Joe K: Working with Rhino and Revit, Part 4

Welcome to Part 4/4 of our guest series of posts by the illustrious Joe Kendsersky.  Find Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 here.

Revit to Rhino and back to Revit:

So far we have gone through two specific examples on how to leverage the power of both tools. In the next example we’ll explore a case where a new Revit Architecture project was started but a team member hit a road block trying to model a free form building skin.

For this case, in Revit, we’ll export the entire 3d context of a project and import it into Rhino as a reference to model geometry and then later re-import back into Revit.

1. In Revit Architecture, open a 3d view and prepare for export by turning off categories that we do not need to export in the Visibility / Graphic Overrides. Now, from the application menu go to Export > CAD Formats > .dwg Files the Export CAD Format - Views / Settings dialogue will appear, if needed adjust export options. Note: make sure to use a common origin point before modeling


2. In Rhino, create a new project to import the .dwg reference data from Revit. In Rhino, we can use either Insert or Import options. File > Insert > select the .dwg.

Now, make sure to check the units under Tools > Options. Note: be mindful of origin placement when exporting / importing, to make it easier to realign the geometry afterwards.


3. In Rhino create your geometry using the referenced .dwg exported from Revit Architecture as the context. In this case we created a solid paraboloid and used a few boolean operations to carve away from the solid and rounded out the edges – as illustrated in red. The imported Revit geometry is highlighted in yellow.


4. Once the geometry is completed in Rhino, prepare object for export to be re-imported into Revit Architecture: Rhino > File > Exported Selected > select ACIS > ACIS Export Type > Default. The geometry being exported is highlighted in yellow.


5. In Revit, create a new family. For this case we’ll select the Mass.rfa family file. The Mass family can be loaded directly into the project or create in-place Mass family. One advantage of In-Place Mass method is that we can use a workflow as outlined in the first scenario - in the beginning of this document.

6. In the Mass.rfa family, go to the Insert tab and select Import CAD and pick the .sat file.


5. In the Mass .rfa family, you can select faces of the .sat to divide surfaces and apply curtain panel pattern components. Using the new intersect tool we can divide the surface by using intersecting 3D levels, reference planes or model lines. For this case, we turned off V grids (vertical lines) and sketched some model lines on a ref plane and intersected the surface. This allows us to create our own pattern layout that may have a unique spacing. We could also add parameters to the dimensions to explore the results of different grid positions without having to re-sketch model lines.

Note: when using the intersect tool your gridlines need to create cells that have four sides.



7. We can now load the mass family in a project and use Massing tools to select Wall by Face from the imported geometry and add additional building elements to document the project.


In this example, we have demonstrated how you can export the context of Revit Architecture project to be used as a reference in Rhino to create geometry - to then be loaded back into Revit to complete a project.


In conclusion, we have discussed some different workflow scenarios and ways to leverage the power of Revit Architecture with Rhino & Grasshopper. The goal of this document is not to show case one solution over the other, but to demonstrate how they can work together for the benefit of the project. At the end of the day the priority is getting the client’s work out the door without compromising design intent by using the correct tool(s) in the process to make this happen.

I would like to thank my colleagues; Emmanuel Di Giacomo and Zach Kron for their input in creating this document.


Joe Kendsersky

Joe Kendsersky is an Autodesk Green Beret who gets parachuted into customer offices to smooth over the bumps on their road to BIM victory.  This job is also referred to as “Customer Success Engineer for Revit Architecture”. One of his major roles is to insure the success of new and existing customers as they move from pilot to production and provide Autodesk with deep insight into product usage and customer experience. Joe is trained as an architect and joined Revit Technology in 2000, and subsequently Autodesk in 2002. Since switching into the software industry, he has continually worked to aide in the development of Revit and enjoys sharing new knowledge with all users.

Back to Part 1, Part 2, and Part3.


  1. I'm glad someone posted how to utilize the revit - rhino / rhino - revit workflow. It comes in handy a lot as a student in architecture school. Its nice to do a study in rhino import in into revit and refine it.

  2. Hi there,

    Thanks a lot for these posts.

    Something I have not been able to check with these transfer method though is the accuracy of the model.
    For example, let's divide by intersection a complex surface baked in rhino, and imported in Revit, the coordinate system is so different from Revit to Rhino that even though you can keep the same origin, it is impossible to check the location of the intersection point from one soft to the other.
    -How accurately is the shape tranlated?
    -How can I check this accuracy?
    -How can I assure my designer that his ideal Rhino shape is exactly the same once transfered in Revit (I have a pretty hair splitting one).

    Thanks a lot for your help.

  3. Hi LaFrite: You should be able to check the placement of specific areas/elements/points using spot elevations and spot coordinates. For translation accuracy, try exporting the file again to solid DWG and importing back into Rhino. Put the import in the same place as your Rhino form. This will potentially introduce more inaccuracies, but assuming it matches up, should satisfy your hair splitting designer.

  4. Joe and Zac,

    I have recently started experimenting with exporting 3D models from Inventor for use in Revit.

    I am looking for people who will download the files I have prepared in IPT, SAT, DWG and ADSK format, and give me some feedback about how they work in Revit.

    I count it as serendipitous that I also chose a Noguchi table!

    CAD Setter Out | Inventor to Revit interoperability


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