On Land

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At Rill Architects we run ArchiCAD on Mac OS X. If you work at Rill, this is your stuff. If you don't, but you work in ArchiCAD, you may find something interesting. Anybody else, I don't know.
May 2007 Archive
Crown 10 Sketch
Still rough
Location: Beta

Incoming update to the main crown object. It's pretty good now but I know there are some problems and there are probably some I don't know about until you find them.

Kindly have a look at this if you get a minute. That doesn't mean use it all over the place all of a sudden; just have a look at it. Remember this is an object you use dozens of times a day and it needs to work. If there's something that's been bugging you about the 9 version, check if it's fixed or remind me to fix it.

Feature-wise, the big change is that the rakes are handled as shapes within the Crown Tool. This object will supersede Rake JM9 and Rake Arc JM9. This is better because the rakes and crowns will have identical settings and options. These shapes should work the same as the current rake objects. I'll document them in full when the object is 'done'.

I also added some 'pieces'. Most important is the Soffit. You need the soffit to get the rake shape to subtract from the roof edge in case the cut is deeper than the mouldings themselves.

And there's Wall Backer 2, which is just an additional backer behind the wall backer.

And there's Crown Cap, a cap moulding directly below the crown moulding. You will almost never use this, but we need it on at least one project at the moment.


Another shape: Arch. The end cuts are perpendicular. For an arched dormer: Place an arch crown on the front, and a straight crown object on each side. Switch on the returns on the front ends of the sides. Switch off end lines as needed.

Arch Crown

Another shape: J. Same as 'U' but you can stretch the third segment independently.

J Crown

Plus, secret surprise feature that only works in 11.

Thanks in advance for your help.



-James 2007-05-30-0732

Homeworkers: When's the last time you took home the office Library Container File?

The library is always changing and the LCF is updated every Monday at the very least.

(1) A custom profile for modeling and (2) an object for annotation.


Soffit profile
In the profile editor
• The shape is that of two fascia boards with a reveal of 1/4" below the soffit board.

• The horizontal stretch extents are inside the fascia board reveals. This way, when you adjust the overall width the fascia thickness will be unchanged. Similarly, the vertical stretch extents go from the top to the underside of the soffit, leaving out the reveal.

The custom profile tech only allows you to stretch one dimension horizontally and one vertically. You can exempt parts of the profile from stretching, but you can't stretch them independently. If you want a different reveal depth or fascia thickness, you'll need another profile.

• Profiles can stretched bigger, but not smaller. (I call this a bug, but what do I know.) Any profile you intend to use with varying dimensions needs to match or be *smaller* than the smallest case you have.

• The templates have two profiles, Coffer Beam and Coffer Beam Half. Both are 4" x 2" which should be small enough. The half version has the fascia on only one side and is meant to be placed along a wall.

Remember that profiles are attributes, so they're within the project file, so you can edit them without messing up anybody else. And: You can use Attribute Manager to bring profiles into the current project from the templates.

Here is a sample condition at 1/4" scale, no detail added:

1/4 scale soffit

At higher scale, we need to add detail:

3/4 scale soffit

Object: Soffit Beam Section JM10

Location: 06 Wood & Plastic / 2D Wood

The object fits within the profile's perimeter.

Height and width of the object will match that of the beam itself.

• Parameters for Fascia thickness and reveal.

Crown Hgt sets the point at which the pen switches from the object's cut pen to the Separator Pen. In practice this height should meet the bottom of a crown object placed against the beam, which will maintain the heavy outline.

Crown height stretch

• The Half option uses one fascia board to work with the half version of the profile.


We build one model. We take views of the model and annotate them as needed. We will take views of the model at various scales. Scale is fundamental to architectural documentation: As we look closer, we see more.

Yet Archicad lacks any meaningful automatic scale sensitivity, except that written into objects by people who want it such as me.

In this example, see how the crown objects draw themselves as empty blobby things at 1/4" scale, but they're detailed shapes with proper fills at higher scales. The roof, slab, and beam elements, not so much. (Archicad library objects, not so much either.)

Since we can't get conventional AC elements to detail themselves according to scale (yet, I hope I hope), we need to build a model that can accommodate the detail we need to add. This is the idea behind something like the Stud Wall Detail object. The wall is empty, and we place the object in the viewpoints that need it.

The soffit detail described here has always been tricky. If you approximate the beam with a rectangular model, it's difficult to manage the reveal without masking. It's easier to add 2D detail than to subtract modeling.

A custom profile allows us to handle the cased beam in the "Empty Fill +" fashion we are accustomed to with walls, roofs, and floor decks.

Egypt Dust
Rebar Section
Location: 05 Metals / 2D Steel

A 2D symbol to draw rebars in concrete structures.

Arrangement: Same as the Multiply command. Spread will place bars across the length of the object using the Spacing OC. Distribute will space the Quantity of bars evenly along the length.

You might use Distribute in a footing detail, where the spec would call for a number of bars, and Spread in a wall detail, where the spec calls for bars at a given spacing.

With the Spread arrangement, the end of the object is represented by a non-printing cross symbol.

Perpendicular Bars draws a pair of dashed lines behind the bar dots, representing the bars going the other way.

Coverage Hotspots places detectable points on the edge of the section dots at both ends. Use these spots to place the rebar object acurately and to dimension the coverage.

Graphic Crosses draws a cross through each bar to help with visibility.

Foundation Drains
Location: 07 Thermal & Moisture

A 2D symbol for foundation perimeter drains and underslab drains in wall sections. In Perimeter mode, it draws the drain tile (pipe), gravel, cant strip, membrane, drainage board, and backfilled earth. In Slab mode, it draws the drain tile and gravel.

Dimensions (Perimeter version):

Height parameter: From the top of the footing to the top of the masonry ledge or grade level, whichever is less. If there's no ledge, the height will go to the grade and no board extension (see below) is needed. If there is a ledge, the height goes there and the extension streches to meet the grade.

Footing Width: Width of the footing beyond the wall, typically 6".

Cant Width: Width of the cant strip, typically 4".

Drain Diameter: Obvious

Drain Board Thickness: Obvious

Membrane Thickness: Needs to be enough to get the membrane/drain board edge clear of the heavy contour line of the wall. This will depend on the scale and line weights, but 5/16" seems to be a minimum. Be sure to check the printed output, not just the true weight on the screen.

Board Extension: In the masonry ledge case, the height added to the top of the object to meet grade level.

The grade line and backfill angles are controlled by the hotspot at the top right corner (left if mirrored).

The gravel depth matches the cant strip height, which is driven by the cant width.

The membrane overlap on the footing matches the radius of the drain.

The gutter is 2.5 times the drain diameter.

Dimensions (Slab version):

The gravel depth is defined by the drain diameter. The length is set by the Length parameter.

There is also a Drain Only mode which draws only the drain. In this mode the Filter atop the pipe can be on or off.


The Fill Pen is used for all the fills. The Outline Pen is used for the interior lines and the non-cut edges. The Cut Pen is used for the edges along the wall. (This way, the wall contour won't appear 'thinned' by the object.) The Grade Pen is used for the top lines. The grade line is usually one click heavier than the typical cut line weight.

The fills should be clear enough. But. In developing this object I realized that the proper fill for backfill earth had somehow slipped out of the templates. It's back now, but you should make sure you have the fill when you use this object. Use Attribute Manager and do the following:

• Go to the fills tab.

• In the right panel, click open and navigate to the 'NewHome10.tpl' in the zTemplate folder.

• In the right panel, scroll down until you see fills number 102 and 103. Highlight both of them.

• Click 'Overwrite' (not 'Append') in the center, then Apply, and confirm the modification.

• Close up the Attribute Manager.

The fill you want is '*Earth Backfill'. BTW, undisturbed earth should use the fill '*Earth'.

GS Arrival

The workflow: Build the model, fill it with information, decide what you want to show, and get the drawings out as automatically and predictably as you can.

We want to focus on the model; that's where the building is. We want the output to just work. Modeling and annotation is craft. Output is for robots.

This duality is evident in pen handling. We have a lot of pen sets, but it boils down to working and output.

Output pens have to look right when the work is done. Their settings are driven by graphical criteria, much of which predate any use of computers. Working pens are there to help the user interact with the project.

These two purposes have nothing to do with each other, and in our standards the two types of sets are radically different in appearance: Mostly black for output, and as many colors as we can find for working. I'm not going to work in black and I'm not going to print in color.

In moving between model work and layout work, the pens need to cooperate. Hooking pens to views breaks the flow.

The classic case is when you're viewing a drawing and see a problem that must be fixed in the model. There's a great shortcut on the drawing elements' context menu, 'Open Source View', which takes you directly the viewpoint in question and sets the view options accordingly. If you have a pen set hooked to your view, you're looking at output pens in a model situation. You can change them manually or just squint while you fix the problem(s). This is output criteria interfering with model work and it's just wrong.

Summary: No pen sets in views. Output pens go with the drawing element.

There's no question AC has too many things in too many places. It's hard to remember where along the assembly line something gets bolted on. Is vectorial hatching a 3D window setting, a viewpoint setting, or a model view option? (Yes, yes, no.) Is a glitch in the output due to the model, the viewpoint, the view settings, or the drawing element?

It is a continuing frustration that the view settings don't include everything related to model display. But pens are different. Let the drawing element handle it. Tips:

• The drawing tool can have favorites. Set faves for drawings which need different pen sets.

• You should have a pen set column in the drawing manager.