Making New Connections

Structural Connections in Revit® 2017 allow the user to place a Generic Connection placeholder, load the Structural Connection family from an add-in, and extract detailed information via parameters for coordination, detailing, and fabrication. The improvements include more detailed geometry and code checking.

The Placement

The Structural Connection tool is located on the Structure tab (obviously) on the Connection Panel (just as obvious!). Click the connection tool and then select the members to be connected.

Figure 1: Structural Connection tool

The Generic Connection is created as a placeholder representation of the connection. The solid blue dot indicates the primary member, in this case the column.

Figure 2: Primary Member

Figure 2a: Generic Connection

Structural Connections use standard Revit object parameters. Parameters may also be added to the connections as required. Unique parameters for connections include the Approval Status (set by the user) and the Code Checking Status, which can either be set by the user or populated by Code Checking when verified. The Approval Status is updated by the Parameters tab under Manage-Settings panel-Structural Settings-Connection Settings.

Figure 3: Approval Status and Code Checking

Keeping up Appearances

Structural Connections are part of an add-in for Revit 2017, available as a separate download in the Subscription Center. Once the Generic Connection is set, you can go to the Structural Connection Settings on the Manage tab to load the connections needed.

Figure 4: Structural Connection Settings – Manage tab

The Structural Connection Settings (as of this writing) offers 22 options for Structural Connections. Select any or all of the connections to load into the project. This dialog box also gives you options to remove connections, as well as a tab to set the Approval Status Parameters as mentioned previously.

Figure 5: Structural Connection Settings dialog

After the connections are loaded, click to select the Generic Connection and apply the desired Connection as you would a family type, in the Properties dialog box. It should be noted that the connection is shown differently depending on the Detail Level of the view. The connection placeholder will show in the Coarse level of detail, the angles (in this instance) will show in the Medium detail level, and the bolts will appear in the Fine detail level.

Connection Configurations

The actual configuration of the Structural Connections can be modified in the Modify Parameters contextual panel that appears when the connection is selected. Within this dialog box is a plethora of settings that can be used to adjust sizes of plates, bolts, welds, and apply Code Checking to the connection.

Figure 6: Modify parameters of the Structural Connection

 As always, use discretion when modeling connections. Depending on the size of the model, showing all connections may be detrimental to the health of the project file. My philosophy is always to model only what is necessary, what is relevant, and what is useful in terms of visualization and parameters. The rest is just fluff!

The Other Stuff

Other improvements and enhancements to Revit Structure 2017 include the addition of a Height Offset From Level parameter that is applied to both footing and slab foundation objects so that they will schedule in the same column.

Another new feature is the ability to attach structural columns to isolated foundations and footings (piers). Much like attaching the Top/Base to a floor or roof, the columns will now attach to the top surface of the foundation. In the case of a stepped footing, the column will adjust its length accordingly. If the foundation moves vertically, the column will adjust automatically.

The last feature I’ll highlight is the Bent Fabric Sheet for reinforcement. While previous versions provided a flat fabric sheet, Revit Structure 2017 now gives the option for a Bend Sketch within the Fabric Sheet tool on the Reinforcement panel in Revit. The parameters for geometry include Bend Diameter, Bend Directions (Major or Minor), and the Longitudinal Cut Length.

Figure 7: Bent fabric sketch

What’s It Worth?

Upgrades are a pain. I get it. But with the general enhancements to the Revit 2017 platform, the reconfiguration of background processing, the upgrades to the Structural Connections, and the other miscellaneous features too numerous to name, I do think that upgrading to Revit Structure 2017 will be a worthwhile investment. 

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