Autodesk has introduced Revit 2021 this April and the big new feature for many will be the new ‘Generative Design’ technologies. The new features allow Revit users to explore and optimize designs based on data-driven algorithms, bringing AAD (algorithms-aided design) directly inside Revit.
AAD Inside Revit
Previously, Revit users have integrated Dynamo and Grasshopper into Revit workflows to bring AAD into the design process with the popular BIM authoring tool. But these technologies involve node-based visual scripting interface interactions and that takes expertise and knowledge most users of Revit don’t have.
With the new algorithms-aided design tools in Revit 2021 users can explore data-informed decisions using a more visually friendly format of sliders and graphics with sorting and filtering capabilities. Three customizable AAD workflows are presented to the user, including Workspace Layout, Maximize Window Views and Workspace Layout. For other types of generative solutions, users with Dynamo experience can delve deeper.
“With the launch of Generative Design in Revit, we’re accelerating the design process and enabling AEC Collection users to explore design solutions for any given project, faster than ever before, says Nicolas Mangon, vice president of Autodesk AEC Business Strategy. “Leveraging generative design capabilities, our customers may now be more confident in the design decisions they are making, optimize workflows and have more productive conversations with project stakeholders.”
Stamhuis, a Netherlands-based AEC firm with expertise in retail shop design, was one of the early beta testers of Revit 2021 with Generative Design. The firm tested the new features with respect to critical time and cost-savings.
“Generative Design in Revit gives our team the power to generate possible options and narrow on the potential solutions within the design phase – an important period for both time and cost savings during any project we work on,” said Ron Rijkers, team manager for BIM and Innovation at Stamhuis. “We’re now able to create better insights and make better decisions early on in our client collaborations, and we’re excited to uncover additional applications for the technology moving forward.”
Superstar architecture firm Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) was also a beta user of these new technologies. The firm’s incredible and award-winning designs can be found all over the world and their global teams provided key feedback to Autodesk. The technology was useful for the design concept of one of the largest soccer stadiums in the Netherlands—Feyenoord Stadium, right on the Rotterdam waterfront.
“We’re using generative design to gain insight during our exploration of Rotterdam’s new Feyenoord Stadium,” said Alex Mortiboys, head of BIM at architecture firm OMA. “The result is a performance-based approach, allowing our team to test design logic and optimize manufacturability at the same time.”
Also New in Revit 2021
Along the lines of generative design, new in Revit 2021 is Dynamo 2.5 integration. This means Dynamo 2.5 for Revit is included in the installation of Revit. Importantly, 10 new Dynamo Revit nodes have been added to support the most requested conditions for geometry joining, pinning and unpinning and the hosting of Revit elements. Performance has also been enhanced dramatically for larger models.
In Revit 2021 the Dynamo nodes for placing steel connections in Revit are provided inside the Revit installation, simplifying the deployment of these technologies inside firms.
On the design side of things, Revit 2021 now supports slanted (canted) walls. Openings in those slanted walls automatically adjust or hold their vertical orientation. Previously vertical walls can simply be turned into slanted walls or back again. Curved walls are included in the ability to have slanted walls and curtain walls integrate with these features as well.
There is also a new Revit Home experience for BIM 360 projects and a new way to customize your UI workspace around your discipline or way of working. New alternate row colors are supported in schedules and high-fidelity PDF and raster linking make working with 2D documents easier.
The new Europe data center for hosting cloud models (workshared and non-workshared) Architosh has previously touched on in this report.
In addition to these features, tons of new engineering centered features fill this annual update. You can read and see many of these new features here.
As we have noted in the past, the annual Revit updates tend to concentrate a significant amount of new feature attention on the full spectrum of AEC professionals using the popular BIM platform, particularly engineering professionals. This release follows that same pattern. On the pure design and architecture side, the latest new Revit 2021 focuses its attention on an area that increasingly is matters more and more for the type of architecture done by marquee design firms like OMA mentioned above. These types of firms tend to have advanced computational design staff and advanced 3D modelers. These folks are using computational design tools like Dynamo and Grasshopper and working with the challenges of integrating those tools into their BIM workflows. To learn more about that click the more link below.
Autodesk has chosen to call its AAD (algorithms-aided design) tools “Generative Design” tools but they do more than “generate” new forms, they help designers “simulate” and “evaluate” the design consequences of specific design choices. The evaluations are based on numerical data. Unlike the Dynamo or Grasshopper computational design workflow, the new AAD tools in Revit 2021 provide an easier user-experience (UX) for AAD. Their UIs look similar to early Autodesk Project Fractal work Architosh saw back in 2016. (see, Architosh: “Curators of Spatial Computation—What Autodesk Project Fractal Says About Future Architects,” 14 Jul 2016). This is a very positive step in the right direction, enabling more architects to embrace computational design (aka: AAD) tools in their design processes.
As for the new slanted walls functionality. This has long been needed in Revit and will be a very welcome new feature.