Hi Ho Coffer Dome!

Psst, hey kid . . . want to make the dome of the Pantheon in 220 seconds* with revit 2010?

1. Extract the contents of this .zip file to a folder on your machine
2. Identify the file pimpMyDome.txt
3. Put on your headphones.
4. drag and drop pimpMyDome.txt into your Revit 2010 desktop shortcut.
5. while revit is starting up, click on this link:

When it's all over, inspect the folder were pimpMyDome.txt was, you get a PRIZE! A freshly baked parametric coffer panel!

If this fails, or you don't have revit 2010, or if you are a low minded BIM pragmatist who can't be bothered with the full glory of watching a journal file play your Revit installation like the elegant, precision instrument that it is, you can get the low fidelity video of the event here (play full screen, please):

Times may vary depending on processor speed and RAM
Shut down any other sessions of Revit before starting.
Running these .txt file journals in Revit is a fickle process. Sorry if it doesn't work.
If you run it once, you have to remove the Coffer.rfa that gets spit out at the end before running it again.
[edit: here is the panel in r2012]


Banksy yer Buildz: Inkscape

Since Banksy has been doing his thing for just under 20 years, it's high time architects got in on the act. And so I submit to you, that if Banksy can stencil a building, so can we!

First, do yourself a quicky render, keep the shadows to a minimum using the patented Buildz Middle O' The Night Render. I like to speed the whole process up for this technique by setting the quality of rendering in Revit to Draft, copy the settings to custom, then crank up antialiasing to 6. Fast and textured, but with some volume, kind of like a good cheap haircut.

Now, download and install Inkscape, "An Open Source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator". This application is fabulous, and a handy tool to have for anyone messing around in the visual businesses. And it's free. Open your exported render in Inkscape, select the image and go to Path>Trace Bitmap. In this dialogue, you will be presented with a number of options to create vector artwork from your render, but Brightness Cutoff is the fastest path to Banksydom.

Play around with different setting for variations, you can get the idea pretty quick.



FAQ's on r2010 Massing Tools

I just had this communication with a user who’s ramping up with the Revit 2010 massing and panelization tools. It’s an interesting set of questions, not so much for any one question, but the aggregate confusion of many smaller pieces that are still a bit mystifying. There is a lot more to each of these questions, but I hope this can fill in some of the gaps.

1. How do you get faceted edges/surfaces with the new modeling tools? Whenever I push or pull edges and profiles, it creates a curved surface. For example, when you create a lofted solid with three profiles and edit one of the middle profile edges it creates a curved surface rather than a “v” surface.
A: After pulling out a profile, use the add edge tool from the corners to make it facetted. Think of it this way, if you blow on a bed sheet that is fastened in 4 corners, you get a curved form. If you pinch the center and pull, you get a faceted form. One is a distributed load, the other is focused.

2. When should you use “reference lines” instead of “lines” to generate the solid/void geometry?
A: Like the rest of Revit, making constrained and parametrically driven forms is best done by making a “rig” or a set of reference geometry, and then using it to create solids and voids. Same here, if you want freeform elements that are less constrained, I recommend using regular lines, and otherwise I would stick to ref lines. The big thing about regular lines is that they are “consumed” by the form element and are not accessible on one hand, but you are also not constrained by them on the other.

3. How do you get the icons where you have a choice to create a surface or a solid (they show after you select Create Form by your cursor)?
A: The previews in general show up any time there is any ambiguity about what the possible shapes are to be made. Try just drawing 2 parallel lines, you should get at least three form element options (2 revolves and a surface).

4. I have had a hard time getting temporary dimensions to show while in the conceptual mass family editor. Is there a trick to get them to show in a 3D view? It seems fairly inconsistent.
A: There are a couple bugs in this (for instance, sometimes temp dims fail for vertex points when masses are joined), but there are also many instances in this environment when there are not meaningful temp dimensions to present. In general, you need two parallel workplanes that are being called on to dimension between and quite often with the freeform tools there aren’t 2 such planes available in your selection.

5. When would you use divide and curtain panels by pattern in a conceptual mass family. When I do it in the .rfa and bring it into a project I cannot schedule the panels or turn off the mass element and keep the panels. It only appears to work when the mass element is done as an in-place family.
A: By default, the panel family should be a shared family. If you have turned this off and you are using loaded masses, the panels will basically be masses. If you don’t change the defaults, they should schedule just fine.

6. Another related question, can the curtain panels by pattern be part of a final construction document model or only for conceptual use? What is the correct workflow if you create a great conceptual design with the patterned surface and need to have that be part of your construction documents?
A: Curtain panels can definitely be part of construction documentation. You can schedule, mark, tag, etc. Make sure the panel family itself is shared. Keep in mind a couple limitations relative to the older Curtain Panels, like Length and Width are not available because, well, there isn’t always a length and a width for your panel (hexagons, triangles, etc), and there is no necessity that opposing sides of a “rectangle” pattern are actually parallel. There are ways to deal with these limitations through the API, one example shown here:

7. Is it better to create the mass element as a family or in-place? What are the pros and cons of each?
A: This is a longer conversation. A big reason to work in external families are that working in the rfa is much lighter in terms of performance load, as you don’t have to deal with all the other stuff in the main model, also the visibility of levels and workplanes in 3d views is really nice. If you need to interact with the levels in the project more directly or reference many or changing site features in place is better. Of course, if multiple instances or thematic variations of the family are to be used you definitely want to use an rfa.

8. When I create a void in my conceptual mass .rfa, some of the tools in my contextual ribbon disappear. I have not been able to reliably recreate the issue, but the Convert to Void/Mass button disappears and sometimes the whole Modify Form Element Panel disappears.
A: In the massing environment, voids automatically cut elements that they hit on creation. The problem might be that you are actually selecting a joined element and don’t realize it. Different tools will be available than you would otherwise expect.

9. Do you need to set the work plane when creating dimensions in a 3D view to use for parameters? When I select points or edges to create parameters it doesn’t always seem to be in the direction that I want.
A: in the conceptual design environment, the active workplane is assigned “on the fly”. The selection tool might be setting the plane without you realizing it. Sometimes it makes sense to just turn on Workplane visibility to make sure you are in the Workplane you think you are in.


Brushes with the Inescapably Awesome

There's a Felix Candela show at the MIT Museum that has some of his sketch books and a couple of lovely wooden models. I can't get it out of my head and it's starting to get in my way. In related news, the construction guys across the street were rocking out to THIS, and I'm stuck repeating it over and over. Certain pleasures need to be enjoyed cautiously.

Download the Candela sketch .rvt here. Buy the song, and then bury it in your back yard.