Following up on our Design Explorer Announcement post last month, this second post in our Design Explorer series will explore the idea of the design space by looking at a small set of historical precedents and contemporary like-minded projects. By describing the natural history of this family of concepts, we can develop a better sense of how the idea of design space is moving away from the fringes and into the mainstream.

The timeline below is an attempt to position Design Explorer as part of a broader trend towards design-space-thinking in the AEC technology community. It is by no means meant to be exhaustive, and I’m sure there is a ton of work out there of which I am unaware that could further describe the natural history of the design space. It is a curated timeline from the author’s point of view.

(1941) Borges; Library of Babel. I came across this work in Kevin Kelly’s Out of Control. Borges writes about a vast library containing all possible [410-page, specifically formatted] books. Although most books are filled with utter gibberish, the library contains every book ever written. Kevin Kelly talks about visiting this [fictional] library while he is writing Out of Control and deciding that instead of finishing the book himself, that he will develop a method of searching the library for the already-complete copy of his book. This idea of searching – the method, as he calls it – is a vivid example of design space navigation.

library-of-babel

Artist’s rendering of the Library (Source)

(1979) Hofstadter; Gödel, Escher, Bach. We could draw on a number of examples from this amazing book, but I think the high level survey is more meaningful. At various points, Hofstadter talks about protein folding space, the space of all meaningful mathematical expressions, the space of all possible fugue variations given any starting melody, etc. It turns out that mathematics has been concerned with these questions much longer than we have in AEC! No surprises there, I suppose.

bach

A six-part fugue by Bach (Source).

(1986) Dawkins; The Blind Watchmaker. In the third chapter of The Blind Watchmaker, Dawkins expounds about a computer program he developed called Biomorph Land. The program allows the user to drive the evolution of 2D branching structures over a series of generations. For each generation, the user picks one figure that is most attractive, and in the next generation a set of new descendant figures are drawn. There are about 500 billion biomorphs in the nine-dimensional space that Dawkins created, and the only way to find any one of them was to evolve towards it from a single, primitive parent.

Dawkins writes beautifully about the first night he got the program to run – staying up all night evolving bats, insects, and airplanes – and how he neglected to write a method of saving the biomorphs he encountered. He saw amazing forms during his first night exploring in biomorph land that were effectively lost – without saving their genomes, it was practically impossible to find them again within the vast design space. Aside from the amazing writing about design space navigation, he also developed some incredibly interesting visualization techniques, such as cutting a section through the design space using a hyperplane.

Partial high-dimensional cross section of Biomorph Land (Source)

Partial high-dimensional cross section of Biomorph Land (Source)

(Early 2000s) Scripting Architecture.  Rhinoscript and Generative Components open up a new working methodology for architecture and engineering practices.  Instead of resorting to ‘click and die’ for design iteration, designers begin to automate the authorship of geometry in their CAD platforms, and to define parametric relationships in their models.  Generating new iterations is as simple as changing input parameters and re-running the script – design spaces begin to take shape.

Sample Generative Components model (Source)

Sample Generative Components model (Source)

(2009 – Present) Rise of the GrasshopperGrasshopper exposes a huge audience of architects, engineers and designers to computational and algorithmic design. Design spaces proliferate. Galapagos enables optimization workflows, and for the first time gives users a visual representation of the design spaces that their definitions describe. The idea of the design space starts to take root in the AEC mainstream.

Grasshopper’s Galapagos Interface (Source)

Grasshopper’s Galapagos Interface (Source)

(2011) Design space navigation / publication research at PAE. Right around the same time as the rise of the Grasshopper, online ‘configurators’ started to show up (including early versions of Nervous System’s work in the browser) … which begged the question: if BMW, Nike and Nervous System can publish design spaces, why can’t we? I worked on a research project called Igloo in 2011 at the Stevens Institute of Technology Product Architecture Lab along with Matthew Naugle, Nicholas Faust, David Pysch, Nick Mykulak, and Mike Cosentino, which allowed design spaces generated with Solidworks or Grasshopper to be published and navigated on the web.

Sample Igloo design space (Source)

Sample Igloo design space (Source)

(2012 – Present) GBS parametric runs. Autodesk releases functionality within Green Building Studio that lets users to upload a single design iteration [from Revit and Vasari] to a web application that would perform a series of parametric energy analysis runs automatically. Using the results of all of these analyses, GBS returns a sensitivity analysis visualization, allowing users to see which design parameters matter the most for potential for energy savings. It’s a specialized case, but the most interesting component is the use of a horizontally scaling web application to generate a design space (more on that below…). The CORE studio worked with the Dynamo and GBS teams at Autodesk to develop Energy Analysis for Dynamo, an open source package for Dynamo which allowed users to set up their own parametric runs, and to include GBS results in optimization workflows.

Sample GBS analysis output (Source)

Sample GBS analysis output (Source)

(May 2014) Pollination. A team of hackers developed Pollination at the 2014 AEC Technology Hackathon: an open source tool for managing (and dynamically visualizing the results of) distributed, parametric energy analysis runs using Grasshopper, Honeybee, and Amazon Web Services (to run the whole-building energy analyses on the cloud). This is another early example of a web application generating a design space, but the most interesting development was the use of an interactive parallel coordinates plot to display the results of the analyses in exhaustive detail. The team quickly realized that the UI used to display results could be used to visualize and navigate within any multi-dimensional data set. This insight was the kernel for the Design Explorer.

Pollination user interface (Source)

Pollination user interface (Source)

(May 2015) Design Explorer v1. Design Explorer was CORE studio’s first attempt to generalize and extend the ideas that came out of Pollination. We set out to build a single page web application that lets users navigate within multidimensional design spaces, and that gives them graphical representations of both the design space itself and of the individuals within that space. The parallel coordinates plot from pollination was used to visualize and navigate within the design space, and images and/or Spectacles models were used to represent individual design iterations. Navigation using sliders is also available in Design Explorer (it’s just sort of hidden over on the left!). CORE studio released this project under an open source license, in hopes that the burgeoning community of design-space researchers might help to extend the research. Design Explorer was first presented by former CORE studio Applications Developer Mostapha Sadeghipour Roudsari at the 2015 AEC Technology Symposium (link to Mostapha’s presentation), and a modified version was used to present the results of some early machine learning research by CORE studio Engineer Dan Reynolds at the same event (link to Dan’s presentation).

Design Explorer slider mode

Design Explorer slider mode

Design Explorer parallel coordinates mode

Design Explorer parallel coordinates mode

(March 2016) Speckle beta release. Speckle is making some really impressive headway – the CORE studio thinks it’s super exciting! The project aims to allow users to share, display, and explore parametric models in a web browser. Their beta release allows users to export design spaces from Grasshopper and to share those spaces on beta.speckle.xyz. Both slider and parallel coordinates modes are available. Perhaps sweetest of all, the project is open source under the GPLv2 license! They’ve also got a new version cooking that seems to be exploring a streaming model (as opposed to exporting the whole design space).

Speckle slider mode (Source)

Speckle slider mode (Source)

Speckle parallel coordinates mode (Source)

Speckle parallel coordinates mode (Source)

(July 2016) Autodesk Project Fractal alpha release. Another super impressive project from our friends over at Autodesk, Project Fractal. Like Design Explorer and Speckle, sliders and a parallel coordinate plot are used to navigate within a design space that was authored in Dynamo Studio. However instead of exporting entire design spaces, Fractal runs Dynamo graphs on the cloud in real time, and stores computed iterations in a database. This is another example of using a horizontally-scaling web application to generate design spaces. This project seems to have branched out of an earlier Autodesk labs project called Akaba – you can read all about both here: http://thebuildinglab.info/.


Fractal Demo Video

(October 2016) Design Explorer v2. While he was studying with Mostapha Sadeghipour Roudsari at the University of Pennsylvania in the Spring of 2016, Mingbo Peng forked Design Explorer and made a number of improvements. Most notably, he made publication much easier by linking up Google Drive to host [Design Explorer] content and data – this was an absolute nightmare in v1!

Design Explorer pulling data from Google Drive

Design Explorer pulling data from Google Drive

In his 2011 book Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson writes about simultaneous invention. It seems to me that we are in the midst of such a period of simultaneous innovation focused on design space navigation.  In other words, it’s not a surprise that we aren’t the only group doing R&D along this vector.  Since our authoring tools have evolved to let us iterate at an unprecedented scale and speed, we are now in dire need of a new generation of tools that will allow us to navigate within the vast libraries we build; tools that help us find a few good solutions in enormous possibility spaces.

Stay tuned for our final post in this series, which will focus on how Design Explorer is being used in practice.

 

Written by: Benjamin Howes

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CORE studio is pleased to announce Design Explorer, an open source tool for exploring design spaces on the web.  We’ve been working on this project on and off for well over a year now and we’ve presented it a number of times, but we’ve never written about it. Shame on us!

Design Explorer

Design Explorer

Over the next few weeks, we will publish a series of blog posts about the project’s goals, the natural history of design space tools in AEC, and how Thornton Tomasetti and others are using Design Explorer in practice. This first post will focus on the current state of the project and the main problems that Design Explorer is trying to solve.

The first problem will be familiar to anyone who has done any parametric and/or computational modeling: parametric models give you too many iterations. Of the multitude of possible states that any reasonably complex parametric model describes, which ones are the good ones?  Are there some zones that are better than others?  If so, how do we find them?  It depends what you mean by ‘good’ and ‘better’, of course…

For some design problems, performance is measurable. Designers and engineers can qualify ‘good’ according to project-specific performance criteria.  Computational modelers can (and should!) build analysis feedback loops into their models to let performance analysis inform the trajectory of the design process.  Since CORE studio supports a world class engineering practice, we have the luxury of dealing almost exclusively with these types of problems.  In most cases, we build rich parametric models with embedded analysis feedback loops to rapidly study a wide range of potential solutions.  As such, this problem (too many iterations, where are the good ones?) is particularly important to us.

Nervous SystemNervous System’s edge based growth design space. Source.

The second set of problems is related to the nature of design spaces themselves. The types of design spaces that our grasshopper definitions and dynamo graphs describe are multi-dimensional.  Multi-dimensional spaces work  like the three dimensional space we all model in every day – they just have more axes.  Whereas a three dimensional point in euclidian space is described like this: { x, y, z }, a higher dimensional point in a design space might be described like this { length, width, height, numFloors, cornerRadius, rotation, embodiedCarbon, cost }.  Because our design spaces are typically of a higher dimension [than three], they are hard to visualize.  And because they are hard to visualize, they are very hard to navigate.

Wired

Wired.com’s illustration of a 3D design space. Source (and excellent article about design space thinking in the graphic design world).

You can think of Grasshopper and Dynamo as design space navigation interfaces.  Parametric modelers allow you to navigate from one point to another in any design space that you construct.  When you drag a slider in Grasshopper, you are moving along a vector in your design space, computing and visualizing one iteration at a time as you go.

Design Explorer is an interface that lets you visualize and filter groups of iterations – sets of design solutions that are both intimately related, and potentially scattered across a vast, high-dimensional possibility space.

Design Explorer Demo

Users export their design spaces from parametric authoring applications (Grasshopper, Dynamo, Catia, Etc.) in the form of a data.csv file and a series of images and Spectacles models.  The design space data is generated by traversing the parametric model in an automated fashion – either with our brute force solver, Ladybug’s Fly component, or an optimization algorithm such as Galapagos or Octopus.  After all of the data has been generated, it must be hosted somewhere on the web (Google Drive, Amazon S3, or your own server).

Design Explorer reads the data.csv file and generates a 2D visualization of the design space called a parallel coordinates plot (with a grid of thumbnails and some other UI).  The plot’s vertical axes represent design variables and performance metrics; the lines running horizontally across the plot represent individuals within the design space.  The design space can be filtered by clicking and dragging along the vertical axes, and by dragging filters up and down.  Users can investigate individuals by clicking on a thumbnail and reviewing a full size image and a 3D model.

Our next post will concentrate on the natural history of these ideas within our group, highlight a few parallel/adjacent projects within the AEC technology community, and identify some meaningful precedents in popular culture. In the meantime, you should try Design Explorer!  Give the samples a look, check out Mingbo Peng’s tutorial video, fork the Github repo and mess with the code, and let us know what you think!

 

Written by: Benjamin Howes

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SAVE THE DATE: December 9th & 10th, 2016!

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Logo by Daniel Segraves

Please join CORE studio at Thornton Tomasetti, Inc. for our fourth annual AEC Technology Symposium and Hackathon. See the latest in digital technologies, BIM, and advanced workflows that will enable better designs, collaboration, and built projects.

Friday December 9 – Saturday December 10, 2016
8:30am EDT

The Symposium will be held at Baruch College:

Engelman Recital Hall
55 Lexington Avenue (between 24th & 25th Street)
New York, NY 10010

 Following, the Hackathon at Thornton Tomasetti’s New York Office:

51 Madison Avenue
18th Floor
New York, NY 10010

Further information will be posted in the coming weeks regarding schedule, registration, travel, and speakers. Continue to stay informed by following us on twitter and checking our website.

We cannot wait to see you in December!

Event Info Here!

FootPrintMapApp

Click to launch the FootPrint app

FootPrint is the result of collaboration between CORE studio and our Corporate Sustainability department, who worked together to find out and illustrate how our office operations and building projects impact the environment. The Corporate Sustainability department collects carbon footprint data from all Thornton Tomasetti offices on a number of sustainability indicators, such as how much energy an office uses for heating and cooling, how much waste it produces and how far employees are commuting and by what means. This data collection happens in two-year cycles (with the exception of offices that have relocated, for which we make sure there is a full year of data before including the metrics).  We’ve also incorporated Thornton Tomasetti’s Green Champions into the map, who help lead sustainably initiatives within their offices to help put some smiling faces behind all of this hard work.

In parallel to this effort of data colleciton, Thornton Tomasetti has joined the AIA 2030 commitment toward lowering the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the building structures that we design. The Corporate Sustainability department organizes our effort to measure embodied carbon in our projects for reporting to the AIA. As part of the initiative, CORE studio developed a Revit Plugin in 2012 that pulls material quantities from our Revit models and enters this information into a database. To date, we have over 200 buildings in the database and are continually adding more. This dataset is now being used to set benchmarks and to help us get a better understanding of the correlation between our structures and the impact they have on the environment.

RevitToolBarCropped

A screenshot of the Carbon Calculator Revit Plugin for extracting material quantities to be added into the building carbon database

EmbodiedCarbonOfProjects

The embodied carbon of structural projects from 2011 – 2013 by market sector

The FootPrint map wasn’t created just to help make the results of this data collection more transparent within Thornton Tomasetti, but to also make the information available to the public. The map itself is built on a variety of CORE studio’s favorite web libraries, including google maps, google charts, and dat.gui.

HeaderBanner
Missed our symposium or want to share talks with a friend? Videos of our presentations are now available at our YouTube playlist!


R&D in AEC Part I

Measurement Moxie, Christopher Connock, KieranTimberlake

Grow Up, Grasshopper!, Andrew Heumann, NBBJ

Evolving Modes of R+D in Practice, Scott Crawford and Stephen Van Dyck, LMN Architects / LMN Tech Studio


Open Source

Collaboration and Open Source – How the Software Industry’s Approach to Open Sourcing Non-Core Technology has Created Innovation, Gareth Price, Ready Set Rocket

How Open Source Enables Innovation, Mostapha Roudsari and Ana Garcia Puyol, CORE studio Thornton Tomasetti

Matt Jezyk, Autodesk


Data-Driven Design

Holly Whyte Meets Big Data: The Quantified Community as Computational Urban Design, Constantine Kontokosta, NYU Center for Urban Science + Progress (CUSP)

Data-Driven Design and the Mainstream, Nathan Miller, Proving Ground

The Biggest IoT Opportunity In Buildings Is Closer Than You Think, Josh Wentz, Lucid


R&D in AEC Part II

Capturing Building Data – From 3D Scanning to Performance Prediction, Dan Reynolds and Justin Nardone, CORE studio Thornton Tomasetti

Data-Driven Design, Luc Wilson, Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates PC

Cellular Fabrication of Building Scale Assemblies Using Freeform Additive Manufacturing, Platt Boyd, Branch Technology

From a hackathon idea to a Thornton Tomasetti R&D project, VRX is a new tool that links Building Information Modeling and virtual reality on the Web using your phone and a very inexpensive piece of hardware.

Members of CORE studio attend various AEC hackathon events year-round to collaborate with other professionals in the industry and apply computational design to different areas of the building process. Earlier this year, as the result of a weekend-long project at the NYC AEC Hackathon, we developed VRX, which allows users to experience and interact with BIM models in virtual reality. This was possible thanks to Google Cardboard, an affordable gadget that transforms your mobile phone into a VR device.

VRX_hackathon VRX_original appThe first prototype of VRX, with which one can select a building element by looking at it.

We were thrilled when the hackathon jury, led by Minerva Tantoco, chief technology officer for New York City, gave VRX the best overall project award. We decided to continue the development of this virtual reality initiative as a research and development project at Thornton Tomasetti. While the first prototype was built using Unity, we wrote a new version of VRX that is Web browser-based, allowing anyone to access this VR environment without the need of downloading an OS-specific application. This approach also allowed us to make use of Spectacles, CORE studio’s open-source BIM exporter and Web viewer. With Spectacles we are able to use the same tool for Web viewing and for the VRX environment. We also used an open-source wrapper to create the stereoscopic effect required for the Cardboard.

VRX as a Tool for Collaboration

In addition to creating a solution that is accessible across many devices, we approached the tool as a platform that could be used for sharing and collaboration between various people involved in the design and construction of a building. In order to create a truly collaborative virtual reality experience, we needed to build a platform that allowed for many different users to interact with one another. To structure this interaction, we created the roles of a guide and a series of guests. The guide would be represented by an AEC professional leading the latter through the virtual space, wherever in the world they are located.

VRX_Collaboration

Diagram of how VRX works as a collaboration platform

The guide is responsible for setting up views and guiding guests through the 3D space using a Web page on a laptop or tablet that consists of a Spectacles viewer in the center and various  controls for guiding the guests. In this scene (below), the guide can see where the guests are positioned and in which direction they are looking thanks to the colored cones that locate each guest within  the scene. This site also features zoom and selection controls along with layer visibility and camera options on the left side. A series of panels on the right preview in real time what the guests see in virtual reality.

VRX_Guide

The guide page of VRX

Visibility and control changes made in the main page by the guide are sent and populated to the guests’ phones using a server.

VRX_Guest

VRX as seen on the guest side

Just like in the original VRX prototype built during the hackathon, the guide and the guests can select building elements by looking at them to display their BIM properties. This allows the participants to go over the details of that particular object. Additionally, the guide can allow the guests to wander through the virtual project and define the pace of their movement. 

VRX at ACADIA

As part of the initial testing and improvement process of the platform, we brought VRX to the the world-renowned Association for Computer Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) in mid-October 2015. The three-day session focused on prototyping experiential futures using virtual reality technologies. In the workshop, co-taught by Shane Burger from Woods Bagot and Ana Garcia Puyol from CORE studio, VRX was presented and tested by participants from several architectural offices and academic institutions.

VRX_acadiaVRX_NBBJ

A workshop participant looks at a design by NBBJ on VRX

What’s next for VRX?

VRX is currently in the alpha stage and we have plans to improve this platform in the next few months. A second phase for research and development has been approved with the goal of better supporting architects, engineers and contractors in the way they share, collaborate and visualize their BIM models by means of an immersive VR experience.

You can check out some standalone demos here and the collaboration environment here.

Stay tuned for more VRX!

 

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CORE studio is very pleased to announce the release of Spectacles, a hackable BIM viewer for the web. Spectacles allows authors in the AEC industry to view their 3D design work on the web for free, and is designed to be hacked, extended and modified. We’ve been working on the project on and off for the past year, and are quite excited for more hackers in the industry to get their hands on it!

Spectacles currently consists of a hackable HTML5 web viewer that runs natively in modern browsers (no plugin required), and a pair of exporters for popular authoring applications in the AEC industry—Grasshopper and Revit. BIM data can be exported from these desktop applications, and viewed on the web using Spectacles.

The web viewer, Revit Exporter and Grasshopper Exporter are all open source projects. You can find (and fork!) the source code here: [ Viewer, Grasshopper, Revit ].

Spectacles

Spectacles is a hackable BIM viewer for the web

Rumblings of this project began around 2013. We were involved in some structural and forensics projects in the New York office, and the need for a web-based 3D viewer kept arising. A couple of potential solutions existed at the time and we gave them a try, but none allowed for the sort of flexibility we were looking for. We wanted to provide project-specific 3D user experiences, and needed the UI of the viewer to be able to change—in some cases quite drastically—based on a project’s specific needs. Nothing like that existed, and the idea of building our own platform felt like a daunting task.

A handful of us attended the first AEC hackathon in November of 2013, and walked away armed with the fact that we had a lot to learn about programming on the web. We began experimenting with a couple of open source projects while we were there, including THREE.js, and although the idea of building our own viewer still felt overwhelming, we were starting to feel like it was at least possible.

The next experiment we tried was Platypus, which mashed up the web’s ability to shuffle a bunch of data around in real time with a parametric 3D modeller—Grasshopper for Rhino. It works like a chatroom for parametric geometry, and was a hugely important developmental step for our group. We could do 3D on the web! It is a very specific research project with a very narrow scope, but it got us up and running.

The next big step was vA3C, which emerged at the beginning of last summer at our first AEC Hackathon in New York. Benjamin Howes first outlined the idea here, and he, Jonatan Schumacher, Jeremy Tammik, Theo Armour, Matt Mason, Josh Wentz and a handful of other dedicated hackers built out the first prototypes over the course of about 27 hours. It was a truly awesome experience—we built out the viewer we wanted overnight! It wasn’t perfect by a long shot, but it worked, and it was open source.  Spectacles is a fork of the vA3C project, and would not have been possible without this amazing team.

vA3C asleep

The vA3C team, after a long night of hacking.

Over the course of the next year, we used vA3C in practice on a few projects to do exactly what we set out to do in the first place—project-specific UX. Practical necessity drove code development, and along with help from the other vA3C team members, we were able to expand the feature set of the viewer and improve the stability of the exporters. We developed a custom daylighting analysis results viewer, a project-specific FIM (Forensic Information Model) viewer, and a prototype TTX model query engine. We also started maintaining our own forks of the vA3C projects, including a complete rewrite of the viewer.

Daylighting analysis results viewer prototype

Daylighting analysis results viewer prototype. Click the image check it out!

Earlier this year, CORE studio agreed to formally support the project’s development—one of our first company-funded open source projects—and Spectacles was born. Since then, we’ve been refining the codebase and sprucing up the work a bit in preparation for this public release. The project has been used to support a number of other research initiatives at Thornton Tomasetti, including VRX, our Photogrammetry research, and Design Explorer, and we are super excited to see more ideas that utilize Spectacles popping up within Thornton Tomasetti’s various practices.

VRX web viewer

VRX web viewer

Photogrammetry + BIM model

Photogrammetry + BIM model

Green Space/Design Explorer

Green Space/Design Explorer

So what’s next? We’ve certainly got some more plans for Spectacles, and we are looking for collaborators to help us build some of this stuff out. First off, we’d like to build out more exporters! And in order to do so in an organized and efficient manner, we’d like to develop a shared Spectacles.Net library to standardize how AEC geometry is serialized into Spectacles.json files. The Web Viewer certainly needs some more love too—at some point we’d like to leave dat.gui in the dust, for example, and we’d like to make embedding viewers easier and more flexible. We are also developing a hosted web application for in-house project support—something like a Google Drive for Spectacles models: comments, 4D history, live uploads from Desktop Apps—and are considering our options in terms of opening this up to outside users. Finally, we are hoping to see a number of projects in the AEC industry that want to utilize Spectacles as a platform to build on. If you are interested in contributing to the project, or are interested in a project-specific 3D UX for one of your jobs, please do get in touch!

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CORE Studio’s third open source Dynamo package – Dynamo for Rebar – has been released this week. It provides a parametric interface for Revit’s 2016 Rebar API, which allows for the creation of single reinforcing bar elements and rebar container elements in Revit. Dynamo for Rebar enables iterative, parametric rebar design inside of Dynamo 0.8.2 and Revit 2016.

Dynamo for Rebar is an Open-Source project available on github and Dynamo’s package manager. The library contains a set of nodes helping you to create bars and containers in Revit, and provides a set of nodes for creating the base curvature of single bars or entire rebar containers. 

Rebar Nodes

The nodes in this group are specific to the Revit 2016 Rebar API.  They are the core nodes in the package that allow for parametric rebar design in Dynamo.  The utility nodes and nodes for curve generation (outlined below) are designed to work well with these rebar nodes.

image01

Create Rebar
Creates one single bar element in Revit from a curve and and a series of rebar properties.

Create Rebar Container
Creates a rebar container element from a list of curves and a series of rebar properties.  The use of containers is highly encouraged as Revit can get bogged down by thousands of rebar family instances in your model.  Containers are like groups of rebars in a single family instance.

Rebar Property Dropdown Nodes
Select Rebar Style – Select available Rebar Styles from the Revit document

  • Select Rebar Hook Type – Select available Rebar Hook Types from the Revit document
  • Select Rebar Hook Orientation – Select available Rebar Hook Orientations from the Revit document
  • Select Rebar Bar Type – Select available Rebar Bar Types from the Revit document

Nodes for Curve Generation

The nodes in this package for creating curves are powerful tools on their own; they allow the user to parameterize any surface in Dynamo, and create curves along it for any use downstream.  Of course one good downstream use is the creation of rebar containers, but it’s up to you!

image00

Curves following a surface
This node creates a set of curves following the geometry of a selected surface (most polysurfaces will also work). It divides the surface in one dimension – either U or V – regularly. You can define the number of divisions (or optionally, a distance to divide the surface by), and the direction of the curves.

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Curves morphing between two curves
This node creates a set of morphed curves between two border curves. It requires two curves to blend between, and creates either a fixed number of curves between them or divides by a defined distance.

image06

Curves perpendicular to one surface
This node creates a set of  linear curves normal to a surface. It requires the selection of a driving surface and a set of bounding faces to define the end of the projection. According to a selected height, the node will divide the surface along this height into a selected number points. It will then draw lines along the normals at this points, break the line at any obstacle and continue until the bounding surfaces.

Utility Nodes

These nodes in this group are mostly designed for use downstream of the rebar nodes.  

image03

Cut Rebar Container by Plane
The cut rebar node cuts a selected rebar container at a selected surface. The result will be either the left or the right side of the division.

image04

Shorten Curve from both ends
This node shortens a selected curve from both ends by the same distance.

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Tag (any) Revit Element
The tag element node creates a tag of any taggable revit element in the current Revit view. It requires a revit element as an input and if the tag should be horizontal or vertical or having a leader or not.

Select Nodes
This set of nodes also comes with a very generic one: A node to select multiple edges. This allows you to select any number of edges from your Revit model and use them in Dynamo to create bars or even place adaptive components along them (see Image).

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We hope you find these tools useful in your rebar design workflows.  If you have any feedback or find any bugs, please create an issue in our Github repo.  Happy reinforcing!  

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