A New Way to Look at Revit: Coordination Views and How to Leverage them from Design to Documentation
When people talk about Revit they usually talk about documentation and embedded information. If visualization is mentioned it is in the context of the client, not the architect. My experience using Revit on professional projects shows me time and again that the most valuable aspect of the software is the ability to coordinate all the different things I’m drawing simultaneously. Often BIM Managers find themselves struggling to coordinate both internally with designers using a different 3D software and consultants who hand off dense AutoCAD drawings or Revit Models that clutter up the views. I’m going to show you three simple but effective ways to leverage the strengths of the software to continually be aware of what is going on in your model from design through documentation.
1. 2D Views for Internal Coordination – It is common for someone focused on design to insist on using a preferred software other than Revit to model. That’s great and I encourage it. I often float between Rhino and Revit because a lot of times I want to experiment with different iterations and I feel less constricted in Rhino. In future posts I will go in depth into modeling complex geometry and designing in Revit. For now, let’s focus on how to best coordinate between a designer in another software and someone doing documentation in Revit. Bringing an entire 3D Sketchup or Rhino model into Revit can quickly wreak havoc and cause a lot of confusion in 2D views. I would suggest unless you are very experienced with Revit never importing non-Revit 3D models. I would find a way to set up views in your preferred modeling software that allow you to quickly export 2D plans, elevations and anything else that needs coordination. There has been a lot of positive feedback on the updates to the Make2D command in Rhino 6, however in my experience Sketchup provides a reliable and intuitive option. After exporting 2D reference views to AutoCAD you can link the DWGs into your Revit model. Create new views, just for these references. In fact, create a whole new view type titled something like “Internal Coordination.” You are going to use these views only for coordinating between the design model and Revit, keeping your regular modeling and sheet views clean.
To limit the potential clutter of these DWGs it’s a good idea to check the “Current View Only” option when you bring them in. Always Link the DWGs, never Import. I will cover this more in depth in another post, but as with importing 3D models, I would advise against importing AutoCAD unless you are an experienced Revit user. Linking works just fine and is a much better way to protect your file from human error. Once you do this you will suddenly have a new set of views to keep track of in Revit. To stay up to date you simply re-export the views you set up in the design model and reload the links.
2. 2D Views for Consultant Coordination – When we get into dividing views between only “Sheets” and “Working”, we don’t leave any room for understanding some of the more macro level conflicts that can cause issues when coordinating with other disciplines. For consultant coordination views, I suggest keeping it very simple. You are only trying to use these views for major issues, such as a column in your circulation path or a mechanical closet where you were planning a corner office. Create a new set of views of each floor for each discipline. Usually this means a set of views called “MEP Coordination” or “Structural Coordination”. Create a view template for each of these view types. In the view template hide all modeling elements except for the ones that require coordination with consultants. JUST TO REITERATE, YOU ARE CREATING A WHOLE NEW SET OF VIEWS, YOU DO NOT WANT TO APPLY THESE SETTINGS TO YOUR SHEET VIEWS OR YOUR WORKING VIEWS.
For example, you may want a structural coordination view that shows only the structural grid and columns in the Structural model and only the walls in your Architectural model. Again, only show one consultant model per view, so if it is a MEP coordination view hide the Structural model. We will get into higher level coordination in another post but keep it simple for now. Another nice technique is to override the graphics for the linked model or DWG as red and make it halftone.
3. When all else fails, create 3D Views - There are inevitably going to be locations where a 2D view is not enough and you need to see it in 3D to make it right. Perhaps it is how a soffit fits with the ductwork or modeling some piece of ornament the designer says is essential. For every one of these problem areas you can create a 3D view. Creating a perfect section box for every view you want to coordinate in the project feels tedious you say? Use Orient to View! It is a simple and effective way to start generating coordination views. The best way to set things up is two-fold. First, start off by trying to figure things out with 2D sections, and when this reaches its limit use the Orient to View technique to turn these sections into three dimensional views. Next, take all your 2D plans and use Orient to View to create 3D coordination views of each floor. Starting with these two types of views, one 2D and the other 3D, will get you going towards visualizing those hard to understand problem areas. Be sure to locate all these views under your “Coordination” view types to keep things clean. Another way to minimize the amount of views is to tweak the boundaries of the section box. For instance, if you are studying a stair that goes four stories, don’t create four section boxes of each story, create a section box that shows the stair in its entirety. What this means is that you’ll have less views to look through and a more complete idea of the issues.
The whole point of setting up these views is this: giving yourself a seamless process for ensuring everything is as it should be. You don’t want to have to continue to look through the model trying to find the exact same thing you had to look for last week that someone has now changed. You want to be able to click and see exactly what the problem is. An Architect in the wholistic sense is someone that designs, details, produces drawings to code, coordinates construction and certifies construction aligns with the design intent. Often a firm will fracture this into multiple people doing multiple roles. Regardless of who is doing what, if this all falls under the scope of the firm any lag in coordination is most likely costing the firm, but not necessarily the client, money. Instead of toiling through this process, perhaps it is better to look at things from a different view.