Xrev API Tools: Increase Productivity!



Wednesday, September 30, 2009

KAUST: Breakwater Beacon Inauguration

After 4 months of documentation and modelling, and finally construction, the Breakwater Beacon is finished.

Designed by Daniel Tobin & Jamie Perrow of Urban Art Projects and the Plaza by Liam Proberts of Fairweather Proberts, Cadway and specifically myself, were given the difficult tasks of taking the complex design and producing accurate and complete documentation in order to realise this design.

Working with the Structural Engineers, Robert Bird Group - Lance Barton, strict construction tolerances were given that were part of the design constraints.

I then took these design constraints and constructed a highly robust Revit Family with over 70 parameters and numerous complex formulas (conditional statements, trigonometry and algebra). By creating parameters and using the API to calculate the true lengths of the edges of the hexagonal rings we were able to automate a lot of the shop drawing creation for the precast concrete elements. Within Revit we were able to directly and automatically extract weights and volumes to supply to the Structural Engineer for calculation.

Unfortunately, it wasn't all straight forward. Early in the design process I had to go through a number of iterations of my family whilst the construction technique was established. That is, which sections were Precast Concrete and which sections with Cast in-situ. The main issue being that the cast in-situ was a different colour to the precast concrete which wasn't a desired architectural outcome.

From there the Lighting Designers, Norman Disney and Young became involved and we worked with them to set out recessed lighting locations directly in the precast pieces themselves and documented their exact locations.

The Structural Engineers calculated 3 lifting points for each piece that simplified the lifting process so the natural centroid of the piece was already correct when lifted by the crane and lowered into position.

From here it was a process of placing all the individual hexagons and adjusting their many parameters to suit the concept design. As we were using Revit, as we placed the elements more and more of the documentation was also being completed. We were given tolerances for the spacing of the pieces to work with and then for every piece we supplied 12 coordinates to locate the precast members onsite (6 vertices internally and externally). Every single piece was different in shape and the internal faces of the precast members were completely faceted so the Revit family had to completely triangulate the faces.

Finally once all these pieces were placed, we then had to specifically model up the 4 different entrance frames which also had a steel framed core. We supplied the centroid points of the void spaces to the structural engineer and produced shop drawings for the many segments that then framed the doorways.

The final stage to be completed is the entire plaza level which should now be well underconstruction to immitate the Giants Causeway.

If anyone has any questions please don't hesitate to post a comment. I hope some find this information useful or interesting.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Customized Revit Families - Revit Content

Although I haven't downloaded this content, it looks to be fairly good quality if it all works as advertised. Although for some items they are overmodelling which may potentially cause issues on larger projects with the amount of detail that is being shown. One would hope they have set the models correctly with coarse, medium and fine displays and that the individual family sizes don't exceed 1MB each.

See for yourself.

We create your customized Revit Families - Welcome to Revit Content

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Conceptual Mass - Defining Area to control width & length automatically

In this quick tutorial I've taken a request from Ry on linkedin to produce a rectangular mass family where you can set the area, then use grips to change the length and width whilst still maintaining the required area.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Conceptual Mass (2010) - Octagon Panels & Mitring

This is just a simple little tutorial that talks about how to get your edges to cleanup without a gap for both sides of your panel. I hope someone finds it useful.

Due to some issues with Blogger this took a while to get online...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Revit Elevation/Section View Depth Clipping workaround

Hello readers,

This is another one of those workarounds that I've been doing for a while and wasn't aware that a lot of people didn't know of it. Its a very quick method to creating depth in your elevations/sections without adding masses, using the linework tool, or utilising shadows. (although in Revit 2010, with directx turned on printing of views with shadows has improved exponentially!).

This is my first attempt at uploading a video so please let me know if people have any difficulties viewing. It has been encoded using the Techsmith codec. TSCC in AVI format.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Autodesk release 2010 Product Line Up

Autodesk today started shipping there 2010 product lineup.


Revit 2010 introduces:

New User Interface (ribbon) - which from my experience is a better implementation than most other platforms that have implemented the ribbon.

Conceptual Modelling tools - A complete redesign for the conceptual design modelling tools enabling nearly any form to now be modelled directly in Revit. You are no longer confined by blend, extrusion, sweep, revolve and swept blend. Instead simply draw the various components that would make the shape, select them and then hit create form/void... You still need to be aware of intersecting geometry as this will result in the "unable to create..." error that is typical in Revit. Furthermore with this tool you can apply complex patterns to them based on a UV breakup of the surface. And the very cool feature is this can all be controlled via the API to generate some amazing mathematically driven patterns for surfaces. Checkout Guy's blog for some examples shortly.

Performance Enhancements - 2010 ditches Open Gl for Direct 3D as well as being native x86/x64 with some minor multi-threading tasks now implemented (no longer two separate installs). Graphically 3D navigation is much faster that 2010 and should be a welcome addition for most offices. Also, anti-aliasing of 3D views means linework is going to be much smoother rather than stepped as well as being able to turn on gradient backgrounds for a little more effect to your perspective and orthogonal views.

Minor Drafting Tool inclusions - You can now control the underlay linetype on a system wide setting as well as halftones. Also a new tool called Spot Slope which can indicate the slope of a surface that its placed on (similar to a spot co-ordinate or spot elevation). Unfortunately it doesn't work with Ramps as they still require fixing... Be careful when tagging roof pitches in elevations to use your tab key as you may inadvertently tag the ridge line instead of the true perpendicular fall meaning you'll get a different value than expected.

Interoperability - Bi-directional communication with Civil 3D via the adsk format, the ability to import adsk files from Inventor for family creation (things like connectors are transferred as well as all the product information) - hopefully this will assist with some accurate content becoming available soon. Exporting to gbXML has also been improved with a full graphical review of the export and analysis now available prior to export to iron out any issues before hand.

Let downs:
  • There are most likely going to be a number of bugs in the initial release so it may be worth waiting for WU1.
  • No notable bug fixes.
  • Not many drafting tool enhancements and no text enhancements.
  • Great release for those doing landmark buildings, others may find the release light on features...

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Building Information Modelling Asia 2009

I've recently returned from a conference on BIM in Singapore. Apart from an injury I received on the flight home I considered it to be a very worthwhile event.

There were key speakers from Developers, representatives of BuildingSMART, Tekla, Autodesk, Gehry Technologies as well as numerous others.

I guess the biggest thing I got out of it was that Revit isn't the centre of the universe! BIM can still work equally as well even if a number of the disciplines are using difference platforms. Yes if everyone is utilising the same platform such as Revit it can somewhat automate some of the more mundane co-ordination tasks - but it is not pivotal to a successful BIM. There were quite a few quoin phrases thrown about such as "Big BIM", "Little BIM" and "Integrated Project Delivery (IPD)" but only the latter had any real significance. Big BIM and Little BIM seemed to me to be a cop out to being able to say "this was a complete BIM project" when BIM was only partly implemented.

IPD refers to the involvement of all the Owners, consultants and Architects right at the conception of the BIM to establish project deliverables, specific outcomes and results to ensure the project is developed in such a way as to automate and produce these outcomes with minimal effort. It also involves the entire team communicating at equal levels in a Project Documentation/Design/Analysis Utopia all operating for the sole purpose of whatever will best benefit the project. Rather than, "its not my job"...

Over the next few weeks I plan to compile and develop a spreadsheet of BIM capable software for all stages of a building lifcycle including FM, that identifies the best way's for each of them to communicate with each other with regards to file types, formatting and setup for various uses that maximises data integrity through the life of the project. I welcome people to post their findings and designs for best interoperability methods with the various other packages as well as most applicable software to co-ordinate it all. Personally, we are going down the Navisworks road...

If anyone also has any questions specifically about the conference please ask as I will be more than happy to elaborate on any of the subjects if people are interested.