Badass Wall Trimming Method

This is just too nasty, you should stop reading.

You're still here? OK, well, since it's just the two of us, I'll show you. But you have to promise not to use this, definitely not in a project, OK? OK.

And don't tell anyone.

User question: "Walls don't join to curtain panels, so how do I trim my walls against a curved panel system?"

[Sigh . . .well, if you're still going to watch, you should play this at the same time. And yes, that really is Jesse Jackson.]


The Elephant in the room

Marcello Sgambelluri has done what I think it is safe to say no one has done before in Revit. Yes, this is a 100% native Revit elephant. No Shit.

And it apparently wasn't enough to just model it . . . he made it parametric . . . and did a stop action animation.

Last year he did a 747 and a Lexus, so this year he wanted to push a little further.
I hope that this puts to rest the question "can you make [insert geomtric desctiption here] in Revit?" It's just not an interesting question anymore.
Yes, you can make it. Of course you still need to ask "Why?!?!", but yes, you can.

Marcello is the BIM Manager at John A Martin and Associates Structural Engineers in LA. He builds families to Beta Test revit in his spare time and has also spoken at AU about Revit.

We are humbled, Marcello, and look forward to what comes next.


Look Ma, no API: rule based form creation

I've been looking at some exercises for ramping up on Generative Components and looking at what can and can't be done in Revit 2011. So, after some discussions with Robert and David, and looking at this example, and also this, I came up with a method to start to do this sort of rule based form creation in Revit. Download the example file from here.

Buildz.info - Revit 2011 Adaptive Component: Pincushion Modeling from Zach Kron on Vimeo.


Getting Starting with adaptive components: Primitives

Here's a quick exercise to get familiar with adaptive components

Don't forget to read the Help Docs! F1 is your friend.


Performative Design

Andrew Marsh, who brought you the smash hit Ecotect, has a website where he pours out very, very smart things for your consideration. Stop reading this blog and go there now.

Start here:


Parametric Thinking and Pandora

Careful . . . I haven't really thought this through entirely but here goes:

You're having guests and you're putting music on via Pandora. You think, something a little folksy, simple, a little gritty. Bob Dylan before he went electric! So you pop on a new station for Bob and 15 minutes later, you're wondering why you're listening to the Traveling Wilbury's and Credence Clearwater Revival, and all that stuff from Stealer Wheels. Well, you asked for something really general and you're going to get something really general. It's all Dylanesque, the problem is, which Dylan did you mean?

Pandora is a system, not a DJ or a librarian, and like any other system, it isn't going to be any smarter than the information you give it. I don't know technically how it works, but it seems to work in some derivative fashion. You give it Bob Dylan, and it will give you back music that was inspired by Bob or very near to him in musical time/space, which is a pretty large patch of musical history. To get effective playlists, you have to go one step back or above your target.

I've heard a lot of questions from Revit users about why it doesn't do what they intended. Yes, sometimes there are bugs. But more often than not, the problem is that Revit is not yet telepathic (fingers crossed for 2012!) and the user has not given the system enough information to properly define the performance of their geometry. One user was confused about the behavior of an arch that was "defined" by two points (center and radius). An arch must have three points to be defined (arc length or angle!), otherwise you get "Stuck in the middle with you" or "The Joker".

If you want the gritty/soulful/folksy Dylan, don't ask for Dylan. When he's doing that sort of music, he's inspired by Woody Guthrie. So if you put in Woody Guthrie, you get Woody and all the music that is derived from and lateral to him. Generally I have found that this is how Pandora works. You need to ask for something slightly more ideal than you want to hear. If you ask for Woody, you get Leadbelly, the early Johnny Cash, lots of fantastic hillbillies that you've never heard of plunking on banjos (or at least I haven't), and pre-Royal Albert Hall Dylan. (BTW, Don't even try putting in "Johnny Cash".)

Parametric design is the same way. You need to identify the underlying principles that you are after. You want a curvy thing . . . what kind of curvy thing? An ellipse, an arc, a spline? In particular instances they can all look almost identical, change the context and they diverge greatly. Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's door" can quickly become Guns n' Roses "Knockin' on Heaven's Door". Iy, iy, iy-yi-yi.

You can of course define geometry in a sculptural manner. This is totally valid, but don't expect it to be dynamic or rapidly reconfigurable. Sculptural work is defined manually, by personal sensitivity or measurement to specific and static context. Parametric design needs to define performative goals, and the form is derived from this framework. In this way, if you adjust the goals, the form flows out of this change "for free". Sculptural design says the lines should intersect THERE. And the next point of the sculpture must similarly be pinpointed for that space/time instant regardless of how it was specified in the last instant. Parametric design says that the line should intersect at a defined distance from some contextually significant element. This relationship may then be applied as a RULE in all such recurring instances. Parametric geometry defines relationships rather than forms, to achieve the form in your head you need to understand it's derivation.

This is the difference between a playlist/sculptural and a Pandora/parametric approach. A playlist is direct, inflexible, and highly predictable after it has been made. Pandora is - or at least can be - exploratory, dynamic, and surprising after it has been set in motion.


Adaptive Components: The Frame

This is a work flow that the Conceptual Modeling team looked at while developing the new Adaptive Component toolset.

This particular construction method was first attempted by Rahul, the brains behind much of the Adaptive Components code and one of the many hard working developers at the factory to whom I sacrifice a goat every full moon. (Look for the infinitely extended intersection line hack, this will start showing up more and more.)

Generally, this tutorial (in 2 parts) is riffing on a project that has been done in Catia/Digital Project and Inventor.
For these examples, check out the posts on DesignReform


Adding reporting parameters to curtain panels

In Revit 2011 we (finally) have something that I've been hoping for since I started in on the whole BIM thing. With the exception of things like old style curtain panels and beams, you could never get a placed family to tell you anything about the context that it was placed in. Lots of work has been done in the API with users trying to get doors and windows to "know" how thick the walls are that they are hosted in, and curtain panels have had this power, as long as they were flat, four sided and had all right angle corners. But now, we have the "reporting parameter", which is a labeled dimension that simply tells you what it is. "Hi, in the family editor I was hosted in a 8" wall, but over here in the project you placed me in a 6" wall, and over here I'm in a 12" wall. I'm good, schedule me, please".

But then, if you make your reporting parameter to "host" geometry (a concept I still have a shaky grasp of, loosely, geometry that was baked into the family before you got there) you can use that dimension to drive formulas. So, now your door family can not only tell you how thick the wall is that it is hosted in, it can adjust itself accordingly. "I'm in a 12" wall, so I'm going to be a six panel door instead of 2" or whatever.

So in these two videos, I'm going to show how to apply reporting parameters to a curtain panel by pattern and use that information to schedule and drive geometry. The first is simple length dimensioning, the second is slightly more complex, dealing with angular measurement.


The On Ramp to Conceptual Modeling in Revit

Before leaping headlong into the Revit 2011 release, I thought I would make a list of suggested reading for those who would like to catch up with 2010 Conceptual Massing and Curtain Paneling first. Here is a pretty good list of essential/startup knowledge for 2010 functionality outside of just reading the user’s manual. Apologies to those I have not included, there are many others but I think that these links make a solid base to begin exploring, and can be plowed through in a few hours. Please add more resources in the comments.



Form Making

Point Behavior