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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.
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Graphic overrides greatly expand the number of ways an element can represent itself in different kinds of documentation. This means less redundant 'drawing', and more unity.

The RCP has long been a frustrating form of output if you're trying to minimize drawing. All the things that need to be shown are modeled, but Archicad has had limited facility to present these elements with properly modified attributes. In practice, 'properly modified' usually just means a dashed line type.

Now, with graphic overrides, we can choose any kind of element and say, draw it with a dashed line type instead of solid.

It follows from this that we probably need fewer custom object solutions that use the ceiling switch.

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Graphic overrides are a new feature of Archicad 20. They allow you to choose elements by criteria, and change their appearance attributes. The changes are grouped into combinations which can be saved with views.

Here's how to use Archicad: Build a model, and try to create all the documentation while doing the least amount of non-modeling. If you find yourself drawing something that you have already modeled, it must be because the thing can't be made to present itself in the appropriate way for your documentation. Archicad has always offered methods to help with this. A door can have a complex plan symbol, a simple symbol, or just an opening; it can have a schedule marker or not; or it can be hidden entirely. The same one door appears in 3D and in a schedule. One door, many appearances in documentation. This is unity.

Graphic overrides greatly expand the variety of ways that a single element can be presented. This means it is less likely that you will need to 'draw' an element you have modeled in order to get it to appear correctly in your documentation.

This feature gets at the heart of what Archicad is all about. It will definitely change a lot of working and documentation methods. If it doesn't, you are probably using Archicad wrong.

Since this is a major feature, it is impossible at this early stage to predict everything that will change. But I am getting a sense of what the categories of changes might be.

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Here is a massing model showing existing conditions and a proposed addition. It is mostly done with renovation filters, with a couple of tweaks from graphic overrides.

existing-new massing model

Existing is overridden with one surface, the light color in the picture. If you are OK with existing elements not having fills in elevation, you can leave this override on. If you want the fills in elevation, you need to turn the surface override off, and switch it back and forth manually. This setting can't be saved with views or filters. We really need per-filter renovation overrides.

New is overridden with a different surface, the red in the picture. New elements are generally shown, not overridden. So the surface override can be left on. It is currently the only active override setting for New.

There is a new renovation filter, 07 Massing by Status. Existing=override, Demo=hide, New=override. Again, in all other filters, New is shown.

These are the graphic override rules:

Site Green finds 3D elements (in practice, they are meshes with the occasional slab) on the layer C Site3, and changes their uncut surfaces to 'Grass - Green'. Graphic overrides happen after renovation overrides, so while the site has existing status, it is not shown with the white color.

3D Lines Match finds All Types of elements, and changes their Line Pen to a medium gray pen. (It's our pen 137 in the picture, the default pen 2 would be fine too.)

Glass can't be overridden within windows and doors. (This would require attribute-level graphic overrides.) If you want clear openings of any sort, you have two options I can think of:

One way is to use 'Filter and Cut Elements in 3D' to hide the doors and windows. This will give completely empty openings.

The other is to use a graphic override rule similar to the site/grass rule, where doors and windows are chosen to be overridden by a clear surface. But, all parts of the doors and windows will be clear, not just the glass.

This is a very simple label for duct elements made with the MEP Modeler add-on. It's intended for use with any simple duct type, including Straight, Bend, Take-off, and the Obstruction Fittings (as far as I can tell). I'm using it solely for straight pieces, since no one is fabricating anything from my plans - I just want to coordinate with the HVAC engineer.

For round ducts, the label reads '5" dia'. For rectangular ducts, it reads 'Width x Depth'.

All our ducts are sized in inches, so I'm using a fractional inch format for the dimensions. On the off chance that someone else might find this label useful, I've added a parameter so you can choose to have the label's format match the current dimensions format in the project preferences.

It was convenient to use Select All for the (straight) Duct Tool, then label them all with the Label Selected Elements command (Document -> Document Extras).

Duct Labels

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Until now we have done the electrical symbol legend as a hotlinked module of a story, where the lamp and object elements are placed in the floor plan within a table drawn with lines. This is a static resource, unless you break the module hotlink and modify it.

It is possible to create the legend using Interactive Schedule. The advantage of this is that it will only display the symbols that are actually in use. This makes a more compact, relevant, and readable table.

Electrical Symbol Schedule

The schedule itself is very simple. It only shows two columns. The first is the 2D symbol, which is a field/parameter of objects and lamps. The second is a custom parameter of our lighting and electrical objects - the parameter is 'desc' internally, and is called 'Type' in the settings. (A missing feature in most library parts is an ordinary name that can be easily listed and labeled. The object name usually doesn't work, and style options usually go by cryptic handles such as 'Style 1'.)

From here on I will say 'object' while I mean 'object or lamp'.

The schedule merges identical items into one. Remember that the IS only considers displayed information when deciding what is identical. So if the symbol and Type are the same, none of the other parameters matter - you will only get one entry. You have a surface fixture at 8'-0" and one at 9'-0"; they are the same to the schedule.

Simpler objects know what they are out of the box. Ceiling fan, duh. Some objects have options which change their identity. A recessed fixture can be ordinary, waterproof, a heat lamp, adjustable, etc. A smoke detector can be a CO detector, or a combination. The Type parameter should automatically respond to these details. The schedule will list separate items for each of these differences, because the Type field is different. The symbols will be appropriate for each difference.

The electrical switch object will always present itself as a pair of switches, one regular and one dimmer. This is so sets of two, three, four, etc. switches don't show up as separate items. GFCI switches are shown separately. (GDL folks: This is done by drawing a specific case of the symbol when the GLOB_CONTEXT is a schedule. In the future, but starting now, GLOB_CONTEXT is deprecated and you should use GLOB_VIEW_TYPE=9 (Calculation) instead. Since I'm still maintaining our AC18 Library, I can't implement this change yet.)

I had to replace the ceiling fan symbol so it would fit in the same cell height as the others.

Again, when you have your own library, you can do whatever you want.

Criteria
Electrical Schedule Criteria

The criteria look more complicated than they are. It's just:

• Objects and Lamps

• On any electrical fixture layer

• But not on the Footings story, because that's where the old legend is placed

• And not part of a hotlinked module. Delete this criterion if the module is not covered by a separate project, and you want to schedule the module's fixtures.

Fields
Electrical Schedule Fields

The fields are only two, as described above. The 2D symbol and the Type:

The schedule is saved as a view in the Schedules folder, alongside the window and door schedules. It should be placed as a drawing on each electrical sheet.

This is a new approach to showing openings in reflected ceiling plans, using a modified plan symbol rather than an blank opening. I haven't put it in the template yet, and it may not be required or appropriate for every project, but it is better overall. The biggest limitation is that in order to use it you have to use our doors and windows almost exclusively. This doesn't bother me much.

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Short Name
So that a zone can be shown with an abbreviation in the plan where there's not enough space, and with the full name in schedules where abbreviations look awkward.

Put the abbreviation in the Short Name parameter. If the parameter is empty, the full name is used in plan.

Another idea would be to hard-code standard abbreviations for typical room names.

What happens if you revive an ancient project and you want use the layout structure of the current template?

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The finish schedule is an element schedule of zones. You need to read that link if you haven't already.

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Top View Drawing
In the site plan, the top view of the house is a separate drawing.

Why? The site plan is generated from the first floor. The roofs are only seen in their entirety on the roof story. The only way to get the roofs on the first floor is to draw (trace, copy/paste, whatever) them. We don't like drawing things. Especially things that can draw themselves, especially things we have to keep checking in on to see if they are drawn properly. We want a top view drawing that maintains itself like any other model view.

There are two ways to do a top view so that it remains live: A plan view from the roof story (like the roof plan itself), or a hidden line top view generated in the 3D window. I think the 3D method is better. The 3D view can show elements of all stories, while the roof plan will use the story settings of individual elements. There's no issue of display order in 3D. A roof plan drawing would have the advantage of generating a little bit quicker, but that's not enough to change my mind.

The templates are set up with a view in the 3D views folder called 'Top View'. You might need to change the scale of this view; obviously it needs to match the scale of the main site plan. The other settings are:

• Layer combination: x Shoot Roof Plan Top View. (Update: I changed the name for clarity.)

• 3D Projection Settings: Top view, azimuth=270 (Camera at bottom).

• 3D Window Settings: Internal Engine, hidden line, vectorial hatching off, shadows off, transparency off.

The trickiest part about the two-drawing approach is aligning the top view with the main site plan. For some reason, we don't get the snap points (midpoints, e.g.) for lines within drawings, so we can't line up a roof edge midpoint with a footprint line midpoint. Fortunately, for most purposes, good enough is good enough. Zoom in and eyeball it. Make it look good. Remember, the dimensions will be to the footprint, which is drawn precisely in the main site plan drawing. If you do need a precisely placed top view, you'll need to place some temporary alignment elements on the first floor.

Make sure the top view's drawing element is set to have a transparent background. The pen set of thew drawing should be Layout 1/8", which turns the heavy lines a little less heavy.

The new templates for Archicad 11 have an improved fill pattern for concrete in section, Concrete Random. I got it from Andy Thomson.

Concrete Fills

As you can see it has more size variety in the specks and is more random overall.

I've chosen to leave the old fill in place with its attribute ID unchanged. Why. To avoid potential conflicts when merging project stuff that has the old fill.

For new projects, this won't make any difference. All the composites, favorites, and standard details are set up. For running projects, it means some work to deploy the new fill.

So here's a pretty good list of everywhere you have to look to fully modify such a common attribute:

• Slab elements, including 'slab' slabs and footing slabs. In the 3D window, do a Find & Select for slabs of fill 'Concrete Lightweight'.
• Wall elements. In the 3D window, do a Find & Select for walls of fill 'Concrete Lightweight'.
• Other elements: A roof in the role of a ramp? A mesh for a slab sloping to drain?
• Favorites for any of the above need to be redefined.
• Composites for walls and slabs. Favorites with composites don't need to be redefined.
• Fills in drawing windows, primarily details, but including 'Drawing' sections, elevations, and interior elevations. There shouldn't be many of those.

The fills in the Material Symbols and assembly modules are a management responsibility.

It sounds like a lot but it really isn't, and the new fill looks a lot better.

You can use Attribute Manager to get the fill from either of the zTemplate 11 folder's .tpl files. Overwrite, not Append. (It will overwrite 'Concrete Structural', which is even lamer-looking and we never use it.)

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

Profile:

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.

Commentary:

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.