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Monday, May 31, 2010

Engineering the Future in Autodesk Revit MEP 2011 — A Review | Construction Industry News | Reed Construction Data [Software]

Well, it's that time in your life where you start demanding, yes demanding, that your engineers start migrated to Revit MEP. Read the article below and you can see that Revit MEP is finally ready for prime time. No more excuses of how it doesn't do this or that. One of my MEP clients, Ross & Baruzzini, told me two years ago that they could have waited until Revit MEP was perfect before they started using it, but they wanted to stay ahead of the curve and now they're so much further ahead of their competition. They even created their own Revit blog, http://revit.rossbar.com touting their success with Revit MEP.

As John Stebbins says, it's "C0-Labor-ation." Collaborate, reduce clashes, increase cash, and from your GC, receive no more bashes. It's not about the lines, hatches and dashes. Ok. this poem's over so no more teeth gnashes.

Repost: http://www.reedconstructiondata.com/news/2010/05/engineering-the-future-in-revit-mep-2011-a-review/?nid=4791
If you haven't had a chance to look at the recently released Autodesk Revit MEP 2011, then it's time to take a look. Without sounding like a cheerleader, this release is a major step in the right direction! Since the release on April 16th, I have had the program open almost every day, and I am currently designing a fire protection system with the Revit MEP 2011 Software. I have been pleased with the quality of the marketed improvements that Autodesk is touting. However, there are also several improvements, which are kind of behind the scenes improvements, which will make a huge difference to the end user. Let me clarify this by saying, there is still room for improvement, but Autodesk knows what needs to be done, and they are listening to the engineering community. The TME philosophy is to use Revit MEP 2011 for what it can currently do, and not really worry about what the software cannot do.
The area of improvement that is getting the most attention in our office involves electrical panel schedules. Panel schedule sizes and customization was one of our biggest complaints. In just two short weeks, those complaints have almost stopped. Being able to edit, manage and customize a template to your company standard is a very nice improvement and is enabling us to do things in the product that we could not do before.

Autodesk has given us many tools to customize panel schedules in the Set Template Options under the Modify Panel Schedule Template Tab. With all of these options, you should be able to build a panel schedule that is functional, looks good on paper, and is easily understandable to the contractor. Autodesk has also given us the ability to assign spares and spaces, rebalance loads, move circuits easily, and lock the circuits. The best improvement of all is the ability to place the panels on sheets, for consistency and size.

On the Manage tab, Settings panel, you will find Demand factors in the MEP Settings drop down. These demand loads can now be shown on panel schedules, and they are user definable. Since almost every engineer likes to do things his or her own way, the customization should allow for flexibility in electrical design. Demand factors have been asked for by our electrical engineers. Here are the thoughts of one of TME’s electrical engineers, John Blissett. ‘This will enable an electrical designer to monitor the ‘Total Demand Load’ on the panels and switchboards using project appropriate NEC constraints for each category of demand. The result is that ‘Bus Amperage’ for electrical gear can be sized economically without fear of under sizing the equipment. As project changes occur this ‘Total Demand Load’ versus ‘Bus Amps’ can now be easily tracked and quality checked, with any changes in buss amps justified immediately.’

Another key improvement is the ability to manage MEP fixtures that are typically placed by the architect. Autodesk has given us the ability to use MEP fixtures that are placed in a linked architectural model. The fixtures that can be copied and monitored are the lighting fixtures, mechanical equipment, plumbing fixtures, and air terminals. This process will allow the MEP engineer to create a copy of the Architectural fixture in the MEP Model and then monitor them for changes. You can also map these copied fixtures and change them to the smart MEP content by using the Copy/Monitor tool. Additionally, you can then select the Coordination Settings tool and map to whatever type of MEP fixture you need. This will work great for scheduling.

How many times have we forgotten to coordinate conduit and cable trays into our design? We now have the functionality to coordinate realistic conduit and cable trays. Autodesk has given us the option for channel, ladder, solid bottom, trough and wire mesh cable trays along with fittings and connectors. Junction boxes can also be placed with the conduit automatically when assigned in the type properties, and you can connect the conduit to a cable tray. There is also a connect into face feature for conduit placement on electrical equipment like panelboards. The new electrical content in Revit MEP 2011 also came with connectors for the new improvements. This feature should be a tremendous help with coordination issues within our models.

Another key improvement for our firm is the addition of flat oval duct. Flat oval duct had been an important part of the design process at TME, and several of our engineers just cringed at the fact that flat oval was not an original option for Revit MEP. One of our engineers, who has been hesitant to use Revit MEP, commented that he may just have to finally learn the program since flat oval ductwork has been introduced. Having the proper sizing and fittings should also help us tighten up our coordination inside of our models and buildings.
While the above major improvements have been heavily marketed by Autodesk, the following describes some the smaller features that have been added or modified. I feel that these are also huge positives for the software to help us do our day to day work.
Reconcile Hosting under the Collaborate tools, is a nice feature for hosting issues and collaboration with Architectural models. This will allow you to see what hosted elements were orphaned when you inserted a new architectural model. When you right click on the Reconcile hosting dialog box, you are able to select host, which will then let you rehost the element.

Visible in view is a nice new feature. This feature will now allow you to select all instances in a view, rather than using a filter or selecting all instances in the project.

The workset dialog box, being in view at all times is nice to have. Even though we could have it open in our quick access toolbar, it is helpful to have the worksets always in view; especially for a company who promotes the use of worksets for design.

The properties dialog box is now on at all times. At first, I thought it was annoying, but now I love having it visible at all times. I moved the default to my second monitor, and it works great for my particular design style.

Our lead Revit Plumbing Designer is glad to see the place valves and/or fittings in a section/elevation view. This should help ease some of the issues of tricky valve placements, as well as, improve 3D riser schematic detailing.
Tag on placement is another tool, which if used correctly could save hours of time. Being a recovering fire protection designer, now BIM Development Coordinator, I would have loved to have this feature for sizing and tagging the piping I was modeling. Now if we could only tag in 3D!

Last but not least, the speed of our models has dramatically improved. We have seen a tremendous difference in how our models are operating. The models do not seem to have the lag and are responding to commands without hesitation, even on laptops. We converted a 75 mb MEP file to 2011 in about two minute and another 100 mb file in 3 minutes. Autodesk definitely worked on the speed and stability for 2011, and it has shown in our models.
With all of this being said, there are still some key issues that need to be addressed. Piping is a key concern for me and hopefully that part of the program can be addressed soon. Will the release of Revit MEP 2011 make everyone happy with the software? Probably not! Will everyone who reads this review agree with everything that is in this review? Probably not! But one thing that we all should agree on, is Autodesk did take a huge step in the right direction with the release of Autodesk Revit MEP 2011.
Source: Engineering the Future in Autodesk Revit MEP 2011 — A Review | Construction Industry News | Reed Construction Data


New Videos show the power of the Autodesk Robot Structural Analysis Spreadsheet Calculator [Tutorial]

Source: http://bimandbeam.typepad.com/bim_beam/2010/05/new-videos-show-the-power-of-the-autodesk-robot-structural-analysis-spreadsheet-calculator.html

We've published a new video that demonstrates how the Autodesk Robot Structural Analysis Spreadsheet Calculator tool allows users to link new or existing spreadsheets directly and dynamically to Robot Structural Analysis Professional models. Many aspects of the analysis model can be extracted to the spreadsheet including data about sections, member sizes and an array of analysis results - allowing users, for example, to “plug in” their own design code check spreadsheets to real time Robot results.
Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jo6N6XyRZ_M

Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjxVZrapj_

Source: New Videos show the power of the Autodesk Robot Structural Analysis Spreadsheet Calculator:

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The BIM and IPD crossroads [BIM Brillance]

Well, this is officially post number 500 for the year.  Right on schedule for being halfway to 1,000 posts at exactly 6 months into the year.  In honor of this magical point in the blog, I am reposting this from Randy Deutsch in honor of his brilliant writing.  Randy, it's always a competition with you and I'm honored to be your friend and BIM peer.

Randy wrote this a few weeks ago and as soon as I read it, I called him up and told him how mad I was at him.  Why?  For writing something so fantastic that I was mad I didn't think of it first.  We are at that crossroads.  BIM is for grownups, businessmen and those committed to not only the art of architecture, but the business of building.  I wish I could see into the future and know the day, month or year that you all "get it" and become master builders again.  In the meantime, you're either in the CAD traffic jam or on the BIM superhighway. 

...now, enjoy Randy's words of BIM wisdom

Source: http://bimandintegrateddesign.com/2010/05/18/4-way-bim-primal-ipd/

When we come one by one to the quadrille at the four-way corner, we are who we are at our best, bowing, nodding, and moving on.
Verlyn Klinkenborg
After you. No, please, after you.
Have you ever approached a 4-way intersection at precisely the same time as another driver and played that game of Who Goes First?
That’s precisely what happened the other day at a crossroads just outside of Chicago.
As will sometimes happen, an Architect, Engineer, Contractor and Owner pulled-up in separate vehicles to a 4-Way intersection.
It doesn’t matter what they were driving.
The Architect drove a Porsche 911.
But what they were driving doesn’t matter to the outcome of the story.
The Engineer in a pre-Ford Volvo, the Contractor was in a Ford pick-up and the Owner in a 700 series BMW.
So, as the architect’s custom-painted lobster red 2-door sports coupe Carrera revved its engine…
But it really, really doesn’t matter what they were driving.
Or that the owner picked-up his Beamer in ‘09 for $46,500. [Lucky bastard.]
What matters for this story is that, as would have it, they all arrived at the intersection at precisely the same moment.
And somehow had to come to an agreement on how they would proceed.
Fortunately, all four were present at the intersection – for while three were otherwise engaged with their iPods, two were texting and one was on their cell – they could all nonetheless see each other’s gestures, eyes and facial expressions.
Rules of the Road
Now, the default rule to establish the right of way at intersections – where you defer to the person on the right – doesn’t apply here since they were all right of each other.
The “person on the right goes first” rule would result in everyone moving forward at once. No good.
Normally, whichever vehicle first stops at the stop line has priority.
Rules of the road would tell you that if two vehicles stop at the same time, priority is given to the vehicle on the right.
If three vehicles stop at the same time, priority is given to the two vehicles going in opposite directions.
What about when 4 vehicles come to a stop at the same moment?
This is the really amazing thing.
You ready?
If four vehicles stop, drivers use gestures and other communication to establish right-of-way.
That’s it.
There is no way around it.
Gestures and communication.
Given all of the advanced technology available to us today – the fact that our vehicles are really just giant computer chips on wheels – the only way four people in modern civilization can proceed to move forward from such a situation is to…talk.
To each other.
Ideally, openly. Transparently.
And gesture. Communicating however one can manage.
For this is the new rule of the road:
You’ve got to go primal to proceed.
BIG IPD little ipd
In the past, the A, E and C would have deferred to the Owner to lurch forward into the intersection – to go first.
But that was before everything changed.
For today it sometimes feels like if you were to wait for the Owner to make the first move you might be sitting there, at the intersection, for a long while.
A long, long while.
And so others at the intersection – and this junction in time – are taking matters into their own hands.
They’re finding workarounds.
They’re finding ways to gesture themselves forward even if all the legal and contractual ramifications aren’t all hammered out.
For all four to proceed, it doesn’t matter who goes first, so long as someone does.
That someone has got to make the first gesture.
It’s all about leadership.
Primal leadership.
Move – do something – while keeping everyone informed, and the others will follow.
Call it little ipd.
In IPD, all 4 (AECO – count ‘em) arriving at the table day one of an Integrated Design project are all equals.
At the start – before the contracts are drafted and signed – in order to proceed, in order to move forward, they must defer to their higher selves. Their humanity.
While it is easy for the foursome to get caught up in legal language and a focus on contracts, it is best to think of the arrangement at first as a social contract rather than a strictly legal one, whereby each team member desires to maintain order and so subjects themselves to a higher order – or higher law – in order to maintain this order.
Before the team grows beyond its initial core, and everything gets all complicated, there’s a magical moment at the start of every project when the team members defer to simple etiquette.
Social etiquette.
The Four-Way Team
After the last post was inspired by a Neil Young song, it is only natural that this one references a Crosby Stills Nash and Young live album: 4-Way Street.
CSNY, a quartet, with their 4-part harmony. Working together, acknowledging the other players in the band.
CSNY, the first true folk-rock super-group formed by four guitar-playing singer-songwriters from other popular bands.
[David Crosby came from The Byrds; Stephen Stills and Neil Young came from Buffalo Springfield; and Graham Nash was a member of British pop band The Hollies.]
Much like the mix and match make-up of an Integrated Design team where it is more important that team members have BIM experience than the loyalty of a longstanding relationship.
And like OAC, they were originally a threesome: CSN.
AECO, where a quartet is more harmonious than an OAC trio, and the architect and engineer are distinguished and independent of one another.
For, when we come one by one to the quadrille at the four-way corner, we are who we are at our best, bowing, nodding, and moving on.
Here I’ll repost in its entirety After You, a short essay from the New York Times and the source of this last quote, by our very own 21st century Emerson/Thoreau, Verlyn Klinkenborg.
Recently, I have been considering the four-way stop. It is, I think, the most successful unit of government in the State of California. It may be the perfect model of participatory democracy, the ideal fusion of “first come, first served” and the golden rule. There are four-way stops elsewhere in the country. But they are ubiquitous in California, and they bring out a civility — let me call it a surprising civility — in drivers here in a state where so much has recently gone so wrong.
What a four-way stop expresses is the equality of the drivers who meet there. It doesn’t matter what you drive. For it to work, no deference is required, no self-denial. Precedence is all that matters, like a water right in Wyoming. Except that at a four-way stop on the streets of Rancho Cucamonga everyone gets to take a turn being first.
There are moments when two cars — even four — arrive almost simultaneously. At times like that, I find myself lengthening my own braking, easing into the stop in order to give an unambiguous signal to the other driver, as if to say, “After you.” Is this because I’m from the East where four-way stops are not so common? Or do most California drivers do this, too? I don’t know. What I do know is that I almost never see two cars lurching into the middle of the intersection as if both were determined to assert their right of way.
I find myself strangely reassured each time I pass through a four-way stop. A social contract is renewed, and I pull away feeling better about my fellow humans, which some days, believe me, can take some doing. We arrive as strangers and leave as strangers. But somewhere between stopping and going, we must acknowledge each other. California is full of drivers everywhere acknowledging each other by winks and less-friendly gestures, by glances in the mirrors, as they catapult down the freeways. But at a four-way stop, there is an almost Junior League politeness about it.
And when the stoplights go out at the big intersections, as they do sometimes, everyone reverts to the etiquette of the four-way stop as if to a bastion of civilization. But there are limits to this power. We can only gauge precedence within a certain distance and among a very small number of cars. Too many, and self-policing soon begins to break down. But when we come one by one to the quadrille at the four-way corner, we are who we are at our best, bowing, nodding, and moving on. Read more...

Cycling Through Revit Shortcuts [Tips]

How ironic.  I go and post an article about taking shortcuts with your clients, and Edwin posts an article about Revit shortcuts. I always give Ediwn at Cad-Notes a hard time about not letting go of CAD, but he's got some great posts on Revit, so we'll ignore his dark (screen) side.

Source:  http://cad-notes.com/2010/05/cycling-through-revit-shortcuts

I found something interesting when exploring my shortcuts in Revit today. It is something basic, but I missed it until today. Probably it will be useful for you.
Revit has shortcuts too. If you place your pointer above a tool icon, the tool tip will show you the shortcut. If any. The wall tool shortcut is WA (see characters in the bracket).
Revit shortcut on tooltip 300x138 Cycling Through Revit Shortcuts
You can also see the complete list of modify it in shortcuts.txt. In Revit 2011, you can also see it in a dialog box (see keyboard shortcuts section in this post).
However, they are still not easy to remember. And sometimes the tools are not even available in Revit ribbon. For example: overriding snaps.
The good thing about Revit shortcuts is you can cycle through them. If you remember the first character, simply press it. Then press arrow key (up down or left right) to cycle between available shortcuts. See the shortcuts cycling in your status bar.
When you find the shortcut, press [enter] to activate it.

Get Adobe Flash player

This is useful because we can also guess what is the first character. For example walls and windows will start with W. Door with D, and snap with S!

Source: Cycling Through Revit Shortcuts

Rebirth of the Master Architect [BIM][IPD][BIM Process]

Thanks to Randy for finding this one.  Well, I couldn't have said it better myself.  How many more articles do we need at this point extolling the virtues of the BIM process over the CAD process.

Let's talk about the use of shortcuts in the software you use.  No, not keyboard shortcuts, but the shortcuts of trying to get away with "Design Intent".  Do you know what that means?  It's telling your client "I intended to design something, but decided to draw two lines offset x distance from each other in the hopes that the contractor would figure it out.".  The clock is ticking on the CAD process users.  The stupid thing is that it's CAD Calligraphy.  How can you say that you can design a building faster by drawing a bunch of lines on a computer screen.

Read below for more insight.  The worst part is, that by the time you realize you made a mistake, should have gotten into BIM sooner, there will be no way to catch up and learn the BIM process.  All of the resellers will be busy training contractors and sure, maybe you can teach yourself how to do the basics in Revit, but you certainly can't teach yourself the new workflow and how to collaborate with others.  Did you really think you could use the same software for 28 years and no one would notice that technology has left you in the dust (mechanical pencil dust).


ArchiCAD-Talk :: View topic - Revit 2011 & Autocad 2011 [BIM software]

I just love reading the Archicad forums.  I've even started posting there a little bit to stir things up.  As if I have enough time to keep up with the Autodesk side of things, it's crazy to monitor the Archicad sadness.

Here's an interesting blurb that someone wrote on their forum in comparing our BIM and their BIM products.
In case any of you are considering threatening your reseller with "going to another software vendor", don't even bother with that one until you thoroughly read the Archicad forums.  It's a dark and depressing place since they don't get the software development that Autodesk customers do.

Source: http://archicad-talk.graphisoft.com/viewtopic.php?t=31832&postdays=0&postorder=asc&&start=30

I think both Revit and Archicad has their own strength..I am also have tried both Revit and Archicad well, but here I want to give you to know the strength of Parametric Change Engine in Revit that works live and full bi-directional associativity..
There is some amount of confusion regarding full bi-directional associativity and it may be useful to spell out what it means. I don't really want to focus on the "my software is better than yours" aspect but would rather describe the meaning of terms "live" and "bi-directional associativity". Any product making claims to support bi-directional associativity has to be able to support examples of parametric and associative changes listed below.

Many existing products have some ability to update elements of a design when other elements change. However with an exception of Revit in many cases such updates are not automatic. Every case when a user has to take an explicit action to do an update creates a possibility of error and uncoordinated design documents. It also necessitates additional work by an end user. We also should not confuse the ability to display or edit a single underlying data model in multiple views with full parametric associativity between various elements of design.

There are 3 main classes of elements in any building design
(A) Building components (walls, roofs, doors, windows, floors, etc.)
(B) Views including schedules and sheets
(C) Annotations (text notes, dimensions, spot elevations, etc.)

I do not want to diminish benefits of other products, they are quite good at what they do.
On the other hand Revit is the only product on the market today which was engineered from the ground up to provide full bi-directional associativity between all 3 main classes of elements.

Below are the examples of this associativity and corresponding parametric change propagation from elements of class to another.

Building components to building components
a. Move one wall and connected adjacent walls adjust to become longer or shorter
b. Move walls and a floor adjusts to cover area enclosed by walls
c. Raise/lower a roof and attached walls grow or shrink
d. Thicken a wall and door frames adjust to new thickness
e. Raise a level and all elements placed of this level will follow.

Building components to views
a. Change to a building component is automatically reflected in all graphical views without additional user actions
b. Move walls and room schedule updates room areas
c. Add or remove building components or change parameters of existing elements and schedules update automatically

Building components to annotations
a. Change geometry and dimension value updates
b. Move things higher or lower and spot elevation reflects new heights
c. Move walls and room tags update displayed area values
c. Changes to properties of wall, windows, doors, etc. are automatically reflected in their tags

Views to building components
a. Any graphical view (plan, elevation, section, callout) may be used to effect a change to building component
b. Changes to building components may be made by editing their parameters in schedules
c. Changes to view phase or level of detail automatically reflected in display of all building components shown by this view

Views to other views
a. Move section or detail view backward or forward and callouts move with their parent section
b. View and drawing schedules (view/drawing lists) may be used to change properties of other views and drawing

Views to annotations
a. Change view scale and all dimensions, text notes, etc. adjust to maintain their sizes on printed output
b. Place a view on a drawing sheet and view tags update to reflect sheet number
c. Change view scale and scale tag in view title on sheet updates

Annotations to building components
a. Change dimension value and building component changes accordingly
b. Changes to property values shown by tags automatically propagate to building components
c. Change elevation value displayed by level tag and level moves up or down
d. Impose dimension equality constraint or lock dimension value and building components behave accordingly

Annotations to views
a. Flip direction of section view tag and view forward direction flips.

Annotations to annotations
a. Change sheet number in a titleblock and the change will propagate through drawing to views placed on this drawing and then to their view tags (section and callout heads).

All these examples are made possible in Revit not only because it has a patent pending Parametric Change Engine (PCE) in the middle of its software architecture but also because all Revit's elements are implemented with parametric change in mind. There are countless other examples made possible by the PCE and the unifying notion of associativity between all 3 kinds of design elements.

Unless a product is implemented from the ground up with a PCE type of architecture its implementation may exhibit some examples of associativity but its change propagation capabilities are bound to be limited.

ArchiCAD-Talk :: View topic - Revit 2011 & Autocad 2011

Saturday, May 29, 2010

REVIT Structure 2011 Temporary Dimensions [Tutorial]

Yet another great tutorial from Revit Rocks. .

REVIT Structure (and Arch. , MEP) have a couple welcomed new features in the area of 'Temporary Dimensions'.

1. You can now adjust the size of the text of a temporary dimension (without tweeking the revit.ini file) and specify whether the background is transparent or opaque. Much better !

2. (this is a big one) REVIT now remembers if you relocate the witness line of a temporary dimension. Even if you save the project and open it later. HUGE YEAH !!

Below is the CADclip


Custom Elevation Markers - Revit [Tutorial]

Source: http://revitjourneyman.blogspot.com/2010/05/custom-elevation-markers.html.

New to Revit 2011 is the ability to create and use custom elevation markers. There are still a few things that I need to get used to with these things but below is an example of the marker that I am now using in my template file.

To create this elevation marker I started off by selecting the new "Elevation Mark Body' family now in the 'Annotations' folder of the 'Imperial Templates' that ship with Revit.

Click here to read the rest of the tutorial: Custom Elevation Markers

Mass Family Work Planes - Revit [Tutorial]

Source: http://revitjourneyman.blogspot.com/2010/05/mass-family-work-planes.html

When working with the New Conceptual Mass tool in Revit, you may find yourself working with non-square shapes.

Click here to read the rest of the post:
Mass Family Work Planes

Friday, May 28, 2010

CADerpiller CAMera - Powered by Revit3D.com

Yes, I know this is now totally absurd, but I thought I'd share it with you anyhow.  Last night I took a picture of the caterpillers that were almost ready for their recession.  I set up my webcam this morning and when I looked at 11am, I was saddened that I completely missed the pupa transformation.

I've decided to share my caterpillars with the world.  Why? Because in a few days, when you randomly log in, you'll see them emerge from the cocoons as butterflies.  What a great way to waste time huh?

If you have no idea what you're looking at, hanging from the top are two green spheres.  No Jesse, those aren't jalapenos, but I dare you to try to eat one.
One comment someone made to me, is that we definitely don't want to use the flatten command here.  That would be bad.

So, we're going with the theme, "The Nature of BIM" and in anywhere from 9 to 14 days from today, Friday, May 28th, we'll see some beautiful new BIMified butterflies ready to fly past all you CADerpillars of the world.


Username Reminder - The Revit Clinic [Tip]

Source: http://revitclinic.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/05/username-reminder.html

By default when a user or new user logs onto a workstation the Revit username is mapped from the Windows login name. For example if your Windows login is UserA, Revit will populate UserA under Options > Username.
The exception to this default behavior is when a user manually changes the name at any point in Revit; once manually changed it is then stored in the Revit.ini file. This allows the user an ability to override this default behavior.
Each user that subsequently logs onto the workstation would be listed as the overriden username in Revit.
For example you change your username to UserB under Revit options. You log off the workstation. UserC logs onto the workstation. Since the username was manually overridden, Revit leaves the username as UserB.
You can reset the behavior back to default by doing the following:
1. Close Revit.
2. Locate the Revit.ini file on the workstation. For 2011 the default location is C:\Program Files\Autodesk\\Program. For 2010 or earlier it is C:\Program Files\\Program.
3. When the username is overridden the following 2 lines are added to the Revit.ini file:

You can search the file for this; the X above designates the specific username.
4. Remove both lines from the Revit.ini and save. When the next user, and subsequent users log onto the workstation Revit will pull the Windows username.

Username Reminder - The Revit Clinic


Overriding Materials for Linked or Imported Files in the Host Revit Project - The Revit Clinic

Source: http://revitclinic.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/05/overriding-materials-for-linked-or-imported-files-in-the-host-revit-project.html

Depending on the file type there are varying options for overriding materials in the host project. I've included a few examples below...

Revit Links

For Revit links, you cannot override the materials in the host project unless you physically update the linked file material. The linked file material definitions and assignments will determine the material appearance in the host project.

If you need to transfer Revit materials between projects use Manage > Transfer Project Standards > Materials.

CAD Imports \ Links

After linking the CAD file you can override materials under Manage > Objects Styles > Imported Objects.

Look for the name of the CAD file and expand to see individual layers. You can remove layers default material assignment if needed by clicking the "..." button > No Material.


Assign the desired Revit materials to the layers and they should appear in the project views.

Google SketchUp® Imports

For most consistent results when importing SketchUp models directly into the project I would recommend the following workflow:

1. Ensure all SketchUp objects are on specific layers.

2. Explode any groups or components prior to saving a copy of the SketchUp file. This will ensure layers inside the groups \ components are assigned properly.

3. Set the SketchUp model to view Color by layer under the Layers window.

4. Save a copy of the file. Then in Revit, Insert > Import CAD > SketchUp Files.

5. Set Colors > Preserve. Set Layers to Specify...

6. Un-check (Default) and Layer0 [unless you have content on layer0]. This will ensure only the necessary layers are included. Click OK.

7. Navigate to Manage > Objects Styles > Imported Objects. Assign Revit materials to the necessary SketchUp layers.


I've included a short video example below [no sound]:

Video Example

For additional information regarding SketchUp files see the Revit Help file here. Note you can also import the file into a family for additional customization.

Overriding Materials for Linked or Imported Files in the Host Revit Project - The Revit Clinic


Disable Add-Ins for Revit 2011 Products - The Revit Clinic

Source: http://revitclinic.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/05/disable-addins-for-revit-2011-products.html

There may be an occasion where you want to test Revit 2011 with add-ins disabled.

By default in Revit 2011 products the Add-Ins components have been moved from the Revit.ini file to a separate location. While you can still utilize the Revit.ini for this release, the default location is now listed below.

If you want to test Revit with all add-ins disabled [or selectively disable add-ins] follow the steps below:

1. Close Revit 2011

2. Locate the following folder:

Windows Vista \ Windows 7 - C:\ProgramData\Autodesk\Revit\Addins\2011
Windows XP - C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Autodesk\REVIT\Addins\2011

3. Temporarily move the add-in files from the folder above to another location.

4. Launch Revit 2011; add-ins will be disabled.

When testing is complete you can move the add-in files back into the original folder.

There are other approaches to disabling add-ins as well. I've included Jeremy Tammik’s The Building Coder blog below, which is an excellent resource for the Revit API:

The Building Coder

One specific post expanding on this issue:

Add-In Manifest and Guidize

Disable Add-Ins for Revit 2011 Products - The Revit Clinic


Thursday, May 27, 2010

The BIM metamorphosis begins

Just like in nature, the transformation from CAD to BIM starts with a long hibernation. For you it was the recession. For my little black, yellow and white lined Monarch caterpillers, it was weeks of munching on milkweed plants.

As they grew fat on all of the plants, many of you had more work than you could handle before the recession. As it in the nature of BIM, now is the time that you must start the conversion to BIM firms, unless you want to crawl slowly forever.

You can argue with me all you want about CAD vs BIM, but you cannot argue with the forces of nature.

To those of you who think this is all corny, well, I have the honor of watching all of this through the eyes of my 2 year old. I don't know of too many things more intriguing than what comes next for the caterpillars. Where the heck do those wings come from?

Next Friday, I have another honor, that of being on a BIM panel for a McGraw-Hill conference in Fort Lauderdale. It's going to be really cool. First we have a presentation from Steve Jones, one of the BIM leaders who runs the McGraw-Hill Construction division. After that, I'm part of the panel that includes an architect, engineer, contractor and subcontractor. The topic will be how we all use BIM and how it makes us all money.

While on a conference call yesterday with Steve, he mentioned the word "Interoperability" in our discussion of BIM and the construction industry. It got me thinking about the current state of things and another new word popped into my BIM brain.

Let me start with the definition. The result of poorly coordinated CAD construction documents and the resulting conflicts, clashes, costs and delays. The word is "Interrupterability". It's all about the interruption of the flow of information, construction and problems relating to not using BIM.

It's ironic that as I write this, Transformers is on TV. Will you transform into a BIMwit? I certainly hope so. Otherwise, why would you bother reading this?

Hopefully, some of you reading this are in South Florida and can attend the conference next Friday from 8:30 to 11:30.  There are some great prize giveaways from the sponsors including 3 days of Navisworks training from my company.

BIM Conference Flyer  


Autodesk Services & Support - Enabling 3GB switch on Windows Vista™ or Windows 7

Published date: 2010-May-27
ID: TS1069947

Applies to: Every product

You want to enable the 3GB switch on the Windows Vista™ or Windows 7 operating systems.

To enable the 3GB switch on Windows Vista™ or Windows 7:

  1. Right-click Command Prompt in the Accessories program group of the Start menu. Click Run as Administrator.
  2. At the command prompt, enter "bcdedit /set IncreaseUserVa 3072"
  3. Restart the computer.

To disable the 3GB switch:

  1. Right-click on Command Prompt in the Accessories program group of the Start menu. Click Run as Administrator.
  2. At the command prompt, enter "bcdedit /deletevalue IncreaseUserVa"
  3. Restart the computer.

For more information on the 3GB switch, refer to the following Microsoft MSDN article:


Autodesk - AutoCAD Services & Support - Enabling 3GB switch on Windows Vista™ or Windows 7

Who ordered the BIM Mac with CAD?

I don't know how I feel about this...well I do...I think Autodesk should be investing in Revit for the Mac. Why not invest in a future technology, rather than a 28 year old technology. Oh what fun the mixed messaging must do for you. I wish someone would make up their mind. Yes, there are plenty of industries who used CAD for 2D detailing, but do any of them use a Mac? I doubt it. Find me a CNC machine that works with a Mac.

F... it. Get me Revit on my iPad. Give me Navisworks, Design Review and let's use the GPS tracking from an iPad that can show me inside a room while inside the room on the iPad. Come on Autodesk...we have Parallels and Bootcamp. Is this really necessary? Of course this is my own personal opinion and has nothing to do with any professional association I may have with any company. Feel free to chime in.

Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-pDf4nFzbw&feature=player_embedded

PrintConductor Prints Documents in Batches Without Opening Them

OK. Some of the comments about my blog post about Design Review vs PDF got some strong reactions. One note, Adobe Acrobat Reader doesn't come preinstalled on computers. You have to download and install it. The comment about computers being locked down is kind of BS. If Acrobat had to be installed, then Design Review can be just as easily installed.

STOP MAKING EXCUSES FOR EVERYTHING. Have some backbone and tell your clients that this is better and use it. If you want, I'll make a 5 minute video tutorial (and I'm sure there are plenty already out there) for your clients to use.

Again, it's about the information within the model, drawings and files. Why do you insist on dumbing it down to PDFs? For those of you who refuse to change, below is a program to at least make it easier for you to make PDFs. See, I'm not unreasonable.

Source: http://lifehacker.com/5549041/printconductor

PrintConductor Prints Documents in Batches  Without Opening ThemWindows: Got a host of PDFs, Office documents, or, heck, AutoCad documents to print out? Load them into PrintConductor, and you can batch print them without opening the apps they came from. Better still, you can print them all to PDF.

PrintConductor doesn't require much more explanation. You can team it with the Universal Document Converter print driver to batch-process all your documents into PDFs, but you can also use your own virtual printer driver, like doPDF. If you're planning to print the same batch of documents more than once, you can save your queues to a file for later loading.

PrintConductor is a free download for Windows systems only. Already have a batch PDF conversion process you prefer? Share it with your fellow document shufflers in the comments.

PrintConductor Prints Documents in Batches Without Opening Them

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

IES » » Re-weighting of Energy Model for LEED-CS

Source: http://blog.iesve.com/index.php/2010/05/26/re-weighting-of-energy-model-for-leed-cs/

Finally, it has arrived! The long awaited redistribution of points for Core & Shell projects pursuing EAc1 was issued. The USGBC finally acknowledges that “energy neutral” does not benefit projects under the LEED-CS v2.0 rating system.

The tenant’s components in the energy model, such as lighting and plug loads, is kept the same in both the proposed and baseline building. This “dilutes any energy cost savings percentage the developer is able to attain by at least 40% to 60%.” The developer could only push the envelope so much. Really, the only option for achieving points under EAc1 was if the developer mandated specific energy usage thresholds through a tenant sales/ lease agreement. Even in good markets, you rarely see a developer willing to restrict future prospective tenants.

Now, projects registered prior to April 24, 2009 can use a new Excel spreadsheet tool that provides the updated reporting methodology and is now a submittal requirement for LEED-CS v2.0 EAc1. Trying it out, it looks like a project can easily achieve, if not too easily, all the energy credits under EAc1 and is no longer penalized. For more information visit “LEED Resources & Tools” for LEED-CS v2.0 at www.usgbc.org.

IES » » Re-weighting of Energy Model for LEED-CS


REVIT Rocks ! - REVIT 3D Section Views [Tutorial]

More video goodness from Daryl at Revit Rocks...
Daryl, great title to the post. Love it when you mention Revit 3D in any context.


I like to take advantage of ALL of REVITs wonderful benifits . . . . . and here's another.
Watch the CADclip below to see how you can instantly turn a regular section view into a 3d sectional view.

REVIT Rocks !


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Some great posts from Revit Rocks

 I'm so far behind in my copy and paste portion of my blog and finding you the best of the BIM posts from around the world.  Daryl, I can't believe you'd post pictures of your daughter on your blog.  She's adorable.  Bring her to AU and I'll bring JR and they can go gambling together.

Everyone, enjoy Daryl's posts and make sure to invest in some of his CADclips so he afford to buy his daughter lots of cool stuff like an iPad.

Revit Respect

Do you respect your clients?  Does it matter what software, technology or processes you use to provide them a product, service or how you deliver a building to them?

A friend of mine who's uses Revit at a fire alarm subcontractor, told me today that he was talking to the principal of an architecture firm who said he wasn't moving to Revit because it was "incompatible with prior versions" and what would he do if an engineer was using an earlier version.  I told him not to even bother anymore trying to convince firms to move to Revit if they just continue to not get it.

When the conversation is about how much the software costs or why Autodesk continues to scam people by charging for subscription every year, we can all just learn to give a little smirk and let them die a slow, painful CAD death.  By the time they realize what they've done to themselves, their clients will be the ones telling them, thanks, but no thanks.

Would you go to a surgeon who used a rock and a sharp stick to do brain surgery?  Would you fly on an airplane who used duct tape to seal a cracked wing?  Would you use a bank still using general ledger paper.

The good news is, when they're gone, fees will go up?  Owners will pay more for BIM, as you're providing more services.

Today, I got yet another call from a contractor wanting to implement BIM.  I sent them a proposal for training for Revit Architecture, Revit MEP, Navisworks and 4 days of implementation on top of 3 seats of Revit Architecture, 1 seat of Revit MEP and 2 networked seats of Navisworks.  What was their response when the saw the proposal?  "Great, I'll give this to my boss" and "when do you think we can start training?"

What do you think a firm using AutoCAD 2006 would say to that?  I won't even waste my time on that one.

Let's just all agree to not try and convince 2D year olds to move to Revit.  It's just not worth it.  Even if they did get Revit, they wouldn't pay for training, thus putting out inferior models with crappy content and not fully modeled.  Is that what we want?  Is that what your clients want?  Is that what they're willing to pay more for?

So, let me ask you again.  Do you respect your clients? Do you respect the projects  you work on?  Do you respect the industry you so steadfastly defend? 

Let's keep Revit a secret.  Those that have it will grow their firms and hire aspiring modelers.  Now all that's left to deal with is those pesky engineers who aren't moving to Revit because you aren't demanding that they do it now.  That's your problem, not mine. Read more...

A little BIM humor to brighten your day

I hope someone else other than Randy appreciates this one.  Randy, hope everything worked out perfectly last weekend.  For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, you know I either rant, invent new words or try to add something creative or humorous whenever possible.

We all take this CAD vs BIM thing way too seriously so here's a little something my wife just sent me (and yes, she does appreciate my sense of humor and nonstop BIM banter.)

Being a BIMwit, seeing all of the CADtastrophe's that occur every day and dealing with 2D year olds, I hope you enjoy the following as much as I did.

The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational once again invited readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are the winners:

 1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.
2. Ignoranus : A person who's both stupid and an asshole.

 3. Intaxicaton : Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

 4. Reintarnation : Coming back to life as a hillbilly.

 5. Bozone ( n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
6. Foreploy : Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

 7.  Giraffiti : Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

 8. Sarchasm : The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.

 9. Inoculatte : To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

 10. Osteopornosis : A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

 11. Karmageddon : It's like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.

 12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

 13. Glibido : All talk and no action.

 14. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

 15. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.

 16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

 17. Caterpallor ( n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.
The Washington Post has also published the winning submissions to its yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.

And the winners are:
 1. Coffee, n. The person upon whom one coughs.

 2. Flabbergasted, adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.

 3. Abdicate, v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

 4. Esplanade, v. To attempt an explanation while drunk.

 5. Willy-nilly, adj. Impotent.

 6. Negligent, adj. Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.

 7. Lymph, v. To walk with a lisp.

 8. Gargoyle, n. Olive-flavored mouthwash.

 9. Flatulence, n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.

 10. Balderdash, n. A rapidly receding hairline.

 11. Testicle, n. A humorous question on an  exam.

 12. Rectitude, n. The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

 13. Pokemon, n. A Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster, n. A person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.

 15. Frisbeetarianism, n. The belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

 16. Circumvent, n. An opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

Purge Imported Categories - Revit [Tips]

Source: http://revitclinic.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/05/purge-imported-categories.html

At some point or another you’ve probably had some leftover imported categories in a Revit project and couldn’t seem to delete them.

In most cases you can remove these using Manage > Purge Unused, or by deleting the last instance of the import in the project. However if a detail or model group is using an import instance you will be unable to purge the instance from the project.

If some imported categories remain and they don’t appear to be in use, check the project for the following:

1. Under Project Browser > Groups > verify if the project contains any detail or model groups.

2. If so you can expand to highlight a group > right-click > Select all Instances > In Entire Project. Then temporarily delete the group instance[s] > Manage > Purge Unused.

3. See if the import instance now appears under Families > <Import Instance Name>.

If not you can undo and test selecting \ deleting another group to isolate which one may contain the import instance.

Purge Imported Categories "

Monday, May 24, 2010

Drill Baby Drill!!!

No...not in the ocean for oil, but closer to home. There's a massive underwater tunnel about to be started from the Port of Miami to McArthur Causeway. I'm sure 99% of you won't even care, but I grew up about a mile from the Port, so I'll be keeping an eye on this little project. Instead of BIM, maybe they'll just use SWIM. It's sure to be an interesting project.

Port of Miami tunnel construction set to begin - Miami-Dade Breaking News
   This is the type of tunnel boring machine that will be used to excavate  the Port of Miami tunnel.

This is the type of tunnel boring machine that will be used to excavate the Port of Miami tunnel.
El Nuevo Herald File Photo


Preliminary construction on the tunnel to the Port of Miami under Biscayne Bay is scheduled to begin Monday, although the four-year, $1 billion project should not affect traffic for some time.

Construction crews were set to start work on a new frontage road on Watson Island, but the MacArthur Causeway should not be impacted during the Memorial Day weekend, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.

The controversial plan survived yet another challenge last week, as Miami Beach Mayor Matti Herrera Bower and Florida Department of Transportation officials resolved their differences on where to start excavating the tunnel.

At last month's meeting of the Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization, Bower had urged FDOT to switch the start of excavation to the port side instead of Watson Island in order to avoid disrupting traffic to South Beach.

But Thursday, Bower no longer insisted on her prior proposal, and instead praised state transportation officials for meeting with Miami Beach residents and business leaders to assuage traffic concerns.

Completion is now scheduled for spring 2014.

Thousands of cargo trucks are expected to use the tunnel, easing traffic congestion downtown.

Currently, trucks meander through downtown streets to get to the port from Interstate 395. The tunnel will provide the first direct expressway link between the port and I-395, which connects directly to the MacArthur Causeway.


Troubleshooting Revit Material Rendering - The Revit Clinic

From: http://revitclinic.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/05/troubleshooting-revit-material-rendering.html

I wanted to include a process I take below, for troubleshooting a material which is not rendering as expected. If anyone else should have some good tips feel free to add some comments!

Verify the version of Revit the material was created in…

First item to check is if the material originated with AccuRender [Revit 2008 or earlier] or was created in Revit 2009 to present as a mental ray material.

AccuRender materials should contain “Rendering appearance not upgraded” in the material comments field. You can customize how some default materials are mapped through the steps in the following technical solution.

Along with this, keep in mind older AccuRender components such as plants will not render in Revit 2009 or later versions. Instead RPC planting components should be utilized.

Next, does the material reside in a component family or the project itself?

When you create materials in a component family they are loaded into the project with the component. If you later modify the material in the component family, and load the component back into the project, the project material will not be updated unless you specify a new material name. Then both materials would reside in the project file. Instead you can edit the project version of the material.

If you updated the family material version, you can easily update the material to the project using Manage > Transfer Project Standards. Additionally you could also use the approach in the next step:

If a component family, is the material associated to geometry with a material parameter?

The following video solution shows the process for this to verify here.

Once  if the material is in the project verify the following…

1. The render appearance is set for the correct type of material.

2. If a custom image, the image is not extremely large or uses some JPEG compression methods. Try a different file format [such as .PNG] if the material is not rendering.

3. Under the Material > Graphics > Shading, is the material checked to use render appearance for shading?

4. If not, what is the transparency value? Ensure it is not set either too high or low. 0% Transparency is solid, 100% transparency is completely see-through.

Does the material use a custom image file or a render appearance image?

If the material uses a custom image file ensure the image file is at the specified path, and the folder is accessible to all users. Also ensure this folder is added to the Options > Rendering > Additional Render Appearance Paths.

If the material uses a render appearance from the Autodesk library ensure the library is accessible [for example if you attempt to swap an appearance]. You can test temporarily swapping the appearance to see if the object still renders.

Check the phase of the object, does it render the same if the view phase filter > None?

By default existing, demolished or temporary phases will use the Overridden phase filter settings. Try temporarily setting the view Phase Filter > None and re-rendering to see if the results are the same. Some additional information appeared in my previous post #5 here.

Is the material in a linked file?

Materials associated to objects in a linked file will use the linked file material settings, not the host project material setting. For example if you have a material called Test in both the host and the linked file, each project will use its specific Test material settings.

Troubleshooting Revit Material Rendering - The Revit Clinic


Nature and BIM

We're having more fun in the backyard lately. We planted miklweed and the Monarch butterflies have been laying eggs on them like crazy.

I took a bunch a pictures of the caterpillars and while reviewing them this morning, I came up with another observation.

In previous posts, I've mentioned my intrigue with how catepillars are so slow (CAD), yet after their transformation (Revit Implementation), grow wings and can fly (BIM Process). It's truly amazing to see this in nature, and on rare occasion, see this happen at an architecture or engineering firm.

So, here's this morning's observation about CADepillars. Look closely at the photo. Do you see the lineweights, colors and layers? I think I'm going to name him DWG.

See anything different in the second photo?  3D, wings, metamorphosis.  Welcome to the BIM butterfly.  One last cool thing. If you look on the leaf he's on, there's a little white dot.  That's a caterpillar egg.  The whole lifecycle process is so cool.

Now, spread your wings and fly with BIM.

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Autodesk Design Review 2011 - Using 2D Markups - Beyond the Paper [Productivity]

I don't know why people continue to use PDFs for client delivery when DWFs are so much more robust. Anyone care to comment about that? DWF and Design Review are free. The 3D DWF Revit model can also be used to walk through a building with Navisworks Freedom, also free. I thought you guys liked free stuff? So what's the problem?


Autodesk Design Review 2011 enables you to add your comments and questions to published files. In this video, I'll review some of these 2D markup tools.

Please share any feedback you may have.
Thank you.

Autodesk Design Review 2011 - Using 2D Markups - Beyond the Paper


Autodesk - Mechanical, Electrical & Plumbing Systems - Merrick & Company: Lackland Air Force Base

Merrick & Company uses Autodesk building information modeling (BIM) software solutions to help accelerate delivery of a $900-million training center for the U.S. Air Force.
Rendering of the new Lackland Air Force Base Airmen Training  Complex
Rendering of the new Lackland Air Force Base Airmen Training Complex.

Project Summary

Lackland Air Force Base plays a vital role in ensuring the mission readiness of the U.S. Air Force—all enlisted personnel attend basic military training at this Texas facility. After serving for decades, the Base’s 10 dormitories and four dining halls began to show their age. When maintenance became too expensive, the Air Force decided to undertake a multiyear, $900-million project to demolish the dated buildings and replace them with larger state-of-the-art facilities. When complete, each of the eight new Airmen Training Complexes (ATCs) will feature a running track, a drill pad, utility infrastructure, and housing for more than 1,200 trainees.
Merrick & Company, which is providing architecture and engineering services on the massive undertaking, designed the project with building information modeling (BIM) solutions from Autodesk. Tammy Johnson, project manager on the ATCs, explains why Merrick & Company opted to use BIM: “The larger the project, the more chances there are for issues to drive up costs or cause delays. Autodesk BIM solutions helped us develop ideas more quickly and better coordinate our large design team, helping us to overcome an unanticipated three-month delay and complete the design phase on time.”
Rendering of ATC dorm
Rendering of ATC dorm.
The Team
Responsible for developing an initial project program, choosing the design team, and managing feedback from project stakeholders, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers acted as the client, and the Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment (AFCEE) funded the project. The Corps chose Aurora, Colorado-based Merrick & Company to provide architecture and engineering services for the project.
With a design group specializing in facilities for the military and government, Merrick & Company has worked with the Air Force and the Corps on dozens of projects, but few have been as large or high profile as the ATCs. “We’re proud of our role in designing the new ATCs, and as our largest BIM project using Autodesk Revit-based software to date, it helped to demonstrate that BIM delivers value to each discipline while keeping the team focused on the project as a whole,” says Todd Behning, CAD/BIM manager for Merrick & Company.

The Challenge

Calling for the construction of one new ATC each year for eight years, the project schedule allotted only one year for Merrick & Company to design the first facility, which would serve as a prototype for the other seven ATCs. And as the AFCEE wanted to keep costs under control, the team planned to leverage BIM to closely monitor the cost implications of design decisions throughout the project.
“Reviewing the requirements, we saw a project that needed to progress quickly across disciplines,” Behning explains. “We also wanted to be able to account for costs without slowing down the team. Having used Autodesk BIM solutions before, we were confident the software could help us overcome both challenges.”
Rendering of ATC structure
Rendering of ATC structure.
The Solution
Merrick & Company and the Corps launched the project by holding a design charrette. There, the Corps presented the design team with some initial floor plans developed using AutoCAD® software, and attendees discussed the various design options. After the charrette, Merrick & Company hit the ground running, using the floor plans to build an initial model of the project in Autodesk® Revit® Architecture software.
Johnson describes how the 2D floor plans evolved into a more detailed model: “Revit Architecture software allowed us to develop a model from AutoCAD software more quickly, and as we progressed, we added details. Each ATC has five stories, with sleeping quarters for 1,248 on floors two through four. The ground floor is mostly open, providing a shady space for training.”
Behning adds, “As we see it, BIM helps the owner as much as the design team. Because we used a BIM approach, our client could review any aspect of the facility at any time in 3D. The design is always ready to be viewed as a detailed model with BIM, making the whole process more transparent for the client.”

Hot Showers for Hundreds

Leveraging the Revit Architecture model as a background, the engineers began designing the building systems in Autodesk® Revit® MEP software and the structural elements in Autodesk® Revit® Structure software.
The MEP engineers helped ensure that the ATCs would be straightforward to maintain by centralizing the HVAC and the hot water boilers on the fifth floor, while the BIM process made it easier to connect the systems to the occupied spaces. “Designing systems to serve 1,248 people can be challenging, especially when the architects are still fine-tuning the floor plan,” notes Philip Pleiss, a mechanical designer with Merrick & Company. “You don’t want to lose time by placing pipes in a wall that’s been moved. By harmonizing our work against the architectural model, we didn’t lose time as other teams made changes. We adjusted our model and kept going.”

Engineering for Value

Throughout the project Merrick & Company’s design team used Revit Architecture software to explore options for keeping material costs down. Relatively late in the project, the client requested further cost savings, and decided to eliminate one of two large elevators. “Our designs were 65 percent complete when we removed the second elevator, so all the disciplines had to make significant modifications to their models,” Johnson recalls. “The team manipulated their Revit-based models to account for the change without missing a beat.”

Accommodating Changing Regulations

After completing the design for the first ATC, structural requirements for the second ATC needed to be modified in order to comply with increasingly rigorous standards.
Chris Tippett, the project engineer for Merrick & Company, explains how the team incorporated the new standards. She says, “We turned to Autodesk Revit Structure software to help us modify the structural design quickly. The architects and MEP engineers could then more easily account for the adjustments in their Revit-based software. Making and coordinating the changes was a surprisingly fast and seamless process with BIM.”

The Result

The first of the new ATCs at Lackland Air Force Base will be ready to house personnel-in-training in early 2011, and construction is set to begin on the second facility in 2010. The design team at Merrick & Company reports that BIM helped them overcome issues that could easily have led to setbacks. “Even after an unscheduled three-month delay in the review process, with help from Autodesk BIM solutions, we met our final completion deadline,” says Tippett.
Observing that BIM is a process, and not just a set of software tools, Johnson says, “Autodesk BIM solutions provides an accelerated process for exploring ideas, swapping one for the next until you find the best fit. It’s an approach that allows you to think critically about every decision without losing time. Clients benefit from significant value and attention to detail, even on fast-track and budget-constrained projects.”

Learn More

Find out more about Autodesk solutions for government and how BIM can enhance your public sector projects.

Download the Story

Merrick & Company Customer Story (pdf - 2350Kb)

Autodesk - Mechanical, Electrical & Plumbing Systems - Merrick & Company: Lackland Air Force Base


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