Friday, January 25, 2008

My Second Revit Project - Part 1

So today I decided to start a series of posts about the second Revit project that I was involved in from Design all the way into Construction, which is the phase we’re currently in. The steel is almost all erected and stud framing and roof carpentry (wood blocking) is in progress. That is, when it’s not raining!

This is a challenging project and I can’t wait to see the end result. But first some history: the original school building was designed by renowned firm CRS in the 1950s. The almost sixty year old campus has seen numerous additions and renovations over the years and it was time to give the “old lady” a nice, well deserved face lift. The main issues that we were asked to address were security, campus expansion and renovation and the installation of a new heating and cooling system to service the new addition and most of the existing buildings. The original campus was typical regional architecture: wide overhangs with very low roofs and narrow, “finger” plan buildings with open breezeways.

Back in those days, there was no air conditioning, and natural ventilation was the only means of cooling. Well, this is the Houston area we’re talking about. I don’t honestly know how they lived without A/C!

Adding insulation and using high performance, high impact glazing was key and the final solution had to “fit”. The goal was to make this “new” facility look like it was all built at the same time, and believe me….it was and still is a huge challenge! We wanted to keep as much of the original buildings and structures as possible for budgetary reasons and also to respect the original CRS buildings. You can see the existing structure in red in the pictures below with new structure nestled into it:

The only available space for expansion was the area between the existing “finger” buildings. We had to give up the “courtyards” to bridge this area with a new building, which is higher so that it could accommodate clerestory windows to bring in natural light, to house mechanical mezzanines and to tie in with the slope of the existing roofs. We re-used many of the existing sloping fascia details to tie the new with the old.

This was the first project where I had to learn all there is to know about Phasing in Revit. We pushed the boundaries and learned a lot. We started by modeling the existing building and structures that we were going to tie into. This helped us visualize those complex situations where new structure was to be nestled into the existing. It also helped us see what our massing options were based on seeing exactly which parts of the existing structures we could demolish. And all this while designing the new addition and taking construction decisions at the same time.
The hardest challenge in Revit was to figure out how to demolish parts of elements, such as roofs, beams and walls. I will discuss some of these techniques in future posts and will continue to write about the progress of this and other projects.



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