Physical and Analytical Modeling Join Forces in Revit Structure 4

Welcome to AECWeekly! Autodesk Revit Structure 4 was released last week, with improvements in both the physical and analytical modeling aspects. Launching the product in other countries increases the demand for concrete documentation, according to Olimpio DeMarco, product marketing manager, Structural Solutions for Autodesk. Read about this product in this week's Industry News.

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Industry News
Physical and Analytical Modeling Join Forces in Revit Structure 4
by Susan Smith

Olimpio DeMarco, product marketing manager, Structural Solutions for Autodesk, spoke this week about the company's newly released Revit Structure 4.

DeMarco came to Autodesk last year after working with manufacturing and structural analysis since the early '80s. A lot of energy is being spent on this product line, with particular emphasis on building partnerships with analysis providers. The API works such that any analysis vendor can build a link to Revit Structure.

"The way Revit Structure works is you have the simultaneous physical model, which drives the documentation and an analytical model which drives the interface to the third party analysis programs," explained DeMarco. "We've made improvements in both areas. In physical modeling we've made a lot of improvements on reinforced concrete documentation. Revit Structure is a multi-material system that handles steel cast in place concrete, reinforced concrete, masonry, etc. and you can put all those different types of materials in one model."

DeMarco said that concrete is used more commonly around the world for construction. Steel buildings are almost limited to North America and some major cities in Europe. In response to that, the concrete documentation in Autodesk Revit Structure is now substantial, as Autodesk launches the product in different parts of the world. Last year it launched in North America, and earlier this year it launched in northern Europe, Australia and New Zealand for English speaking countries. This fall, Revit Structure 4 will be made available in Italy, France, Korea and Japan.

"On the modeling side, we've created a truss wizard, which is a little application that runs off the Revit Structure API, made available only to subscription customers. This feature allows users to take a beam and automatically build up a library of different kinds of trusses. It's a much faster way to model a truss," said DeMarco.

There is also a part of modeling called the 'one-click beam system.' Before release 4, if you had some girders and you wanted to stretch some beams between them, you had to put them in one by one, but now Revit Structure allows you to automatically put in a whole system of beams. "You can hover your mouse over the outside boundary type and say how many beams you want, and you can put them all in," DeMarco said.

Another important feature to the new release is analytical tools. "We have new "boundary condition" elements," noted DeMarco. "Boundary conditions are what happens at the edges of the model, so let's say you have a model built on a concrete foundation. When you do the analysis, you must tell the software what happens where the concrete meets the foundation. You might tell it, there's movement here, or it's rigid, and you need a visual way model these elements."

"The analysis software does the mathematics that describes how the beam can bend. It needs to understand what the end conditions of each beam are in the structure. They have different conditions such as 'fixed or pinned or hinged.' We've provided a way to actually assign these boundary conditions and visually look at the model and understand what the conditions are in each of the boundaries of the model."

Other features include:
  • Clear spacing layout rule, where you can establish spacing between the exterior edges of framing elements. One rebar can now represent a set of evenly placed identical bars. In the past release, you had to do multiple rebar placement, now you can enter a rule with a fixed number of bars or spacing rules.
  • Beam system direction tool improvements - where you can specify Beam System direction with a sketch line between any two points
  • Precast concrete framing families
  • Steel framing families
Advanced analytical tools include -
  • boundary conditions elements
    • elements to model how the structure is attached to its points of support
    • point boundary - only structural beam, column and brace ends are available for point restraint
    • line boundary - line restraint is limited to the individual analytical lines for structural beams, walls and wall foundations, slabs and slab foundations.
    • area boundary - area restraint applies to analytical lines for structural slabs, walls and foundation slabs.
  • automatic adjustment of analytical models, where you can auto-detect parameters for analytical project such as beams, columns, walls and slabs. There are also two new user-defined tolerances for horizontal and vertical auto-detect.
Reinforced concrete documentation includes improvements to concrete element display such as
  • display options for hidden non-rectangular concrete beams.
  • improved concrete joins and cleanups (No UI)
  • automatic joins for some concrete structural elements (no UI)
  • sketch path reinforcement
  • creation of rebar sets where one rebar can represent a set of evenly placed identical bars
  • snap point for rebar edges
  • temp dimensions for placed reinforcement
  • rebar element visibility control
Revit platform improvements include interoperability enhancements such as the option to set DWG units when exporting to DWG, and import and export of images to PNG format. Documentation improvements include revision tag visibility with three options: cloud and tag, tag and none. Control of elevation tag visibility is based on view scale.

The new Revit 9.1 API is based only on the .NET 2.0 framework (Microsoft DevStudio 2005). Application integration includes integrated journaling and regression testing, and performance improvements using Suspend update. Advancements in element creation include numerical units type, model lines, material class and openings. Revit Building 9.1 includes expanded support for rooms and room tagging.

At press time, Autodesk announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Robobat, a privately-held company based in Grenoble, France, a provider of structural engineering analysis, design and steel and concrete detailing. The acquisition purchase price is $33 million in USD cash, subject to a working capital adjustment. According to the press release, the acquisition is in keeping with Autodesk's goal of providing a complete set of integrated solutions for the structural engineering community. Robobat ROBOT Millennium, a structural analysis and design solution for structural engineering, has been integrated with Autodesk Revit Structure, and Robobat has also developed steel and concrete detailing software on the AutoCAD platform. Robobat's existing product line will continue to be supported by Autodesk, while Autodesk plans new solutions that will incorporate both Autodesk and Robobat technologies.


Excitech, the UK's leading CAD supplier, has been accredited with Autodesk's new Premier Solutions Provider status for the Building Solutions Division. This acknowledges Excitech's experience and expertise in this industry and also provides Excitech with a higher level of direct support from Autodesk.


Intergraph Corporation, global provider of spatial information management (SIM) software, announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by an investor group led by Hellman & Friedman LLC and Texas Pacific Group in a transaction valued at approximately $1.3 billion. Under the terms of the agreement, Intergraph stockholders will receive $44.00 in cash for each share of Intergraph common stock, representing a 22% premium over Intergraph's average closing share price for the last twenty trading days.

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