlock the group use the mirror function and mirror the group about another reference plane.  Sometimes a parallel reference plane won’t work so try a 45 degree reference plane to mirror about.  Of course this will change the orientation but once it’s unlocked you will be able to rotate it and lock it to another reference plane.  In our particular case the staff member wanted to lock to a reference plane they could control the height of with a parameter.  Also be aware that if the group of lines was locked to reference planes to control type properties of length and width mirroring out of plane, as would be the case with the 45 degree reference plane, will unlock these control properties.

This mirror trick also works with 3D extrusions and sweeps in families and in the in-place families in a project that have been associated with a reference plane for construct purposes.  Once you free the 3D form you can delete the original locked version of the shape.

Reference Free in 2 & 3D


Leading from the Model

May 9, 2011

If you read about IPD, BIM, and Revit on-line then you have surely heard of Randy Deutsch.  If not you should look him and his webpages up.  He has recently a soon to be published book titled BIM and Integrated Design: Strategies for Architectural Practice.

That said, I have not read the book but I do strongly recommend that you read his essay titled BIM Beyond Boundaries which was recently published in Design Intelligence.  Near the end of this essay Randy touches on a subject he calls “Leading from the Model”. The three paragraphs under this heading are short and sweet but the resonance behind what he wrote should be closely examined, studied and reflected upon. These two specifically struck a chord with me and my experiences:

Working in BIM provides a completely different work flow — one we have yet to leverage fully. Because those on the front lines are not only the first to discover clashes and inconsistencies but also to visualize what something looks like and how it might function, BIM allows our emerging talent to lead the process — to learn on the job while recognizing their power from their privileged position of the first look in the model.

The new leadership mandate in this process is for architects to lead from their involvement in the BIM environment. Leading from the model can be likened to leading from the middle in that BIM requires and even enables followership, and servant- and situational-leadership, as opposed to top-down or command-and-control. While leadership historically has been top-down, working in BIM and on integrated teams changes that. Leading in BIM and integrated design is more similar to followership, in which middle managers lead from within the organization. Thus with BIM, the top-down and bottom-up approaches converge, where leading from the middle becomes leading from the model.

Without getting too far towards opinion, theory and personal experiences I will leave you with two words: Paradigm shift.

Read the article in its entirety here:



Yes / No graphic presentations in Schedules

May 5, 2011

Working with yes no parameters in schedules make sense. We set them up, check the little boxes, slap the schedule on the sheet and all of a sudden we are shocked because the little radio boxes change from a checked box or unchecked box to text stating “Yes”, “No”, or a blank box.

To architects and engineers this may seem weird because historically we made matrix schedules and would identify a option with a filled circle, dot, “X” or other graphic. A “Yes” doesn’t work for us.

One method to resolve this problem is as follows:

Create your yes no parameters as normal.

Create a Calculated parameter called something like “Graphic”. Make it a Text parameter and set the formula to:


* Insert your graphic symbol between the quote marks. One way to do this is to copy and paste a symbol from the Windows Character Map.

Create new Calculated parameters for each of your Yes/No parameters. Set the formulas as:

if((nameofYESNOparam), Graphic, ” “)

Duplicate the schedule so you have a working schedule and a schedule to be placed on your sheet.

For the schedule you will place on the sheet make sure to hide the Yes/No parameters (under the formatting tab) and rename the headers as you would like them to be displayed on the sheet. Work from the working schedule and let the other schedule display the same information but in a more desirable format.

Your finished result should look something like this:




Ask Yourself: Where Are My Walls?

May 4, 2011

It’s the 11th Hour and you’re double checking the placement of all the various wall types in your project. How do I know what wall is where? A quick solution is to color code them. You can do so by utilizing the Course Scale Fill Pattern and Course Scale Fill Color settings in the wall type properties. It’s pretty simple and the visual feedback is grand. Just set your view scale to Course and…Presto!..the walls will take on their assigned color!

Other alternatives:

  • Create a course Legend View to identify the color coding system being used
  • Use this method to quickly identify your rated walls

Add it to your work flow.

(now in California, but my Revit roots are still Southern Arizona)


Revit MEP Temporary Dimensions

May 4, 2011

Temporary Dimensions play an important role in Revit Architecture, Structure and MEP. In Revit MEP the term “temporary dimension” is a little misleading.  MEP’s temporary dimensions are less about length and more about displaying key design information. I have found on a number of machines that the out of the box Revit MEP temporary dimensions are much too small to be legible. Users try to zoom in on them to read the information but they are still illegible because they stay the same size no matter how far one zooms in on them.

To fix this click on the Revit “R” in the upper left of the screen and go to Options. Then click on the Graphics tab.  There you will find the dialog box to increase the “temporary dimensions text appearance” size.  Adjust this value to a usable size and you will be much more able to get your design information on the fly.

Of course this is also the same place to set Revit Architecture and Structure.



Revit 2012 new features

May 2, 2011

Steve Shell asked that I post this link regarding the new Autodesk Revit 2012 features:

Much thanks to David Light with HOK London for his writeup.


Deciphering Revit Light Intensity

May 1, 2011

Light fixtures and the light they produce can be somewhat of a mystery.  When you enter into the ‘Type Properties” of a light fixture the primary control for the light intensity can be found under the button to the right of the Initial Intensity parameter.

Once you’ve activated the dialog select the “Wattage” radio button.  You are now faced with two inputs.  You will need to know three things to complete these inputs. 

1.  The number of lamps in your fixture.
2.  The wattage of each lamp.
3.  The initial lumens produced by each lamp.

The first value “wattage” is achieved by multiplying the number of lamps times the wattage to get the total fixture wattage.

The second value “Efficacy” is acheived by dividing the lumen value for a single lamp by the wattage for that individual lamp.  So a 17 watt lamp producing 1275 lumens has an Efficacy of 75.

If you are creating a light fixture, you want to make sure the color temperature matches the lamp type and the light source is of a similar light distribution pattern that matches the lamp configuration.

Here are some sources for lamp data.

Light-em Up