Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Room Separation Lines - Agida for MEP?

Via email the other night, he writes...(edited a little)

We use Revit MEP. I’m doing some research on Room separation lines, as to how and why architects use them, and when is appropriate. The problem I am consistently running into is that room separation lines divide spaces as well. These divisions, while relevant to the architectural model, are ruining the possibilities of creating gbXML files without extensive work on the part of the engineer to remove the room separation lines, and then repair the damage done to the room names and numbers.

For example, imagine open library stacks with dedicated study areas. In the architectural file, they used room separation lines as a rectangle to create rooms and tags for these study areas. They were also used to define a corridor along one side of the stacks (but still in the same open area). For MEP these are really all part of one big room. We won't need to add dedicated air terminals to these areas, nor special lighting just for these areas. So any of the analysis tools in Revit using spaces will be wrong, as most of them use an average over the entire area, (CFM/SF, Average illumination levels/SF etc..). Further, we are unable to accurately or efficiently create a gbXML file for use in Green Building Studio, HAP, Trace, etc. This complication is greatly hampering many of the benefits of using Revit for engineers.

I’m not saying that room separation lines should never be used, there are perfectly good places to use them. Rooms or spaces that are actually going to be treated as a separate room, not a room with in a room.

I initially thought that architects were using these (in addition to the obvious) to check for programming requirements, and code compliance for areas and such but it turns out a lot of architects are using the area tool for those purposes. They were however using them for the room finish schedules.

From a program standpoint, I was surprised to find out that while room separation lines can be assigned to a workset and that workset can be unloaded (through a linked file) from the MEP model. However the Room Separations still existed. We just couldn’t see them. And even if that did work, we engineers would still need to correct/edit the space names and numbers manually now since the spaces wouldn’t match the rooms (Space naming tool wouldn't work).

He closed wondering if I could offer any advice, ideas or a solution.

The essence of my response via email:

HVAC Zones are meant to combine spaces into larger more coherent collections for engineering purposes. The example given above for the library is pretty common place, need to know how much area is dedicated to carrels as well as a corridor within the open space of the library. From the HVAC engineer's perspective irrelevant but not from the client's or the architect trying to satisfy them.

If room separation lines are "off the table" then the architect would end up using something else like actual walls and hiding them. They might end up asking Autodesk to make more elements room defining? Area plans could help document such things but then floor plans would be "ignorant" of what these kinds of "areas" are, no tagging possible, just "dumb text". Not ideal either. My greatest concern about room separation lines is when they are used as "band-aids" to try to fix room area issues, where rooms aren't bounded properly and not generating area values.

Regarding the workset comments. Worksets unload information but that doesn't mean Revit isn't aware of the elements that are assigned to the unloaded workset. When we unload a workset the walls are still there and that means so are Room Separation lines.

Any comments from readers??


ekkonap said...

Room seperations only affect the level they are on. Not sure if you can get away with simply copypasting the level, but a space on a level on an offset, say 100 mm, should experience no interference from room seperation lines on the level below. It will probably no longer report the corresponding room either. But as long as you are exporting anyway: follow your regular routine to coordinate spaces with rooms, then move the hosting level up a bit. Extend the space bottom bounding heigth accordingly. Delete the excess spaces that are now no longer seperated by room bounding lines, and export.

Shaun Farrell said...

I have recently had to use room separation lines as the only way to create rudimentary FM schedules to allocate users and equipment to a desk/zone. Revit has no other way of doing this and keeping the flexibility I want. Maybe a zone tool for use within a room would be better, where the zone is aware of the room its in and the objects within it.

Aaron Maller said...

One other potential solution is that Linked miles only bound rooms and spaces with the primary design option, regardless of view settings. So if the archies made a simple Option Set with Two Options (Boundaries Exist, Boundaries dont), and they set "dont" to primary, but then set all of their drawings to secondary, everyone is happy... Except the archies who whine about design options. :)

Joe Carey said...

This doesn't help the problem at hand as Revit stands today, but if Revit allowed the MEP engineer to 'JOIN' rooms together or have a 'CHAIN SELECT' space creator option(click on the rooms that are really in the same space)the issue would be resolved. Revit 2014?? (fingers crossed)

Joe said...

I think that the simplest thing the archies can do is to just stop using the room separation lines as a band-aid for poor modeling. Step two would be something like Joe Carey propose with a join/combine function for spaces so the MEP guys can piece together spaces and the archies can keep doing their thing. If we can add space separation lines to divide spaces, why can't we also combine them together.

The HVAC Zones have a different purpose and are not meant for band-aiding spaces together. The intent of an HVAC Zone is to combine spaces that are to be served by the same HVAC unit (VAV, AHU, etc.). The Spaces define the load characteristics (people, lighting, plug loads, envelope loads) while the HVAC Zones define the conditioning equipment for the corresponding spaces.

Steve said...

@ Joe - in the examples he offered it isn't "poor" modeling. They are documenting what is dedicated to what and identifying them using the feature as intended by the developers.

Trying to fix rooms that aren't bounded because of modeling issues is wrong... but that's not the primary issue here.

Essentially what you describe zones as "for" is what is happening here. These "rooms" aren't defined by walls but they are considered "rooms" by the owner and the archies as you call them, not real rooms but they need to talk about them as such. A zone would wrap up the spaces that are served by a single system as you described.

At issue here is how the RME user wants to document performance, lighting and airflow etc. Color Schemes aren't showing what they want because of the "extra" rooms and Zones aren't getting them everything they really want in this way either.

Thanks for the comments all! He's off trying some of the things that have been mentioned!

kubs!x said...

I would agree that Zones are the solution in the MEP model. Autodesk may need to adjust Zones if the output is not as desired. In the example given one may want to know the load of the various "Rooms" for proper distribution of the heating/cooling. More in study areas and less in the corridor area.

In fact the opposite can be true. The arch model may have a single large Open Office room. The MEP model will need it divided into smaller spaces via space separation lines. Spaces for each exterior exposure and spaces for the interior area. They may or may not need to be combined into a zone(s).

Anonymous said...

One thing would be for Revit to track if rooms are wall bound and if not, track what rooms are adjacent that share the same non-partitioned boundry.
We told our MEP that we added a parameter for this purpose. We track it manually (so when we have six workstations that are labled as a space (because this is how we track space utilization for our client, not because of poor modeling)
I will ask our MEP how they deal with zone next time we meet for coordination.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately this is an area where legacy Revit issues were never resolved. Autodesk took a step by creating the space element, where in early version of MEP it did not exist. They did this w/o also carrying over an additional piece of the puzzle which is a check box for is "Space Bounding" for elements such as walls, ceilings etc. Fixing the room separation, line issue either through pre-processing cleanup or other means still doesn't solve the fact that certain elements Engineers do not want to bound their spaces. Example, a closet in a room for purposes of Heating/Cooling loads may be lumped together with the room it serves. Exporting to gbXML is a huge pain point that I am sure Autodesk is aware of, and will need to address at some point in the future.

Anonymous said...

A possible solution would be to use a different phase for the smaller "room" elements that are not really rooms but a sub separation of space like the library example. Using this technique, the entire "library" can be a single room in one phase and many smaller areas in the next phase. Since rooms are "phase specific" this is possible.

I have done this technique for a shell building with multiple tenant improvements that follow in their own phases.

Maybe we need to have a "Energy Modeling" phase followed by a "Construction Document" phase?

Either that or we need Autodesk to allow for different types of space in Architecture besides just rooms.

My 2 cents.....


Sam said...

I believe the solution is for the architect to use Room separation line for actual physical rooms and Space separation lines for sub-divided spaces.

I read that when you link in a Revit file, it ignores the Space separations, but not the rooms. This way, everyone can have the Spaces they require without affecting other disciplines.

R. Robert Bell said...

I know this is an old post and I think Aaron's answer is the best. But in case design options can't work, I came up with the idea of putting the room separation lines in an overlaid model that is marked as room bounding. Details my blog.

Anonymous said...

Solution for this issue: