Linking a Revit Project for MEP

April 2nd, 2014

Using Autodesk® Revit® for MEP can be daunting on its own. Leveraging work sharing and file linking to fully utilize the power of Revit can make the whole process a nightmare. This article will outline some tried-and-true methods for assembling a fully linked and work shared Revit project from a MEP perspective that minimizes confusion and maximizes coordination. The short version encompasses the seven steps below. Different firms with different needs should make any necessary adjustments.

  1. Clean up the architectural and structural files.
  2. Use a standard startup project file that is work shared.
  3. Redirect the linked the files.
  4. Copy monitor the architectural linked file’s levels.
  5. Create views.
  6. Add spaces.
  7. Make sheets.

Clean Up Architectural and Structural Files

To keep file sizes small and projects moving quick, it’s a good idea to make a copy of the original architectural and structural Revit files and remove unneeded data from them.

Use the Open command to browse out the files.  Before clicking the Open button, check the Detach from Central and Audit options (see Figure 1). This will break the connection to the original central files and also audit them for any detectable issues.

Figure 1

Accept the warning dialog that appears when the Audit box is checked. Choose “Detach and Preserve Worksets” if asked in the Detach Model from Central dialog.

To reduce its file size, switch to a useable floor plan view and close all hidden views. In the Project Browser, delete all view types except Floor Plan views by selecting the view and selecting Delete out of the right-click menu or by using the

Delete key on the keyboard. Enlarged and dependent views should also be deleted. Use the same procedure to delete Schedules and Legends.

Review linked files and detach any unneeded Revit, CAD, DWF, or Point Clouds using the Manage Links tool in the Manage tab.

Figure 2

Delete all the sheets. Ensure that the views attached to those sheets are not inadvertently deleted if needed. Avoid selecting the views under sheets by using the minus sign to the left of the sheet name to hide the views used on the sheet.

On the Insert tab, select the Manage Links tool and remove all irrelevant links. If unsure, leave the link loaded. On the Manage tab, select Purge Unused.

Click OK in the Purge Unused dialog box to purge unused families. Repeat until there is nothing left to purge.

Use the Sync to Central tool to save the project; check the box to Compact Central Model, and all of the “relinquish worksets and elements” boxes possible.

Figure 3

Standard Startup Project

In this example, a starter project is used. The starter project is created with “dummy” architectural and structural files already linked. All the standards of a template file are included in the starter project with some notable additions. Worksets are created in the starter file that will translate directly into the new MEP Revit file made from it. This keeps workset naming standard and complete every time and saves the time it takes to create worksets. View templates can be created that set workset visibility for the differing disciplines. Standard sheets can be set up including symbol legend sheets, plan sheets, and schedule sheets. Placing schedules on sheets allows for each schedule to have each column individually tweaked in a standard manner that will be consistent from job to job and user to user.

Open the starter project, making sure to detach from central (see Figure 4).  



Figure 4

When prompted, detach and preserve worksets.

Save As to the appropriate job folder using the any standard naming convention.

Redirect Linked the Files

Use the Manage Links tool to reload the newly created architectural and structural backgrounds.

Figure 5

Copy Monitor Levels

There are a lot of things that can be copy monitored from the source architectural file, but at a minimum, the levels should be copied.

  1. In the Project Browser, make an elevation view the current view.
  2. Go to Collaboration tab and pick the Copy/Monitor tool, then Select Link.  See image on the right.
  3. Select the building model.
  4. Click Copy in the ribbon. Select Multiple in the Options bar if desired.
  5. Individually click on each imported level of the building model.  Allow time for the Revit to process the information after each click.  Accept any warnings that may appear.
  6. Click Finish in the ribbon to close the Copy/Monitor menu.

Creating Views

Floor plan views should be created for each floor based on the copy/monitored levels in the architectural file. In the Properties of the floor plans views, templates can be assigned to control the views, giving a consistent look in all disciplines on all sheets for the entire project. Views can be created in the old school fashion, but IMAGINiT makes an add-in tool that creates views based on view templates and phases. Just select the phase of views needed and the templates to create views for, and click OK.

Figure 6

This handy add-in can create all the views needed for a 50-story high rise in seconds, greatly reducing the time required to set up an MEP project. There are more and more add-ins created and shared every day. Individual firms should keep an eye out for those uniquely suited to their needs.

Adding Spaces

Room names and numbers are shown in individual views by tagging spaces in the MEPT model. Once spaces are added to the model, they can be tagged in plan or reflected ceiling plan view individually.

1. To add spaces, first select the linked BK file. In the Properties palette, click the Edit Type button then check the Room Bounding check box. This allows the architectural walls to be used as boundary objects when placing spaces.

Figure 7

2. Go to the Analyze tab and select the Space tool. The Ribbon shifts to the Modify | Place Space contextual tab. In this tab select the Place Spaces Automatically tool ensuring the Tag on Placement option is highlighted.

Figure 8

3. Revit will alert how many spaces were created and display any associated warnings for spaces that could not be created. Close these dialogs. The newly created room tags should be visible. If they are not, make sure Space tags are checked under the Annotations tab of the Visibility Graphics dialog.

4. There may be unoccupied spaces.

5. In all other views, use the Tag All Not Tagged tool on the Annotate tab. Select the Space Tag category and click OK to tag all the spaces per view.

6. If using the model for mechanical calculations, panel schedules, or Com Check, run the Space Naming tool on the Add-Ins tab of the ribbon after all spaces have been placed. This tool should be rerun before any calculations are performed to ensure all spaces are accounted for and accurate.

Figure 9

7. For each level, the upper limit for spaces must be changed. Select everything on a given level and use the Filter tool on the ribbon to select only the spaces.

8. In Properties, change the upper limits of the spaces to the Alvine Space Upper Limit Level.

9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 for each level with spaces.

Spaces can be used just to annotate room and give areas, but if volumes are required, there is more to do. Figure 10 shows a section through a space where the offset for the space is above the building but volumes are not being calculated.

Figure 10

To ensure volumes are calculated, go to the Room panel of the Architectural tab and click the radio button next to Areas and Volumes.

Figure 11

With areas and volumes being calculated, a section though a space is still necessary to make sure the volume generated is what is really required. Image shows a typical space where the offset has not been set to a level higher than the sloped roof.

Figure 12

The image below shows another example of the space doing a great job showing the volume of the room with a notable exception. The floating ceilings in the architectural model have been set to “room bounding,” which stops the space from going through the ceiling.

Figure 13

To solve this issue, the room bounding setting must be changed in the linked file. The upshot is to be very sure the volumes reported in the model are the volumes that are required. The adage “garbage in garbage out” applies.

Make Sheets

Once a set of views is completed, the corresponding sheets should be created and cropped to accommodate all levels and disciplines.

Use the Sync to Central tool to save the Central file. Check the box to “Compact Central Model,” and all of the “relinquish worksets and elements” boxes possible.

Figure 14

Close the new Central MEP file. It is ready to be worked on by all disciplines.

There are certainly more ways to set up projects and different firms will have different needs, but hopefully the reader will find something in this article that will augment their current process.

It is fair to say that the set up of Revit projects has evolved over the years. It is logical to assume that Revit itself will change, third-party apps will continue to be released and address new issues, and the needs of design professionals will continue to change. The real job here is to continue to evolve along with technology to keep your processes aligned with your customers’ needs.

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About the Authors

Todd Shackelford

Todd Shackelford

Todd Shackelford is the BIM Manager for Leo A Daly, a University of Nebraska instructor and a fequent speaker at Autodesk University. He authors two Blogs; CAD Shack and The Lazy Drafter. A Revit 2013 Certified Expert. Todd looks for his missing socks when not otherwise committed. Tweet Todd @ShackelfordTodd or email Todd at tshackelford@alvine.com

 

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