Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Not surprisingly, I ended up having to go back into someone else's project again to fix what appeared to be a major oversight on the part of someone on my team that is out on vacation (if you were to listen to the architect anyway - chances are the designer busted his ass to get all of the information he could onto the drawing, only to be nonchalantly tossed under the bus when he's not here to defend himself).

I complain about having to revisit jobs - especially other people's jobs.  Mainly because you have to start by trying to recall (or infer) what design criteria, thought processes, etc. were taking place when the project was being developed.  You can't just start going through them willy-nilly, otherwise what looks like a 'mistake' or 'omission' (at first glance) can actually turn out to be what was a hotly contested, deeply discussed, considered, reconsidered, and finally compromised on issue (or more likely, was designed correctly, and someone bitched about having to pay money for it to be built correctly).

Now - when I work on a project, I don't keep immaculate notes on every single decision that gets made, and while memory is far from perfect - I can usually pull out my dead-tree folder, refer back to e-mails, and piece it back together fairly quickly.  What's funny is when someone comes through telling me that I need to change X and Y, move Z, etc. - and I get to shut them down with 'Actually - there are reasons we did the things we did, and unless those reasons have changed (which is possible), then I'm not doing anything'.

I'll probably dedicate my next post to what I call 'The Loop', which is a mysterious, ever changing and shifting exclusive information base, but for now let's get back to fixing what I am assured were 'mistakes' with my co-workers drawings.  I had already made a few 'last minute' changes to the project after he left on vacation, and despite being in Revit, it was only a moderate pain in the ass.

What I was being asked to do sounded extremely simple - correct the lighting package being used for the anchor store at a strip mall.  Basically (for the uninitiated), companies that regularly put their stores into strip malls or other buildings that they are leasing put together a letter outlining the specifics of what the landlord is responsible for providing (otherwise they will get a completely empty shell).

In most cases the requests are simple - specific light fixture/lamp manufacturers, finishes, HVAC requirements, etc., but (as with most things) if this information isn't passed along to the designers (even after they ask for it - repeatedly), then the only thing they can do is make their best guess and move on, which is what it looked like what happened in this case.

So I open the project, wait for it to load, and go to work trying to figure out how to de-clusterfuckize the goddamned thing.  Even the projects I have 'done' in Revit still use CAD fixture schedules (and I tag the fixtures with text), but this guy had managed to get his light fixtures to schedule and tag - all the Revit way.  This was great - right up until the point where only one of the tenant spaces that the schedule referred to was changing.  I spent a few minutes trying to see if I could manipulate the families to get what I needed, and then said 'fuck this', and dumped the schedule out to ACAD.

Or at least tried to - the header came out, but no schedule.  I thought about trying to figure out how to get the schedule to export - but between needing to get this project (and the half a dozen other projects that it was fucking holding up) done, and not wanting to pay for a new monitor after I punched a hole in the old one, I said 'fuck the dumb shit' and manually re-created the whole goddamned schedule in ACAD, labeled it for the tenant spaces that were staying the same, and then created a new one with the owner's requested fixtures - imported them both back into the Revit model, and 'voila'.

This prevented me from having to re-tag any of the fixtures, but then I start looking around and noticing actual mistakes - first was that all of the exit lights had been labeled (or scheduled) backwards, so the edge-lit LED signs were in the back-of-house areas, while the injection molded 'el cheapo' kind were being prominently displayed in the customer showroom (easy fix).  Then I added a few notes and tags to clarify some other pieces of information that I felt had been omitted/overlooked.

As usual - a big part of what annoys me in Revit is how people use it as carte blanche to stop giving a fuck about standards - even though my ACAD electrical drawings are slightly different than other designers in the firm, they all tend to communicate the same information (albeit in slightly different ways) but it's generally all there.  Not so when it comes to Revit - while I attempt to make my drawings look as close to my ACAD drawings as to be almost indistinguishable, other people just slap the Revit on it, and call it a day.

The information that we are trying to convey hasn't changed, the importance of key pieces of information definitely hasn't changed - and while Revit isn't preventing anyone from taking the extra steps necessary to make sure that this information is communicated clearly and effectively, if a designer is struggling to get even basic information onto the drawings, then more complicated pieces of information are going to get overlooked or lost in the oversimplification process as Revit attempts to quantify the Electrical Engineering discipline.

Back in the early days of the Revit virus, I complained about a number of things that were apparently 'overlooked' in the development of the software - and was met (by Autodesk, other designers, etc.) with a standard 'well, Revit doesn't do it like that' response.  Every discipline was running into similar problems, and if they couldn't find a 'workaround' then 'good enough' had to suffice. 

The sad part is that I can guarantee, on top of adding ridiculous amounts of time and stress to the design process, that any benefits realized by having a 3d model of the project have been vastly overwhelmed by the amount of confusion, mistakes, and other problems that have been generated by designers and modelers who spent all of their time fighting Revit, rather than using their mental capacity to head off these problems by applying STANDARDS to their projects.

I'm sitting here looking at drawings of another Revit project - this one is just a simple swap of HVAC equipment (the new equipment has to be connected before the old equipment can be disconnected though).  I'll be curious what kind of a clusterfuck this thing will be once I open it and start working on it - my money is on 'Mongolian'.

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