To Edit or Not To Edit…

Firms take different approaches to template files. Some, (I’m looking at you @twiceroadsfool) like to load ‘em up with most everything a project needs, and let the teams weed out what they find they don’t need.  Others take a more streamlined approach, and provide the universal basics, with teams adding more in from ‘resource files’.

Legend EDIT suffix

I generally take the streamlined approach.  I want the consistent data to be in the template, and anything that requires intermediate/advanced use to be already in place awaiting minor editing per the project specifics.  Which means, some of what I include is static, and some requires editing. How to communicate which is which? I’d rather not have a team spend time deciding, so I add a suffix:


And now they know: Which ones to edit, and which ones to not.

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Resolving Redundant Rooms

This is an addition to the original post on resolving ‘not placed’ rooms

New users are often befuddled by how to place Room Tags in open-flowing areas.  They quickly drop rooms into the zones of a plan, name them and keep moving.  It isn’t until they review a Room Schedule that they realize that the data has been compromised.

What is a Redundant Room?
The previous post (link above) addressed ‘Not Placed’ and ‘Undefined’ rooms, which are rooms that have either been created then deleted (or created as data and never applied to the model) or were placed but have no complete boundary surrounding them.  Redundant rooms occur when room elements OVERLAP each other.

How to locate Redundant Rooms:
Room SubcategoryWhen redundancy appears in the room schedule, open a corresponding floor plan adjacent to the schedule, and turn on the Room subcategories of Interior Fill and Reference.

This allows you to see where the room overlaps occur (look for darker shades of the blue interior fill) and how many room elements are overlapping each other (the number of  + symbols that appear in the darker regions):
Redundent Rooms

You can now select a Redundant Room from the schedule, and see it highlight in the plan. (NOTE: the room are already toned blue, so the highlighting may not be obvious, look for the + symbol to turn ORANGE)


How to resolve:

Most cases of redundant rooms happen because there needs to be a separate zone identified and tagged, but there isn’t a wall element in place to define the zone boundary.  Add Room Separation Lines where zones should divide.  I like to set up a Management (working) view that has the Lines subcategory of <Room Separation> overridden with a heavy lineweight and an eye-popping color, to make them easy to find and manage as the project layout evolves.

Room Seperation Lines

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Protected: Pre-Programming Room Data

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Show History Comments

I’m a big advocate of milestone archives (surprisingly, its less common than you’d think).  Making a significant revision mid-way between milestone deliverables? Archive.  Getting ready to clean up the model by ‘accepting’ Design Options? Archive.

This leads to me being an even BIGGER advocate for adding clarification notes when Syncing to Central.

How to add notes to a Sync:
Select the Synchronize and Modify Settings option (also available on the Quick Access Toolbar)
STC_w Modified Settings

Note that the setting options include releasing (or not) both borrowed elements and owned worksets.  The Comment field allows the user to enter in a summary of the key actions/revisions just done.

STC_w Modified Settings Comment

These comments become part of a log of the Central file.  The aspect of this that is MOST VALUABLE to Project Managers, and really anyone who needs to keep tabs on status of the BIM, is that this log can be accessed WITHOUT opening the model.  For a PM, who may need to check in on several projects, this can be a HUGE timesaver.  No need to wait agonizing minutes for a large model to open, then have to root around between sheets/views to get a sense of where things are at.

Show History:
Pulling up the comments list is done through the Revit interface, but does NOT require opening the (or any) model.  Go to the Collaborate tab, and select the Show History tool.  (NOTE, it is one of the few tools available when no model is current open).


Especially useful for:
a) Getting a quick summary of significant actions done in the model (ie: accepting Design Options, updating consultant links, revising property line boundaries)
b) BIM managers: spot checking frequency of STC by project teams.  See who’s waiting too long to sync (risking ‘out of date’ file issues) or syncing too frequently (clogging up the network)
c) Reviewing a list of archived models to know what their last state was (when searching for/pulling up design features that need revisiting)


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Orienting and Color Coding

Our medical office building project is rolling along, with consultant model updates weekly and clash reviews prompting a lot of webinar meetings.  Two things we discovered really quickly:

1) Without direct access to Navisworks Manage, we couldn’t get updated reports, and the old reports were out of date almost immediately. We needed to use the immediate access of good old fashioned Revit Interference Check.

2) Finding and orienting oneself to the model during a web meeting is… challenging.

As a means of addressing the major clash items, we devised a workflow that made the issues to review more cohesively apparent, and easier to get right into where the problems were.

  • Interference reports were run discipline-to-discipline on KEY CATEGORIES ONLY, and exported to html format (ie: mech equipment and main ducts reviewed, no flex ducts)
  • Elements were found by ID, and CLASH entered into their Comments field.
    NOTE: I’m wondering if @BoostYourBIM could create an API macro for this part of the process….
  • Filters were created by category, color coding the elements with CLASH data.

This enabled us to SEE the whole set of clashing items at once, rather than using the interference report and ‘show’ to review them one by one.  We were able to see where whole SYSTEMS and BRANCHES were needing adjustment, rather than just individual parts. This meant better understanding, and better grasp on approaches to resolve.

For better visibility right down into the fray, prior to the web meetings we set up a series of sections to look at specific junctions in the building, and then opened our color-coded 3D view and ‘oriented to view’ to each of the conflict zones. This saves a TON of time trying to grab those frustrating section box handles, and lets you work systematically down a prepared list of areas to review.

We kept a plan view open tiled next to the cropped 3D view, so elements selected in 3D would highlight in the plan, and people would immediately know where in the building they were.

Interference Check

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Preparing for Navisworks Clash Detection

Many of the smaller firm clients I work with do not have in-house access to Navisworks for broader, multi-discipline clash detection, but may be contributing a model to be reviewed in Navis through the primary consultant, or the contractor on the project.  As is the case with a current project, the architectural team wanted to maximize the value of the clash report, while reducing the crazy amount of clashes that can result of a non-refined clash run.

As the actual work in Navisworks was being conducted by another consultant on the team, we coordinated with them to streamline the process as much as possible BEFORE tweaking in the Navis environment.

Prepare An Export View
We set up a folder and easily identified view “Export to NWC” for the Navis technician to quickly locate.  The view had an applied View Template that turned off all Revit links, CAD resources, non-reviewed worksets and general model categories that were not the focus of the clash review (Site and Furniture, for example.)

Preset EXPORT ViewFilter by Assembly Code
The View Template also included Filters to get more specific about families WITHIN the visible categories – in this case, the model contained manufacturer content for skylight tubes, which were a high focus for the clash review.  The manufacturer had classified the elements as Windows, so we needed a way to include these specific ‘windows’ into a clash selection set while still excluding the other windows.

Uniformat Code ReviewThis is a pretty simplified example of the power of using Assembly Codes to filter out elements prior to the export – a more advanced (and REALLY useful) application was in having the Mechanical model filter out flexduct that could be easily field-coordinated OUT of the export model, which reduced the number of Structural Framing to Mechanical Ducting clashes from being in the hundreds down to a manageable bakers dozen!  Now THATS a more efficient approach to clash detection!


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Revit pumpkin carving!

Used the holiday to introduce the teams to adaptive components for creating complex geometry.  In this case, a parametric pumpkin, that each person then carved out with voids.  Here’s my sample:

Revit Pumpkin Carving


And rendered with ‘candles’ inside:

Bat Pumpkin - Nancy

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Rotating Project North

Yes, it happens.  A project file is started, then more data comes in, and the survey finally arrives, and it turns out that what you’ve started designing in response to isn’t quite oriented how you thought.  Or, the team does a shadow study in response to plan check comments, and things need to not just move, but… rotate.  Well into the design.  And the documentation.

It happens.

So, what’s a team to do?  There are several options:
a) Grab everything, and rotate the building.  [yeah, I didn’t think so…]
b) Rotate project North, (& reset your angle to True North)
c) Rotate the site and any north referencing annotations and be done with it (see notes at end of the post as to why this wasn’t opted for).

As you can guess, the team opted for b) Rotating True North.  Here’s a summary of what we encountered (and are still sorting through):

Things that blocked the rotation:

  • Detail components and symbols placed on vertical views (sections, elevations).  Yes, all of them.  We were at a phase transition, so we archived, then blew out these elements (from the Project Browser, selected all instances in the project, delete) You have to do it one family at a time, but it was still much faster than opening views, selecting, filtering and deleting.  We lost some things from horizontal views (graphic scales and break lines, mostly) but it was still the more efficient choice.   NOTE: Since we archived, we figured we could cut/paste 2D components from the archive to the adjusted views, which we did.
  • Some element relationships.  Not sure what, probably alignments formed between graphical and model elements.

Note, determining what was blocking the rotation was trial and error at first, as Revit would pop up a warnings dialog, and allow you to delete the offending elements.  But then it would choke and not complete the action, only allowing a cancel of the attempted rotation.  After several of these attempts, we stopped, created and ran tests on a small dummy project to see what caused the choke.


Notable, not ALL 2D elements on views triggered warnings (text leaders, dim strings and room tags were fine).  So by testing and narrowing down, we were saved from the initial impulse of deleting ALL 2D elements from vertical views.

What Failed to Rotate:

We hadn’t expected things on horizontal views to be affected, but they were.  The test file exercise checked on the things we worried about most – orientation of all the interior elevations that had been created, and already placed on sheets.  Those adjusted fine. We (kinda/sorta) understood why the 2D elements on vertical views caused a ruckus, but found that several (not all) 2D elements on horizontal views were exempted from the rotation, or even more bizarrely, some rotated, some didn’t, and some rotated in the opposite direction.  Go figure.

A few of the Room elements reacted strangely, too. by being shifted from their original location to overlap another region of the model.  We suspected that rooms bound by room boundary lines would be the ones that got dislodged, but it wasn’t them – it was fully wall enclosed rooms, for no known reason.

Callouts from plans rotated along with the the model, but the resulting views placed on sheets were suddenly not oriented.  We’re still scratching our heads over that one.  These were true callouts, not referenced callouts, which I anticipated would not correlate to the original callout.



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Modeling Parking Garage Ramps

While I’m a HUGE fan of reducing parking requirements for housing and mixed-use projects, there is still a need to design (and model) parking garages.  This can be a real challenge to new Revit users, as there IS a ramp tool, and it’s supposed to be automatic, Right? Right.  But like many real world situations, the basic ramp tool isn’t much help when it comes to the complex shapes and required slope transitions that constitute parking garage ramps. In fact, I don’t advise using the Ramp tool at all – build them more accurately with Floors!

Checklist summary:

  • Define the area constraints (surrounding walls, start/stop of ramp location)
  • Know your slope and transition (blend) slope guidelines
  • Create floors for each segment of the ramp
  • Add up inside edge length of all floor segments (by slope %)  *tangent of angle = Opposite/Adjacent
  • Modify Points of each floor segment to drop each inner corner (slope must work at the shortest route)
  • Verify ramp endpoints correspond to deck heights (expect slight tweaking)
  • Modify points of each floor segment to drop each outer corner
  • GROUP the overall ramp to minimize accidental editing
Ramp - define slope goals
18% MAX slope midfield
9% (1/2 MAX slope) as ‘blend’ transitions
Level edges at connection to garage levels, level cross slope at straight segments.
Add Inner Lengths
Add up Inner Lengths:

9% slope (9′ + 11′-10″) = 20′-10″
18% slope  = 29′
X% slope @ corners (11′ + 10′-6″) = 21′-6″
 Tangential formula

Calculate 9% slope inner corner elevations from either end.

Top of ramp:  0″, -17″
Bottom of ramp:  0″, +21″
Drop of 18% slope mid section:   -113″
Blend + straight sections:  17″ + 21″ + 113″ = 161″
So we know we have more drop than is needed, and can reduce the slope %.  Reduce slope on curving transitions,  when possible.
Modify SubelementsRecalculate the floor corner drop per the adjusted slope angle.
10% + 5% slopes:  -10″, -33″, -94.5″, -116″, -120″
Select each segment of flat floor and Modify Sub Elements
That gives us the slope at the inside edge. Verify the end elevation, and adjust if necessary. Repeat setting the drop at the outer floor corners:  GROUP and COPY TO ASSIGNED LEVELS (where Deck-to-Deck is equal dimension).
Ramp - two side sloped
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Rendering Non-Renderings

Photorealism renderings have their place in the architectural design process – presentations to design review boards, client promotion materials, etc.  For the in-house design teams, however, I am a much bigger fan of non-renderings – perspective views to communicate scale and features of an intended design, without an over-commitment to materials that full renderings impose.

I’ve outlined a quick process for ‘rendering’ non-renderings, with the goal of accomplishing these goals:  Represent a common user point-of-view.  Convey the primary use of the space.  Loosely represent materials of the space. Accurately depict a sense of scale.

Perspective - Design IntentThis example is for a self-serve information kiosk at an outpatient medical clinic.  The purpose of the image was to present to a staff and client user-base to inform them of where the design was heading, and for in-house design study.

Here’s the basic workflow:

Guidelines for setup of composite perspective images:
a)      Place ‘scale figures’ at appropriate locations of intended perspectives (establishes scale and placement for adding entourage images in Photoshop later)
b)      Create the perspective views using Camera tool in Revit.
c)       Create a View Template to edit visibility of categories, patterns, etc.  (Note, these views are Hidden Line, with Shadow (set to 2pm), brightness adjusted.
d)      Green tone is achieved through application of a Material with a surface pattern set to a solid color, with a mid-range transparency:
e)      Export the perspective images as jpgs to a project folder.

Creating composite image in Photoshop:
f)       Open the perspective image in Photoshop.  Exported image becomes “Background” layer.
g)      Prepare appropriate images in Photoshop prior to compositing into the perspective views.  Use Background Eraser tool to remove color tones surrounding figures, etc. Save entourage image as a prepared .psd.
h)      Test scale of entourage:  Create selection box around prepared entourage image.  Copy to Clipboard  Ctrl-C.  In the perspective file, Paste image Ctrl-V.  This places the image on a new layer. Move the pasted image to where you want it, and get a sense of scale adjustment needed.
i)        Resize entourage .psd file scale as needed, and Copy/Paste into the perspective scene again.  Delete the layer of the test insert.   Rename the layer appropriately.
j)        Save the composite image as a .psd, and Save as..  again to the desired final format (.jpg recommended).  Flatten layers if option pops up.  Composite .psd will maintain layers for future editing, if needed.


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