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though many competing systems focus specifically on features such as architectural design, construction, MEP, and structural engineering and construction. The goal is to turn digital information into insight about how a space and its components will function in real life. “We use it because our clients are architects, and they are using Revit,” says Steve Carlson FCSI, president of Robert Rippe & Associates in Minneapolis. “Previously, they moved it into CAD for us, but they are less willing to do that now. There has been a big change in the processes we use, but there are many benefits to the automation of processes that Revit enables. “An obvious part is the use of 3D modelling, but the real power is on the information side. You put in a new feature and the mechanical and electrical schedules are created automatically. Our strategic decision was to use it because our clients use it – they won’t wait for us forever,” says Carlson.

Design benefits

Revit promises many benefits for designers: 3D modelling enables a unique and detailed perspective on how different elements will work together within a space. The most important factor, however, is that an object can be inserted easily into the 3D model from a product library to populate the design. Its functional requirements will immediately be added to the various design drawings. These libraries can be created on a proprietary basis or external catalogues can provide information on specific products. There is a strong push to standardise libraries (see The catalogue question panel,


page 62), although developing them in-house is the preferred option. “It is important that we set up standards for the office so that we get the same information as we did from CAD,” explains FCSI associate member Shelby Wurscher, project co-ordinator at Robert Rippe & Associates.

“Revit can automate many

“Our decision was to use it because our clients use it – they won’t wait for us forever,” says Steve Carlson, FCSI, Robert Rippe & Associates

things, but it takes time to set up. It is good to have a library of products that I can use on every project. I can populate equipment lists and schedules very quickly, whereas with CAD I would have to fill in everything manually whenever I inserted a piece of equipment. With Revit, once it is set up you can just add equipment to the 3D space and the system generates all the drawings.” “We can spend more time critiquing the design rather than spending time getting the documents together,” adds Michael Wrase, a senior project manager at the same firm and also an FCSI associate member. “I’m a strong advocate for Revit and I can see why it is the path our clients have taken.” The benefits filter through to the ultimate client for each project, who will be responsible for the operation of the building after construction. BIM fosters better collaborative processes between designer and architect, while also bringing the owner and operator further into the design loop.

Better visualisation

“The 3D modelling is a huge change for foodservice operators. Some people can’t really understand a 3D drawing, but there are many more who cannot interpret an elevation drawing, so visualisation of the final result is much better for the

“Think back to the transition from drawing by hand to using CAD. The move to Revit is similar in terms of the time it will take”

operator with Revit,” says Wurscher. “For the client, looking at everything in 3D, it is easier to see what happens where and who does what,” adds Carlson. “We had one hotel project where two-thirds of the space had an 8ft-high ceiling, which meant we couldn’t put in any hoods and there was barely space for a refrigeration unit. That is the kind of detail you can see better in a 3D model. Also, there are always remote elements that go on the roof or outside and in CAD those would just be highlighted in a box. But with the 3D Revit model the architect can see in detail exactly where those things will be.” Before these benefits can be fully

realised, however, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is the long implementation time required for a BIM solution. “We’ve moved beyond the struggling phase and we can look back at when we were first involved in Revit,” says Carlson. “Six years later, we know now what we needed to know then. Agreement on standards is hard to achieve and setting up Revit is a long and hard process. It is a complicated issue, but it is worth the time and effort.” Wurscher says: “We are beyond the building of 3D content and starting to see the efficiency and the cost benefit that comes from investing our time and effort.

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