The BIM exchange zone

You’re now entering the BIM exchange zone.

Don’t be afraid – even though we act like it’s the twilight zone, (man is that an old reference), sharing design information between architects and engineers shouldn’t be frightening.

At the end of the day, architects using Revit can export a file that contains the footprint, door locations and any utility connections with the appropriate coordinates. Conversely, engineers using Civil 3D can pass along not only the desirable coordinates, but also topography.  How do we do this? Read on…

From a 30,000 foot perspective, civil engineer’s will export a file and architect’s will export a file, even if you’re in the same office. At least with v2010 software, there is no direct link to each discipline’s model.

In the Civil export file, we will want to include at the very least, a control point labeled with northing and easting (no wipeouts/masks) and the contours representing the surface we’re delivering. The surface can be the existing, the proposed or a composite of the two.

In the Architectural file, they will simply apply a 3D view first and then Export a Building Site. Out of the box, Revit includes a 3D view titled “Export to Civil Engineering” to get the process rolling.  The view strips away the detail to include the footprint, gross floor area, doors and utility connections.

Drilling down a bit, what will each discipline do with those files? Hopefully, use them.  🙂

For architects, the civil file can be used in a shared coordinates file. Most people will try to use “acquire coordinates from the civil file. This has proven to be untrustworthy given the large coordinate values. Instead use “Specify coordinates at Point” and use the survey point to do so.

This shared coordinates file will then publish coordinates to architectural, mechanical and structural building models for the project.

Also, architects could create the topo here OR link the CAD file into a specific model file and create the topo in that ancillary file.  By creating the topo in the shared coordinates file, it can be used as a common point for all things civil.

For civil engineers, we can simply import a building site and be on our way.  Although the building site may contain utility connections, they are NOT 3D, so there is no elevation to the connection, only location. Otherwise, the building should be in the correct location with the proper rotation.  No more worrying is the footprint right, or is it in the right position. How much time is wasted on those two points? More than necessary. That is for certain!

For specific step by step directions, Autodesk has posted a simplified example here (found this after I started writing the post).

Happy BIM Sharing!


About Kevin
Hi… I am a husband, father, brother and neighbor. I am employed as a Civil Engineer and have enjoyed playing the drums for the last 30+ years.

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