Our Journey to Excellence with Revit, Part II

By: Stephen Evans

Making the switch from AutoCAD to Revit was a big undertaking for LBYD. The two programs both accomplish the same goal, a complete set of construction drawings, but they accomplish that goal in very different ways. AutoCAD is a program in which the construction drawings are created in a 2-D environment. In Revit, the building is modeled in 3-D, and the 2-D drawings are created from the 3-D model. As I wrote in the last blog post, the first project we as a company tried using Revit on was called Corner High School.

In 2008, one of our Senior Principal Engineers, Greg Robinson, approached one of our Senior Engineering Project Managers (an Engineer at the time), Nicole Sommerville, asking her to help spearhead the Revit effort by using it on a federal project. This job was a simple two-story steel rectangular box, which made it a good candidate to try in Revit. After getting to 65% complete drawings, they decided they needed to pull the project out of Revit and start using AutoCAD, so the finished product ended up being a hybrid between Revit and AutoCAD. One of the big problems was that the drawings that Revit was producing out-of-the-box were a shock. The LBYD standards that had been built into AutoCAD over the past 20 years, were not implemented in Revit yet.

During that time, there were a lot of projects that were started in Revit that had to be switched over to AutoCAD at one point or another, but that is one of the ways that we learned. Thankfully, when a project was changed from Revit to AutoCAD, the work up to that point wasn’t lost. There was a way to export what Revit had done so far to AutoCAD. It just required a bit of review to make sure nothing was lost. At the time, we were ahead of the curve, so architects were generally not requiring projects to be in Revit. As things progressed, architects began requiring Revit to be used, but they would often drop out of it, which would give LBYD an option to either move forward in Revit or switch over to AutoCAD. Once we got to the finish line on one project, though, we had to start forcing ourselves to not drop out of Revit for subsequent projects.

To get to that point, we had to address the issue of LBYD standards. People on the outside only ever saw our drawings, so we wanted them to be unique. A small team of engineers and modelers started figuring out ways to make the text, line types, details, etc. look like they did in AutoCAD. They would then print the Revit version and the AutoCAD version and show them side-by-side to some of the leadership to get their input. These would be saved into Revit through what we call families and templates. Slowly, the out-of-the-box Revit was transformed into something much closer to the drawings that LBYD was known for.

A training program also had to be developed. After identifying our first two modelers as subject matter experts, they began to train other engineers. This allowed our engineers to have in-house expertise as they worked through the program to discuss ideas and answer questions. Despite all of its hardships, there was one benefit of the Great Recession. The slowdown allowed time for people to learn Revit, as well as time for others to work on the templates and families needed to implement our standards.

As LBYD accomplished its transition to Revit, and as architects and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineers followed suit, the benefits truly began to show themselves. Having a 3-D model of a building with all the trades included allowed for coordination issues to be identified in the design stage of a project that would have previously been addressed once the project was being constructed. Although Revit can take more time on the front end building the model, it saves time on the back end once that model has been built and helps to ensure that what is reflected in the plans is something that can truly be constructed. All in all, Revit was a tremendous investment in our company that continues to show its worth every day.

The University of Alabama Capstone Engineering Society Honors Glenn Bishop

The following is an excerpt from the Spring 2020 edition of The University of Alabama Capstone Engineering Society magazine.

Glenn Bishop died July 24, 2019, in Birmingham. Born in Columbia, South Carolina, and raised in Birmingham, he graduated from Ramsay High School in 1958. Bishop then attended The University of Alabama where he was a member of Sigma Nu Fraternity. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1964 and a master’s degree in 1966, both in civil engineering. For seven years, Bishop worked at Hudson and Associates. He then founded his own firm, E. Glenn Bishop and Associates, in 1973. The structural and civil engineering firm, now named LBYD, has five offices and more than 100 employees today. Bishop was named a fellow of the UA civil engineering department, the UA College of Engineering and the American Council of Engineering Companies, and he was selected to the Alabama Construction Hall of Fame and the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame. Bishop was a past chairman of the UA College of Engineering Leadership Board and the Council of American Structural Engineers National Guidelines Committee, and he was a past president of the American Consulting Engineers Council of Alabama. Bishop served on the Board of Advisors of the UA civil engineering department and the University of Alabama at Birmingham civil engineering department. He worked on the Board of Directors of the Alabama Concrete Industries Association and the Construction Education Foundation of Alabama. Bishop was an engineering advisor for the state of Alabama’s Board of Registration and a trustee for the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce. One of his professional accomplishments was the expansion of The University of Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium. He was a member of the American Institute of Steel Construction, American Society of Civil Engineers and International Code Council.

Let’s keep things civil…

What is a Civil Engineer?

When someone mentions “civil engineering” or “civil engineer,” what comes to mind? For me, that’s an easy question (since I am one) but, honestly, I don’t think I knew the extent of civil engineering until years after I first started working as one. Some people might think of buildings and bridges, but those are a very specific branch of the broad civil engineering spectrum (called structural engineering – see LBYD’s previous blog post written by structural engineer extraordinaire Drew Eiland for more info). What I’m talking about is more of the underappreciated (in my humble opinion) aspects of building/project design. It’s things that people, even me, take for granted each and every day: Among many others, it’s things like having utility service provided to your house or office; Sanitary sewer networks that carry waste away from the restrooms at our places of work, residence, and leisure; It’s the topography of a site and the storm drains and pipes designed to carry rainwater away from your home, to keep it dry; It’s the accessible parking lot that aims to provide disabled citizens a safe path; the list could go on and on. Needless to say, civil engineers touch many of the engineering designs / systems that you may or may not see each and every day. If I had to oversimplify the definition of a civil engineer’s job, it would be this: Civil engineers design the environment in which buildings and people interact. While that may, in fact, sound simplified, I will try to give us, civil engineers, some due credit: In addition to each and every site that we design being physically different from the previous, it is also the case that coordination with other disciplines of engineering, architecture, landscaping, etc. vary with each site/project as well. If you happened to catch Drew Eiland’s “What is a structural engineer?” post, you may recall his mentioning that structural engineers are like artists – and he’s right. And, similarly, civil engineers are like artists in a sense, but for us, instead of a blank canvas, we’re working with modeling clay provided by nature. We manipulate that clay into a shape that evokes the desires of our clients and provides the intended aesthetics and feel a site requires. From very uniformed to very free flowing, the design possibilities are endless in a civil engineer’s world.

To bring this to a personal level, civil engineering projects make life, as you and I know it, possible. Our daily routines are only “routine” thanks to civil engineering. Each morning, we wake up and expect to be able to turn on a faucet with clean drinking water and take a hot shower. This water had to be cleaned at a water treatment plant (thanks, civil engineers!) and piped from the water provider through a series of pipes with a certain amount of pressure just to reach the consumer (thanks, again, civil!). We expect to have a safe path for our vehicles to travel on between our home and office, and in our neighborhoods, we expect our sidewalk or other pedestrian path to provide a route for walking. These roads, traffic signals, and paths require input from and design by civil engineers. Can you imagine walking or driving out into a world of chaos without these things? Civil engineering provides order to our daily, interacting lives!

And, maybe here is a good stopping point… There are many other aspects to civil engineering that I have not mentioned here (like environmental engineering – man, that’s a big part of what we do!), but, hopefully, this has given you a quick and very basic overview of what a civil engineer does: study, coordinate / communicate, and design. And, while it’s always great to get recognition for the big, exciting projects we work on, many civil projects go on, unnoticed. Having said that, I guess if you never hear of our projects, that just means our design is working, and I can deal with that!

Abstract thoughts from a concrete person

What is a structural engineer?

It’s easy to view structural engineers most clearly in light of the technical knowledge they possess and the technical service they provide. It may even seem appropriate to picture a structural engineer sitting at a desk with blue-tinted screen-safe glasses studying the results of a computer program or with their nose in a code or old textbook. While that picture may not be totally inaccurate, it is rather incomplete. At LBYD, we recognize that the services provided by a structural engineer extend far beyond a technical understanding of structural systems and mechanics. A well-rounded structural engineer embraces a wide variety of roles during the design process.

In some sense, structural engineers are like artists. Only instead of a blank canvas, it’s an architectural floorplan. Instead of pencils and paint brushes, it’s beams, columns and slabs. Structural engineering fosters creativity. An effective structural engineer pays close attention to detail while keeping the big picture in view. After all, a sound design is useless if it can’t be effectively communicated to a contractor through a set of drawings. At LBYD, the development of drawings has transformed drastically over the years. Originally, our plans and details were hand-drawn. Now, our drawings are developed using a three-dimensional modelling program known as Revit. This software program produces two-dimensional views and details from three-dimensional modeling elements. Over the years, we have developed drawing standards that promote consistency, accuracy, and clarity throughout our drawings. As technology has advanced and our firm has grown, it has become increasingly important to maintain our attention to detail and commitment to these drawing standards.

In another sense, structural engineers are economists. Only instead of market trends and stock prices, it’s structural systems. Any given structure could be designed and constructed using a myriad of materials, floor framing systems, lateral systems, and foundation systems. Structural engineers are tasked with producing a design that is constructible, cost-effective, and sensible. Lighter is not always easier. Fewer is not always cheaper. Faster is not always better. These concepts must be kept close to the forefront of a structural engineer’s mind during the design process. At LBYD, we work on projects all over the country (and occasionally the world) for a broad spectrum of clients and applications. For this reason, we must maintain a current awareness of material prices, material availability, and common construction methods. For example, much of our industrial work falls under the category of “design-build”. This means that even during the design process we are working together with the contractor to develop a cost-effective and efficient design. We must learn if the contractor has more expertise or experience in a particular method of construction, such as cast-in-place concrete or steel construction. Understanding the full impact of our design on the cost, ease, and duration of construction is paramount during the design process.

Structural engineers are also a bit like athletes (well, maybe that’s a stretch, but hear me out). Athletes work as a member of a sports team to reach a goal, such as winning a championship. Structural engineers collaborate with a design team to produce a functional design that meets the needs and desires of the owner or user group. Designing a beam may not be as simple as selecting a member with enough strength to support the required loads. That beam may need to be kept shallow enough to allow ductwork to pass beneath it. That beam may be exposed to view and require a profile that matches the architectural components surrounding it. That beam may support a brittle façade that would crack under typical deflections. For these reasons, structural engineers must coordinate with all members of the design team, from the architect to the mechanical engineer to the civil engineer. At LBYD, our structural and civil engineering departments, as well our growing construction engineering division, promote coordination and consideration of other disciplines from the duration of the design and construction process.

Lastly, structural engineers are just grown up kids. I would argue that many structural engineers began their careers well before they learned about the properties of structural systems and construction materials. It began with a desire to build and to create. At some point, the plastic Legos© became steel beams and the wooden blocks became concrete columns. But the mission was the same: make something you could be proud of. While structural engineers are still people who love mathematics and physics, they are far more than that. At LBYD, structural engineers young and old have the opportunity to sharpen all of these skills and do what they love to do: make something they can be proud of.


Written by Drew Eiland

LBYD Mourns the Loss of Founder Glenn Bishop

On July 24, 2019 LBYD lost a founding member of our company, Mr. Glenn Bishop. To his colleagues he was more than an engineer, he was a leader, a mentor and a friend. His passion and dedication to the engineering community is evident in the many professional associations that he served and the numerous accolades he received during his career. Mr. Bishop will be remembered fondly for his positive attitude, his witty humor and his kind heart. While we mourn the loss of this extraordinary man, we are grateful for his lasting positive influence and honored to continue the legacy he has left behind. Thank you to everyone that has shared their condolences and support, your kindness is valued and appreciated.

LBYD Senior Principal Rick Nail Honored by The University of Alabama

LBYD would like to congratulate Senior Principal and Executive Vice President Rick Nail, PE, LEED AP BD+C for being named a Distinguished Engineering Fellow by The University of Alabama College of Engineering.  This recognition is the highest commendation given to those who have strengthened the reputation of the College of Engineering through their work.

Mr. Nail joins Glenn Bishop and Jim Delahay as LBYD leaders who have been recognized by The University of Alabama as Distinguished Engineering Fellows.

LBYD Continues to Shape Company in 2018

Values such as honesty, integrity, reliability and loyalty are the foundation that formed our company over four decades ago and continue to be the foundation that we are built on today. We value our employees and focus on opportunity, growth, vision, and strategy. We are excited to announce changes for 2018.

New Shareholders

Patrick Lyons, Structural
Senior Project Manager, HSV

John Perdue, Structural
Senior Project Manager, BHM

Robert Whyte, Structural
Project Manager, BHM

Nicole Sommerville, Structural
Project Manager, BHM

David Dichiara, Civil
Project Manager, BHM

Michael Hermecz, Civil
Project Manager, BHM

Daniel Franklin, Structural
Project Manager, BHM

New Location

880 Montclair Road, Suite 600
Birmingham, Alabama 35213

LBYD Announces New Shareholders

Congratulations to our new LBYD Shareholders!

Matt Walker
Tampa, Florida

Patrick Lyons
Senior Project Manager
Huntsville, Alabama

John Perdue
Senior Project Manager
Birmingham, Alabama

Robert Whyte
Project Manager
Birmingham, Alabama

David Dichiara
Project Manager
Birmingham, Alabama

Daniel Franklin
Project Manager
Birmingham, Alabama

Michael Hermecz
Project Manager
Birmingham, Alabama

Nicole Sommerville
Project Manager
Birmingham, Alabama

LBYD is Participating in the Fourth Annual Downtown Open in Huntsville, Alabama

Downtown Open in HuntsvilleLBYD is participating in the fourth annual Downtown Open in Huntsville, Alabama – July 16-25, 2017. This year’s event features 27 putt-putt boards in front of businesses throughout Downtown Huntsville. This is a free event with the purpose to get people downtown, interacting with businesses in the area. Each business was given a month to create their putt-putt course from a blank board.

LBYD Announces the Opening of its Newest Branch Office in Auburn, Alabama

Brad Harrison returns to LBYDLBYD is excited to announce the opening of our newest branch office in Auburn, Alabama. With continued growth and success, providing civil and structural engineering services throughout the southeast, we are honored to expand our reach to better serve our clients. The new Auburn office is being managed by Structural Engineer, Brad Harrison. Brad returns to LBYD, 10 years later, bringing with him the valuable experience gained from working for the Auburn University Facilities Division as Assistant Director and then Director of Design Services.

Brad received his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Auburn University in 1998 and his Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering from UAB in 2006. He is a LEED Accredited Professional with experience in structural engineering designs including various educational, institutional, residential and retail projects.

Brad has been a resident of Auburn for the past 5 years where he, his wife, and 2 children are active members of Lakeview Baptist Church. Brad is engaged in many professional organizations such as SEAoAL, ACI, and ASCE.

It is LBYD’s pleasure to serve you at our new location with the same quality design services you have come to expect from our offices in Birmingham, Huntsville, and Tampa Bay. This new Auburn location allows us the opportunity to increase our support to our current partners as well as our growing list of new clients.