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Sep 11, 2014
Matt Ireton

Embracing change can be difficult.  It doesn’t matter what field you work in today, technology has probably impacted how you operate in the workplace.  While in the long run technology can help increase efficiency and production, implementing it into our workflow can be painful.

Architecture is obviously not immune from this transition.  Using BIM (Building Information Modeling), whether it be Revit or one of the other competing programs, has become the expectation for many of today’s projects.  I have personally been involved in the transition from 2D drafting to BIM at two separate firms and wanted to share a few important insights I have made.

1.  Revit is not AutoCAD. From the outset of making the transition, you want everyone in the firm to know that Revit is going to be different from CAD.  As architects, our reference point will be the CAD software we have been drafting with for years.  Revit is a drastically different program and it is unfair to assume that things will work exactly the same.  Steve Stafford, a Revit consultant who provided some of my initial training, wrote an interesting article on his blog recently discussing this very topic.

2.  Office Standards. Establishing office standards early on is critical.  One easy way to do so is by creating a project template for the office.  Templates in Revit are far more important than AutoCAD templates.  They can provide structure for visibility graphics, annotation, browser organization, family management and a host of other variables listed more in depth here .  More importantly they force new users to be consistent.   If you have two new users working on separate projects, they are bound to work differently.  By providing a template they have a framework which will guide their workflow.

3.  Small Steps.    Revit can be a very powerful program, however like most design software, it takes time to learn.  New users can be easily overwhelmed if they don’t start with the basics. Be sure that your new users have training either working through video tutorials or working with a consultant.  If you can’t afford a consultant, Lynda.com provides one of the better collection of tutorials on Revit that I have seen. Once they have a basic framework, users can expand their knowledge to master more advanced tasks.

4.  Use the Internet.  It sounds obvious, but just typing into Google your Revit issue can produce some remarkable results.  If you can’t figure something out, there’s a good chance that someone else has had the same issue.  While some sites are less than reputable, I’ve found most are quite reliable.  Some of my favorites include the aforementioned Steve Stafford’s blog as well as two popular forums augi.com and  revitforum.org

5.  Make sure your boss sees the value.  Not only can it be hard on the architect modeling, it can also be a challenge for your job captain, project manager or principal to see the value behind using BIM.  The last thing you ever want to say to your manager is, “I know we could do that in CAD, but there is no way to do that Revit.”  For the Livingood Condominiums, K4’s first large-scale project completed in Revit, I was able to utilize the Revit software to show our clients at North American Properties and Greiwe Development Group perspective images of the garage ramp and patio for residents.  They were able to quickly make decisions on the team’s design and I already had plans, elevations and sections created ready to be documented

Image produced by K4 Architecture in collaboration with design architect, CR architecture+design

Image produced by K4 Architecture in collaboration with design architect, CR architecture+design

While I will be the first to admit that learning the Revit software can be a frustrating and tedious process, when you approach it using some of the suggestions listed above, you will eventually realize that the payback can be quite rewarding.