Sunday, February 23, 2020


There are certain categories of Revit family which troubled me from day one.  The out-of-the-box content was useless, and making your own families for those categories was quite challenging.  One issue was to do with “organic shapes” (sanitary ware, certain types of furniture, etc.)  Doors present a different challenge. 

This post from May 2012 looks at some of the options available, and in particular the “Door Factory” plugin that was developed in New Zealand. (Something that many people feel should be built in to the installed version of Revit).  Ultimately I have developed my own system for generating a wide variety of door families in a systematic and predictable way.  This has been operating successfully at GAJ, where I work for several years now and has proved to be quite adaptable.  Will there ever be a universal, shared approach to creating door families in Revit?

Next comes a post about those pesky Plumbing Fixtures.  In this case, many of the families I created were quite straight forward, although the toilet bowls and urinals did involve subtle “organic” shapes.  That was an interesting project for me.  A chance to build up a library of content for public rest rooms.  That continues to be an ongoing project.  In fact I have been reorganizing the “collection” file on our server just this week. 

I am a big fan of organizing all the Revit families for a particular category in a Revit project, with views and sheets that help end users to understand how the families work and to find the content that they need for a particular project.

One thing I have discovered that if you name a blog post after a well known catch phrase, a pop song, or whatever … the spam will find a way past the robot checker.  Windows from Kerala etc advertised in my comments section … the internet at its worst. (no reflection on Kerala, I have several good friends who hail from that state)  I was working on roads that wind around a hillside and trying to speed up the process of cutting into Revit topography with pads, simulating sloping faces and building objects to represent roads (Point World inevitably)

One answer to the spam issue is to miss-spell words, introducing an element of double-entendre in the process. This work was part of an effort by our office to get the civil engineers to be a bit more creative in their approach.  BIM is supposed to be a tool for interdisciplinary coordination, although the usual narrative is not quite so combative, but then again, the usual narrative assumes that the engineers are using BIM.  Thankfully, almost 8 years later, many of them are.

The next post coincides with my first RTC event.  I was just an attendee. Since then I have always gone as a speaker.  These are reflections on the US and cultural differences.  I have lived in England, Zimbabwe and Dubai.  Standards are good in many ways, but cultural variation is also fascinating and the creativity with which people design devices for simple bodily interactions like switching on a table lamp or controlling the flow of water … I really enjoy the surprise of finding that these work in a different way from past experience.  My search for an effective digital drawing tool had lighted upon the bamboo, which really draws on paper in the normal way while simultaneously recording digital image files. Didn’t really catch on.

The conference was in Atlanta but I stayed with my daughter before and after, in New Jersey which has a town called Millburn, like my surname but with an extra “L”.  Travelling is always invigorating.  Everything is slightly unfamiliar, constantly noticing things that you wouldn’t normally think about.

Passing through England on the way home.  I went to see Richard Arkwright’s first spinning mill in Derbyshire. This was early on in my deep dive into the industrial revolution by looking at buildings and how they were built.  This factory takes us back to just before fossil fuels became our main source of power.  Arkwright used water power as a bridge while steam engines were ramping up their efficiency, until eventually he ran out of streams.  St Pancras station provides a perfect link.  This terminus was a gateway into London for people from Derbyshire once the chain reaction unleashed by Arkwright’s factory progressed to steam powered public transport.  The magnificent single gothic arches of the roof were manufactured in Derbyshire, as was the beer that was stored under the platform in huge quantities. This warehouse has now been opened up to the arches in places to create a modern shopping mall.  Gothic Revival side-by-side with minimalist modernism.

Back in Dubai, I started implementing ideas that I had picked up at RTC (the forerunner of what are now the BiLT conferences)  I particular, I was using an “excel and back” workflow to randomize curtain panels.  This was quite exciting for a while.  I haven’t used the technique on actual fee earning jobs, so the novelty wore off after a while.  There was a free app that did the job for a while.  I guess these days you would probably use Dynamo, if you had the skills.

I was creating imaginary facades.  Nothing very exciting from a design point of view.  Variable depth, holes of different sizes, colours randomly distributed.  I learnt some new stuff about Excel and was hopeful that it would become a regular bolt-on for handling Revit data.  Hasn’t materialized.  Is it me?  Would it make a difference if the connection to Excel was built into the core of Revit?  Who knows?

Last post in this sequence is something completely different.  Very much bread and butter problems that crop up in our office, mostly when doing “Gulf Traditional” style architecture.  We use cavity walls to generate the thickness needed to pull this style off effectively.  The problem comes when trying to join up the various wall types and to create deep recesses all over the façade.  Not sure I have developed a really satisfactory solution yet, but haven’t done a project like this for a couple of years now.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I've been getting a lot of spam so had to tighten up comments permissions. Sorry for any inconvenience. I do like to hear from real people