Landscape Design and Revit

Landscape Design and Revit

Written by: Keysoft Solutions

If you read my previous blog post, 5 Key Takeaways from ASLA 2016, you will remember that the most used word at the Keysoft booth was Revit. Regardless of their role, position, or seniority in their studio, most Landscape Architects have Revit on their mind, but for many different reasons.

In LA-only studios, most practitioners see Revit as something they need to be aware of or they may use it as a tertiary tool for data interchange or special projects. But they have the freedom to use the design solution that works best for delivering to their clients, usually AutoCAD DWG-based.

In multi-disciplinary firms LAs usually make up a smaller percentage of the total office staff primarily composed of Architects and/or Civil Engineers. This is the environment where we are hearing more cries for help from LAs being pushed into using Revit.

Sure, there have been some success stories of LAs being able to cobble together a Revit workflow. After all, LAs have been largely ignored by major software developers and have been cobbling together digital design solutions for as long as computers have been present in the studio. The largest of firms may even have the resources available to develop a proprietary solution. But what about the rest of us?

Motivation

The push towards Revit seems to be coming mostly from upper management or from someone charged with leading a BIM initiative in the firm. Rarely are Landscape Architects choosing a Revit migration on their own. The reasons for justifying this push are usually:

  • We want to have everyone on the same platform.
  • We have always been on the cutting-edge of technology and we want to maintain that image.
  • We are afraid of falling behind our competitors.
  • We are interested in parametric modeling.
  • We want to be BIM compliant or meet a BIM mandate.

All of these reasons are great goals to aspire to. But, are these goals worth the cost of implementation (of a piece of software that Autodesk specifically built for architecture, MEP engineering, structural engineering, and construction NOT landscape architecture or civil engineering)? Are they worth the risks of potentially losing efficiency? It there a threat of compromising a design to “fit” within the constraints of the software?

Options

Some have embraced the challenge and have developed a workflow. By shoehorning Revit’s architectural families such as walls, floors, and ceiling or by creating custom families many have been able to make hardscape elements and plant material “work”. For example, check out the blog https://landarchbim.com/ that is run by Lauren Schmidt. She has been able to find many workarounds using a combination of Revit, InfraWorks, and Dynamo. This option may provide the most seamless collaboration with architects using Revit, but with the associated cost of lost productivity on the LA side, steep learning curve, and the possibility of a compromised design because of the short-falls of Revit’s site tools.

Find a solution that supports cross-platform collaboration. Open-source formats such as LandXML and IFC along with other proprietary solutions are offering interchange between DWG-based design tools and other design suites, such as Revit, to enable all trades to share their data. Autodesk’s Civil 3D, Keysoft Solutions KeySCAPE, and the SiteWorks plugin to Revit all support the LandXML format for sharing surface and terrain data. The IFC format continues to develop and become more robust as an interchange between BIM solutions. Other vendors, such as Keysoft Solutions have developed proprietary plug-ins that allow the transfer of landscape material between KeySCAPE and Revit.

Gain a deeper understanding of what BIM is and isn’t and share your knowledge with the decision makers in your firm. Rather than jumping headfirst into the uncertainty of Revit, do some homework and educate your staff that BIM or SIM (Site Information Modeling) is not a product, but a process. Check out this article by Mike Shilton in Landscape and Irrigation magazine: http://landscapeirrigation.com/building-information-modeling/. Do what is right for YOUR project and YOUR firm.

The Bottom Line

There is a misconception that Revit is BIM. While Revit can help achieve BIM compliance in some circumstances, if the software does not offer productivity savings or provide answers that either advance the design or guarantee a better result for your client, question why you are doing it in the first place. If you are going to develop a BIM implementation plan and adopt a new solution, make sure it helps win back time and enhances your projects. Don’t just follow the herd.

Time is better design.

Time is more projects.

Don’t let technology limit your creativity.