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ARCH 653 Building Information Modeling in Architecture

Project 1 - Parametric BIM

Due: 11/1, Monday, 10:00PM

Weight: 50%


You are expected to create a Building Information Model and a Parametric Design for your selected case study.

Your tasks include:

1. BIM / Revit Tutorials (Homework) and all versions of the project   (15 pts)

Complete all the homework assigned for from the beginning of the semester until the Project 1, and all versions of the project required to be submitted prior to the final version of the project. Follow the deadlines and submission procedures for each homework. The completeness of homework and all versions of the project, on time submission, and the quality of your work will count toward part of the final grade of project1.

2. Collect Building Information for a case study (5 pts)

You are recommended to use Building the New Millennium, Architecture at the Start of the 21st Century, published by Phaidon, as a reference to select a building that is both interesting to you and challenging to model. The selected and suggested specific case studies are listed in the end of this web page.

The first step is to browse the book, find a building, then to collect more information - drawings, text, photos, etc. about the building to enable you to study and model the building using Autodesk Revit. You can use existing CAD files of the building if you find them, with the permission from the authors and appropriate credits, to get started with modeling. However, you cannot use any existing Revit models of the building.

Alternatively, you can choose your design studio projects or other buildings to model/redesign. Your choice should have similar complexity and workload as those in the book referenced above.

3. Create a parametric, conceptual mass family for your building (10 pts)

Many of the buildings in the book are of free forms that are not easy to model using a normal modeling process (create a site, select wall types, position the walls, create floors, roofs, windows, doors, etc.). In Revit, to create these kinds of free form buildings, you can start by creating a Conceptual Mass, then convert the surfaces of the mass into walls, curtain walls, or roofs.

Make the mass into a parametrically-controlled mass, so that you can easily change the geometry of the mass using a few driving parameters. You need to identify what parameters to use (by studying the building, you may be able to find the architect's design intent that can be formulated with parameters and formulas, or you can add your own design intent for the building).

Name your building mass model project1_mass.rfa.

See Important Project Tutorials below for how to create simple and complex mass families.

4. Create a parametric envelop (facade) family for your building (20 pts)

Create a parametric building facade based on the building mass. You may use the Divide Surface method of Revit and create a facade pattern and load curtain panels into the facade. The curtain panel should be a well-defined parameter family.

While your building facade model should be created according to the actual building design, you are encouraged to add additional features to it, for example: you can add Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) feature to your roof, curtain walls, etc. whose panel angles are driven by the sun path; or a structure driven by other physical or aesthetic parameters, etc.

Be creative to produce a significant family design that demonstrates substantial design thinking and well- thought-out design intent. Please discuss with the instructor about your choice of parametric family.

Name your building facade model project1_envelope.rfa.

Review Important Project Tutorials from Homework assignments for how to create building facade with curtain panels from mass.

5. Create a BIM project model for the design (10 pts)

Create a Building Information Model for the design you choose. Create building floors, roofs, interior walls, etc. based on the building mass. Because of the time limit for the project, you may choose one or several floors of the building to create a detailed, partial BIM model.

Include your building mass family and the facade family into this project file.

Name your building model project1.rvt

6. Visualization and Documentation - Publishing on your blog.

6.1 Rendering and Screenshots (6 pts)

Photo realistic Renderings using mental ray: Create 2 Revit photo realistic renderings of your model: 1 exterior rendering and 1 interior rendering. Format: JPG. Size: 1024x768 pixels or higher. Use mental ray. For the two renderings, set up good camera views, and good lightings (e.g. exterior rendering with Rendering->Exterior: Sun only, and interior rendering with Rendering->Interior: Sun only or Sun and artificial).

You may use Autodesk Cloud-based Rendering servie (http://rendering.360.autodesk.com/index.aspx) if rendering on your computer takes too long time.

Name the two renderings as:

rendering1.jpg and rendering2.jpg

Create 4 screenshots for the parametric families changed by different parameter values. Format: JPG. Size: 1024x768 pixels or higher. Name the 4 screenshots as:

screenshot1.jpg, screenshot2.jpg, screenshot3.jpg, and screenshot4.jpg

6.2 Description, Diagrams, and Equations (6 pts)

Describe your modeling process, and your critics about the Revit modeling application, in terms of user interface, performance, parametric modeling, limitations, etc. Clear and informative description is required.

For parametric modeling, use diagrams and equations to describe your design and modeling ideas and processes.

6.3 Project Movie (10 pts)

In addition , you are expected to create a movie (up to 4 minutes in length) by capturing your computer screen that demonstrates your building model, parametric model, interaction between the building project and families, with your voice over as narrative. You can use Camtasia (about $15) or other software to make and edit the movie. Upload the movie to your Blog (directly or through embedding Youtube, Vimeo, etc. Make sure the video quality is high).

Suggested resolution: 1024x768 pixels or higher. Suggested format: Flash (in a web page), MP4, WMV. Clear images and sound are expected.

Here's instruction about posting videos on Blogger

Note that you need to give reference for EACH image or citation you used in your Blog or documents.

7. Project presentation (8 pts)

Present your project movie + Q&A. Please make sure your movie on your blog is ready to be played before we start the presentation.

8. Modeling details

You will need to have reasonable details at the level of Schematic Design. For example, you need to have the building walls, doors, windows, roofs, ceilings, and floors in the model.

You need to have furniture in your building to indicate the use of the spaces.

You also need to have your site modeled. For your site, you can use the Site tools in Revit: Site>Property Line and Toposurface.

Roads, landscaping, and environmental elements are good to add.

Note that depending on the scale of your select building, you may model partial of the building. Please discuss this with your instructor.

9. Submission

Project 1 submission includes the following items.

9.1 Submission to Canvas.tamu.edu

Project folder name Project1_Final_YourLastname
Files in the folder

1. Project1.rvt (may contain the parametric model)
2. Project1_mass.rfa (Parametric model)
3. Project1_envelope.rfa (Parametric model)
4. Parametric Modeling Diagram (Word file)
5. Rendering1.jpg
6. Rendering2.jpg
7. Screenshot1.jpg
8. Screenshot2.jpg
9. Screenshot3.jpg
10. Screenshot4.jpg
11. Project1 Movie

File to submit Project1_Final_YourFirstname_YourLastname.zip
Submit to https://canvas.tamu.edu/ (Project1_Final)


9.2. Submission to the Web

Setup your Blog page using:

https://www.blogger.com/start (or any other blog you have already used).

Create a web blog page containing your Project1 description and all the images (screenshots and renderings), and the project movie. Submit your blog URL to Canvas when required. Your name and "ARCH653 Project 1" should appear on your blog page. Check the following page and click your project1 thumbnail to confirm that the link is pointing to your blog.


Web Your Blog page on Blogger.com
Items on the page

1. Description (including Parametric Modeling Diagram)
2. Rendering1.jpg
3. Rendering2.jpg
4. Screenshot1.jpg
5. Screenshot2.jpg
6. Screenshot3.jpg
7. Screenshot4.jpg
8. Project Movie

Embed images and the movie into the text, and make the images clickable to show the images in their original size.

Submit Email your Blog URL to the instructor today and complete the page by the due day.

9.3 Submission of your project thumbnail to Canvas: https://canvas.tamu.edu

Create a 160x120 pixel thumbnail image based on your exterior rendering. Save it as Project1_YourFirstname_YourLastname.jpg, and upload it to https://canvas.tamu.edu (ARCH653->Assignments->Project1_Thumnnail).

The thumbnail will appear on the following page after it is uploaded by the instructor:

Thumbnail Project thumbnail


Submit to https://canvas.tamu.edu

Finally, check your web page and links from

Make sure everything works by the due time. (Thumbnails will be displayed before the presentation).


Understand and experience Building Information Modeling structure and methods. Learn how to use Revit to build a BIM with parametric design and modeling.


1. If you need to use International Metric units for your project, try to find the method of installing it from Autodesk website.

2. At this stage, you may creatively think of your parametric modeling/design topics. There is a limitation though: what we have learned so far will enable you to create a parametric family, which can be fairly complex and advanced, but we can't create a "parametric project" yet, which means at the project level, we can't create formulas to drive the relations among families. Later when we look at API we will understand that API will enable "parametric project".

3. To create the parametric BIM model, you can use any method. You don't have to use a specific one, e.g. the Method 3 for Helix curve, which uses point equations. You may use more interactive methods and existing Revit functions.


Your work will be judged on its workload, richness of design thinking, technical quality, and visual quality.

About Exceptional Work (10 pts)

As stated in Syllabus, a project is given 90/100 as a basis for “Satisfactory work, meet standards”. Based on project requirements, errors will cause reduction of points and exceptional work is awarded with extra points.

Example of Exceptional Work:

Very well defined, sophisticated, parametric models with excellent design intent. The parametric models are seamlessly integrated into the entire building model. Extra model files, images, and description may be submitted and integrated with the submission procedures stated above for presenting extra work.

Important project tutorials can be found in Homework 5 and 6, as well as previous homework

Also check the book “Mastering Autodesk Revit Architecture” by James Vandezande, Eddy Krygiel, Phil Read for more information on the topic of “advanced modeling and massing”.

See Students page for previous projects and sample movies

Sample case studies as references

From Building the New Millennium, Architecture at the Start of the 21st Century, published by Phaidon

Available at Evans Library or Annex (NA687 .B85 2009 )

Concert Hall
Mansilla + Tunon Arquitectos

Parco della Musica
Renzo Piano
Building Workshop

Selfridges Birmingham
Department Store
Future Systems

Walt Disney concert Hall
Gehry Partners
30 St Mary Axe (Swiss Re)
Foster + Partners

Scottish Parliament
Mirralle Tagliabue – EMBT

University Library
Wiel Arets Architects

Allianz Arena
Herzog & de Meuron

Casa de Musica
Office for Metropolitan
Architecture (OMA)

Eden Project

National Assembly for Wales
Richard Rogers Partnership

Novartis Campus – Forum 3
Diener & Diener Architekten

Shipping and Transport College
Neutelings Riedijk

Torre Agbar
Ateliers Jean Nouvel

Woerman Tower and Plaza
Abalo & Herreros

Ann Demeulemeester Store
Mass Studies

Kolumba Art Museum
Peter Zumthor

CCTV and TVCC Television Centres
Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)

National Stadium
Herzog & de Meuron