Our Journey to Excellence with Revit, Part II
February 5, 2021
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.