Friday, September 15, 2017

Custom Curtainwall and Types

This week I did a presentation on Revit's Curtain Wall features for my students at NDSU; see this post for more about the class; NDSU Architecture School - BIM Seminar; Day One. I decided to take one of the examples and expand on it a bit.

The first image below is a shaded view within Revit. Everything here was done with normal Revit commands. The curtainwall is represented by just curtainwall and no other loaded or in-place families. I added the walls, site, interior lighting, etc. just for this post.

This example features a sloped mullion, multiple curtain panels (two glazing colors and a door) as well as a custom mullion profile (the horizontal fin). The aluminum framing also steps up and over the low masonry wall on the right hand side.


The next several views are of the Revit model in Enscape. Notice they all have an HDR image (sky box) loaded for dramatic affect and nice reflections in the glass. This view is forced to be a two point perspective... which is nice for smaller elements or rooms; not ever rendering program can do this.

A quick adjustment in Enscape, and it is nighttime. I think, because I don't have an actual earth modeled, the sun from the other side of the earth is "leaking" though - based on the odd lighting on the back side of my model, maybe?

Also, notice the nice grass and reflections in the glass. BTW, I have heard a lot of people say they think the grass is a bit too shaggy. Plus, I find it appears (i.e. pokes) through the floor, within the building, if you don't have a Building Pad placed; which is not really needed for slab on grade conditions.

A few more cool images. Once you start messing with Enscape it is hard to stop!

Now for a few other quick tips related to curtainwall...

Each curtain wall Type has an Automatically Embed toggle. This will cut a hole in a regular wall, as in the brick wall example above. I have seen a lot of people manually cut a hole with the Edit Profile tool... that is not required.

If you want to manage curtain wall types and detailed elevations, one method is to use Design Options. Create a Design Option as shown in the image below. The primary Option will always be empty and thus nothing will ever show up in your model unless to tell it to.

Group the curtainwall and then insert a copy off to the side of your model. Select the new Group, and use the Add to Set command; add the selected elements to the secondary Design Option. Create an elevation view and set the secondary Design Option to be current (see image below). Now the curtain wall types only appear in this elevation view and nowhere else in the model.

If you edit the Group in the model, the group in the Design Option will update as well. This elevation can have all of the curtainwall types lined up next to each other.
In the curtainwall type view above, the glass type is tagged with a Material Tag. Notice, in the image below, the "G1" type is defined within the materials Identity properties.

This Design Option method is nice as it is "fail safe" in terms of geometry showing up in the model and Construction Documents. You also do not have to bend the rules and use phases, worksets or links to achieve the same results... each are less desirable in my opinion. For example:

  • Phases create problems in the MEP model where they have to deal with Phase Mapping or they will have graphics issues.
  • Worksets are not ideal for controlling visibility; which is essential what is happening here.
  • Using links are to much work.
Finally, in Revit 2018 we can create parameters for groups and schedule groups. Unfortunately, you cannot tag groups.

My two cents... enjoy.


  1. great tips! I came across a different approach the other day, too... not sure which is better. Basically you put an elevation at each piece of curtain wall, and the tag for the elevation is a curtain wall label.

  2. Thanks for sharing. Interesting method. I still prefer my posted method as we can have all the types aligned to make sure mullions are positioned correctly. Also, my method ensures nothing will magically appear in view that needs to be hidden in the CW type elevation (just before printing CDs). But, as with most things, there are multiple valid ways to achieve a desired result. Nice to know all the options so a person can pick what works for them. Thanks again.

    1. I'm curious, how do you put them off to the side? Do you rotate all of them to be side by side on a per-floor basis, or do you just explode them out per-elevation? I'm working on a small project so I want to give it a try and see how i like it!

    2. Sorry, been traveling. Yes, place a new copy of each group, all in the same plane off to the side of the building. Being in a Design Option, they are never seen, except in the view for dimensions and elevations.