Tutorial – Conceptual Massing and Revit Structure

Link to YouTube Video: http://youtu.be/aaBdlIoS5eI

In this tutorial I will take you through some of the tools you can use to create a mass within Revit and then apply structural elements to the form. I will also outline some other possible workflows with other Autodesk software. Our target will be to produce a similar model to the one shown below. In future tutorials I will also talk about correcting the analytical model and preparing this for analysis.

Revit Structure Roof Framing

The first step is to create the conceptual form, on the Application menu select the Conceptual Mass command.

Conceptual Mass Family

The Conceptual Mass family does look a little different to the normal structural families that you may create. You will see that the Reference Planes are visible in the 3D view which makes them much easier to work with.

Conceptual Mass Reference planes Visible

In the Project Browser double click the Level 1 Floor plan and create the Reference Planes as shown below.

Conceptual Mass - Refernece Planes

Once the Reference Planes are created then switch to the 3D view to view the planes in 3D. You will now set one of the Reference Planes as the active Work Plane. As shown below, click the plane command and then select the front Reference Plane. You can also switch on the visibility of this Plane by selecting the Show button on the Work Plane Panel.

Conceptual Mass - Set the current Work Plane

Next you create the first profile, Click the Line command as shown below and draw the three required lines. Next choose the Start End radius arc and create an arc for the curved roof, use any radius you want for this. Note that you may need to use the Tab key to select individual lines and arcs within the profile.

Conceptual Mass - Creating the First Profile

Repeat this for the second profile using the image below.

Conceptual Mass - Creating the Second Profile

Next you create the 3D form, Select both the profiles and click the Create Form command as shown in the image below.

Conceptual Mass - Creating the Form

Next you add an intermediate cross section to create a double-curved roof. Select the solid by using the tab key to cycle to the solid form. On the contextual Ribbon you will see the add profile tool, select this and add a profile roughly in the middle of the solid as shown below. You may also want to enable the X-Ray command which will enable you to visualise the cross sectional profiles.

X-Ray Mass

Select the middle arc and drag this up the Z-Axis to form the geometry as shown below.

Conceptual Mass -Drag the Z-Axis

You will now divide the top surface into a number of divisions. This is achieved by selecting the top surface and clicking the Divide tool as shown on the ribbon below. Note that you will need to turn the X-Ray model off to see the divided surface.

Divide Surface Ribbon

In the Properties Palette you now set the pattern to a Rhomboid form and then set the Maximum Spacing to 2000 for the U and V Grids.

Revit Divided Surface Properties

You have now successfully created the basic mass. Save this as ROOF MASS.rfa

Start a new Structural Project and ensure that you open the Site Structural Plan, this already has the View Range set to unlimited.

Make sure that you have also switched on the Mass Category within Visibility/Graphics overrides dialog box.

Visibility-Graphic Overrides

On the Structure Ribbon, click the Component Command and then browse for your ROOF MASS.rfa file. You can then place this on the Work Plane.

Component Button

Create a new 3D view and ensure that the Mass Category is enabled. You should now see your mass within this view. Next you create the structural framing.

Click the Beam Command and select a CHS section of your choice from the Type selector as shown below. Note that you need to ensure that the sections are placed at the centre of the divided lines as shown on the Properties Palette.

Revit Pattern Properties

You will now set up the Options for the beam placement. On the Contextual Ribbon and Options Bar, set the following as shown below.

Strcutural Framing Settings

You can now start to select the divided lines and Revit will now add the 3D beams to the divided surface lines. Note that you can use the Tab key to select panels to speed this process up a little!

Beam Cutback Issue

You will notice that the CHS sections appear to ‘spring back’ from the nodes. This is due to the Start and End Extension calculations. You will now edit the CHS family to rectify this.

Select one of the CHS sections on your roof and click Edit Family on the Contextual Ribbon as shown below.

Edit Family Button

Switch to the Floor Plan – Ref Level and then use the shape handles to drag the extrusion from the inner Reference Plane to the Outer Reference Planes. This will then remove the ;Spring Back’ that occurs in the project. Ensure that you lock the geometry to the outer planes. Load the family into your project and the frame should update.

CHS New Constraints point

Hope that this has been useful for you.


About lawrenceh

I am currently employed by Excitech, one of the largest Autodesk resellers in the UK, to provide training and other services such as implementation and project support to our clients. The main products I get involved with are Autodesk Revit Structure & Autodesk Inventor. My personal interests include aviation, engineering and walking.
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5 Responses to Tutorial – Conceptual Massing and Revit Structure

  1. Truc H. says:

    Hello Lawrence. In the step to edit the beam members in Edit Family to the outer reference planes from the inner reference planes, when I selected the rectangle for the beam (I had hollow square section), it does not show shape handles to allow me to extend the length of the beam. Is there a step that I’m missing?

    • lawrenceh says:

      It’s probably because the RHS section is still locked to the reference planes. Pick the RHS and then edit the sweep path, you will be able to re constrain the path to the correct work plane. Let me know if this doesn’t work for you and I’ll think of plan b!

      • Truc H. says:

        I managed to make it work! Using Revit 2014, I clicked “Edit Sweep” and then “Sketch Path” to adjust the lengths of two perpendicular lines that correspond to the RHS section. Thank you for your help!

  2. Dave says:

    Hi Lawrence,

    Once you have the mass, it is possible to apply a wall or slab element to the surface, then take it into Robot to analyse it?

    Ideally the doubly-curved surface would be broken down into separate elements so that their properties could be individually adjusted as the overall shape was structurally optimised.

    Any help much appreciated!

  3. addis ad says:

    I am working on a gymnasium made of a steel shell structure and I found this tutorial to be very helpful!!. Could you please show me how to edit the material of the panels ? Thanks a lot Lawrence!!

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