I’ve been reading Peter Diamandis’s great book, Abundance, and it’s forcing me to stretch my brain more than I am used to. I am nowhere near smart enough to try to think about big world impacting issues like he outlines, so I thought I’d really noodle on Revit as a tool and try to figure out what I think it needs based on what I see as happening in the design and construction industry.
This has led me to two short posts, this being the first one of what Revit needs NOW.
I won’t bury the lead: Revit needs a much better way to facilitate modular design. And I am thinking at a high level and I might be using that term in a way that deviates from the usual usage, so I’ll try to break it down a little bit.
Multi-unit design has always been a glaring omission in Revit. Have you tried to lay out a hotel or multi unit residence? There is no one way that Revit users have pointed to as “yup, that’s the way to do it”. I’ve seen groups, I’ve seen links, I’ve seen copy/paste from other models. Each process has its pros and cons. I don’t see any of them being the final solution, so Autodesk really needs to come up with a new function to handle this in a clear and sensible manner. These workarounds have gone on long enough, and it’s time to fix it.
This is one I wasn’t really aware of until I started doing some research for this article, but this (sadly) archived Idea points to the limitations of pre-cast/pre-made structural elements that include system families. Obviously, loadable families cannot include system families, so what to do? I can’t think of any great solution, just some workarounds like our friends trying to tackle multi-unit design.
This is also happening right now – elements and entire sections of a building are being made off site in a warehouse and then shipped to the construction site. Revit cannot support this workflow without, again, some weird workarounds. When I used to work in design I did a lot of jails and prisons, and we had several projects where the entire cell was being made offsite and shipped in by trailer. We went round and round trying to figure out how to get Revit to let us make these Lego pieces of our model and snap them in, with no good solution. And this was YEARS ago. This isn’t something new.
How to fix it
I feel like (and I could be totally wrong here) the above issues are really the same issue, and it feels related to the inability to identify system families outside of a project file. Yes I can link them in, but that’s a lot of overhead. Sure I can use groups, but there is always something buggy about groups and they have burned me more than once. When assemblies showed up I was excited that they were going to fix all of this, but they have their own issues.
We need something like a module category that you can open and tweak the module in the family editor or even a module editor. Walls, floors, rooms, spaces, loadable components; all are fair game in a module. And I can then save them out to my library for use across projects.
I am certainly not the first one to come to this conclusion (here, here, here, and probably others I just didn’t find), but I think it’s a huge oversight from Autodesk. This is a design and construction technique being used RIGHT NOW and with the growth in 3d printing technology, the use of pre-fabrication and modular design is just going to grow.
This isn’t a design and construction feature that can be or SHOULD be shoehorned into a current Revit function or workflow. It needs its own space and needs to be smartly figured out and implemented.