Category Archives: Dimensioning

All Things Grid Tool

First and most importantly it is essential to realize there are multiple parts to the grid tool and its interaction with the various drawings. The Grid Settings are relatively straight forward and simple to understand.

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Standard Grid Settings from Template Favorites

Above is an example of our default Grid Element Settings. If you find you do not have a Grid Element in your favorites, you can start with the line types and pen weights shown there. Also note the Naming Rules section; all grid elements have a custom name and are not generated automatically (this requires an automated grid placement that really only works for projects with very regular grids tied to beams and columns).

It is also important to note the upper right corner of the Grid Element Floor Plan Settings dialog. The drop down for Show on Story… allows you to define which stories each grid marker shows up on. I have audited projects in the past that used lines, circles, text, or even duplicate grid elements to selectively show grids on different stories. This drop down allows you to access a custom list of stories to show or hide each grid marker on. For most of our projects, this should be set to all stories for all grids, but if you need to customize this, there is an easy solution in the Grid Element Settings.

The Grid Tool Settings also have a section for Section/Elevation projections of the Grid. It is important to note that these settings DO NOT determine IF the grid will show up on Elevations or Sections, only HOW they will appear on those views.

To properly show Grids on an Elevation or Section, you need to set the Grid Settings in the views Marker Settings.

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Elevation Selection Settings for Grid Appearance

To turn on Grids for an Elevation or Section simply go to the Grid Tool section of the Markers Selection Settings and check the box to Show Grid Elements. Make sure that the elevation settings do not have Auto-stagger selected. This feature can be useful, but more times than not it just messes with the opposite views appearance.

As an example, here is a quick mock up of an elevation with a grid offset:

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Notice that Grid Element “C” is staggered over the top of Grid Element “B”. This is because the grid has been offset to the left of “B” on the opposite elevation. Staggering a grid element, either manually can cause this overlap. A manual adjustment applies the stagger to all elevation/section views that grid appears on. Automatic staggering should stagger grids appropriately for each view, but any manual changes will revert to the automatic position when the view is refreshed.

In the above example, Grid Element “C” may not need to appear on this elevation, since it is for a structural bearing line that does not relate to this side of the project. In the elevation or section marker settings, this Grid Element can easily be excluded from the Viewpoint of each marker individually. You simply need to go to the Marker Settings and click Selected under Show Grid Elements by Name and exclude the grids you do not want to show on that Viewpoint.

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Elevation Settings to Show/Exclude Individual Grid Elements

Smarter BIM with Labels

Precise Model needs to be documented precisely, with as many “smart BIM solutions” as possible. This means elements that update seamlessly to provide information that is as precise as the model.

Manual text and overwritten dimensions are examples of bad solutions that will make sloppy modeling tell a misleading story. There are rare cases where these are unavoidable, but there is usually a smarter solution.

I have been looking at improving our template with as many smart BIM elements as possible. Today I took a look at labels and annotating RCP’s. The new AC19 label types include a label for annotating the elevation of ceiling slabs. Since our RCP’s are created from 3D documents, this ties the bottom or finish surface of the slab to its home story.Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 2.32.49 PM

I tested this out in a few projects. We can get this label to graphically appear similar if not identical to our current text over RCP solution. With this label, not only does the annotation link to exactly what is modeled, ensuring precise modeling, but it updates with design changes, making it a smarter BIM solution.

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In the project above, I tested this out and actually found a discrepancy between the intended ceiling height and the actual modeled ceiling height. This is a clear example of the benefit of a smarter solution.

There are limits to this label. It only works on slabs, so vaulted ceilings will still need text for now. It also does not work where a home story includes a split level, as this label can only reference a slabs height to home story or height to project zero.

But if the design has single level floor plans with flat ceilings, this is a smart BIM solution. I will be adding this label to our favorites soon, but it can be used out of the box with a few minor graphic adjustments for prefix/suffix content and pen/fill settings.

Dimension Snap Adjustment

Heres a neat trick for your pre-holiday ARCHICAD-ing. In AC19 you may notice a lot of new pet palette options available when snapping on dimension elements.

One of these new options allows you to re-assign a dimension snap point by clicking on the dimensions tick mark hotspot. Click that point, then select this option from the pet palette:

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Then just select the point you want to dimension to. The dimension string will now be dynamically linked to that new point; dimensions will be adjusted with the element’s changes.

This is also a great way to assign associations between dimensions and elements, if there previously was not one, or a way to change a dimensions association to a new element or point.

Level of Precision, Walls

ARCHICAD 19 has an interesting bug that has developed from [presumably] the introduction of the new reference and snap features. This can occasionally result in a low level of precision, where elements are just slightly off orthogonal.

Graphisofts recommendation on combatting this is to “click carefully”, which works. I have run into some cases where clicking carefully and moving precisely has still resulted in slightly imprecise modeling.

Thankfully James Murray and Link Ellis have developed a label that has helped me combat this issue and track down any model elements (walls and beams) that are off orthogonal, even to the nearest 1000th decimal point!

We now have their label in our library, it is called “Ortho Label Check 19” available in the label settings.Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 4.45.06 PM

With a single click you can check the angle of any wall or beam in floor plan view and get an “ok” for walls that are modeled correctly or an angle increment for walls that are “slightly off”.

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I ran a check on my entire model and tracked down each wall that was misaligned (only 2), and fixed them. I will be using this for project audits, and encourage others to use it as a self-audit, when you run up against walls that will not heal correctly in elevation/section.

DIMENSIONING 101

I have a couple of quick tips on dimensioning tools and features that you may or may not know about. First is the “Dimension to Core” function in the dimension settings dialog box. If this is checked before (or after) placing a dimension that has been associated with a wall it will assign the dimension to link to the core elements of the wall only.

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The next tip is automatically dimensioning the exterior of of your building envelope. Even with a complex building profile you can simultaneously dimension all exterior faces of your plan in one operation. First, set your dimension style to what you want to see in plan view, this can be done simply by selecting the “Face of Framing” dimension from the favorites. Next, select your exterior walls (see the post on Find and Select for the most efficient way to do this). Then open the Automatic Dimensioning dialog (Document > Document Extras > Exterior Dimensioning), set the dimension settings in the dialog to reflect the elements and geometries you are trying to dimension. The image below shows the settings that work well; note that “Dimension Structures” and “Dimension External Geometry” should not both be checked.

After clicking “OK” in the Automatic Dimensioning dialog box you simply have to give your dimension a reference line with a two click operation and an offset distance to place with a third click.

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The Result is a fully dimensioned floor plan that needs little or no clean up. One thing to note is the “Dimension only the Core” in the dimension selection settings NEEDS to be selected before using the automatic dimensioning. Unlike an individually placed dimension, this is no longer an option for automatically placed dimensions after they have been placed.

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Before I finish I will comment on the interior automatic dimensions; I don’t recommend this tool. I have never yielded satisfactory results without spending more time than if I just manually dimensioned the interior spaces. If anyone has experienced otherwise please share your process and maybe I’ll amend that statement and follow up with a recommendation on how to properly use the automatic interior dimension feature.