Thursday, December 22, 2011

the most wonderful time of the year

Off to Phuket for Christmas and New Years.  In the area?  Hollar at

Best in 2012!

 Tropical Christmas Tree

 New Years Eve Candle Lighting and Make a Wish


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Parametric Ellipsoid

I recently received a model in 3d max from some hotshot kid who took some spheres and squeezed and stretched them and placed glass panels between them because he thought it would be cool. and now i have to rationalize this form in revit. What a Conceptual M-asshole!

If you have ever tried to stitch 3 ellipses together on the X, Y & Z planes, you'll be familiar with this error:

then i remembered this post on Builz about creating pebbles...and then i thought about adaptive components and hosting points on intersections...and the bulb lit up. Awesome, here we go.

First setup my driving ellipses

Then i added a bunch of reference planes, and inserted reference points hosted at the intersections:

I created an adaptive ellipse family, where the ellipse dimensions are controlled by placement point distance from the origin. The actual ellipse model line is in a nested family to prevent the universe from collapsing in on itself:

I inserted one of these families on every reference plane, and linked the placement points to the earlier created reference points (you can see the glowing blue nodes). Tedious but I was starting to feel really good now.

After I selected the nested model lines and hit the CREATE FORM button, voila! Parameter Driven Ellipsoid!

Company property so no download.....but i am sure if you are reading this blog, you can figure out how to get it sorted.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Platonic Balls

I keep myself pretty anonymous online.  Its deliberate really.
And then i go to AU, and write my secret identity on my name tag so i can meet people easier. (I am shy!)
A side effect is that when people learn about my alter-ego, many start telling me about all the trouble they are making with parametric families.
One fellow, Mr. Kelvin Tam of NBBJ, was ecstatic to meet me because he had been working on a parametric soccer ball and somehow knew that i would appreciate it.

Well actually Kelvin, I am an NFL guy and I HATE soccer...but i do appreciate monkey business on this scale!

His email started with this explanation of  Platonic Solids

Which is a discussion that wnet completely over my head.

Then i got into the meat of the matter.  Picked one of the patches and opened it up
Ok.  Looks like a disc thats cut by some voids.
But when you look at the dimensioning that going on, thats where i was impressed...because it had to be programmed so that not all sides were equal.  I especially like the dimension that controls the radius of the sphere that trails off into space.
Here is the parameters for this patch:

Pretty straight-forward.  Then i took a look at the faces all these families are hosted on.  Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Stop The Clock!

And then the parameter stack that is controlling this mess in the host family:
Anyone who ends a formula with 4 closed parenthesis is okay by me.  Kelvin, I have no idea how you did all this, but i am very sure you care alot.  I salute your passion!

You can find the family for download here:

Soccer Ball.rfa
(I replaced original file with a ZIP file so it should work now)

Friday, December 2, 2011

How to Get Ahead in Architecture

#AU2011 is done.  Another year in the can.  Lots of good stuff.  And a bloody nose from the dry air.

This is the first time i have had the chance to sit in a talk by Phil Read.  It wasn't about wacky crap you can do with Revit families but about something MUCH more important.  He spoke about how architectural education virtually cripples us right out of the gate and potentially dooms us to a life of being undervalued wage slaves.

If you are a high school or college student contemplating getting into architecture, this lecture addresses some ways to make the best out of what is a potentially dubious decision.  Its worth reading.

Really worth it if you aspire to ever get out from under the thumb of "The Man"

Download the materials here:

As an interesting aside, here are Phil Bernstein's thoughts on graduating from architecture school into the current market.  Some similar ideas and themes....

See y'all next year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Has anyone else noticed this?

I was telling one of my colleagues about AU and why its the most wonderful week of the year...

....And what kind of positive impact this event has had on my career 
....And how it has been worth it to pay for the thing out of my own pocket some years
...And what a great value it is when you consider that the meals and hotel are INCLUDED!!!!

I started telling him about all the tips and tricks i learn at the event and how it has made me the Fire-Breathing-CAD-Monster that i am today....

The first class i ever sat in was a Lynn Allen "90 tips in 90 minutes" rundown of all the new features in AutoCAD 2006.  I was awestruck...
....not just by the material (which was awesome for an AU freshman)
....not just by Lynn's enthusiasm for the material (i thought i was the only person who got excited by CAD tips and tricks)
....but also by the big bodyguards who escorted her out of the hall and around for the week.  (I guess when you're the only hot blonde in a sea of CAD geeks, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.)

No disrespect is intended to Lynn by this post.  I think she is GREAT...i just thought the whole situation was kind of amusing.  So i am describing this to my co-worker, and i decide to look up "Lynn Allen" on Google Images to illustrate my point...

As we are looking at the pictures, there is another quite attractive blonde who has several photos mixed in.  And that's when i realize that the real name of Ginger Lynn, 80's Porn Star, also happens to be "Lynn Allen"


AU 2012 starts now....

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I thought he was referring to me

Its a very interesting article.  It seems that a lot of the facts are finally bubbling up through the fiction.  It doesn't discredit us, but a more realistic picture is coming to the fore.

"While I like the vision and the commitment to this drive to improve efficiency in the UK construction market, I am worried about where we are now as an industry versus where Mr Morrell wants the industry to be in five years, especially considering the capabilities of the current BIM software, the average user’s skill-set and the general lack of experience in completing 3D BIM projects in the UK.

The other dynamic at play here is the ingrained culture of working and the contract structures that do not reflect the shared risk/rewards that a truly collaborative project would require. BIM is not just about buying some software and training, it is about learning to work with other project participants differently and striving to make efficiencies."

All the more reason i am thrilled to see governments kicking industry in the a55 to get moving on this.  The same process is underway in Singapore, although with a bit more financial support from the government.

The technology isn't new.  It isn't 'untested'.  Lets cut the crap and get on with it already.

Today i was in a meeting with one of the design directors from one of the largest projects going on in the country and representatives from the Building Construction Authority.  In explaining his company's position on mandating BIM for the job , this design director gave me the quote of a lifetime.

"We are builders.  We count every nut and bolt.  If we didn't believe this was worth it, we wouldn't be doing it.  We're not doing it because of a theory.  We aren't doing it for the future.  We are doing it because its what we need to do in order to finish this project effectively"

I owe that guy another pack of imported contraband chewing gum.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Noah's Loaf - Curtain Panel Goodness

This step took some tenacity...But tenacity starts with "T" which stands for Trouble!

First step is to do this with a curtain panel by pattern:

If you don't know what it is, shame on you!  Go read here:

Thank you Bob-Man and Shaggy

So with that panel pattern in my back pocket, i could go ahead and start screwing around with my base model from last time:

For what became my first attempt (thought this would be easy), I started by picking the edges between each rib and hitting the CREATE FORM button.

I did this several times to fill the whole boat

And then divided the surface and applied the appropriate Curtain Panel Pattern:

It looked okay at first blush, but upon closer inspection, the shell edges weren't squaring up right.  Actually, they looked downright sloppy:

I'd rather be accused of fastidiousness than having too much time on my hands...Semantic argument for sure....nonetheless i tried again.

This time I took the "Tedious Brute Strength" approach.  First off, i hosted a bunch of reference points along the shell profile:

And repeated this process for all 3 profiles and it worked exactly as i wanted:

Then I hosted a parameter driven rectangle  on each reference point.  CREATE FORM again and voila!

It worked as expected,

but 2 problems remained:
1) All my lengths were now curved and i wanted straight segments, broken at each joint for scheduling and measurement
2) It was a damn lot of work and i got bored

Okay...Trial #3!

Because I set up the original Curtain Panel Pattern using the correct point orientation, I realized i could do the whole shell in one shot.  The trick was going to be to use DIVIDE BY INTERSECTION in order to control the break points:

My segments divide out properly.  If i did some work with reporting parameters, I could get some cool data out of this.  Implanting MODEL LINES in the curtain panel would give me a structural stick model too!

The joints go straight through which i am not overly keen on, but i suppose if i wanted it perfect, i could take it into Rhino or ACAD and perform some additional boolean operations...

yikes....what a day....

Sunday, September 11, 2011

It's my Birthday

No Really.

Today is my birthday....and i really hate it.

With consideration and gratitude on a horrible anniversary.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Slicing Noah's Loaf

Previously, I went through an explanation of how to develop this form.  In this post, i will look at the process of slicing it up.

First things first, i laid out a series of reference lines along the length of loaf.  I then went ahead programmed some parameters to control the spacing of these lines which are intended to locate the center between ribs.

These are the parameters involved:

Then I pick each line individually and hit the CREATE FORM button.  It extrudes a nice 2D surface upwards.

This is where it gets interesting.  Then i pick the edge lines of each surface, you may have to hit the TAB key once or twice to cycle through the options.  Having selected the edges of the surface, i hit CREATE FORM again and a box is extruded.

I link the positive and negative offsets of the box to the VOID_Thickness Half parameters.

And the boxes all line out to exactly how i want:

And I can start slicing using the CUT command....

Oh how happy I am!

Until i try to flex the form, which was the point of the whole exercise anyways, and then:

AAARARRARAGGGGGHHH!!!!!  I made the fatal error of using model lines to define the ends of my form.  I go back and start from scratch, generating the profiles as REFERENCE LINES!!!!  9 out of 10 times, when forms don't do what i want, its because i used model lines rather than reference lines.  I am a forgetful troublemaker sometimes....grrrr....

But NOW, I am kickin' it with a big smile.....