August 29, 2014
Kelsey Reust AIA, LEED AP, EDAC

The project: Design and build 20 clinics in six months while maintaining consistency, speed, and profitability. 
The question: How do we improve communication and consistency? 
The blog:  Getting everyone involved on one platform.

Even if you aren’t a “Revit user,” please don’t stop reading now.  This blog describes how everyone can get involved.  Everyone knows Revit is a program that can be used as a platform to produce construction documents.  The beauty of the program can be in the simplicity of evolving the models into modes of communication, rather than just documentation.

The following points are a quick overview of some of the ways that Revit can be used to manage information during the design process, and an example of how this was done to improve the accuracy, consistency, and therefore profitability for the rollout clinic project.

The Process: Central Communication

Revit is a software that allows the user to build a 3-D model of the architectural design and incorporate annotative notes for explaining the details.  This model then is broken down into views for renderings, plans, sections, elevations, and more.  Because all of this information is contained in a single file, it is the perfect platform to distribute information to the team from the programming phases through project close-out.

Space Planning can be done in Revit using “masses” which are simple blocks that contain information such as square footages and name tags.  These masses can be used to create plans ranging from bubble adjacency diagrams to floor blocking plans.  The benefit in having the space planning exercise in Revit rather than on paper or another program is that the initial concepts and notes are in the same place as the future construction documents.  Any information collected during early design meetings are recorded within the model.  Design decisions are documented within the model so the information gathered is not lost as the project progresses.

As the team refines the design, meeting minutes documenting decisions are recorded directly in the Revit model rather than in a separate document, ensuring the decisions are carried through the design.  Separate views for each meeting are used to record the notes on a meeting-by meeting basis. 

Inputting these simple text notes directly in the model is where the entire team, even if you don’t typically use Revit, can get involved.  If the entire team communicates through the model, rather than just the “Revit users,” it would create a single forum for the majority of communication.

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Task lists, project notes, and follow up questions can also be documented and shared in the same way as meeting minutes.  Everything from to-do lists, items flagged to verify, and notes for code compliance can be documented on the plan for reference for the entire team through the model.  Using the Revit model directly rather communicating via e-mail ensures information isn’t lost in an inbox.

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Typically the Revit model is used during construction to create revision drawings.  However, the Revit model can also be used to note more descriptive information such as lessons learned or to document information regarding a specific revision.

The model can also simplify staffing needs on a project.  Throughout the duration of most projects, designers, consultants, and owners can come and go.  This single-point of communication assists in transmitting information to new team members, providing a background for decisions made and a roadmap for items that need attention.

The Process in Action: The Clinics

The entire team used the Revit model using the methods described above for documentation and communication.

_clinic toolkit overall

At the beginning of the design process, space planning and programming was done to develop the optimal plan for the clinics.  It was intended to determine the ideal flow and minimum space requirements.  Blocking plans were developed for the program.  Each tenant space for the clinic was a different footprint.  Standardization of each room simplified the space planning because the minimum size and proportions of each room was already established.

_Clinic Space Planning

As the design progressed, “blocks” were created for each room.  These room blocks included the floor plan, all accessories, reflected ceiling plan, notes, interior elevations, and key dimensions.  The blocks could be moved in their entirety so elevations and ceiling plans did not have to be re-drawn for each clinic.  As additional clinics were completed, the blocks evolved and incorporated all changes from construction lessons learned to owner changes.

_Block axon

Throughout the clinic design, notes for the reasoning behind the design intent and notes on the design features were included directly in the model.  When someone went to the “working” view, the notes were available to better understand the background information for the particular space.  These blocks were continuously updated to include any changes made during construction of the first clinics, owner-requested changes, lessons learned, and the evolution of the design.  As a new clinic was started, the Revit model had the most up-to-date information to be used.

_Block Notes

To produce the construction documents, the “blocks” were puzzled together based on the optimal plan flow.  Additional items in the toolkit included rooms with finish requirements and doors with hardware requirements that were ready to be placed.  This reduced errors since the base information scheduled on the drawings is already included in the components.

_final vca cd's

Because the blocks were created with 3-D components which is typical for Revit, simple 3-D renderings were easily created for the owner’s use.  These help to convey the intricacies of the plan to those that may have difficulty reading plans like the one above.

_Rendered Axons

Revit Simplified

Revit is known as a tech tool to facilitate in the design, construction, fabrication, and so many facets of architecture.  Hopefully Revit can begin to get another reputation as a simple central documentation and communication tool.  The use of Revit models in this way opens the door for the entire team to be involved with inputting, retrieving, and using the information in the model throughout the duration of the project.

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