Dynamo-litia Boston - September 2017

For this month's installment of the Dynamo-litia, we celebrated the 2 YEAR ANNIVERSARY of the user group's existence!

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plus...

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Comparing Computational Approaches / Dynamo-litia Turns 2!
The AEC industry is currently experiencing a surge in technology with new tools emerging every day to produce time-honored deliverables in unique ways. What has long been considered "industry standard" software is being aided and at times replaced by the "right tool for the job".

Please join Ilaria Giardiello Assoc. AIA and Kyle Martin Assoc. AIA as they lead a live demonstration of the spectrum of computational approaches that can be used to accomplish the same task, including: Dynamo, Custom Nodes, Design Script Syntax, and Python. Today there are many ways to get to the same end result; this session seeks to illuminate why it is important to be aware of the tools at your disposable and play to your strengths.

Also this month is the 2 Year Anniversary of the Dynamo-litia Boston user group! To celebrate we will be recapping the past year as well as highlighting a flurry of events happening this Fall. This is one session you won't want to miss.


When: September 27, 2017
Where: BSA Space - Boston

More information at the Boston Society of Architects .
Presentation slides and datasets can be downloaded HERE .

beyondAEC Hackathon 2017

The inaugural beyondAEC hackathon for the Greater Boston architecture, engineering, construction, and real estate development community was held on September 15-16, 2017. The competition consisted of a 24-hour window where teams of up to five could create never-before-seen technological solutions to challenges faced in the industry.

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Held at Sasaki Associates in Watertown, the event was an overwhelming success with 43 registrants dividing into 10 project teams that consisted of: 7 college students (AEC and computer science), more than 25% women, and 21 different companies representing architecture, landscape architecture, construction, mechanical and structural engineering, technology and architecture consulting, computer science, software, and fabrication. In the end three projects were chosen for Most Impressive Use of Technology, Most Practical (could be used in an office "tomorrow"), and Best Cross-discipline Hack among teammates.

For a full recap of the event, winners, and photos head over to the beyondAEC.tech website.

MY SIDE OF THE STORY...

As one of the principal organizers of beyondAEC, my vision was to help propel the profession into the future by providing a forum where people could demonstrate technological expertise, learn new skills, and create something innovative through teamwork and collective resources. Teams naturally formed at the outset and the excitement and passion was palpable throughout as each worked diligently towards their ultimate deliverable. When the dust settled, I was blown away by the quality of the projects created and the sense of achievement -- I could not have asked for better turn out and participation. The hackathon provided a unique bonding activity across disciplines, experience levels, and offices to a level unlike any I have never seen in the Boston AEC space.

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We hope to make this an annual event and highly encourage participants from areas outside of Boston to join us as well. For future announcements, make sure to follow the beyondAEC Twitter account OR if you are interested in getting involved in the 2018 hackathon please supply your information through this form.

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I cannot thank my team of collaborators enough for their persistent dedication and contributions -- Brad Prestbo, Jim Martin, Andrew Brown, Reilly Zlab, and Sebastian Ebarb. Thank you to our sponsors for taking the risk on this first event and helping bring it to life through their generous donations. Lastly, shout out to Jonatan Schumacher, Rob Otani, and Shannon McMullan from Thornton Tomasetti CORE Studio who put on one of the BEST hackathons year-after-year for the advice and inspiration.

DynamoDC - Precision Inquisition

Last week I had the pleasure of presenting [remotely] to the DynamoDC user group. Timon Hazell reached out to ask if I would be willing, and since he had so generously served as our guest lecture for the Dynamo-litia September 2016 meeting, I was more than happy to return the favor. Apparently DynamoDC has previously hosted several intro to Dynamo workshops so he asked if I could demonstrate a more advanced example of how Dynamo can be used to extend Revit functionality.

One of my favorite things about AEC community outreach through user groups, conferences, and hackathons are that I am exposed really interesting problems that I would not have encountered in my own work. At the beyondAEC Hackathon the week before, one of the participants had asked me if there was a way to use Dynamo to isolate the exterior facade material areas and types specifically corresponding to a room in the building. I figured DynamoDC would be the perfect opportunity to tackle this workflow and the PRECISION INQUISITION: Advanced Extraction of Revit Model Information Using Dynamo presentation was born...

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Revit models are powerful repositories of geometric, numeric, and descriptive building information, however the default tools for accessing that information are often limited and cumbersome. Recent questions have been raised about utilizing Dynamo to execute precise tasks such as performing quantity takeoffs on specific portions of an exterior facade, comparing vision glass to room area, or even evaluating the proportion of total facade area by building orientation. Special guest Kyle Martin will deliver a [remote] live demonstration of advanced model analysis approaches with Dynamo. Topics covered will include: visual programming principles, general logic, list management, list at level, filtering and sorting, index tracking, querying Revit parameters, geometric properties, color for clarity, and much more.

In the hour of available presentation time I hoped to cover the following ambitious list of concepts:

  • basic visual programming principles
  • general logic
  • list management
  • list at level
  • filtering and sorting
  • index tracking
  • querying Revit parameters
  • geometric properties
  • color for clarity

As I prepared for the presentation, the Dynamo workflow grew increasingly complex.

The principal function of the Dynamo definition was to query exterior wall geometry from the model based on a room number and perform material takeoffs, directional composition, and visual analysis.

OBJECTIVES: Target specific rooms in the Revit model by Room Number, isolate the exterior Wall/Window elements specific to that room, calculate total area of exterior facade for each Room, understand composition of vision to solid materials, and assist with code calculations such as light & ventilation.

OBJECTIVES: Target specific rooms in the Revit model by Room Number, isolate the exterior Wall/Window elements specific to that room, calculate total area of exterior facade for each Room, understand composition of vision to solid materials, and assist with code calculations such as light & ventilation.

OBJECTIVES: Query all exterior Wall elements, use the underlying geometry to determine direction of each wall, sort walls by cardinal directions or bespoke orientation system, and calculate proportion of facade areas for each direction.

OBJECTIVES: Query all exterior Wall elements, use the underlying geometry to determine direction of each wall, sort walls by cardinal directions or bespoke orientation system, and calculate proportion of facade areas for each direction.

OBJECTIVE: Color specific items for analysis, visual clarity, and storytelling

OBJECTIVE: Color specific items for analysis, visual clarity, and storytelling

The live demonstration was recorded for your viewing pleasure. You may notice the video starts a little late due to technical difficulties but no significant content was missed. Presentation slides and the Dynamo file can be accessed HERE.

Even with a rush towards the end, I was able to successfully make it through all the content. I appreciate the audience being super receptive and patient given the hands-off format. And a very special thank you Timon Hazell, John Schippers, and Dana De Fillippi for the opportunity.

DynamoDC audience

DynamoDC audience

Kyle's "home studio" setup

Kyle's "home studio" setup

The other day I received a surprise t-shirt in the mail as a thank-you, I will wear it with pride!

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RTCNA2016 Recap - "Computational Design for the 99%"


Several weeks ago I had the privilege of presenting at Revit Technology Conference – North America 2016. My presentation frequently repeated the phrase “Because Nobody Went to Architecture School to…” We have all been there at some point in our career – continuously repeating the same manual alteration to a Revit model, changing parameter information one click-at-a-time, or performing tedious data entry for hours on end – these are the moments when you wonder if the practice of architecture is not exactly what you dreamed about in architecture school. For all the advancements that BIM has introduced to the AEC industry, production validation, and maintaining uniformity of the information are still difficult undertakings. Tasks that require hours and days of individual modifications are not always professionally rewarding and monopolize time that can better be spent on the overall quality of the design and documentation. I often tell colleagues that if you find yourself asking the question, “There has to be a more efficient way to do this”, chances are good that Dynamo can help.

I did not come from a computer programming background but instead began teaching myself Dynamo to address specific problems frequently encountered in Revit. After achieving a basic understanding of how Dynamo works, I was able to investigate tasks of increasing complexity that began with simple changes to the model and evolved to automating entire processes. As my Dynamo experience continued to grow I began exploring ways that Revit could interact with other software platforms and how data could be manipulated and visualized. My skillset eventually evolved to where I understood more advanced concepts of geometry and parametricism for design but this was all built on the foundational knowledge acquired from researching daily production tasks.


REVIT MODEL ANALYSIS
In my presentation I preceded to share a sample of workflows that respond to specific challenges encountered on projects and tell the story of tedious task automation and process improvement for architectural practice. A highlight was the opportunity to collect data on a very large healthcare project that I developed into a workflow for tracking Revit model metrics. The goal was to look for correlations between various model metrics and how long it takes to sync or open the model — one of the most significant factors of workshared projects because the extra seconds and minutes it takes to sync on a slow model multiplied by all the users on the project adds up to many hours of lost productivity over the course of the project. Dynamo is used to track the overall size of the .RVT file, query and count various elements and categories, parse the Warnings export file, then export all the information to an Excel file. In addition to collecting these general model metrics, the Dynamo task updated two additional spreadsheets with every warning in the model over time and every placed family in the model over time. All three of these of these spreadsheets were linked into Microsoft PowerBI along with data from imaginIT Clarity’s Model Metrics tool, which tracks the time it takes to open the model over time. Over the course of three months, I ran this Dynamo definition on a daily basis for a total of 68 exports.

The final takeaway will not be a surprise to those who are familiar with Revit model performance… the data revealed that Auditing and Compacting the model as well as Purging Unused Families had the most overall impact on the time it takes to open and sync the model. Although this may not be a significant breakthrough, these real-time analysis tools help monitor the health of the model and indicate when may be the best time to intervene.

The last step was to find an easy way to communicate the status of the model to the production team. Since it is the responsibility of the Model Lead on the project to audit the Central file, Warnings are the only characteristic that individual team members have the opportunity to impact. The project from which this data was collected happens to be a children’s hospital so we placed an image of a Minion on the Message Board with a visibility parameter tied to the number of Warnings. The final Dynamo task overwrites the Warning count parameter in the Revit model and the Minion changes accordingly. Now the team is aware that when they open the model at the beginning of a workday, if the Minion is purple the Warnings have exceeded 400 and some time needs to be set aside to resolve.

In the end RTC was an excellent experience. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my perspective and bonding with my fellow colleagues from all over the world.

Special thanks to everyone who helped contribute to my work:
RTC & Committee
Shepley Bulfinch
Jim Martin
Jim Chambers
Jessica Purcell
Christina Tully
Margaret Gammill
PJ Centofanti
Jamie Farrell