Friday, July 19, 2019

Virtual Project Tours of Real Projects

I have been wanting to use our 360 Photosphere camera to create a virtual tour of a project. We finally did just that last week for a project in construction; Hermantown Essentia YMCA Wellness Center. The  local Chamber of Commerce held an open house last night and attendees got to get in the project and safely view it without actually going to the site. We already did Virtual Reality, and now that the project is under construction, we wanted to present something new.

Another interesting thing about this project is how we used ElumTools to do specialized daylighting calculations to comply with Minnesota's B3 program (similar to LEED). The image below shows the favorable results; solatubes fully lighting the interior space with just daylight!

Continue reading to learn more...

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Revit Elevation not Perpendicular to Wall and More

Elevations must be perfectly perpendicular to a wall (as shown in the first image below) otherwise there are issues with being able to dimension, and/or their values. Also, in this case, the 3D object appears rather than the (sometimes) simplified symbolic lines developed in the family.

Keeping reading to learn more...

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Extracting Revit's Material Textures

When sharing a Revit model with another firm, contractor or client, it is difficult to know which custom textures (jpg, png) files are used so they can be shared as well. This post will share a tip I received this week from Harlan Brumm at Autodesk!

First, there are two other options that might come to mind if you wanted to do this....

Keep reading to learn more...

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Revit Advanced Materials - Base Material Templates

The new Revit advanced materials are based on PBR shaders, which is what modern rendering engines utilize. Understanding all the related options in Revit can be a bit challenging, as there is no easy way to switch between appearance assets in Revit (watch the comments below for a link to a Revit Idea on this from my good friend Pieter:)).

In this post I will share a fundamental tip in understanding this newer option in Revit. It has to do with the provided "base material" templates...

keep reading to learn more...

Monday, July 15, 2019

Off Topic: The Creation of a Tooth

I have been pretty busy lately and not able to write many posts here on BIM Chapters.

Today, I have some photos and video to share from almost a year ago... the creation of a tooth:) I had a cracked tooth and needed a crown. My local dentist has the technology and equipment to make a tooth, and all during a single visit!

My dentist, at Kenwood Dental, is great and let me take pictures/videos.

Read on to learn more...

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Autodesk University 2019 Las Vegas - Class Selected

I received word yesterday that I will again have the opportunity to present at Autodesk University in Las Vegas.

Course Title:The New Game in Town; Link a Civil 3D Surface in Revit thru BIM 360!
Course Description:Learn about the amazing new feature set and workflow Autodesk unveiled in the 2019.1 update for both AutoCAD Civil 3D and Revit. See how a user, who first saw this feature/workflow at an Inside the Factory - Live in Shanghai, China in 2016, and then implemented this on many large complex projects, including a nearly massive hospital project located on a complex site. This session will cover the feature, the workflow and the challenges encountered. This presentation will also cover working with in-house survey for existing conditions, as well as in-house civil engineers on proposed conditions.
What's going to be fun, is one of the Autodesk product designers will be joining me from Autodesk's Shanghai office.

Of course, this story starts in Civil 3D... using the new workflow to "Publish" a surface to BIM 360.

Keep reading to learn more...

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Autodesk Desktop Connector Update Supports Custom Local File Locations!

Update: False alarm... as the dialog clearly states, this only allows you to change the installation path (which is still about 1 GB). But does not change the location of the local cache files. Sorry:(

Breaking news... we can now specify a custom location for BIM 360 Design local files!!! Thanks Autodesk.

Keep reading to learn more...

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Enscape Asset Library Update

Enscape continues to add more and more high quality assets to their product, giving AEC professionals unfettered access to awesomeness in the development of architectural visualizations.

Keep reading to learn more...

Monday, July 1, 2019

Travel Distance and Egress Path Options in Revit

I really don't like using Revit in non-standard ways due to the issues caused for other disciplines and  downstream workflows like clash detection, energy modeling, lighting analysis, Enscape, Revizto, VR/AR, etc. But, sometimes the path-of-least-resistance is to do so... today's post talks about using a special railing type to define the egress path, both graphically and for total length, in a Revit project.

Continue reading to learn more...

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Autodesk University London 2019 Recap

I had the good fortune to attend Autodesk University London 2019 this past week. It was a nice event at a beautiful faculty in the heart of London, England. This post recaps the highlights of the conference, mostly in pictures.

Keep reading to learn more...

Monday, June 24, 2019

The First Ever Enscape User Group Meeting - London, England 2019

Last week I had the good fortune to attend the first ever, in the entire world, Enscape User Group Meeting in London, England. The gathering was graciously hosted by KPF Associates in their London office.

The meeting was organized by the Enscape team, with the timing being strategically the day before Autodesk University - London. They even gave away some great prizes.

Continue reading to learn more...

Monday, June 10, 2019

Heading to Autodesk University - London 2019

Things will be pretty quite around here for the next week weeks. I am heading off the London tomorrow for a Family vacation and to attend Autodesk University - London.

Keep reading to learn more...

Friday, June 7, 2019

Revit Schedules and Itemize Every Instance

In Revit schedules, the 'schedule properties' option Itemize Every Instance can be used to quickly enter the same data in every element listed. For example, let's look at the cost estimating schedule I wrote about here: Cost Estimating Directly in Revit... what if we wanted to update the Tax Rate to be the same, and not blank, value for every instance? Here's how...

Keep reading to learn more...

Thursday, June 6, 2019

'Tis the Season for Training!

As we roll into summer, the construction season shifts to full throttle... especially in our colder climates where such work is more difficult/costly in the  winter months. I was doing Revit training this week with two new hires at LHB, and they agreed to let me share...

Keep reading to learn more...

Friday, May 31, 2019

Ben Sherman - Class of 2019 - Thesis Project

A quick plug for Ben Sherman, a fresh architecture grad from Dunwoody in Minneapolis, MN. Ben was an intern working for me and now is working in our housing group. I wrote about a previous Dunwoody thesis review I was involved in here: Dunwoody Architecture - Thesis Final Part 1.

Ben agreed to let me share his final thesis project... which includes some nice Enscape renderings as well:)

Keep reading to learn more...

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Move BIM 360 Cache Files to Another Drive

I have been looking into how to deal with a too-small hard drive (C drive) on my new laptop. As I mentioned in a recent post, the BIM 360 local files take up a lot of space... but they technically cannot be moved.

This post covers a workaround not technically supported by Autodesk, although offered by them via an employee post on an Autodesk forum. Please vote for the Revit Idea linked at the end of this post.

There are challenges deploying something like this to the masses, as noted recently by Aaron Maller in this thread on Twitter.

Keep reading to learn more...

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Space Program Development Directly in Revit

My recent post, Cost Estimating Directly in Revit, has been very popular so I thought I would share another similar post on developing a space program, or brief, directly in Revit. This post is also based on material I presented in a session titled Interior Design Workflows at RTC-Asia 2015 in Singapore (now known as BILT and DBEI.) FYI: I touched on this topic in this post: Program Development within Revit - Last Week at NDSU

A Space Program schedule can be created in Revit prior to any modelling—eliminating the need for Microsoft Excel.

The example schedule below has three basic Revit parameters and two custom parameters:

·           Revit Parameters:
o   Name
o   Area (heading changed to Actual)
o   Comments
·           Custom Parameters:
o   Program Area (heading changed to Program)
o   Area Difference (heading changed to Diff)

Room elements can be created prior to placement in the model

Keep reading to learn more...

Thursday, May 23, 2019

New Contract Documents for 'Interiors Projects' by the American Institute of Architects

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has released six new contracts to accommodate the "unique aspects of interiors projects." They will also be offering a webinar in June to highlight these documents and workflows.

Read on to learn  more...

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

BIM 360 Design - Working with External Consultants not using BIM 360 Design

When working in Autodesk's BIM 360 Design, it is great to work with external consultants live in the cloud. But, what if a consultant does not have a BIM 360 Design entitlement from Autodesk (they are not free)? Many projects do not necessarily justify or require this workflow, so it cannot just be expensed to the project/client.

This post will show a quick way to link these files without even opening them (in Revit). You may also walk away with a better understanding of what Desktop Connector is doing under the hood.

Continue reading to learn more...

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Cost Estimating Directly in Revit

Revit can be used to develop a detailed construction cost estimate which includes soft costs, e.g. Labor Rate, Labor Hours, Overhead and Profit. We can even account for non-modeled items, such as rock removal and tower cranes. This post is based on material I presented in a session titled Interior Design Workflows at RTC-Asia 2015 in Singapore (now known as BILT and DBEI).

Be sure to scroll to the bottom and see images showing the RS Means estimating module built-in to Revit many years ago.

In preparation, we need to create parameters and the schedule with calculated values.

Keep reading to learn more...

Monday, May 13, 2019

Autodesk Unveils Cost Management add-on for BIM 360 Build

Last week Autodesk unveiled a new Cost Management tool that works within BIM 360 Build.

Keep reading to learn more...

Friday, May 10, 2019


My latest Enscape blog post is out... and it is on how to create a project-specific custom skybox for use in Enscape!

The baked-in backgrounds available in Enscape are great for a preliminary presentations, but quickly you (and your client) will want to feel the true context of the site. Be sure to check out the post for all the details, including the use of a 360 photo-sphere camera and Photoshop to improve the image.

Below I also share a couple of the images and a little more on the GoPro Fusion for 360 video - which has nothing to do with Enscape... this is just for fun.

Continue reading to learn more...

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

UpCodes for Revit - Real-time Code Checking with AI

One of the coolest new things I have seen recently is UpCodes, which is an add-in for Revit. In their own word, this tool...
"is a design aid for architects and engineers. View code errors in real-time directly in Revit with a “spell check” for compliance."
I think of this tool more as a "Turbo Tax" for building codes, rather than a "spell check" as it is so sophisticated and updated every two weeks. And now... version 1.0.3 includes AI.

The most amazing thing is it just works, right out of the box on any Revit model with any Revit content... at least so far, based on my initial testing.

Keep reading to learn more...

Monday, May 6, 2019

BIM 360 Design Local Files and More

Revit creates a lot of files in your Windows User folder on your local drive. It is helpful to be aware of this, especially if you are having troubles with free disk space or accessing a BIM 360 Design project. I tend to keep these folders clean due to the number of Revit versions/projects I support, and yet mine are still pretty large, in terms of total space used.

BIM 360 Design local files:
Continue reading to learn more...

Friday, May 3, 2019

Tagging Material Information within Revit

Earlier this week, a question was tweeted by Carina Clark, from HED, about the possibility of combining a Material's Mark and Keynote value in a single tag. While this cannot be done (workaround noted below) I was reminded of some realted material in a conference handout I prepared for RTC-Asia back in 2015.

We often want to identify a material in the model with smart "text" - or rather, a tag. In this case, we are talking about a Revit material defined within a System Family (e.g. Wall, Ceiling, Floor), a Loadable Family (e.g. Furniture, Casework, Doors, etc.) or Painted on a surface (which overrides the material defined in the Family).

Keep reading to learn more...

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Managing Light Level Design Intent in Revit - Average Illuminance; MEPPP New Feature

As I mentioned in this post, Introducing the MEPPP Universal Lighting Fixture Family for Revit, we recently rolled out an updated version of CTC Software's MEP Productivity Pack (MEPPP). One significant development on the electrical side is around lighting fixtures. In this post I want to share another new feature/workflow added related to managing light level design intent and visualizing preliminary results using analytical views.

Most of the following information is from the MEPPP User Guide, which can be downloaded for free via a link in this post: Promoting Industry Standards for Revit MEP plus Free User Guide, Shared Parameters & More.

Preliminary Illuminance Calculations

Target Illuminance levels can be selected for each room using the Schedule Key shown below. This schedule can be manually edited for a firm’s own standard. Additional rows may be added by clicking the Insert Data Row command.

Keep reading to learn more...

Saturday, April 27, 2019

ACEC-MN Design Technology Forum - Augmented Reality in AEC

Yesterday, at the regional ACEC Design Technology Forum, I had the opportunity to share our work at LHB in the AEC space (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) with Augmented Reality (AR) using the Microsoft HoloLens. Thanks to BARR for hosting this month's meeting.

This post will share the highlights from the meeting, including my slides and video links.

Keep reading to learn more...

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Living Wall Example in Revit

I occasionally receive Revit-related questions from professors who use my books in academia. Yesterday I received one concerning performance; a small model around 30 MB. I figured right away it would have something to do with a complex family, and I was right, sorta. The main issue was using Realistic mode in Revit, more on that in a moment, and the number of RPC shrubs placed in the project.

Turns out, the RPC content was being used to create a living wall in an interesting way. This post will show how that was done and talk about a "cure" for realistic mode.

Read on to learn more...

Monday, April 22, 2019

Daylight Factor with Solar Tubes in ElumTools

Here in Minnesota, where I live and work, there is a requirement that all publicly funded projects comply with the B3 program, which is similar to USGBC's LEED program. One of those requirements relates to Daylight Factor. We use ElumTools to run a simulation to derive this value. This post will touch on this more, and a challenge the ElumTools developers helped us overcome!

Read on to learn more...

Friday, April 19, 2019

Revit 2020 - Path of Travel Tool

I posted a link to my AECbytes "What's New" article in the Out There section in recently.

Lots of good discussions about the tool, how it works and its limitations... I am sure this V1 feature will be improved to accommodate some of the things discussed, like AHJ (authority having jurisdiction) and codes requiring specific things like all turns be 90 degrees and not going through an electrical room. Jeff Hanson, from Autodesk, has chimed in to respond to a few questions and "set the record straight" comments:)

Continue reading to learn more...

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Two Revit 2020 Hotfixes

Many firms wait until the first major Update (e.g. 2020.1) or 3-6 months before deploying a new version of Revit into production; that is what I do. For those that have, or want to, jump right in there are two hotfixes you should probably install. One addresses an issue where Revit starts in Viewer Mode and the other has to do with Autodesk 2020 products, in general, not playing well with systems set to hibernate or go to sleep. BTW, hopefully hibernate/sleep mode are common. On a related note, LHB participated in a plug load study that resulted in the following report and info-graph:

Keep reading to learn more about the hotfixes...

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Introducing the MEPPP Universal Lighting Fixture Family for Revit

We recently rolled out an updated version of CTC Software's MEP Productivity Pack (MEPPP). One significant development on the electrical side is around lighting fixtures. Over the 8+ years this product has been sold, a lot of customers (electrical engineers and contractors) have requested an un-hosted version of the content. I don't like the idea in principle, and we would almost never use them in our multi-discipline practice here are LHB, but there is always the exception (e.g. architect working in 2D AutoCAD). The main issue deflecting effort in this develop was that we would essential need two families for every fixture; face based and level based (aka un-hosted).

I am happy to report we were able to develop a hosted and un-hosted set fixtures in a single family. It even has a native, non-nested, light source to making modifying the photometry simple and facilitate a smooth workflow for lighting analysis (using ElumTools, for example).

BTW, we have been collaborating with Steven Bunker on this content. A electrical engineer and Revit guru I met in an Autodesk beta meeting! He is fairly active in the Autodesk Forums - click here for that.

Keep reading to learn more...

Monday, April 15, 2019

Phasing Versus Design Options

Quick and simple post today... a reminder for some, and new information for others. The topic is defining the difference between phasing and design options. Read on if you want to learn more...

Friday, April 12, 2019

A Visit to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

Earlier this week we took my son, who is a junior in high school, on a college visit to the #1 art school in the USA... the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Who knows if he will get accepted or if we can afford it, but I suggested we 'shoot for the stars' and see what happens... especially given his passion for art. BTW, he created the mascot for this blog when is we 15.

I decided to share some photos I took from the visit, even though they to not do this campus justice; it has an amazing vibe and immense character. I have a few photos of a quick tour of the RISD school of architecture as well, which I initiated as my son is not interested in following me... which is perfectly fine. Given I am an architect, teach graduate architecture students at NDSU and have the #1 Revit textbook in the USA academic market, you can imagine why I would stop in to say hello:)

Read on to learn more...

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Revit 2020 Books - Free Exam Copy for Instructors

Today I am pleased to  announce my line of Autodesk Revit 2020 textbooks are updated and will be ready for Fall 2019 semester. I have a textbook for every user level, covering a variety of disciplines and uses. Many of my books include training videos and instructor support material.
Instructors, request your free examination copies today, and SDC Publications will send you copies as they become available (see
eligibility statement below).

Residential Design Using Autodesk Revit 2020
Residential Design Using Autodesk Revit 2020

Beginner, 688 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-63057-256-3
  • Starts at an introductory level
  • Project based tutorials design a house from start to finish
  • Includes access to extensive video training
  • Bonus material covers Insight 360, finding missing elements, and much more
  • Helps you prepare for the Autodesk Revit Architecture Certification Exam

Interior Design Using Autodesk Revit 2020
Interior Design Using Autodesk Revit 2020

Beginner, 850 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-63057-254-9
  • Written specifically for interior designers
  • No previous experience with Autodesk Revit is required
  • Uses a project based, tutorial style approach
  • Includes access to extensive video instruction and bonus content
  • Helps you prepare for the Autodesk Revit Architecture Certification Exam

Design Integration Using Autodesk Revit 2020
Design Integration Using Autodesk Revit 2020

Beginner, Intermediate, 898 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-63057-250-1
  • Covers all three disciplines of Autodesk Revit in one book
  • Guides you through creating a two story law office while teaching you the BIM process
  • Uses step-by-step tutorials and starts at an introductory level
  • Includes access to extensive video instruction and bonus chapters
  • Bonus chapters include an introduction to lighting design, multi-story stairs, building performance analysis and much more

Commercial Design Using Autodesk Revit 2020
Commercial Design Using Autodesk Revit 2020

Beginner, 624 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-63057-248-8
  • Starts at an introductory level
  • Project based tutorials design an office building from start to finish
  • Includes access to nearly 100 video tutorials
  • Bonus material covers multi-story stairs, Insight 360, ElumTools, and much more

Autodesk Revit for Architecture Certified User Exam Preparation (Revit 2020 Edition)
  • This book will prepare you to pass the Revit Certified User Exam on your first try
  • Designed for users with about 150 hours of instruction and real-world Revit experience
  • Gives an overview of the exam process
  • Describes the main topics you need to be familiar with to pass the exam
  • Comes with practice exam software that simulates an actual exam
  • Includes access to a discount on the actual certification exam

Autodesk Revit 2020 Architectural Command Reference
Autodesk Revit 2020 Architectural Command Reference

Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, 750 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-63057-246-4
  • Comprehensive coverage of Autodesk Revit’s commands and features
  • Includes access to nearly 100 video tutorials
  • Contains expert user tips and tricks throughout the book
  • Essential desk reference for users of all levels
  • Organized in the same way the Revit user interface is presented

Who can request exam copies? 
Only educators in the United States and Canada may request examination copies. All requests are subject to approval and only legitimate requests will be fulfilled. SDC respects your privacy. For more information you can read their privacy statement.

For BIM Chapters updates, follow @DanStine_MN on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn

I also write blog posts for Enscape - a new paradigm in rendering, animation and VR for AEC.