Friday, October 05, 2007

Revit Wish List

AUGI has announced wish list voting on AutoCAD, Inventor, Civil 3D, and Revit Architecture. What is important to you in the continuing development of Revit? Click on the this link to voice your opinion.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

USG Design Studio

It seems as though in the last month, USG has developed an amazing amount of information able to be downloaded for use in Revit. You can find it at

This includes Wall Types, Acoustic Ceiling Tile and their Specialty Ceilings. As you can see below they have a simple search tool for the wall types depending on the what you are looking for. You can choose by material, interior or exterior, fire rating, STC rating and the framing type.

After you have made your selections you can download a Revit file that includes multiple versions of the wall types fitting your search criteria. It shades the insulated walls in yellow and the non-insulated ones are white. You can change these to fit your standards but it makes it easy to distinguish between the types.

You can then create schedules utilizing the impressive amount of information provided if desired or just use it for your reference when creating partition type drawings or specifications. This information includes URL, Fire Rating, Fire Test #, USG Fire Test URL, STC, Sound Test #, UL URL and Specification URL.

Also, if you think this is impressive you should also check out the ceiling information. It is great that manufacturers are now focusing their efforts on Revit rather than just AutoCAD or dxf.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Revit Architecture & MEP as a Team

So we have just finished our bid/permit set for the project utilizing Revit Architecture and Revit MEP. While it has shown me that it has a lot of potential, it will have to be developed over more projects. This was the first project completed by this MEP/FP engineer in Revit MEP so they had to crib in a lot of typical details from AutoCAD in order to get the drawings done on time. Also, due to Revit crashes they had to finish the fire protection drawings in AutoCAD.

We plan to have a meeting in the next weeks to evaluate the process and I will share the information that we compile so that others may work more effectively. This is also very important since we received approval to proceed with two new buildings on the same site. We are going to push this project forward utilizing complete use of Revit Architecture, MEP, and Structure. Each of the consultants are on board so hopefully we can weed out some of the issues and have a very successful project.

No change in programs can ever go perfect so I will try to weed out the comments that are due to learning and those that are due to how we work together. More to come soon so check back often. I will also post the 3D renderings once they are done. The facade work as shown below includes brick, EIFS (stucco), metal panel and curtainwall system.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

JELD-WEN "Stands Out"

I recieved an email today in response to a previous post on manufacturer content from JELD-WEN. The subject of this email was "Most extensive 3D window drawings available online for designers". This is definately true and is making JELD-WEN stand out in the window market for Architects who use Revit. They have set the bar high for other window manufactuers and you will know why when you look at this link.

You can configure any custom type of window and/or door from JELD-WEN. After configuing the unit you then get a link to download the unit you configured. The configuration options include: Size, finish, operation, and more. The doors come with the hinges and handles on the family. It is amazing to use and I commend JELD-WEN for creating an exceptional tool.

Area Plans

Area Plans can serve a great purpose to contractors who are bidding a project. It also helps to define the exact scope of work to be completed so that you have a more even comparison between bidders. We always include area plans and a schedule, as you can see below, on the cover of our pricing and construction drawings. There are a lot of variance on the cost of a project including addition vs. renovation and finished vs. unfinished spaces. A simple diagram helps the client, contractor, and subs to quickly see the scope of work and the intention of the project.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

How to Show Millwork?

What is the best way to show millwork on a construction set?

One of the tasks at Colin Smith Architecture that we have struggled with in Revit is how to create millwork legends. Our goal is to make each set of construction documents that we produce better than the one before it. Millwork is a place that we are trying to improve. Sometimes you want to show a section of millwork but have trouble navigating through all the elements in the floor plan to show a good view. Below is an image of an example that we have created that we are integrating into all new projects. We use this to create and show traditional paneling, benches (Mudroom), beadboard paneling, wall base, crown molding, chairrail, and window & door casings.
In this case, by creating an axon of the millwork (or Architectural Woodwork depending on your nomenclature) we can show how this wall paneling should be constructed including both inside and outside corners. We can also create detail sections both vertically and horizontally through the modeled wall. So that this does not schedule in your project or is an anoyance in your plans, we have created a "Administrative" phase that is after the "New Construction" or "Complete" Phase. We use the Administrative phase to create elements that we want shown on the construction set but that do not scheduled for the construction work. We then created wall sweeps and integrated details thin those sweeps to create the wall paneling and other millwork items. We downloaded the autocad profiles from a local company around us (Andersen & McQuaid) and convert the autocad linework into profiles that we can use as wall sweeps.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Got It!

The reason I started this blog was to descibe our experience of working with consultants who use Revit Structure and Revit MEP. While I have not been able to do that to date, all is about to change. Today we recieved a signed contract for converting a 37,000 GSF warehouse into retail space. While the owner already has a structural consultant on board who did not use Revit Structure on the project, we have a MEP consultant who is willing to use Revit MEP. This will be their second project that they have started in Revit MEP. My goal is to share as much as possible (the good and the bad) about the coordination, file transfers, and workflow.

This is a really exciting development in the way that we work within our office. Not only will things be more coordinated but it will be really interesting to see it all in 3D. Isn't it amazing it has taken this long to get to this point. You would think that since we design 3 dimensional structures that we would have moved away from 2D drawings a long time ago. I look forward to sharing and would like some feedback from anyone else who has tried this.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Too busy creating to Blog

I have been hard at work at Colin Smith Architecture, Inc. developing the way we use Revit and making our deliverables outstanding within the architecture community. Our first year of using the product revolved around learning the product and how to create a full set of construction documents without utilizing AutoCAD. After the first 3 projects (about 6 months in) we were able to stop using AutoCAD and get a decent set out of Revit. Now, as we approach our 3rd year of using the product, our focus has been on productivity and precision. Below are some images of current projects where we are now pushing the limits of custom families, sweeps, modifications, and repeating elements. As we continue to develop the construction documents from project to project, we see the improvements during the construction administration phase. Drawings are more coordinated, explain the project better to the client and contractors, and thus the end product of the construction is almost exactly as it was designed.

Architectural Home Addition to a 1900's Home
Front View in Lexington, MA
Architectural Home Addition to a 1900's Home
Rear View in Lexington, MA

Home Renovation & Horse Barn Design
Lincoln, MA

Kitchen Addition
Danvers, MA

Friday, April 27, 2007

Is Revit Hard to Learn?

The first thing I hear when I tell someone that I use Revit is “Really… I heard it is great… But” and then the second part that always follows is “Is it hard to learn”. The simple answer to that question is No but it depends on what you have already learned. If you have never used any type of CAD program then I believe that it would be the easiest program to learn. If you had AutoCAD or ADT background then I believe it will be a little harder because of all the bad habits, shortcut keys, customization, and workflow that we learned along the way. It took me months to stop using the space bar as enter or the escape key.

Some of the differences are:
Layers – Revit has none since you control objects (Doors, Windows, Plumbing Fixtures, and many other categories) It is great to be rid of all of those layers. No longer do you turn off one layer and something else goes off that you did not intend.

Shortcut Keys – Revit also has some but you can not easily alter them like in AutoCAD. This is good because it was really annoying when I went to another co-worker’s computer and I could not do simple commands since they changed them. Shortcut Keys also are not as needed in Revit since the layout of commands are easier to get to.

Customization - As I mentioned before you can not customize as much as in AutoCAD but it is really a good thing and this is the quickest thing you get over.

Workflow – This is the biggest difference and too much to explain effectively. Basically, in AutoCAD you draw in 2D, ADT you almost draw in 3D but very difficult to use, and in Revit it is very easy to do work in 3D but sometimes you need to decide what is worth the time to do 3D and what you can just do more quickly in 2D. The power in the workflow comes from things like the details knowing where they are on sheets and the keys renumbering themselves when they get moved and automatic scheduling of anything you want to schedule.

So what about Learning it?
Basic Commercial buildings are easier to learn on then Basic Residential buildings but it is all fairly easy to learn either way. Revit was designed for Architects by Architects so the program controls revolve around Architecture and thus makes it much more user friendly. AutoCAD was designed for mostly machine drafting and then for some reason became the basis for most architects.
The problem with the learning curve comes from when you want to add a lot of detail to the interior and exterior elevations. If you try to do this all in 3D you will have to invest a lot of time. When first starting, I would suggest creating your floor plans and schedules dynamically and then using the dynamic elevations as an underlay and draw 2D linework over it. Then turn off the dynamic element and you will have a clean elevation. Once you have a couple projects done then try experimenting more. Make every project better then the one before it and never stop pushing the limit of the program. It seems limitless, so keep pushing until you find that limit and then tell Autodesk if you did find one. I have found things that could be improved but not anything that stops me from getting a great end product.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What's New with Autodesk

What is new with Revit? Unless you work for Autodesk or are a Beta tester in the new release, you won't know until it is released. One thing we do know is that you will see a new name on the box when it is delivered.

Revit Building 9.1 will now be Revit Architecture 2008
Revit Structure 4 will now be Revit Structure 2oo8
Revit Systems will now be Revit MEP 2008

Ohh... I almost forgot my pre-Revit software
Architectural Desktop will now be AutoCAD Architecture 2008
I think this is fitting since the product is just basically AutoCAD with a couple other features.

Along with this name change are some changes to the Autodesk website. HOK seems to have a lot of exposure on the Autodesk Website and other sites relating to Autodesk. Anyone know what the connection is?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Phases of Revit

I did not create this list but I have always thought it was a great explination of how you feel as you start experiencing Revit. This list was created by Christopher Zoog, who also has a Revit Blog. This list is timeless and will probably always relate to the latest release.

Recently, my boss has started using Revit since we only have one project left in AutoCAD and it has been interesting to watch him go through these phases. Although, he does have the benefit of asking me questions as he learns the program which I did not have the luxury of. Therefore, my Phase two was much more painful than his has been. I do believe that if you have never used CAD, Revit would be more easy to learn than AutoCAD or ADT. If you do have a background in AutoCAD you can find that it is difficult becuase you can not use the same commands in Revit. I bet you AutoCAD users can agree that you also use the escape key in every program when you make a mistake, I know I used to. Revit works different from AutoCAD or ADT. If you can step away from the ways that you used to do things, learning Revit will be simple (for the most part).


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 Middle
mmm... things are going more smoothly, now......mmmmm"

Phase Four - WTF stage
The 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 Revit
You 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.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Manufacturer Families - Part 2

After thinking more about my last post on this subject, I have come to the realization that Autodesk will probably never create content based on manufacturers. There would be many legal issues and ramifications with them creating these. This could stem from many aspects: incorrectly sized object creates a cost impact in the field, wrong part number brings the wrong item to the field, and the big thing is how does Autodesk pick the manufacturers. They could really alienate themself from companies if they chose one over another to create content from. Why should they worry about this even though it is the largest hurdle that a new user finds with Revit? The family editor is definately the hardest aspect of learning Revit. You need to understand what the best type of family you want to create to get the best end result, know what aspects should be locked and what ones are dynamic, what information you want to schedule, referance planes, visibility settings, add enough detail but not too much also, and they just take a lot of time to make correctly which is never in the budget. If you really master the Family Editor then you have pretty much mastered Revit and you can do anything.

With that said, we are left on trusting how others create content and then downloading from a variety of sites or just creating our own. My goal by the end of this year is to create or download a lot of content so that we can work more efficiently in our office. Here is a list of what I need more of..... What would you like to see? Throughout the year I will upload some of my good families to Revit to pay back the Revit Community for the many downloads that I have used in the past year and a half. It would be great to hear what you think would be beneficial to have more of.

1. Doors - Variety of interior and exterior with different panel options, glass options, and an adjustable swing. Also, I need these in single, double, bi-fold, and pocket. The other item not really well covered is garage doors. I have a lot of manufactures in mind for the door category but it really matters what you are working on.

2. Windows - Where do I start with this.
For our residential projects it would be great to have Double Hung (regular, cottage style, half-round, and archtop), casements, awning, and transom units. It would be great to have these with different grille patterns but it would be best if you could at least turn on or off the bottom grilles or both the top and bottom grills since not every project uses them. Manufactures for this would at least be: Andersen, Marvin, Pella, Duratherm & Jeld-Wen.
For our commercial work it would be really great to have some content from EFCO, Kawneer, and Vistawall. This includes regular aluminum windows, storefront, and curtainwall.

3. Plumbing - This is an important category since it really does affect layouts in bathrooms but it would also be great to be able to schedule. Some key companies could be: Toto, Elkay, Kohler & American Standard.

4. Elevators/Lifts - Not as important since you have many variables to consider before having a set size and manufacturer but some standard sizes would be great.

5. Fireplaces - There are a few of these around but I think this category could always be expanded with some more parametric models. Also, chimney caps are really important but hard to find.

6. Architectural Woodwork - Stairs, Railing, Ballusters, Generic Cabinets, and more trim profiles.

7. Site - Bicycle Racks, Site Benches, and Planters

8. Toilet Compartments & Accessories - Don't really know who I would use as a manufacturer for toilet compartments but I would probably use bobric for the accessories.

9. Lighting - Too many manufactures to list. I started recently with taking the Iris line from Cooper Lighting and creating downlight and downlight accent fixtures. They started out simple but at least they look good on the schedule. This is a category that I will focus a lot of time on.

What do you think about the list? What do you think is important, what is not, and what would you add? It was really great for me to think this through but other input is always great.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Seasons Greetings

While this has almost nothing to do with Revit, I thought I would show it anyway. We have had fun showcasing our first Revit home (currently under construction) and this holiday card showcases the house and some other projects. I used Illustrator to create the sketchy illustration on the front of the card. While this is a little late, I hope everyone had a happy holiday.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Manufacturer Families

Why is it so hard to find manufacturer based family content? There doesn't seem to be anything out there. Sure, we have the Andersen Windows that we can download from autodesk and you can find Pella Windows and some other things at RevitCity. Where is everything else??? We can not be expected to create architecture and then all of the furniture and fixtures that go into it. The biggest problem that I come across is that the standard families that you can use are not realistic sizes and/or do not work correctly.

There should be someone at autodesk who only creates family content. Getting over the learning/concept of the Family Editor was not as painful as how many families I download and then need to fix because they forgot to lock something to a reference plane or you try to make something a little smaller or bigger and the family freaks out. Even the out-of-the box content has this problem.

How much would you pay to download good clean families that would make your job easier? I know I would pay (or make my boss pay) A LOT!!!

Manufacturers... people would spec your product just because we can insert a family of that product and have it automatically scheduled. Easier for us... more sales for you.

Sorry... Had to get that off my chest.

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