Thursday, August 31, 2017

Total Facility Electrical Load Estimate in Revit

Overall Building Load:

In Autodesk Revit, if everything is setup and connected correctly - electrically, the utility transformer will list the entire electrical load for a building (or project). However, presenting this information in a proper tabular (i.e. schedule) view is not straightforward.
Challenge: Transformer’s cannot generate a panel schedule… which is a limitation of the family’s sub classification “Part Type”.
Is there a way to have only the larger of the AC or HEAT loads to show up on the load estimate schedule?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Autodesk Climate Server

The Location setting provides localized weather and utility rates data which is vital in creating a legitimate energy simulation. There are two steps involved in accurately specifying location; Project Address and Weather Station.

Project Address specifies the project location on earth within Revit. This can be a city, a specific postal address or Lat/Long values. If the project site does not have an address, enter the City name and then drag the Project Location Pin (red) to the desired location on the map. You can zoom and pan in this map view as well as make the dialog larger.

Once the geographic location has been specified...

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Lighting in Renderings plus Another Free ArchVision Webinar

The other day I was comparing notes with Scott Brown, from The Beck Group and a Top 10 Speaker at BILT-NA 2017, about a lighting problem we both experienced in recent rendering efforts. This is one of those things where I knew the answer, but had forgotten. Once I found the answer, I was like "I knew that!".

A continuous light source, as shown in the image below, does not emit light properly when rendered, as evident in the second image. Often, this is not noticed unless you have a light near a wall or ceiling were the hot spot is clearly not correct.


Monday, August 28, 2017

Revit 2018 Circuit Path Bug

Revit 2018 has a new feature for the electrical discipline, which allows the designer to develop a custom circuit path. This is done between the Panel and the Farthest Device. Previously, Revit would would only use the X,Y,Z of the connector at each end and a fixed offset from the level (this is still the default).

The circuit length is used to calculate voltage drop. Calculating voltage drop in Revit is still not always possible due to the way it automatically assigns wire size. I wrote about that here: Revit Idea: Change how wire is auto-sized or allow override for engineering judgement.

Turns out there is a bug in how Revit calculates circuit length...

Saturday, August 26, 2017

MEPPP Intro Videos

A few weeks ago I announced the new Mechanical Electrical Plumbing Productivity Pack (MEPPP) available by CTC Express Tools, which my firm helped create. This product is a labor of love between two engineering firms and CTC; and also a refinement of the Electrical Productivity Pack we created on our own nearly 6 years ago and is being used by electrical engineers and contractors across the USA.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Selecting Elements Example

Back in April 2017, I wrote a post called Revit Properties Filter which highlights the Properties Filter feature in Revit. This is a great time-saving way to enter data into elements. I was using this technique recently to manipulate COBie data on a project and thought I would create and share a video to contrast how the two "filter" options work in Revit.

In the video, the first example shows the Selection Filter workflow; select elements and then

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Microsoft HoloLens in Architecture; Case Study with Vertical Endeavors Rock Climbing

This week the "stars were aligned" for LHB's first on-site test of the Microsoft HoloLens with an architectural client. This had nothing to do with the solar eclipse, although that was amazing too. Rather, I am referring to a perfect sized project, in a re-purposed facility, with an amazing client who also uses 3D design software.

The Project:

We are working with Vertical Endeavors (VE), a company that specializes in designing and manufacturing rock climbing walls and operating indoor rock climbing facilities. They are expanding by opening a new facility in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metro area. This new gym will be housed in an existing warehouse building with exposed wood trusses and a barrel-vaulted roof as shown in the next two images.

Revit Model - Overall View

Revit Model - View from Main Entry

The model shown above is a composite of LHB's Revit model and a climbing wall model provided by VE.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

NDSU Architecture School - BIM Seminar; Day One

Yesterday we kicked off our first BIM Seminar class for the 2017 Fall Semester in the NDSU Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture! This is my fourth year teaching graduate architecture and landscape architecture students (and we have LA students enrolled again!). Previously I had also taught a Revit interiors class for two years in the NDSU Apparel, Design and Hospitality Management Department.

In this class we cover all things Revit and BIM, including energy modeling, lighting analysis, conceptual massing, adaptive components, VR, rendering and much more!

The setting for this class is a beautifully re-purposed building in downtown Fargo, North Dakota. This is a special off-campus building, within the local NDSU ecosystem.

The studios are amazing, with lots of daylight and rustic flair. The claim before the storm... classes had not yet started when this photo was taken (obviously).

This is the room my class meets in...

Another great group of students with lots of questions and enthusiasm! The right combination of ingredients to motivate any teacher!

While students were arriving, I had the Microsoft HoloLens setup and connected to the projection screen. This was a great way to fill the gap until class started.

To encourage and build on the energy in the room... I sprinkled in a little Enscape! After positioning the real-time rendered view as shown below, the next question was "so, this is free for students you said?". Followed by "but I like the repeating carpet pattern in my renderings".

Another Enscape example below. BTW, we also use Revizto in this class to turn in some work via its cloud-based model sharing and mark-up feature set.

Quick demo of the Richo Theata S photosphere camera. Below is the direct, or raw, result from the camera. Here is a "packaged" version which can be viewed on Apple or Android phones and with Google Cardboard Viewers (btw, I gave each student an LHB branded viewer!).
Click here is see the dynamic version of this image. You can see more examples at the LHB virtual reality page:

The photo-sphere camera can also take video... check out this example I just posted on YouTube. Drag your mouse around while the video is playing for the full experience!

In addition to all of the fun stuff listed above, I did a presentation on the basics of family creation. This may sounds totally backwards, but I think the exercise of creating a parametric box with a few types and a material sets the stage, and outlines some fundamental Revit-centric concepts, that help with the basics (plus, many don't need the basics)!

Fun stuff!

Monday, August 21, 2017

2010 Cadalyst Magazine Article; Making the Switch from AutoCAD to Revit

Nearly seven years ago I wrote a two part article for Cadalyst magazine titled Making the Switch--AutoCAD to Revit. The thrust of the article still applies today for any firms who have not yet made the switch. Here are the links:

Making the Switch--AutoCAD to Revit, Part 1

Making the Switch--AutoCAD to Revit, Part 2

For this article I enlisted several experts to give their advise. Those experts are:

  • Rachel Riopel, HDR
  • David Baldacchino, HOK
  • Plamen Hristov, Capital Engineering Consultants
  • Andrew Johnson, Sebesta (NV5)
Enjoy, again.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Revit History; A Unique Creation Questioned (again)

An article was recently published by AEC Magazine rehashing the idea that Revit "is a derivative of Reflex" (quote from the embedded video in the online article). The Revit founders, Irwin Jungreiz and Leonid Raiz, have refuted this proposition over the years.

Here is a link to the article, which includes a video were Dr. Jonathan Ingram, creator or Reflex, verbalizes his opinion that Revit was based on his code; Celebrating the history of BIM. The image below is a screen capture from the video, listing nine initial points used to "prove" Revit is based on Reflex.

Screen capture (26:49) from

Friday, August 18, 2017

BILT Asia 2018; Abstract Submission Deadline Extended

Calling all speakers, and would-be-speakers! RTC Events chairman, Wesley Benn, just announced the abstract submission window has been extended for BILT-Asia 2018.

If you have never been to Singapore, you should definitely consider this conference. If you speak English and are wondering about what language the conference is in, it is all in English. Additionally, the official language in Singapore is also English. So if you only speak English, like me, you can put that question to rest.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

MEP Review of Architectural Model

You are just getting started on a project and need to familiarize yourself with the building. The architect just sent their current version of the Revit model. Consider the items in the following list to help get things off to a good start.

1. In the Options dialog, on Rendering section, set Render Appearance path to a custom “Revit Textures” folder you create on the network. Copy any texture files provided by the architect (e.g. jpg or png files). This will help with any visualization or VR you might want to do from an MEP perspective.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Simply Complex Podcast; I talk lighting with Marcello

The world of Podcasting has been steadily expanding in the AEC world. Carl Storm maintains a nice list of them on his BIMsider blog. My time to listen is when I have to drive between offices (~2.5hrs each way) once or twice a month.

I have had the privilege of being a guest on Bill Debevc's BIMThoughts podcast twice now...
Bill has a cool sticker and 3d printout of a microphone to promote is blog...

Yesterday Marcello Sgambelluri published a new episode of his Simply Complex podcast with me as guest! We mostly talk about lighting in the AEC industry... a timely discussion on the heels of a talk I gave at BILT-NA on the subject (with co-speaker Matt Kincaid from Lighting Analysts).

The Simply Complex Podcast

Marcello as has a sticker!

The image below is an excerpt from the lighting presentation handout. This will make more sense when you listen to the session with Marcello!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

gbXML Certification and Validation

Autodesk is helping to define a new, more accurate, gbXML schema to improve the way industry is documenting and sharing data; specifically: geometry descriptions, envelope descriptions, schedules and systems.
"gbXML is an industry supported schema for sharing building information between disparate building design software tools."

As a "research partner" with gbXML, Autodesk is helping define the Level 3 compliance requirements and compliance tests.

This standard and validation process...

Monday, August 14, 2017

Reflecting on BILT-NA 2017 in Toronto Canada

The BILT-NA 2017 conference in Toronto, Canada is now behind us. In this post I will share some highlights using the wonderful professional photographs provided to attendees by BILT and captured by SKYART MEDIA. If you have never been to an RTC/BILT conference, I highly recommend you get it on your radar for next year. Or even better, sign up for BILT-EUR 2017 in Aarhus, Denmark later this year (Oct. 5-6, 2017) like me!

The setting for the conference was spectacular; Toronto, at the Westin Harbour Castle, nestled along the shoreline of Lake Ontario. You have to love the ocean-like presence of the massive freshwater lakes the make up the Great Lakes... btw, I live on the even larger Lake Superior. The location was reminiscent of the previous 2013 Canadian conference in Vancouver; at a Westin, on a shoreline with a vibrant lakewalk.

I hope everyone who went had a change to...

Friday, August 11, 2017

Autodesk A360 Desktop Being Discontinued

Autodesk A360 Desktop is akin to the Dropbox desktop app which keeps files sync'ed between one or more computers and the Cloud. If you have it installed you will eventually see an impending expiration warning when you start your computer.

The reason given...

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Existing Phase Tag Options in Revit

Many firms prefer to graphically distinguish the tags for existing and new elements. Using an MEP example, consider the following options.
FYI: An application for all Revit users is the relationship between Halftone/Underlay and Printing color (Black Lines, Grayscale & Color). Learn how to print something grayscale even when "black lines" is selected for printing.

Change Tag Text Color
If you want the tags for existing elements to be gray, changing the text color will work, but creates some challenges. The main challenge is, when printing you need to set the color option to Grayscale.  However, with this setting your colored duct and pipe will not print black. So you have to turn the system/filter colors off before printing; not really a good option.

Text color changed in tag family
Continue reading...

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

MEP Project Setup 02

Building on the previous post, MEP Project Setup 01, here are a few more items to consider when setting up an MEP project in Revit.

Verify Levels

  • Similar to Phases, it is best to have a level in the MEP model for each level in the architectural model.
  • Copy/Monitor and/or Monitor each Level
    • If you already have a Level in your MEP model, you just need to Monitor the architectural Level. You DO NOT want to create multiple Levels on top of each other.
    • If Arch has more Levels than your template, use Copy/Monitor to create new Levels in your model.
    • Delete any extra Levels, not needed, in your model.
Structural Grids

  • To have control over the exact placement of structural grid bubbles Copy/Monitor is used.
    • Scope Boxes can also be used; more on this in a future post.
  • Usually, the linked structural model dictates.
  • Turn off visibility of linked structural grids via View Templates.
  • If a structural grid is moved or deleted, a coordination warning is presented when the model is opened.
    • Unfortunately, Revit does not alert you if additional grids are added.

Pin Linked Models

  • Use the pin feature to prevent someone from accidentally moving or deleting a linked model.

Friday, August 4, 2017

BILT-NA 2017 Toronto Canada; Day One

The first day of BILT-NA 2017 in Toronto Canada is now behind us. For those not able to make it, or are not sure what this BIM-focused conference is all about, here are a few highlights...

Like most conferences, everyone gathers for a formal plenary introduction to the conference first thing. This was lead by the new fearless leader of the North American (NA) committee Robert Bell. Bob did a great job kicking things off.

The major sponsors were given a few minutes to get on stage and say a few words. ANTHONY HAUCK from Autodesk talked about some cool stuff his group is working on with generative design and AI. Next up ANDREW RINK from NVIDIA and SEAN YOUNG from HP announced Reinvent Life on Mars and the new HP Z VR backpack (more on this later).
Andrew Rink and Sean Young

from Revizto took the stage to highlight their product and then announce the keynote speaker DAVID RENDALL.

IAN MCGAW also spoke about his companies use of Revizto.

The registration desk was busy checking in over 500 attendees.

There are a number of larger-than-life schedules in the hallways in case you lose your program or don't have access to the conference app.

CLAY HICKLING and I had one of the first session slots on What's New in Revit 2018 (and 2018.1). I think the class went pretty well, with lots of interaction from the audience. At the end of the session I gave away 5 books.

Nice decals on the elevator doors, telling everyone how to get the conference app, on the conference floor!

The exhibit hall is spacious and packed with lots of great product and service providers.

At the HP & NVIDIA booth(s) I found TOM WHITEHEAD test driving the new HP VR backpack which is now available for purchase at about $3500US (nice!). This has two hot swappable batteries and a NVIDIA Quadro P5000 graphics card (click here is see my review of the P5000).

Of course I took it for a drive... next two images are of me:)

MARCELLO SGAMBELLURI and DON BOKMILLER presented an interesting session on using gaming engines in the MEP and structural disciplines. A fun session to be sure!

BRIAN MACKEY and MATT JEZYK (from Autodesk) did a session on using journal files to create scripts which can be used to make batch changes to content and project files. Excluding my session, because I am biased, this was the best session of the day. Brian always does great presentations.

The day wrapped up with dinner provided in the exhibit hall sponsored by Pluralsight... my family with with me in Toronto so we took off and went to dinner on our own.

In closing this post, I will say that a smaller conference like this with the number high caliber, industry influencers, makes this a great opportunity to network and take deep dives on topics that you are challenged with or just interest in.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Mechanical Electrical Plumbing Productivity Pack

Today's post is a quick plug for a new productivity by CTC Express Tools; Mechanical Electrical Plumbing Productivity Pack. My firm had created the Electrical Productivity Pack about five years ago. This new package is a labor-of-love between two engineering firms and CTC.

Get an in-person demo this week at CTC's booth in the exhibit hall, while attending the BILT-NA 2017 conference. Below are the highlights, and here is a downloadable brochure. In the near future, there will also be a few short videos posted.

The Mechanical Electrical Plumbing Productivity Pack is the...