Lessons Learned

Never again…

When it comes to Revit, theories on workflow and implementation change on what seems to be a weekly and sometimes daily basis depending how deep into the rabbit hole you are. One such implementation strategy that I’ve long held to is teach the people how to detail first. This covers all flavors of sin in Revit including the use of Lineworks Tool, Cut Profile and Masking Regions… let’s start with that one: Masking Regions.

I swear I will never, EVER, tach someone to use Masking Region tool ever again! I’m just so tired of spending hours modeling a portion of a building, only to have an elevation or detail of that model “fixed” at the last minute with a Masking Region instead of just coordinating and saying “hey we need it this way now.” I have officially worked on too many projects where this happens and we end up with a different model than detail.

Who cares about the model right? Wake up people! AIA contract wording is changing! The model is a viable deliverable method these days. If you want to generate those RFIs, go right ahead and keep doing it this way. If you want your details to read differently than the Model of the Building that contains all the Information, then I suggest you consider a program called MS Paint; it has line tools and and text. On the other hand, if you think that the view you are using to document the model should actually reflect what the model has to say about your project, and you’re still using Masking Regions (or heavens forbid an Opaque White Filled Region) to modify your views, I would highly suggest you seriously look at the Revit User’s Manual in regards to detail tools and sit down and really figure out how to get the model to look that way (some TotDs will be coming up on this, hopefully sooner than later!)

Till then,

Leaving it all on the Field

One of the goals I have for this blog is to gear it more towards general Architectural Design related conversation.  I have a passion for design, which is why I use Revit :P.  Another passion of mine is sports, not following them… no I don’t typically follow, I participate.  Recently I’ve found myself able to renew my passion in Fütball… yes that’s right, you call it Soccer because us Americans already had a sport designated as Football (which oddly enough has as much to do with feet as Squash has to do with the fruit…).

Currently I’m sitting here with an ice pack around my right quad, fingers shaking from exhaustion and mind filled with replays of all the plays from the past 2 hours of play.  I walked away from the field (we’ll leave the score out of it) bruised, sore and tired, but not defeated despite the loss.  Why?  How?  I’m banged up, feel older than my age (let’s face it, you can’t just jump back into a full speed round of soccer after 8 years away) and to boot we lost!  I would feel much worse if I was able to jog back to my car after the round.  That would mean I still had a lot left in me that I didn’t put forward during the match.  I did myself and my team a favor by walking away from the field exhausted.

What does this have to do with Architecture?  You started this post with this big to-do about how you wanted to gear it towards design!  Yeah, well how do you leave it all on the playing field in design?  It’s not like you can sprint around the office (ok so maybe you can if you’re an office linebacker (language)) and even if you could how would it help the team or your bottom line?  Well, here are some aspects of my soccer games that I feel attribute to those good feelings post game as I sit sore, broken and exhausted on the couch with a cold pack wrapped around my quad:

  • Selflessness – The first key is your desire to give it your all.  Everyone is capable of giving it all, but that means nothing if you don’t want to.  If you don’t want to you may want to begin considering another job or even career (just saying).  Wanting to give it your all on the field means you respect your team, you respect your sponsors (clients?) and most importantly you respect yourself (or you get paid a lot to do it…).  This doesn’t mean just giving in and sacrificing your personal goals for the team.  Weigh the options, think on the outcomes and if you’re confident that you can make a difference then by all means let your skills shine.
  • Passion – This ties in with Selflessness.  If you’re passionate about what you’re doing you’re going to be more willing to do everything it takes to complete your role in the game.  In design passion is noticeable in the final product.  You and your team may have done everything you can to win the match, but even if you win players without passion can be spotted a mile away.
  • Delegation – Don’t be afraid to tell anyone how it should be done from your point of view.  You’re in your role because someone thought you would be best for that role.  This means you DO have SOME weight in telling people to help you out.  Telling someone to do something doesn’t make you a jerk.  Just be sure you can justify your request 🙂
  • Pushing your Limits – If you have the passion, you won’t mind a little challenge.  Don’t give all your work away, but use the commission as a good reason to take your game to the next challenge!  We don’t get practice days in design, especially in today’s economy, so you have to use projects to try new things, step up to your line and look across. See something that fits the scenario? Take it and run with it.  It may end up at the feet of the other team.  Hoeve, if you don’t try it you’ll never know if it ends up as a hat trick.
  • Focus – Mental discipline is an end-game training that all serious athletes obtain.  If you’re at the end of that design job and you are blinded by the light at the end of the tunnel, stay focused on the task at hand and meet the deliverable.
  • Communication – Enough said.  Today’s technology has made this harder than ever (yes I said it…).  Set up a system that works for you and TALK TO YOUR TEAM.  Don’t get caught up in “Did you check your email?  Did you check your voicemail?”  Don’t call an audible in the middle of the game unless you really need a change in pace to make it through successfully.  Even you guys and gals at the bottom of the totem pole need to communicate, probably even more than your supervisors.  Someone seems frustrated at how much you communicate?  Don’t blame it on them, they probably never played sports before.

So there it is.  It turned out longer than I wanted it to be but these are the elements that I feel secure my personal success despite the outcome of a game.  I hope I made an understandable translation into the design realm and hopefully you can apply this to some aspect of your career!  Feel free to comment and give feedback.  Best of luck to you all!


Double Standards

I’ve run across a lot of nasty and usually false remarks about the abilities and downfalls of Revit and those of us that use Revit. Usually these remarks are made by AutoCAD diehards that can’t, or don’t want to, understand how to use Revit. What gets me is how they hold such a high level of double standards when comparing both software. The best example of this literally happened 10 minutes ago:

A coworker came up to me and asked me if the doors in Revit had frames. Knowing the full answer is a simple yes, I opted to ask why he wants to show the frames and why the openings that are provided in plan do not work. The response was a for instance; let’s say that you want to dimension to the end of the frame for ADA compliance. The plan now shows that the wall terminates 1′ from the face of the wall. The concern is that some contractor will take the wall out 1′ from the face of the perpendicular wall before placing the door, as opposed to having the swing line start at 1’0 from the face of wall. Reasonable explanation. However, I pointed out that the dimension clearly shows to the swing line of the door as it exists from Revit. This is where the story really begins. He explained that in Autocad he drew all the lines on all the doors in plan to show how the wall terminated into the door frame. I then explained that the reason that the door frames do not show in Revit is because people complained about putting too much information in a model, causing performance issues, and then asked him why it’s ok for AutoCAD drawings to contain every little detail but not Revit drawings. He quickly defended the fact that he is the kind of person that wants as much information in a drawings at all times, yada yada..

I was able to explain to him that we can show door frames, but I woul dneed to modify the door family to include that information.

I don’t understand why people have such a hard time letting go of what they know to learn something that may help them out. Revit is not a threat to your profession, it’s a tool meant to help increase productivity and remove the drawing from the equation to allow for more time to design, and even allow more time to design while producing drawings (I just made a design option for a bar setup that may be changing in the CDs… we’re at 90%. I didn’t have to make a new file or set up more layers that may or may not get accidentally printed. Literally took 5 minutes).

BTW, the REAL reason the door frames are not shown in plan is because the same door type may have multiple frame conditions throughout the project. This can be simply covered by having multiple shared frame Families available in the door family for the user to choose from. Probably as an instance parameter would be best.


Bòrked Wall Profiles

I have noticed in a lot of projects I end up cleaning, that people tend to misuse wall profiles. What I end up running across most commonly is a wall that may have needed to be profiled at one point, but is no longer profiled, or a wall that has had the profile sketch moved from the reference lines of the wall (image coming up shortly).

Like everything else in revit, profiles do require a little bit of planning and should not just be the result of rushing into the Edit Profile tool because you need the wall to act differently. Some things to keep in mind when you need to edit the profile of a wall:

  • When someone drags the wall ends, should the length change?
  • Is this a fixed shape that is completely unconstrained from the original wall profile?
  • Does the wall height need to be controllable from the wall property dialogue?
  • Does the wall need to join cleanly with other walls around it?

Let’s take one specific case as an example. I have a wall that is not joining properly where a profile sketch has been applied to a wall.

Obviously this won't work on an exterior wall... let's fix it!

The first thing we note is that when we select the wall on top, it shows that the profile edge of the wall and the reference edge of the wall do not match. While this does not necessarily mean that something is wrong, it was my first clue as to what the culprit was. This is the shape the wall was in when I encountered it.

These arrows show where the wall reference (dashed green)  is versus where the wall profile is (red stops)

These arrows show where the wall reference (dashed green) is versus where the wall profile is (red stops)

When we edit the profile of this wall, we see what the issue is. None of the sketch lines are locked to the reference lines of the original wall shape. This means that Revit really has no clue what to do with the wall edge now, so it just leaves it alone without connecting to anything.

So now what? Well, we want to preserve our original profile lines, because those are correct, but we want to retain the locks to the reference lines so that Revit can handle wall joins properly. So to start off, we need to copy the profile sketch lines. So we select the wall and go into profile sketch mode by selecting “Edit Profile.” By selecting one of the lines, you can see that they are not locked to the reference plane on the right, which is the plane that indicates the side of the wall forming the join we are looking at. Go ahead and select all of the sketch lines (favorite tool! Hover over a line and hit tab once to select the entire loop of lines!) and copy them to clipboard (Ctrl+C).

Select the profile Lines and Ctrl+C

Select the profile Lines and Ctrl+C

We need to remove the sketch from the wall now, but before you do that you want to make sure that the constraints of the wall are such that you will not lose any inserts or conflict with too many other walls. Once you have checked this, go ahead and select the wall again, and remove the profile sketch by clicking “Remove Profile” in the options bar.

After we remove the sketch profile, you see what the original wall looked like.

After we remove the sketch profile, you see what the original wall looked like.

The wall from a 3D view.  You can see where we're missing some wall!

The wall from a 3D view. You can see where we're missing some wall!

Now we want to add the original profile shape back to the wall. Select the wall one more time, ente rsketch mode by clicking “Edit Profile.” Before we continue, select one of the profile lines here. Notice that not only are the lines on top of the reference lines for the wall, but they are locked. This mean that when the constraints (top, bottom, or length) of the wall change, these lines move with those reference planes. We want to preserve these locks in order for Revit to properly join the walls.

These are the locks that were missing before.

These are the locks that were missing before.

Go ahead and paste (Ctrl-V) the lines back into the sketch.


Move the lines that are different from the original lines into place. I usually pick a common point to anchor from, in this case, the bottom left corner of both loops are in the same place, so I start my copy from that point, and end the copy on that same point on the new loop (the video shows this much better). Be sure you disjoin the lines so that the original loop doesn’t stretch!

Be sure to disjoin the lines so they don't bring the endpoints of connected walls.

Be sure to disjoin the lines so they don't bring the endpoints of connected walls.

Remove the remainder of the lines you pasted in and finish the sketch!

That's much better!

That's much better!

Congrats! That wasn’t so tough was it?

Here is a video of this procedure:
Hope you found this helpful!

Linked Model Multitasker

Ever found yourself working on a model with models linked in and you need to make some modifications to the linked model?  You go to open the linked model and you get that annoying message that tells you the model is open already and will be unloaded from the other model if you continue.  This is the point at which new revit users mumble under their breath “This wouldn’t be a problem if we were using AutoCAD.”

Fear not, here’s a simple little tip that should ease the burden of making quick changes to linked models.


You sure you won’t be mad when you see the simplicity of this little tip?

OK, here goes:  Open another instance of revit, load the revit model that you want to make the change to… wait… waaait… and there you go!  You now have both models open at the same time without unloading one model from the other in order to work on it.  Now to update changes, you simply need to save the model, then reload it in the other model through the Manage Links tool.

Happy Reviteering!

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