Ideate BIMLink can help expedite and ease the creation of Space Analysis Diagrams. Programming has to convey data in a way that is clearly understandable in tabular format and diagrammatic plans. Programming diagrams developed under this phase are typically divorced from the data source. Transposing this data into Revit objects typically involves the tedious task of manually retyping the information into Revit Schedules. Now, this can be streamlined by importing the program data directly from Excel into Revit, using Ideate BIMLink, the Revit add-on that imports Excel generated data into Revit.

To demonstrate this workflow, I will use as an example the overall program data of two fictional institutional buildings. I will show how you can connect the information of Revit Area objects with the Program spreadsheets. Then, we will build Space Diagrams with Areas and Area Boundary lines.

Step 1: Build the Area Parameters in Revit:  A solid understanding of the programming data will help you decide how to build the parameters. Area parameters are typically Instance parameters because each area displays different property values. Decide what fields need to be tagged and build those as shared parameters. In the example below, I created five custom parameters, including two Shared Parameters called 'Programmable Area' and 'Neighborhood' that will be used as labels in tags.

Step 2: Build New Area Plan Schemes for Programming Options:  Customize your Area Plan views by adding them under the Area and Volume Computations. You are not limited to the Gross and Rentable Schemes that come out of the box in Revit. You can use Area Schemes to manage your Area Plan options, Zoning Requirements, Buildings, Occupancies, etc.

Step 3: Build an Area Schedule in Revit and Add Area Placeholders:  Add into the Schedule of Areas as many rows as needed to develop your space analysis diagram.  The idea is to create placeholders for each of the required spaces. There is no need to spend time filling out the parameter values because we will do this more efficiently in Excel.

Step 4: Export the Data to Excel:  Using Ideate BIMlink, export the parameters to Excel. BIMLink ships with a 'Link' definition with a preloaded set of parameters of the Area Category. Unlike Revit Schedules, the link is inclusive of all the systems and user created Area Schemes, enabling users to manipulate the data of multiple Area Plans in a single database. Add any additional custom parameters in the Area link as needed, and/or exclude the ones you don't need.

Step 5: Fill the Area Information in Excel:  Populate the Area parameters using the extended capabilities of Excel. There are many different ways in Excel to do this, to name a few:

  • Create external references between the cells of the Link and the Programming report (=[FileName.xls]Worksheet!Range). In this scenario, the two database files will be linked, and the BIMLink link would remain updated.
  • 'Nest' the programming data into a new tab and connect the cells between tabs (=Worksheet!Range).
  • Copy/Paste the data.

The choices you have to edit, sort, and modify the parameter values in Excel are far superior than the out of the box Revit ones.

 Revit, BIMLink, Excel, Parameters, Shared Parameters, Programming

Step 6: Use Pivot Tables and Charts in Custom Tabs:  The beauty of having the data in Excel is that you can use all the available Excel tools to present the data in a way that is meaningful to the client, like Pivot Tables. Build Pivot Tables in Excel to automatically sort, count and summarize the program in the same BIMLink worksheet as long as they are placed in a different tab. Data in the custom tabs will be preserved even if the link is re-exported. Keep the original 'link' tab away from format modifications; this will ensure a seamless import/export process. Another feature in Excel you can use is to assign background colors to different cell values using the Rules under Excel Conditional Formatting

Format Cell Fill Color Using Rules in the Excel Conditional Formatting

Here are few other examples of how the programming data can be displayed using different Pivot Tables, in the same BIMLink file:

Pivot Table 1 Built into the BIMLink Link.

Parameters, Shared Parameters, Programming, Excel, Revit, Ideate BIMLink, BIMLink, Ideate Software, Space Needs Analysis, Pivot Table
Pivot Table 2 Built into the BIMLink link.

Pivot Table Sample 3 Built into the BIMLink link

Parameters, Column Chart, Shared Parameters, Programming, Excel, Revit, Ideate BIMLink, BIMLink, Ideate Software, Space Needs Analysis, Pivot Table
Pivot Table Column Chart Sample

Step 7: Re-Import the Link Data Into Revit Using Ideate BIMLink:  All the Area parameter values will be updated. Again, BIMLink will only read the data in the original tab when re-importing.

Step 8: Build the Space Needs Diagram Using Area Boundary Lines and the Area Placeholders:  Since all the areas live in the project as placeholders in the schedule, pick the appropriate Area from the Options Bar. I applied Color Schemes to the view, based on the Name value, but we can also build others based on the information contained by the Area objects, like Zone Type, or Area Ranges. These color Schemes can also be pre-built into your View Templates.

Parameters, Shared Parameters, Programming, Pivot Table, Chart, Area, Boundary Lines, Revit, Revit Parameters, Revit Space Needs, Space Needs Diagram, Ideate Software, Ideate BIMLink, BIMLink, BIM, Excel to Revit
Space Need Diagram Sample

The BIMLink 'link' may need to be re-exported and re-imported to reflect changes in the space program. By managing the data in Excel and importing into Revit, Ideate BIMLink expedites the process of creating space planning deliverables. The same process is useful in producing other kinds of deliverables such as: Mixed Use Code Analysis, Fireproofing Diagrams, Landscape plans, Master Plans, etc. If you are interested in receiving a copy of these Pivot Table excel samples, drop us a note to support@ideatesoftware.com.

About the Author

César Escalante - AIA, CCCA AEC Application Specialist César is a licensed Architect with more than 12 years of experience leveraging architecture, design, and construction technologies in the AEC industry. He has an extensive expertise managing, implementing, and supporting all facets of BIM, IPD, and VCD workflows that includes the use of mobile and cloud technology during design and construction. César has played an instrumental role deploying successful strategies for multidiscipline coordination of large, technically complex, multimillion dollar projects. An innovative thinker, he is recognized as a leader at the forefront of BIM technologies, and he is a passionate educator. César is a LEED accredited professional and a Certified Construction Contract Administrator. He is currently a member of the buildingSMART alliance and the National Institute of Building Sciences.