Thursday, 27 December 2012

Color Schemes in Reflected Ceiling Plans

Color schemes are a great analytical and visualization tool which can be used in floor plan, section and elevation views. Sadly, this functionality has been left out of reflected ceiling plan views. So how do you go about creating a colored ceiling plan?
There are a few of options at your disposal and each has its downfalls.
A) Overlaid Views on a Sheet
Create a floor plan view and turn off everything except rooms, then apply your color scheme. Create a reflected ceiling plan view and set ceilings to 100% transparent. Finally, overlay these views on a sheet.
Composite Views
The main drawback with this solution is that you are unable to work in a composite colored RCP view since the final result only exists on a sheet. Activating the RCP view and editing directly on the sheet results in the other view appearing half-toned, so it’s still not a perfect solution.
B) Plan View with RCP Underlay
Create a floor plan view and set the Underlay to Reflected Ceiling Plan orientation for the same level as your view. Set the Color Scheme as desired…
View Properties
…and uncheck the halftone option for Underlays.
(Manage>Additional Settings> Halftone / Underlay)
The result is similar to A) above, but now you can work directly in the colored view since there is no required compositing of views on sheets.
Hacked Colored RCPThe main drawback with this solution is that you are not truly seeing an RCP view, so some features that occur above the cut plane might not show up properly or not at all. For example take a look at the door: the frame should show up at the head in a true RCP view such as in A) above, and is thus incorrectly represented in this “hacked RCP”. Please also note however that Revit represents cut families based on the representation stored in the family itself, so you have to be very careful with object representation even in a regular RCP view (ex: the window has an extended sill, yet that sill shows up incorrectly in RCP views too).
As with all workarounds, there are no perfect solutions, so make sure you understand all the issues before choosing the option that works best for your project. Hopefully the Factory will eventually enable Color Schemes for Reflected Ceiling Plans as well!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

3rd Annual HOK BIM Awards

Since 2010, HOK has hosted an annual Building Information Modeling (BIM) Awards competition that celebrates projects exhibiting exemplary and innovative use of technology and integrated design. We continue that tradition into 2012 with our 3rd annual competition we like to call “The BIMies.”

Last year, one of our jurors – AEC industry analyst, Dr. Lachmi Khemlani – published a highly detailed article about the internal competition.

The HOK BIM Award trophy is a 3D print representing a concept design for one of our tower projects. The trophy and case were created by Ideate and donated to our innovative annual program.


There were only 4 trophies made, so teams must compete to obtain the prestigious award for each year. This makes the HOK BIMie quite the coveted artifact…



This year 20 entries were received from 19 different project teams (one entered in multiple categories) and from 7 different offices. The mix of project types was also quite diverse: 4 - Commercial, 2 - Aviation & Transportation, 6 - Healthcare, 1 - Interiors, 2 - Justice, 1 - Retail and 1 – Urban City Center.

From the 20 overall entries, the firm-wide buildingSMART team selected three finalists in three different categories. The finalist teams then presented their projects to a panel of industry experts who then deliberated and selected one winner per category.


Our guest jury for the 2012 BIMies included a fantastic mix of industry experts from construction, engineering, education, software, and research.


From left to right:
James Barrett, Turner Construction - National Director of Integrated Building Solutions
Dr. Semiha Ergan, Carnegie Mellon University - Assistant Research Professor
Erleen Hatfield, PE, AIA, LEED AP, Buro Happold - Partner
Matt Jezyk, Autodesk - Senior Product Manager, AEC Conceptual Design Products
Jeff Yoders, ZweigWhite - Technology Editor


The competition assessed projects on the use of integrated and interoperable building information modeling in the following categories:

Design Process Finalists
Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center, Office: Los Angeles
Incheon International Airport Competition, Office: San Francisco
Sengkang General Hospital Competition, Office: Houston

Delivery Process Finalists
GHSU Medical Commons, Office: Atlanta
Shell Woodcreek Phase 3, Office: Houston
NY Project (withdrawn)

Collaboration Process Finalists
Marina Mall, Office: London
Msheireb Downtown Doha Phase 4, Office: Washington DC
Wishard Replacement Hospital, Office: St. Louis


Best Design Process:

Best Delivery Process:

Best Collaboration Process:

Best Visualization Process (2011 winner):

Because no projects were submitted in the Visualization category this year, the BIMie trophy will remain in Chicago until another winning project is selected in the 2013 BIM Awards. Congratulations!

Thank you to all who participated in this year's awards. Every project submitted was worthy of recognition and once again, our guest jury had a difficult time selecting only one winner in each category!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

SmartMarket Report on BIM 2012

McGraw Hill Construction has released their latest SmartMarket report on the “Business Value of BIM.” This year’s report builds on the past 5 years of extensive industry research of building information modeling and how it affects various stakeholders in the construction industry.

Of personal interest, the cover image is from HOK’s Francis Crick Institute – a highly collaborative project in London that also included PLP Architecture, AKT II and Arup among others.


This SmartMarket report is unique in that the research illustrates the cumulative data of a multi-year trend analysis and user ratings. You can observe how perception of value and the implementation of various BIM uses have changed in recent years. The report also contains some project case studies and interviews with industry thought leaders including HOK CEO, Patrick MacLeamy.


I also contributed to an article in the report on the development of BIM standards including Levels of Development (LOD). You’ll find that starting on page 46! Download this FREE report now and share your thoughts and comments.

Friday, 7 December 2012

BIM Software Updates

Depending on the product, software updates from Autodesk can come with a variety of terms.  SP#, PU#, UR# and U# are the abbreviations used for Service Packs, Product Updates and Update Releases and Updates.  There are also Hotfixes.  In this post we provide a brief history and the most current update/fix/release.  Are your installations up to date?

Revit 2013

Since the 2013 release, Revit has had UR1, a Hotfix, SP1, another Hotfix and UR2.  The current Update Release 2 is dated December 04, 2012.

Navisworks Manage 2013

Since the 2013 release, Navisworks Manage has had a Hotfix, SP1, another Hotfix and SP2. The current Service Pack 2 is dated November 21, 2012.

3ds Max Design 2013

Since the 2013 release, Max Design has had U1, U2, SP1, PU3, PU4, PU5, SP2, a Hotfix and PU6. The current Product Update 6 is dated November 20, 2012.

AutoCAD Civil 3D 2013

Since the 2013 release, Civil 3D has had four hotfixes, next Hotfix 2, then Hotfix 1, SP1, three more hotfixes, then SP1 (NOT the same as the first SP1). The current Service Pack 1 is dated November 29, 2012.

Showcase 2013

Since the 2013 release, Showcase has had SP1, SP2, a Hotfix, SP3, Service Pack 1 (NOT SP1), another Hotfix, and a third Hotfix  The current CATIA CATPart Hotfix is dated October 11, 2012.



Tuesday, 4 December 2012

HOK buildingSMART on Twitter

We are happy to announce that the HOK buildingSMART team is now live on Twitter at the handle @HOKbuildSMART. Our firm-wide leaders will share new – and hopefully useful – information about BIM, technology, open standards, and more. Feel free to follow us and also check out the summary of our most recent Tweetup here.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Autodesk FormIt

A new iPad app was announced by Autodesk at AU this week. This time, it’s a conceptual design application called FormIt. The app reminds me of SketchUp in that you can edit forms through direct manipulation and by sketching lines to divide surfaces, thus creating new extrusions. This interaction feels pretty fluid and intuitive. I was up and running with some conceptual forms within minutes.

There are numerous aspects of this app that set it apart from other mobile design tools. First, FormIt gives you pretty reasonable dimensional accuracy and feedback as you place, move, and edit forms. You can even use a direct measurement tool. Another really cool feature is the ability to define a target gross area for your proposed design. As you build up a form, the app gives you feedback in the upper left of the screen, as to how the form is achieving the area. You set some options such as typical floor height and the app automatically adds levels as the form gets taller, thus calculating the gross area.

You can also locate the proposed form on a site using a connection to Apple Maps (I think). From there, you can simulate shadows directly in the app. The model can then be transferred to Vasari or Revit for further development or analysis.

I’m pretty excited about this new app, but the real test will be putting it in the hands of some real designers. Let’s see what happens…

Thursday, 15 November 2012

View References in Legends

A colleague recently asked me to add something to the 'Revit wish list' - the ability to place a section reference in a legend view. This would be used in the context of a door or window legend to indicate typical details. One answer might be to create a fake section mark as a generic annotation, but we really don't want to go down that rabbit hole...a better solution must exist.

I remembered reading about the enhancements to view references in Revit 2013. View references are usually used in plans to divide large floor plates into smaller part plans in order to fit on a sheet. In 2013, they can be used on many other view types - including legends.

To create a view reference in a legend view, find the Tag panel in the Annotate tab of the ribbon. Click on View Reference. In the figure below, I am using the default view reference family and I simply drew a detail line to indicate the section cut plane in the legend view.

When you start the View Reference command, you will need to select the view you wish to reference. In the contextual ribbon, use the View Type drop-down to filter for a particular type of view, such as Sections. Then select a view from the Target View drop-down.

You can always create a custom view reference family to meet your graphic standards, but at least the view number and sheet will always be coordinated - as long as you choose the correct view to reference!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Summary of HOK buildingSMART Tweetup

Thanks to those who joined us today on our first ever Tweetup celebrating HOK's BIM Day - which from now on will be buildingSMART Day. You can still check out the tweets using #HOKBIMDay and a few new tweets on #HOKbuildingSMART.

Our super-duper communications team (John Gilmore and Megan McClure) - created a summary of the festivities on Storify. Check it out here:

If you want to follow any of the HOK buildingSMART experts that were on the chat today, here's a quick list: @jvandezande @brokhoward @zoog @doUrevit @underNDA @djivey @c_mistry @kenyoungCIO @leemi11er

Monday, 12 November 2012

HOK buildingSMART Twitter Chat

HOK's BIM leaders will be conducting a live Twitter chat on Tuesday November 13 from 12-1 pm EST in (belated) celebration of our firm's "BIM Day." We are entering a new phase of our innovative approach to design and delivery and we are now broadening our perspective to buildingSMART.

The chat will be led by James Vandezande (@jvandezande) and Brok Howard (@brokhoward). Please join the conversation by following #HOKBIMDay. You can even submit your questions in advance to HOK via @HOKnetwork.

Read more about this important day on the Life at HOK blog.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

dRofus Beta 1.5 with Model Server

Could this be a game changer for web-based access to program AND model geometry for large projects?

dRofus has released a new beta version of their popular integrated program management platform that includes an embedded model server from Jotne EPM. This new integration allows project teams to upload multiple models into dRofus for simultaneous visualization of program data and model geometry. Users do not need to have a separate modeling software to view 3D information! This new technology is being offered to all project and enterprise customers at NO ADDITIONAL COST!

You can download a presentation about the new technology here.

dRofus with model server will be presented at Autodesk University and Ecobuild later in 2012.


Monday, 24 September 2012

USACE and Level of Development

The US Army Corps of Engineers has recently released their Minimum Modeling Matrix or "M3" - available at This document is a spreadsheet that contains three worksheets: Instructions, Modeling Requirements, and Scope-LOD-Grade.

Referring to a post on All Things BIM ("Moving Forward With LOD"), the USACE M3 document utilizes the AIA LOD definitions and classifies the built environment with a minimum level of required information from design and construction teams.

They did a nice job in categorizing the built environment their own way and then including references to Omniclass, Uniformat, AND MasterFormat. You can even filter the Scope-LOD-Grade worksheet in column A to show different level of specificity (as in Uniformat, Level 1, 2, 3 and 4).

LOD gets a 'Grade'

USACE has utilized only the 200 and 300 levels of development, and has limited use of 100. They specify the LOD in only one column and then they have introduced a concept of 'grade' as an additional qualifier to the LOD. Here's the explanation of the Grades according to USACE:
A = 3D + Facility Data
B = 2D + Facility Data
C = 2D Only (drafting, linework, text, and/or part of an assembly)
+ = Original grade (A, B, or C) adjusted for contract changes and field conditions
When you put the LOD together with Grade, you get an interesting interpretation of the original level of development scheme.
You can see in the sample above that within Fixed Furnishings, it would be acceptable to include Window Treatments in the model as generic-2D elements (200-B), whereas Casework must be specific-3D elements (300-A). To be honest, I'm not sure how I would model Fixed Art at 100-B...

Also note that Record Modeling and As-Builts are included in the USACE minimum requirements. The plus (+) symbol next to all There is often a question in our industry about the difference between the two and my opinion is as follows:

  • Record Model - Design model that has been updated with any recorded changes (usually via RFI or Change Order) during the construction process. The model is NOT updated with in-field conditions. This seems pretty straight-forward for geometry - much different when you're talking about data.
  • As-Built - Design model OR fabrication model that has been updated according to installed conditions. Again, if we're talking about data, that usually means serial numbers and other detailed information that would not be part of the design model.
At an Autodesk University panel presentation, the team from USACE clearly explained that they see the Record Model and the As-Built Model as THE SAME THING. Notice in the image above that the column heading is "RECORD MODEL (AS-BUILTS)." Remember this if you are working or will be working on a USACE project in the near future.

Modeling Requirements

The CAD/BIM team at USACE has also created a worksheet for "Modeling Requirements" that lists a very broad statement for each major building system - organized to Uniformat Level 2 specifications. This presents a potential 'scope-creep' situation for design teams in that the Modeling Requirements do not describe different levels of modeling specificity. This type of modeling specification is being examined by the LOD Specification Workgroup of the AGC and AIA mentioned in the All Things BIM article above.

Why is the Modeling Requirements table potentially dangerous to a design team's scope of work? Here's an example...if we look at D40 Fire Protection, the requirements are as follows:
"All Fire Protection elements including all piping, valves, and seismic bracing shall be modeled with necessary intelligence to produce plans, elevations, building/wall sections, riser diagrams, and schedules where applicable."
At a more generic level of development (200), an engineer would likely not include valves and seismic bracing; therefore, where do these requirements apply?


Overall, I applaud the USACE CAD/BIM team for their effort to point the AEC drivers in the general direction of travel - considering the AIA E202 was merely a road map. I hope they can refine their approach over time to allow greater clarity in a more simplified approach towards establishing minimum modeling standards. It will be quite exciting to hear about some project case studies as teams work with the USACE in the near future.

Friday, 21 September 2012

AIA Digital Practice Docs and COBie Guide

As Summer 2012 draws to a close, two interesting releases that are quite relevant to our buildingSMART efforts. First, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) has released updated versions of their "digital practice documents" for public comment. These documents represent an evolution of the E202 BIM Protocol Exhibit into a more complete project execution plan. You can visit to download the documents for review or read the press release here:

The comment period for the AIA documents will close on October 8, 2012 (extended from the original September 24 deadline).

The second release is the COBie (Construction-Operations Building Information Exchange) guide from the buildingSMART alliance. The guide provides information about organizing and delivering COBie formatted data. You can download the COBie guide here: 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Help! My Model has been Deleted!

If you've been in the BIM manager's seat for long enough, you might have seen this support request come across your desk a few times. In Revit, it's quite a convincing shock to open a project file and find nothing but annotation, but don't fret...the problem is most often just a workset visibility issue.

We recently encountered this problem in our San Francisco office, where a user reported that all the model elements have been deleted in a project. Do we need to restore the model from backup, rollback the worksets, contact Autodesk and report a bug...? First let's examine the scenario...

One team member had been working on the same model, but their immediate task was simply to perform some editing to annotation; therefore, they had closed all the User worksets. Remember, when you open a workset-enabled file, you can click the dropdown arrow next to the Open button to select the Specify option:

With the Specify setting, you can select all the User-Created worksets and set their Opened status to No (select them all in the list, then click Close).
This is good for performance, but obviously not good if you actually need to see some of the model components as you work! 

Back to our story...this user synchronized with central and then another user began to perform some work. Now, this scenario should not affect anyone who is currently working in the same project model, but I presume it may be related to the script file our project teams use to automatically create new local copies. If user #1 had synchronized with all worksets closed, and then user #2 created a new local copy of the model and opened the model with the default workset option (Last Viewed), they might have all User-Created worksets turned off without the benefit of the Opening Worksets dialog box to indicate what is open or closed.
What's the moral of this story? We strongly recommend using the Specify option EVERY time you open a local copy of a project model. Remember you can also set the default action for opening when you first create a central file. Click on Options, and set the Open Workset Default to Specify as shown below. You can also check out one of our previous posts with other valuable tips on finding hidden elements.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

LEED Calculations with BIM

HOK’s own Amy Patel – a buildingSMART Specialist – gives a complete presentation to the New York City Revit Users Group (@NYCRUG) about the use of a BIM platform to calculate specific LEED credits. While she demonstrates using Revit, these concepts can be applied to any BIM platform.

Check out the recording…

Friday, 15 June 2012

Marlborough College, Malaysia


One of the first projects I worked on with our London Office schools team when I joined HOK in late 2008 was a project for Marlborough College in Malaysia. We had a relatively inexperienced Revit team, but they had a lot of passion as well as excellent design skills. The design phases HOK where involved included:-

  • Feasibility Design
  • Scheme Development
  • Detailed Design
  • FF&E

The biggest challenge was the general coordination of the site as we decided to split each building into separate worksetted models & then link these into a site model. On the whole this was the easiest way to manage the large dataset that was created. But we also had to create a lot of project specific families. I lost count how many different panel & curtain panels I created!


The new school itself will draw its vision, ethos and pedagogy from the mother school, Marlborough College in Wiltshire, England, one of the leading independent schools in the United Kingdom and is planned as a ‘best in class’ school for both Malaysian and International students.

imageIt will provide spaces for a maximum of 915 pupils aged 11 to 18 and teach to the International Baccalaureate. Boarding spaces for 2 thirds of the pupils and staff will be provided on site providing a total learning and living environment. A separate Preparatory day school will also be built on the site.


If you are interested, be sure to check out the site progress photos.


Friday, 20 April 2012

Auditing Navisworks models for distant elements

In a recent post on the Beyond Design blog, Lee Mullin illustrates some techniques for fixing a Navisworks composite model that has elements extremely far from the main model. Some symptoms of this problem may include:

Click here to read the rest of Lee’s blog post.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Graphics Cards - Optimus technology

Some of the newer laptops that are coming through often have a feature called Optimus technology enabled. More details can be found here on what Optimus technology is.

Whilst this is great technology, it can play havoc with your design software, often using the wrong card to driver the software. So what can you do to ensure that your software is using the better graphics card in your laptop? Whilst you could use the drivers to manage the software, often the results are not what you expect. Therefore, you need to boot into the bios and turn off the Optimus technology feature; this will disable the Intel card and force the Nvidia card to be used instead.

The Optimus technology acts as a switch between the 2 video cards. One screen would use Intel and the other Nvidia. When the laptop is not docked in a docking station, the Intel card is the preferred card to save on power consumption. Unfortunately, we don’t care about the power savings and want Revit to perform. Disabling the Optimus switching mechanism forces the computer to use the Nvidia card in all hardware profiles. It’d be nice if Optimus could auto-negotiate which card to use based on the power needs, but sadly is doesn’t.

Once you have disabled the Optimus technology you will need to do a couple of restarts to get windows to reinstall the Nvidia drivers. It should be noted that not all of  laptops have these dual card installed, but where you do have them, disabling Optimus, without doubt helps.

Why Windows in Revit Don’t Cut it.

Brok Howard, BIM manager for our St Louis office gives some advice on why windows don’t cut.

We ran into an issue last week where a window family was not cutting in plan as would be expected. For example purposes I will demonstrate what was happening and why this might happen with your window content. I will use the out of the box content that ships with Revit if you want to follow along. It also starts to address how this might be useful for some instances.

In the example below we have three windows, each at different sill heights.

The first one cuts as expected, the second is going through the sill and the third is above the cut plane of the view. The view is set to 4’-0” and in the elevation above I am showing where this is cut in the view.


Again, this would be as expected. If we move the cut plane in the view up, so it only cuts the second two windows, we no longer see the window below in plan.


No, for the interesting part of how windows work. The assumption we have made so far is that when you move the view range cut plan that is what is changing the way the window is being cut. Let’s investigate this further by opening up this family.

Opening the family and then looking at the Floor Line view shows us this.


Notice on the Properties pallet we do not see any information about a cut plane. clip_image008

Now click where the Family:Windows drop down menu in the this section and change it to Floor Plan:Floor Line, now you are seeing the view propery settings.


Now click on View Range. You will find that the default Cut Plane for this view is set to 4’-0”, same as the model.


Let’s now change this to 7’-0”.


The other thing we are going to change is we are going to remove the symbolic lines in the family so we are seeing the real solid geometry.

And finally we are going change the default sill height to 6’-0”. You should end up with something that looks like this.


When we load this new family into the project we end up losing the second windows in plan. This is due to the fact that the symbolic lines were really what was being represented in plan, not the window. What we are seeing is the opening from the family.

Now, we will go back to the family and change the geometry to now show in plan by selecting them and changing the settings to show in plan.


Now we are seeing the family in its true modeled elements.

Note that now we are seeing the third window. Why are we able to see the window with the cut plane set to 4’-0”?


Because windows are not really cutting. They use the internal cutplane in the family in combination with symbolic lines.

But why is this? If you go to the Visibilty/Graphics Settings it clearly shows the option to cut them?


Now we will change the cut plane in the model to match the cut plane of the one in the family.


We see the geometry but not what you would think, now select one of the windows. All the detail is there, but we only see it as if it was not cutting.


Now change the default sill height in the family back to 3’-0” and the cut plane back to 4’-0” and reload the family back into the project. Now change the floor plan view range back to 4’-0”. What you get is this.


Until window families are really, truly cutable geometry this is what you will get. And if you have ever created window content from scratch, this will be important to keep in mind because you will need to make all your window geometry content not show in plan and not cutable, then use symbolic lines to make them show correct in plan.

This is the farthest family from BIM that I have found so far, it would be good if Autodesk addresses issues like then rather than create workarounds. But at least now you are equipped with the WHY on windows.

Friday, 27 January 2012

The 2nd Annual HOK BIMies


Lachmi Khemlani  from AECbytes provides a great overview of the 2nd Annual HOK BIMies, be sure to check it out! We really do love what we do at HOK. :-)

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Clipping Issues in Navisworks

From the Beyond Design blog post, “Why does my model look sectioned?”

If you are experiencing clipping issues in Navisworks – especially with large models – you may have a spurious object far away from the main geometry. Your best option is to delete the extraneous element in the source model and reload it. If your composite model is just that large (airport, neighborhood, city…) then you might need to adjust the Clippng Planes under the Culling tab in File Options.

Read the complete article on the Beyond Design blog for more info.