On Land

Environment Information
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.
Workflow Archive

Typically we try to get the existing conditions completed before starting demolition and new construction. It's good practice to save a copy of the PLN at this stage, along with a PDF of the existing plans. But in principle, we should be able to get existing plans out of the project at any stage, and there might be projects where it's not practical to absolutely finish the existing conditions before the design work starts. And this almost works, with some workarounds.

Let's review the basic attribute and renovation filter setup. The natural background color of walls is gray. New walls are gray in output, so the filters are set for new to show; they are never overridden. Existing walls are white in output, so the filters are set for existing to be overridden. Demo elements are white and dashed in output, so they are overridden as well.

In the template, the Existing Conditions filter is set to override the existing elements, turning them white. The demolished elements are set to be shown, but if no elements have been demolished yet that doesn't matter. New elements are hidden, but they don't exist yet. So to publish existing plans at this stage is very simple, because there are no other statuses to account for. Nothing is gray or dashed.

Existing Conditions
Existing conditions before design work

Once the design work has started, if you want existing plans you need to show the demolished elements. And the filters certainly offer this capability.

Remember that the natural fill color of elements is gray. Existing elements are overridden to turn them white. We'd like to keep that. But we can't override the demolished elements, because we don't want dashed lines.

Dashed demo
Existing and demo are overridden, like in demo plans

Instead they are shown, which means the demo walls will be gray.

Gray demo
Existing is overridden, demo is shown

In order to keep the lines solid and turn the fills white, we need to apply a pen set to the drawing element. The poche pen is number 50; all the pen set does is make it white instead of gray. (Yes the screenshot is still of the floor plan. I want them to all look alike. Pen set hacks for output should only be applied to the drawing element, never to to the view.)

Dashed why
Existing is overridden, demo is shown, pen set turns the walls white

But this doesn't quite solve it. With existing elements overridden and demolished elements showing, you will get a dashed line wherever a new opening is placed in an existing wall. I would call this a bug, because if the demolished elements are showing, you should never see the dashed line because it's part of the override style.

If you set both the existing and demolition to show, then the ("new") openings vanish.

All good
Existing and demo are shown, pen set turns the walls white

The existing plans have the pen set ("Layout Existing Plan") applied to them in the template, though if you publish existing plans before demolition, the pen set isn't needed because the existing elements are overridden to white anyway. The pen set is applied this way just in case.

If you need to publish existing plans after demolition has started, you have to change the Existing Conditions filter so the existing elements are shown instead of overridden. Then both the existing and demo elements are the natural gray color, but both are turned white by the pen set in the drawing.

This is a royal pain! It's hard to figure out, hard to explain, and almost impossible to remember. We have to jump through these hoops because of an incomplete feature compounded by a bug. The incompleteness is the inability to vary the override style by filter. We need to override the demolished elements differently for existing and demolition plans. The bug is the display of demolished elements with overridden attributes even though the filter is set to show.

We are on our third version of Archicad with the Renovation feature. This stuff should be solved by now.

Renovation is a feature set to control the display of existing, new, and demolished elements in the workflow of addition and renovation projects. It began in Archicad 15. This feature means we no longer have three of each layer in addition projects.

In the Renovation workflow, there are three kinds of elements: Existing Elements, Elements to be Demolished, and New Elements. This property is the Renovation Status. With a few unimportant exceptions, all elements have a renovation status, and it cannot be blank.

Renovation Filters control whether and how elements of the three statuses are displayed. Filters are saved with Views.

The filters control whether the elements of each status are Shown, Hidden, or Overridden.

I hope showing and hiding are self-explanatory. If elements are overridden, their appearance is controlled by Renovation Override Styles. The attributes covered by the styles are: Line type; Line pen; Fill type, pen, and background pen; and material. There is no consideration for fill category, so cover and cut fills are handled the same. (Fail.) There is only one set of override styles, and they do not vary by filter. (Another fail.) For example, you can't have one filter where overridden demo elements are dashed, and another where they are dense dashed. Whatever the style of overridden demo elements, that's the style for all filters where Demo is overridden.

Because the override styles are responsible for the appearance of overridden elements, elements of different status will have the same "natural" settings. You don't change the line type or fill color of individual elements to show they are demolished.

The styles are set in the template and should be considered set-and-forget.

There are also Additional Filter Options for existing and demolition elements. Right now the only one of these we are using is to turn off markers for doors and windows.

Renovation Palette
The Renovation palette allows the user to control the current filter, the default status (of elements when they are placed), and the status of selected elements. It also gives access to the Renovation Filter Options and renovation override styles. The palette must always be open when working on addition/renovation projects.

And, keep an eye on it, it will try to mess with you. The current filter can change by viewpoint; it can be new construction in plan and existing conditions in 3D. When this happens, stuff will "disappear". Check the palette. Once the filter is set for a given viewpoint, it seems to stay put. (Both the default filter and the default status seem to sometimes change spontaneously, especially when opening a project on a different machine.)

The status setting is not transferred by eyedropper/syringe. The default setting on the palette always controls. You can change the status of an element in the settings dialog under Tags and Categories, but the palette is obviously easier and a better habit.

Our Override Styles

New elements are never overridden, and have no override style changes. (N.B. This is our decision, not a design limitation of the new status itself.) New elements act as if the filters don't exist. The background pen is gray (#50), same as it ever was.

Existing: The fill is overridden to be Empty Fill. The fill background pen is overridden to be pen 91 (white).

Demolished: The fill and fill background are overridden like existing, and the line type is overridden to be Dense Dashed.

Again, the natural settings of existing and demolished elements are the same as new. The override style turns them white and/or dashed.

See the appendix at the end of this post for examples of the different kinds of output.

Our Renovation Filters

01 Existing Conditions
Existing: Override
Demolished: Show
New: Hide
This is used for building the existing model, and publishing the existing plans and elevations.

Existing Conditions

02 Demolition Plans
Existing: Override
Demolished: Override
New: Hide
All the walls have white background, and the demo elements are dashed.

Demolition Plan

03 After Demolition
Existing: Override
Demolished: Hide
New: Hide
Existing elements only, with the demo elements removed.

After Demolition

04 New Construction
Existing: Override
Demolished: Hide
New: Show
This is used for most work and output. Existing walls are white, new walls are gray.

New Construction

05 As Built
Existing: Show
Demolished: Hide
New: Hide
This shows the project when finished, as if it were all new. All the walls are gray.

As Built

06 Show All
Existing: Override
Demolished: Override
New: Show
All statuses are shown, and you can tell the statuses apart.

Show All

How to Demolish Things

Select an element and, on the renovation palette, click the demolished button. That changes its status from Existing to Demolished. Unless the current filter is Demolition Plans or Show All, the element will vanish. If you switch to Demolition Plans, the element will reappear with dashed lines.

Wall demolition
Demolishing a wall

That's basically it. Of course, you might have to split an element first to demolish only part of it.

The big difference between the new method of demolition and the old layer-based one is in the handling of doors and windows. Doors and windows are now demolished the same way as other elements. Just select them and change their status. There is no need to split the wall and demolish the piece with the opening in it. When you demolish an opening, it is replaced by a portion of new wall. (Note: That new piece is shown using the natural settings of the existing wall. It's no longer being overridden. That's why all elements have the same natural settings.)


Further, you don't need to split an existing wall to place a new opening. Just place it normally (check the status!), and you will have a new-status opening in an existing-status wall. And in the demolition plan, the new opening location will be shown dashed.

Renovation Filters in New Projects

Unlike layers, renovation filters have only one purpose. (There's not going to be any hacking the demolition status to do something else.) If there's no renovating or demolishing, you don't need them. So in the New Home template they are not used. The filters are in there, but they are modified to show all statuses all the time, with no overrides. All the views are set to Show All. The palette can be put away.

Special Cases Where Multiple Layers Are Still Needed

Even on a New Home project there are some sneaky existing conditions, those pertaining to the site. We have separate layers for existing and new topography contours. We have layers for existing, "demo" and new trees. We have an optional layer for backing up the existing site's mesh.

I don't think these things are what renovation filters are for, and I can't see "using" them throughout a New Home project just to address these tiny parts of the project work. So we ignore the filters, and we have a few oddball E and D layers left. To remove a tree, change its layer and enjoy the nostalgic moment.

Don't Demolish Notes, Silly Rabbit

Demo derp

Another layer we didn't delete is +D Demo Note. I have heard of people trying to use one note layer and then make some notes demolition notes by changing their status. This is a category error. Renovation status is for project elements, which represent real things in the world. You're demolishing that note, are you? How? What is the result of demolishing it? Keeping different types of annotation straight is a proper use of layers.

And if we still have the Demo Note layer, we still have the Demo Plan layer combination.

Changes to the Templates

Removed lots of layers.

Implemented renovation filters and override styles.

Applied filters to views.

Updated favorites and default layers.

Created pen set for existing plans.

Secondary Info on Renovation

All element types have a renovation status except hotspots, drawings, figures, and viewpoint-creating tools (Section, etc.).

Elements have a setting in the Tags and Categories division where they can be set to show only on a specific filter, rather than "All Relevant Filters". There's also a button on the renovation palette for this setting. I can't imagine an occasion to use this. That setting is where the warning comes from when you delete a filter: "By deleting a renovation filter, you will lose all elements which are shown only on that specific filter." Since we don't use that setting, we aren't scared of this warning. Further, I don't see the need to delete filters very often.

The filter settings can be imported and exported; they are xml files like Model View Option combinations. (But they import badly, extant filters can't be overwritten.)

There seem to be no GDL globals for renovation status, which seems like a missed opportunity.

What to do when the project is done. (Updated a bit where the project folder structure is concerned.)

First, make sure it's really done. 'Almost', 'practically', 'pretty much', 'just about', and 'I think it's' done are not the same thing.


(Heavily revised for AC10, though still a little clunky.) This is the standard workflow for issuing SK drawings.


The templates have a fax transmittal as part of the layout book.


There are three main ways to create views in AC10, plus one more you should never use. The templates have most of the commonly needed views already set up, but it's not unusual to need more.


What happens when the existing model and drawings are done.

The basic idea is to keep the existing conditions, both the PLN and the layout book, tucked away safely. It is theoretically possible to get existing drawings out of the addition project, but it's more trouble than it's worth. It's important that the existing work be complete at this point.


Every drawing or set we give to someone else should be archived as a PDF in the project folder at 2 Output : PDF Archive. This is for convenience and our own protection.


(Formalization of this.)

If you have a job too large to print in house, email PDF files here.

The files size limit is about 50MB.

Put the job details in the message, including the number of sets, delivery time, and any special instructions.

MBC advises us that you should call them to make sure the job got there and that they are aware of it, especially if the job is a rush, or if you are sending it outside of normal business hours.

(Similar to: In-House Printing (PlotMaker 9))

For large format output we use that enormous, hot, 16-amp-pulling thing in the middle of the office.

(Note: This is about printing layouts. 'Check printing' from AC, for the heck of it, is another matter.)


Append Date Icon
Another piece of the Publisher puzzle.

Publisher automates output processes, including file output. When Publisher saves files, it saves them to the path given in the Publisher set's properties. Under our AC10 workflow, this path should usually be 1 Projects/[ProjectName]/2 Output/Publisher Outbox.

When a publication is run, newly saved files will overwrite any that are already in that folder, without warning. One way to avoid this would be to change the path or the name of the output file before each publication. But this is too much work.

That's one issue. Another: There is no facility for autotext in Publisher output filenames. You can't create a filename with the date or project code, for example.

Append Date is an Automator application that tries to address these two issues. (I made it, it was easy.)


...Because I can't find the time to do the epic post on Publisher in AC10, I'll just let the info drift out a bit at a time.

For 10, I'm strongly encouraging everyone to use Publisher as much as they can. How do I perform this encouragement? By building a lot of Publisher sets into the templates. The goal is to always use Publisher for all standard printing, PDF, and DWG output. All the pertinent info is stored in the Publisher sets, so you don't have to worry about it: Page setup, DWG translation, whatever.

For any Publisher set, you can publish the whole thing or select items and publish only those.

Here I will describe the basic parameters of the three main types of Publisher sets.