Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Should I Use Revit for this Project?

It isn't a surprising question, it's asked often. I wrote a post before called "Yeah but". That's the kind of response that often comes after answering the question with, "Yeah, you should".

"Yeah but... the architect isn't using Revit, the engineers aren't using Revit, we don't really need 3D for this project, this project doesn't have the margin, this project is fast track, this project isn't big enough, this project is too big"... and so on.

A recent one I heard was, "The architect isn't using Revit, should we use Revit MEP for this project?"

When Revit Systems was released in 2006, the essence of Autodesk's marketing commentary was, "this is new software so it probably doesn't make sense to tackle a project with it unless the architecture team is using Revit too." I don't think it is still true six years later. Sure we benefit from the modelling effort in architecture and structure but we can still benefit from the effort without them.

Is this our first project using Revit? - If yes, then maybe this project isn't the ideal first project.

Otherwise, assuming we are comfortable with Revit, then why not? Is it a valid question for architects? As in, "We aren't going to use Revit because the engineers are not using it." There wasn't a Revit Structure or MEP when Revit was introduced.

There is a lot more to Revit than just 3D. Why assume that there is no value in creating a model of the MEP scope of work even if the architect doesn't use Revit? We will still be able to compare our model against 2D documentation by importing various 2D CAD views into the model. We can still export to 2D files for them to do the same. Why assume that we won't learn anything from doing so? We don't have to assume the burden of modelling the architecture or structure to get something out of the effort. Every project has some, or more often many, surprises. Modeling a project reveals more than doing one in 2D. Just try creating a model using only 2D documents as the guide.

When considering this I think it is important to be careful which measuring stick is being used. Is it measured according to the technical drafting staff, the project engineer or manager, the firm, the project or the owner? If we measure too closely to who performs a single task we lose sight of the bigger picture, the downstream ramifications of our choices. Revit challenges our assumptions and process. More often than not I hear decisions being based on a notion of "us and them" in the equation. Adversarial business relationships don't make it easy to ensure a great result.

Given the chance, I'm betting that using Revit on any project (assuming some responsible preparation is in place) will ultimately prove to have been worthwhile, often in the least anticipated ways. I think this fits, "we don't know what we don't know". I find I stumble into what I don't know more often in 3D than in 2D.


SpunkyMom said...

AMEN - gets asked often and very rarely is there a good reason NOT to do project in Revit. People still ask even when "Mandated" by management.

The Revit Kid said...

I sat in on a meeting just yesterday where the Project Architect involved consistently asked the very same question and the company has been using Revit for 2 years with maybe one or two single projects in CAD. Nice insight Steve.

Valkin said...

For the last 5 years or so whenever I've come across this question I have always shown the benefits of doing the project in Revit over doing it in Autocad. Now I can't seem to get us out of sketchup though.