Making the Dinosaur Bone

Something must be in the water. In the last week I've received about 5 or 6 requests for information on this model. Not sure why it's happening now, but I'm happy to oblige as best I can.

I first made this model back in late 2009, looking at SOM's Transbay Transit Center, as we were developing some of the adaptive components functionality. Unfortunately the model was in a weird, mutant, partially developed state, so I couldn't pass it around.

I'd love to do a step by step tutorial on how to make it, but I can only get around to rebuilding it, then playing back the process for your viewing pleasure. So, jack into the matrix, keep your hand on the pause/rewind, and see what happens!

Download the resulting file from here


ACADIA 2010 Workshop in NYC

Matt, Lira, Frame, and I, are rolling out of the wilds of New England and heading down to teach a 3 day workshop at the 2010 Association for Computer Aided Design In Architecture Conference, October 18, 19, and 20 in New York City. We'll be talking about parametric modeling and performance based design in Revit, going from basics into some fairly complex stuff.

Space is limited, looks like 10 to 15 bodies, so sign up now! Here's the official write up:

Conceptual Design in Autodesk Revit Architecture Workshop

Dates: October 18 – 20
Time: 9:00 – 4:00

Matt Jezyk, Senior Manager, Autodesk AEC Conceptual Design Products
Lira Nikolovska, Principal Designer, Autodesk AEC BIM User Experience
Greg Demchak, Senior Designer, Autodesk BIM User Experience
Zachary Kron, Autodesk AEC Senior Quality Assurance Analyst

Conceptual Design with Autodesk® Revit Architecture

The aim of this workshop is explore the new Revit conceptual design workflows, specifically parametric modelling and performative design using Autodesk® Revit®. The first part of the workshop will focus on the ins and outs of the new form making and manipulation tools including creation of parametric rigs to drive and modify form, surface panelization, reporting parameters and adaptive components. The second part of the workshop will focus on analysis applied early into the design process (conceptual energy analysis, solar radiation, use of structural analysis plug-ins), and will also provide overview of API features such as Analysis Visualization Framework and Dynamic Updating.

30-day trial copies of Autodesk Revit Architecture / Autodesk Revit MEP will be available for those who do not already have this software. Educational copies of Revit are available for free for students and faculty and can be downloaded in advance from

I should also mention that resident Dr. Andrew Marsh is going to be teaching a killer workshop on sustainable design around the same time:

Sustainable Design Workshop

Dates: October 18
Time: 9:00 – 4:00

Dr. Andrew Marsh, Sr. Principal Engineer, AEC-Simulation

Performative Design with Autodesk® Ecotect® Analysis

The aim of this workshop is explore the boundaries of generative and performative design using Autodesk® Ecotect® Analysis, Autodesk® Green Building Studio® and Autodesk® Revit®.

The workshop will focus on the use iterative techniques and automated feedback from performance analysis to optimise and refine building geometry. While developing scripts in Autodesk Ecotect is quite easy and the fundamentals can be picked up during the course of the workshop, some experience with programming concepts and/or languages will be advantageous.

While mainly directed sessions, there will also be scope to develop some custom scripts, so participants are encouraged to consider problems specific to their own schemes or designs as the basis of their work. 30-day trial copies of Autodesk Ecotect Analysis and Autodesk Revit Architecture / Autodesk Revit MEP will be available for those who do not already have this software.


Flap mo'cheen

So he's like "Davinci is way cool" and I'm all like "duh!" and he's like "ya, but can you make it flap?" and I'm like "cha!"


Making the Revit 2010 splash screen panel

An often asked reader question: how can I make the nice pillowy triangular panels that you see in the startup screen for Revit 2010?

There are a few methods that I can think of, but this video shows my current favorite.

File Posted Here


BeeHives are Back: Real Equilateral Hexagons

Last year I did a post on making custom panel patterns. It was noted that among other limitations, Revit's out of the box hexagons kind of stink. I finally got around to figuring out how to make a real equilateral hexagon, where there is no overlap between panels, they count right, and they flex. One problem: they are a little funky on really irregular grids, curvy things, etc, but they work on most regular surfaces. If you download this file, and keep your UV divisions to a proportion of 1 to 1.73, and don't ask any questions, you'll be fine.

For those who prefer to suffer and learn how, read on.

First, why do the out of the box hexes look so . . . soooo . . . clumsy? Distorted? Unsatisfying?

Basically a rectangular grid cannot define an equilateral hexagon, at least not by connecting intersection points, and the divided surface patterns will only use rectangular grids. So the results are NEVER going to be a well proportioned hex. Or, more accurately, there will be certain limitations on the proportions which you may find unsatisfying.

So we have to do a little work.

Nasty, but trust me, this is all stuff from high school. The short version is this: An Eq Hex has 6 corners that are all at 120 degree angles. That means you can decompose it into 30 and 60 degree pieces.



Now you can whip out your handy dandy brain cells from when you were a teenager (got any left?) and recall that the good old Ancients figured out all sorts of things about 30/60/90 triangles, namely this:



That is, the proportions of a 30/60/90 triangle are always 1 X 2 X sqrt3.


So we know that the "2" is a distance between 2 points on the grid, and the 2 end of our hypotenuse are equal distances from the grid points, as long as our rectangular grid remains at a set proportion namely, 1x Sqrt3, or 1 to 1.73205



[Deep breath]


Therefore, as long as your grid is proportioned at 1x1.73 . . ., and your hexagonal points are offset from their neighboring/host points by (b/sqrt3)*.5, all is good.


And it gets a little freaky on curves. I'm pretty sure you can account for this by adding more reporting parameters between points to drive the individual offsets. But who has time to do THAT?