Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Revit and Office workflow... And office hardships.

This post isn't a glamorous one to write about. There aren't many pretty pictures, and there isn't much philosophy about the Revit content and methodology that we've come to enjoy, on the many many many Revit blogs that are now in circulation.

If you've been here before, you've noticed that i haven't written here in many months. It isn't lack of wanting, or lack of content, so much as it is a different form of hardship with the subject at hand: frustration and confusion.

I got on board with revit exactly 2.5 years ago. I was an ArchiCAD user in a 2 man firm, a Vectoworks user in a 4 man firm, a Digital project user on a 15 person team, and an AutoCAD user in an office of 30. Only in the firm on DP did a similar issue come up, as the one I've been faced with, in a Revit office: Suddenly, strategy matters. (To be fair, it didnt matter in the other firms because we were always isolated in projects...)

Let us take the following example for a minute: A section of "glass block wall". How would you model it? (I anticipated pictures for this point, bit i digress... this entry will be for the hardcore geeks only, no pictures.) I can think of a number of ways to model a portion of glass block wall, i guess it goes back to what do you consider a glass block wall to be?

1. Wall with surface pattern. (it is, after all... a wall)
2. Curtain Wall/System with panels of glass block
3. Window family that has pieces in it for Glass block (perhaps in a parametric array)
3a. NESTED Blocks (families) in a window family
4. Line Based family with a nested array or family (James and i love L.B. Families...)
5. And my absolute favorite (kidding...) an IN PLACE FAMILY, lol.

My point is, very different methods. This got me to thinking: How much does Revit help us, and when does it hold us back? I found the moment i started using this software, that i personally, could do a better job, while i was using it. As long as it wasn't tripping me up (i was lucky, it wasn't) i was free to produce more, produce better, and get more wow results in the process.

Then the "in-fighting" started. In my quest for Revit streamlining and wanting to make a large group of people efficient, there was a sudden and unexpected struggle for power over controlling methodologies. Where i wanted to reign with what we call "Container files" (nothing more than a file loaded as group with a Model group of standard partitions and an embedded detail group of the "partition schedule") some of the "old school" crew wanted to reign with a simple drafting view with lines and text (manually coordinated with the type mark values and construction assemblies of the wall types), as the partition schedule.

Where i wanted to reign with a minimalist and *additive* project template (an argument i will continue to fight to the death), they wanted to reign with every wall type and door type known to man embedded in our project template.

And then there is the Glass Block. And the family content. And the tags. When is it text? When is it a smart Material Tag? Or Tag By Catagory?

My question is not about methods, which are right and wrong. Its not even about who makes those decisions: Yes Dan, i concede... we need a Revit manager. No, my question is about: What do you do, when something as small as Revit (a tool only, after all) can actually divide a group of users in an office? Those of us that believe we are correct in our theories and methodologies, are always willing to have constructive conversations about pros and cons of each method (willing to explain to the head chiefs why minimalist and additive is better, and willing to listen to Dan telling me 3D curved furniture is bad, mmmkay?) but there does come a point, when its just no longer worth the argument.


I do architecture. You do architecture. While we wax poetic about the importance of the tool, and how much it CAN change our work, and make us more efficient.... At the end of the day, it is not the end product. It is the means to a Building, and the success of that building will be judged on its own merits. But as a passionate Reviteer, are we to throw up our hands and resign to the fact that it wont be done correctly?

Fatalistic as the question sounds, i put to you this: (And id LOVE to hear your answers, please!) Where do you draw the line ,on how much of this you will fight for? Successful architecture notwithstanding, how hard would you fight to see it done the right way?