Software links physical and analytical models

September 01, 2005 |

Revit Structure is the new engineering design and documentation software introduced last June by Autodesk. As we'll see, beta users are already finding the program is saving them time over older systems.

The software integrates a physical model (for layout, coordination, and documentation) with independently editable analytical models for various materials, such as steel, precast concrete, cast-in-place concrete, masonry, and wood. For example, the physical model will show what a beam actually looks like, while the analytical model gives an abstract representation of the beam, which may be just a line.

The program's parametric change management capabilities help to coordinate analysis-results updates throughout design and documentation files. As a result, changes made in one view are dynamically updated in every related view, including drawings and schedules.

Users can work entirely in Revit Structure to generate construction documentation. While AutoCAD software is not required, you can include existing typical details from AutoCAD. As a result, you can create construction documentation more rapidly. You can also create, manage, and share building design information with the extended project team by directly linking to architectural models.

The software can be used as a common structural modeling tool to link with the analysis software. According to Autodesk, the typical structural engineer uses at least three different analysis programs. Modeling in Revit Structure eliminates the need to learn multiple systems.

Bi-directional exchange of information with analysis applications helps ensure that models reflect accurate structural data. Software partners that have already linked their applications to Autodesk Revit Structure include Computers and Structures' SAP 2000 general-purpose structural analysis and design; Computers and Structures' ETABS building analysis and design; RISA Technologies' series of programs, including RISA 3-D building analysis and design software and RISAFoot reinforced-concrete foundation design software; and RoboBAT's ROBOT Millennium software for structural analysis and design.

Users can also link their in-house spreadsheets or analysis and design software. Libraries of all standard walls, columns, beams, floor systems, braces, trusses, and joists are provided. Special foundations, precast concrete elements, and other structural libraries are also supported.

Revit Structure is built on the same technology platform as Revit Building. Thus, Revit's worksharing distributes the parametric building modeler across the entire team. Worksharing provides a complete range of collaboration modes, from on-the-fly simultaneous access to the shared model, through the formal division of the project into defined systems, to complete separation of discrete project parts (such as wings or separate buildings) into individually managed linked models.

As a result, structural engineers and architects logged on to the same network can work directly on a fully shared, combined architectural and structural model, while those using Revit-based applications in separate organizations can exchange and cross-link Revit's .rvt files. Engineers can create their own structural models or work on top of 2-D .dwg, .dxf, or .dgn files from their architectural counterparts. This allows architects and engineers who want to work together efficiently to accommodate last-minute design changes.

Structural engineers can also accelerate their work and automate coordination by linking bi-directionally to Architectural Desktop, Revit Building, or Building Systems. Revit Structure can import designs as building objects from Autodesk Architectural Desktop as a basis for the structural model or for comparison to the structural model.

Revit Structure also exports structural components as intelligent building objects native to Desktop. Structural components in Revit Structure not supported in Desktop (and walls with structural characteristics) are exported to Desktop as mass elements.

Revit Structure can produce .dwg deliverables using the ObjectDBX toolkit. The software supports the process most engineering firms use with their clients by producing organized, layered .dwg files under a variety of layering standards. Users can also import or link .dwg files directly into Revit Structure to use as reference geometry or as the starting point for a new design. Any CAD system that supports the .dwg, .dgn, or DXF file format can work with the program.

Between Bentley Systems' MicroStation and Revit Structure, Revit can import, export, and link .dwg and .dgn (version 7) format files. Users can draw on imported files to create Revit Structure parametric model geometry. Revit Structure can manage imported or linked files so that detail libraries in either .dwg or .dgn file format can be placed on sheets and all callouts are automatically managed.

Beta users at engineering firm Graef, Anhalt, Schloemer & Associates, Milwaukee, Wis., have adopted Revit Structure as the firm's structural modeling and documentation system. According to Paul Andersen, senior structural engineering technician, "We have minimized the time and effort required to coordinate design and engineering changes, because the software's parametric change engine automates that aspect of our work." He cites a recent project that he estimates would have taken three weeks to complete using legacy software, but that took only three days to finalize with Revit Structure.

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