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Posts from the ‘Professional Development Series’ Category

Deep Dive into Neocon Inspiration

Neocon 2017, Chicago Merchandise Mart, Interior Design and ArtWhile wandering the Mart at Neocon this year, I challenged myself to look beyond all the cool new products and design trends to find what inspired me in a more holistic way. After all, I see the larger world through the lens of design. What parallels could I find between our industry and what is happening in the world of art and cityscape?

With my trusty iPhone at hand, I watched for opportunities to capture an essence of creativity and exploration to take home with me. What caught my eye this year was all about texture and finding parallels between what I saw at the Art Institute Chicago, the River Walk and in showrooms.

Neocon 2017, Chicago Merchandise Mart, Interior Design and ArtWhile sitting on the tarmac at O’Hare during a thunderstorm, I had the time to sort through photos in a thoughtful way. Back at home, I plan on keeping my eyes open for inspiration, which like lightening, can strike at any time!

 

 

 

TLCD Architecture: Revit Tips for January

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Door, Window, and Frame Types by David Moyer

Are you still making drafting views and using annotation lines to depict your door, window, and frame types? There are better ways. Ways that leverage the Building Information Model and assure that when a change happens these type views are automatically updated. Today I have two such options for you to consider: 1. Legends and 2. Elevation Views.

  1. Using a legend to create your door, window and frame types is very fast and easy, but It has some drawbacks; you cannot reference details from a legend and this method does not work for curtain walls. Thus if you want to refer to your window head detail from the Window Type View you can only add a text reference for this purpose, not leveraging the automatic update feature that Revit offers with regular views. For curtain walls we have no choice but to use method 2 detailed next. If you want to learn how to use a legend for your door, window, & frame types please refer to the following instructions: http://revitknowz.blogspot.com/2011/12/how-to-create-door-legends.html

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Carl’s Excellent Adventure: Leadership Santa Rosa Part 3

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My story about the second Leadership Santa Rosa program day, Government and Politics, truly began several months ago at the Class XXXII retreat where several of my classmates and I had a discussion about the reunification of Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa, an important and contentious project which has been in the works for many years.  That spirited discussion inspired me to complete our homework assignment by attending the City Council meeting in September where the City Council decided to move ahead with funding the project, and that meeting became a tipping point for me to speak out in support of the City Council’s decision by writing a letter to the local newspaper, the Press Democrat.

And so, with my freshly inspired spirit for civic engagement, I entered the City Council chambers again in October to learn all about government, policy, and politics during our program day.

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Carl’s Excellent Adventure: Leadership Santa Rosa Part 2

SelfieWithACow

The topic of Class XXXII’s first Leadership Santa Rosa program day was Agriculture.  After our fascinating pretour of a mushroom farm in Sebastopol, I was excited to see what the day would bring, but not so excited about starting at 6am.  Ugh!  I can’t complain too much though, since our first stop was the Bucher Dairy, a 2nd generation family-owned organic dairy farm on 360 acres near Healdsburg, where they are up every day at 1am to start milking the cows. Yikes!  They have 700 dairy cows producing milk for Clover Storneta, and in recent years planted a 40 acre vineyard to support their own wine label, Bucher.  I learned a lot about how the farm operates and how they have integrated new technology over time to increase efficiency, including creating their own “plate cooler” that works like a heat exchanger to passively cool the milk with stored water.

Our next stop was Santa Rosa Junior College’s Shone Farm for a panel discussion with Tony Linegar, the Sonoma County Agricultural Commissioner, Karissa Kruse, the President of the Sonoma County Wingrowers, and Doug Beretta from Beretta Family Organic Dairy.

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Carl’s Excellent Adventure: Leadership Santa Rosa Part 1

I recently began my two-year participation in Leadership Santa Rosa, an “educational program intended to develop and equip effective community leaders via exposure to pertinent issues, broad thinkers and the richness of Santa Rosa and Sonoma County.” The program was created by the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce and as a part of Class XXXII, I hope to join the distinguished group of community leaders who have graduated from the program over the years, including TLCD Architecture’s own Don Tomasi (Class VIII) and Jason Brabo (Class XXIV). Through a series of full-day educational and interactive seminars, I will learn directly from experienced leaders about various aspects of our community including challenges we face and opportunities for our future.

mushrooms, gourmet mushrooms, mycopia, leadership santa rosaThe topic for our first program day was “Agriculture” and our first official activity was a tour of Gourmet Mushrooms, a mushroom farm off of Gravenstein Highway north of Sebastopol. Justin Reyes, the Manager for Sales and Marketing, led us on a tour through the facility where they grow seven varieties of gourmet mushrooms that are sold under the Mycopia brand at groceries throughout the United States, including our local Safeway, Raley’s, and Whole Foods. The mushrooms are grown in bottles packed with a special wood based substrate that is first “seeded” with mycelium, then incubated for several months, and finally moved to harvest rooms where the mushrooms grow. Their mushrooms have been certified organic and their operations are highly sustainable, including using very little water and producing very little waste. All of their used wood substrate is sold to local farms for compost and the approximately 1 million bottles in circulation at the facility are continuously reused.

Mushroom Mycelial Biomass, mushrooms, gourmet mushrooms, leadership santa rosa

Photo courtesy of Gourmet Mushrooms, Inc.

The tour was incredibly fascinating and I learned a lot more than I ever thought I would while wearing a hairnet. I can’t wait to see what other experiences this journey will bring and I promise to keep sharing them with you! For now, I’ll leave you with a few fun facts about mushrooms:

  • The largest living organism on Earth is a mushroom in Oregon that is over 2,000 acres and can be seen from space.
  • Fungi are their own kingdom, but they are closer to animals than plants.
  • Nearly all plants have a symbiotic relationship with a partner fungi.

Stay tuned for more in my Leadership Santa Rosa Series – there are a lot more adventures to come!

To learn more about the farm Gourmet Mushrooms, Inc. watch this video.

TLCD Architecture: Revit Tips for July

Revit, TLCD Architecture

Relinquish All Elements by Carl Servais

RevitEach time you synchronize with central, make sure you relinquish all the worksets and elements that you have been working on by checking all of the available check boxes in the dialog box.  Each time you create a new view, you have created a new workset and you may not even realize that you have ownership of that workset.  If you don’t have the “View Worksets” item checked, you will not relinquish that workset, which means everyone else is locked out of editing that view.  If you close the file without relinquishing worksets or elements, it can be a real hassle for other folks to work in that model if/when they need to edit something that you own.  In summary, make it a habit to glance at those check boxes before you click “OK.”

Wishlist & Bug Report by David Moyer

Merry Christmas…I know it is only July, but it’s never too early to make your list for Santa or Autodesk.Revit, santa, TLCD Architecture

Ever wish you could get Autodesk to finally fix that thing in Revit that drives you crazy? Whether it be unintended behavior in the program that you want to see eliminated or a new feature that you wish the program offered, you can have an impact by letting Autodesk know your desires. Where you ask can I get a hold of one of those Software Architects” and give them a piece of my mind?

Well as one might expect, direct interaction with these folks is an opportunity that is few and far between. I wonder why that might be…hmm. Anyhow they do have the following webpage where you can leave your comments, frustrations, and wish-lists for REVIT: http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/index?siteID=123112&id=1109794

I encourage each of you to take a moment when you run across something you feel could be improved in the program and leave a comment at the above website. When the same comments come from multiple sources they will pay more attention than if these comments only come from a few of us.

Microsoft Word - 2015July.docxNot good enough you say! I have no idea if I have been heard! Well I agree and so do the good folks over at AUGI (Autodesk User Group International).  This is an independent group of Autodesk users which Autodesk has recognized as representing you and your architectural computing needs. AUGI maintains a wish-list for REVIT that gives us a unified voice with the power of the entire AEC community behind it to help Autodesk develop our software with the features we need.

Not only does AUGI present this list to Autodesk on a regular basis they ask that we rank these wishes so Autodesk will know which are the most important ones to get into the software. You can find the AUGI REVIT Wish-list here: https://www.augi.com/wishlist

Revit, Designer, TLCD ArchitectureJoining AUGI as a Basic Member is free and you will be able to see that other users may be having the same issues with REVIT that you have – how they may be working around these items, and what they think would be the best way to improve the software to eliminate such problems.

Now all of you be nice and give Autodesk your input and maybe, just maybe we will have a Merry REVIT 2017 release come Next Year.

Funky Schedule and Simpson Resources by Leslie Smith

Funky Schedule

We had an issue with certain components not showing up in the room/furniture schedule. They were visible in the views and the component properties all looked good. The project has multiple phases with demo of existing (demo’d in new construction phase) and new work (in new construction phase) typical of how we do it.

It turns out that the existing walls that were being demolished were interfering with the family’s ability to associate to the new room. Even though the room displayed correctly and graphically everything looked ok in the views, the items were not showing in the schedule. After some trial & error, the fix was to uncheck the room bounding checkbox in the demo’d wall properties. Then the components all showed up in the schedule.

Since we had no existing/demo items scheduled, this worked well. Not necessarily the perfect fix…but in this case it worked.

Simpson Resource

Simpson Strongtie has both Revit Models 3D and Detail Components 2D. These can be downloaded individually or a zip of all the 2D or 3Dfamilies…From the webpage http://www.strongtie.com/ go to the “Resources” tab, “Drawings”, “Revit Drawings.”

TLCD Architecture, Strongtie

Select desired download…be aware that the Masterformat keynote number is not automatically associated.

Strongtie, TLCD Architecture

Overriding Consultant Model Colors Using Filters by Carl Servais

Have you ever received a Revit file from a consultant, linked it into your model, and then found many of the consultant’s model elements are colored something other than black?Revit, TLCD Architecture

Often times, the color can be difficult to change, because it might be an override from the consultant’s model, or it might be an object style in the consultant’s model, or it might be something else entirely.  You don’t want to open the consultant’s model and make changes to their model because it might take a while for you to discover the cause of the color change, and you will have to make all of those changes again when you get an updated model from the consultant.  You might ask the consultant to change their model, but then they might have a reason for using the colors.  In my opinion, the best solution is to let the consultant do their thing and fix the problem on my end by using a view filter.  A view filter works because it falls high enough on the element visibility override hierarchy within Revit to overcome any settings that are coming from the consultant’s model, and it is applied to a view, so you don’t have to override each element.  In fact, if you use the view filter in a view template, you can control the visibility of multiple views from one place.  Here’s how to create a view filter:

Open the Visibility/Graphic Overrides for the view you are working.  Click on the Filters tab and click on the Add button:

Microsoft Word - 2015July.docx

Click the Edit/New button to create a new Filter:

TLCD Architecture, Revit, View Filter

Create a new filter, give it a name, and then select all of the element categories that you want this filter to apply to.  For example, if you are overriding a mechanical/plumbing model, select all the ducting and piping categories:

TLCD Architecture, View Filter, Revit

This might take a bit of trial and error if you find that you did not get all of the categories that your consultant is using in their model.  Here’s the categories I used on a recent project:

Revit, TLCD Architecture

Now you just click “OK” to create the filter, and you just need to highlight your newly created filter in the “Add Filters” dialog box and click “OK”:

TLCD Architecture, Revit

Now you should be back in the “Visibility/Graphics Overrides” and you should have your filter in the list.  Now you need to tell Revit how you would like to override the elements.  Select the Projection/Surface, Lines, “Override” button:

Revit, TLCD Architecture

Override the color to black and click OK:

TLCD Architecture, Revit

Back in the “Visibility/Graphics Overrides” dialog box, when you click OK, you should see the colored elements turn black:

Revit, TLCD Architecture

Keep in mind, this only fixes the view you have been working in.  You will have to apply this filter to all the views that have colored elements showing up.  Use View Templates to provide control over similar views, like interior elevations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TLCD Architecture: Revit Tips for June

RevitTipOfTheWeek

To Pin or not to Pin by David Moyer

A quick tip for you this week on the fine art of pinning. Ever try to move something only to find it was pinned and you had to unpin it first? That of course is easily solved, but what about when you want to move some things but not others that are in the same area of your model?

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You can reverse the process and use the Pin Selected Elements Tool down in the bottom right of the application window to control what moves and what does not.

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For example you are reconfiguring a furniture layout, but when you select the elements to rearrange them you end up getting the floor below selected instead of the furniture you wanted.

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Oops – didn’t want to do that! So execute an undo and pin the floor right…

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However, this just keeps the floor from moving; it still is the thing getting selected when you are trying to select the furniture with a crossing selection. Now it just does not move on you, so at least you do not need to undo a command.

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So then how can you get those tables and chairs selected? One at a time? No there is a better way – The problem is that your Pin Selected Elements Toggle is not cooperating. (It is set to select pinned elements.)

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All you need to do is change the status of your Pin Selected Elements Toggle to not allow the selection of Pinned elements by clicking on it.

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The icon changes to now show a red “X” with the pin to let you know that pinned items will be ignored in selection processes. Now you can crossing select that furniture without a problem.

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This can be especially useful with CAD backgrounds. Also remember to check the Pin Selection Toggle if you are having trouble selecting something in your model – it might be pinned and the toggle could be set to not allow pinned elements to be selected. Of course it could be one of those pesky design option situations or something else entirely, but at least this is one more thing you can check to help keep Revit frustration at bay.

Detectable Warning by Carl Servais 

I received an excellent question the other day about how to model detectable warning surfaces.  This is an excellent example where I like to refer to the Shakespearean adage:

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“To model or not to model, that is the question.”

In answer to the question of modeling detectable warning surfaces, I have never modeled the actual domes.  To represent the domes, I always use a surface pattern that works at a scale when shown in plan, but also looks decent in 3d views.  Since we typically have fairly flat sites and we have generally modeled the site topography as floors (for simplicity’s sake and because Revit’s topography tools are not great),  I have always divided the floor surface and painted the area of detectable warning with a material that has the dome pattern.  If you have modeled all the site elements with topographic surfaces, you will not be able to show surface patterns since Revit topographical surfaces do not support materials with surface patterns.  You should consider doing at least the hardscape elements as floors in order to produce surface patterns.

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For the detectable warning surface areas, I create a new material called “Truncated Domes” and set the surface pattern to “circles 2”, a model fill pattern that is in the TLCD template.

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Spelling / Abbreviations by Leslie Smith

Spelling

Nobody is perfect.

Soooo…use the handy dandy tool “Check Spelling” to confirm/correct text in your Revit projects.

From the Annotate Tab → select Check Spelling

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Note: Diligent visual checking is still required…Revit is looking at views not your sheet naming or project titles…since these are labels. It also doesn’t include keynotes.

Keynote Manager red underlines suspected misspellings so they can be easily spotted and corrected.

Abbreviations

We recently revised the abbreviations on the title sheet in the TLCD template. These are contained in a schedule format now, unfortunately you cannot insert schedules individually (as in insert from file like details).

BUT… there’s always a workaround…if you want to update existing projects to the new schedule you can:

1.     Start a new project (non workset)

2.     Insert from File the title sheet from one of the DSA or AHJ sheet sets (this brings in the abbreviation schedule)

3.     Then you can right click on the schedule in your browser – copy to clipboard.  Then paste into your current project.

4.     Place the schedule on your title sheet (it should lay down on sheet nicely split into 3 columns).

Please note that the new abbreviations do NOT include periods.

You can quickly swap out abbreviations project wide by using the Find/Replace feature (also on Annotation Tab)

(Again this doesn’t work in keynotes – but does for text notes – see below)

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If a project specific abbreviation is required, it should be noted on your title sheet in the drafting view “Project Abbreviations”.

For revising abbreviations in keynotes use the search / replace function in Keynote Manager.

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These few adjustments go a long way toward improving the quality and consistency of our production drawings.

Past Revit tips can be found here and here.

TLCD’s Carl Servais Takes on Winter in DC for AIA Grassroots Conference

As the 2015 President of the AIA Redwood Empire Chapter (AIARE), I recently had the privilege of traveling to Washington DC for the annual AIA Grassroots Conference. Over 600 architects and administrative staff gathered together to advocate important legislative issues with our representatives on Capital Hill, to receive leadership training, and to network and collaborate with each other to find ways of better serving the AIA membership. I met with AIA leaders from chapters all around the country, from coastal Louisiana to northern Minnesota. Many of the folks I spoke with had issues similar to what our local chapter faces: how to best serve a diverse set of professionals from a vast geographic area with limited resources and how to motivate and inspire the emerging professionals who will carry the leadership torch of our future. There are no simple or easy answers to these questions, but I met lots of inspiring colleagues and I returned with a renewed sense of focus and energy, and with a handful of ideas that I will bring to my fellow directors on the AIARE Board.

Here are three of the highlights of my trip:

As an architect, of course the first thing I had to do after arriving was to walk the Mall. What I hadn’t realized is how beautifully the many historical buildings and monuments are lit up at night. I grew up in Wisconsin, so the cold winter night was no problem for me.

On the first day of the conference, my schedule didn’t start until the afternoon, so I took advantage of the free time by waiting in line to see oral arguments of the so-called “Obamacare” law at the Supreme Court. I waited for about 2-1/2 hours to get in, and I only got to sit for about 3 minutes in the courtroom, but it was well worth the wait to see the court in action. Fortunately, there were about 200 protestors providing entertainment for everyone waiting in line.

Finally, Wendy Young, the AIARE Executive Director, set up meetings for us to meet with 5th District Congressman Mike Thompson, and 2nd District Congressman Jared Huffman. After receiving training from the AIA federal advocacy team about the important legislative issues that were on the table, I was prepared to discuss the following:

1. Protect and enhance the Federal Historic Tax Credit (HTC).

2. Cosponsor the Safe Building Code Incentive Act, which encourages states to voluntarily adopt and enforce nationally recognized model building codes for residential and commercial structures in order to qualify for additional post-disaster FEMA grants.

3. Cosponsor the National Design Services Act, which extends to architecture graduates student debt relief in exchange for work in underserved communities.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature intervened and dumped 6 inches of snow the day of my meeting, thereby effectively shutting the government down for the day. We still made the trek up to Capital Hill and had the opportunity to meet with Scott Rasmussen, Congressman Huffman’s Legislative Assistant. I think I made a good, confident presentation of the legislation we were there to promote and I went away feeling great about having advocated for our profession.

TLCD Architecture: Revit Tips for February

RevitTipOfTheWeek

TLCD Architecture has a design technology committee that meets weekly to talk and strategize about issues and opportunities in the office. A few years back we started writing a weekly Revit Tip of the Week to the Revit users in our office, and we have decided to start sharing with the larger Revit community through our blog. Some of the tips are “inside baseball” types of things, but many of them will be useful to a larger audience. The cassette graphic is just us having a little fun… enjoy!

Keeping Models Tidy and Funky Families by Leslie Smith (02/10/15)

Keep your model tidy

Just a reminder about model management…
We have a best practices document that covers Revit Project File Maintenance. Please maintain a clean and healthy model by frequently creating a new local file. It is recommended that you create a new local file every time you open the model.

Funky Families

A user had an interesting issue yesterday and I thought this was good to share. She downloaded some client provided Specialty Equipment Families. Placed them into the model…all looked fine in plan but did not schedule properly. The items showed up in the schedule – the description, item number, count all looked fine but some of the families would not attach to the room so those fields did not populate.

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We checked worksets, family types, etc…all the usual suspects but everything looked good. Finally, I did a comparison of the families that were working and the ones that weren’t. The culprit ended up being a checkbox in the family. Since it was not checked the family didn’t know what surface to host itself to. Once checked and reloaded the family recognized the work plane and the schedule fields populated.

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There was one family that didn’t have this check box parameter included so we ended up opening a family that did, deleting everything out of it and copy/pasting, doing a save-as and it worked… This was a shared parameter in the family so without access to the parameter .txt file I couldn’t add it.

So message is, when you download content and things aren’t behaving properly, double-check worksets and visibility graphics…also investigate the family. A lot of manufactured content is not perfect. Sometimes it’s just a stinky checkbox that mess everything up!

Tales from the Dark Side by Carl Servais (02/13/15)

This week’s Revit tip is Part 1 of my review of e-SPECS, which we have been testing out on one of our projects:

Background

There has always been a fundamental disconnect between the written specifications and the drawings in a set of construction documents. These two primary elements are often authored in different software programs that don’t communicate, and often times authored by different members of the project team with varying levels of involvement in the project and varying amounts of successful communication between each other. This disconnect inevitably leads to inconsistencies or even outright contradictions between the drawings and the specs. The promise of Building Information Modeling has always been to bring all of the project information into one database and thereby reduce or eliminate these inconsistencies, and the BIM authoring software we use today has taken us a big step in that direction. However, the specs are still missing from the database. Our transition to using keynoting took us a step in the right direction by using the Masterformat numbers and the language of our specifications as a reference for noting the drawings, which has improved the connectivity and consistency of our construction documents. Our most recent effort has been testing e-SPECS, a software for creating and editing specifications that allows for a robust integration with Revit. While e-SPECS manages the spec database and provides tools for importing data to and exporting data from Revit,  it does not quite fulfill the promise of having all the project information in one database.

In future tips, I will cover the good/bad/ugly aspects of e-SPECS as an authoring/editing tool, and how it integrates with Revit. To be continued….

Rated Wall Options by David Moyer (02/27/15)

It turns out that one size may not fit all when it comes to rated walls. We have experienced some issues using the visibility filter system in Revit working properly in some view conditions as well as in some exports to CAD. In addition the need for unique smoke barrier graphics as well as 3 and 4 hour walls on more complex projects such as hospitals strain the graphic display limits of the filter system. So here are two other options for depicting graphics for rated walls.  (This was accompanied by a detailed best practice document on how to implement each system which is not included here.)

Examples of the graphic look for each system follow:

Material Fill Patterns for Rated Walls:

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Sweep Patterns for Rated Walls:

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Some highlights:

  • The Material Fill Pattern Method best for most projects, but not suited to projects that require 3 or 4 hour walls or perhaps those that require smoke compartments.
  • The Sweep method which is more complex to implement, but allows for a greater range of graphic patterns allowing better communication with plan reviewers and contractors for more complicated project types. This method is also more flexible for smaller scale drawings
  • Both systems can be set to work with any detail level in Revit.
  • The Project Architect and Project Manager should choose which system is the best fit for their projects on a case by case basis. This could also include continuing to use the filter based system if that is not expected to cause problems.
  • Our best practice documents include information about converting to either of these systems from the filter system for those that may be experiencing issues on current projects and want to make a change.

TLCD getting their hands dirty

TLCD crew

You don’t often go out on a Saturday morning in January and think to yourself, “Did I need to put sunscreen on this morning?”  But that’s what I found myself doing a couple Saturday’s ago with a crew of folks from the AIA Redwood Empire, including four from TLCD Architecture; Nick Diggins, Peter Levelle, Ron Starkey (Marina‘s husband), and myself.  We spent the better part of that Saturday working on the second of five houses to be built at the Woodland Hills project in Cotati for Habitat for Humanity of Sonoma County.  We were split into two groups, one crew building a wood fence and the other crew placing sand and pavers for the driveway.  I think I speak for the whole group when I say we put in a lot of hard work, and we also had a lot of fun that day.  It’s very rewarding at the end of the day to see the fruits of your labor in something as beautiful as a rustic driveway of pavers, or a fresh wood fence.  It’s even more rewarding to know that your labor has helped provide a home for a deserving family in your community.

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