How to Create and Manage Façade Panels with BIM Elements: Tutorials and Inspiration

How to Create and Manage Façade Panels with BIM Elements: Tutorials and Inspiration

Panelized facade systems are a popular exterior design element across multiple project types in today’s architecture. Different material and color options create unique and completely customized exteriors versatile enough to fit almost any design style. Ensuring the vision comes to life exactly as imagined, however, can be tedious with Revit’s or ARCHICAD’s innate capabilities alone. The time-consuming manual process of specifying the design, pattern, colors, and fabrication methods of a panelized facade can be simplified and made more intuitive with Steni’s BIM elements.

The tools streamline workflows in either Revit or Archicad with multiple functions that make the modeling of panel systems easier, clearer, and less prone to human error. Control the size, rotation, and direction of the panels, change the color palette with one click, and even specify drilling points through an automated process. For further customization and detail, choose from three levels of gloss, model integrated and automatic corner profiles, and then export all the necessary information into Excel for an easy-to-share format.

Because design iterations can be made more quickly with Steni’s BIM modules, clients can see multiple options early in the design process without the need to dedicate a lot of time to the modeling. Architects can spend time experimenting with the design instead of spending it on the busy-work of manually modeling panels. Less manual input, for example into a material schedule, also means less potential for human error, creating a more seamless transition from design to fabrication and installation.

The Steni BIM-elements are available for download from BIMobject, and there are also instructional videos and guides online for getting started and using the tools. Continue reading for a description of the how to use the modules, along with video guides.

Revit / Archicad Overview

A good starting point are the overview videos for both Revit and Archicad, giving a general introduction to the tools. Once you have the tools downloaded, you can select from predefined patterns and colors and assign the panel systems to the walls where you want to place them. Further color customization and exploration can also be done after the facades are placed, so you can see different options applied to your building. You can add corner elements and drilling pattern information, and then export all of your choices in Excel format.

Revit / Archicad Creating Panel Facades

The first step in utilizing the modules is creating the panel facades you wish to use in your design. In Revit, create a wall type that includes a material layer for the Steni panels and apply that type to the walls where you want to place your panel facades. Find the Steni application on the Add-Ins tab of Revit, which will give you options to add and modify panels. Select the option to Place Panels, then choose your pattern, size, and colors. You can choose from any of the built-in options or create your own. Once you've made your selections, click Place Wall and choose the walls where you want to place the panel facade. You can also adjust all of these settings after creating the facade.

To create panel facades in Archicad, the process is similar. Create an applicable wall type and apply it to the walls where you want your panel facades. Next, activate the Steni application from the Steni Facade Tool menu. Select Steni Palette and choose the wall you want to edit. Then you can continue to make selections for all the different options for your facades within the tool palette. Select Place Panels and place them on the wall; as with Revit, you can continue to make changes after the panels are placed.

Revit / Archicad Adjusting Panels

Once you create the panel facades, you can begin to customize them. You can adjust the colors and their distribution throughout the facade, either via "Randomize" or panel-by-panel if you have a specific pattern in mind. By changing the percentage value of each color, the proportion of each color of panel is redistributed. If you click Randomize multiple times, you'll get a new distribution and layout each time. Steni's BIM modules also allow you to manually adjust the shape and size of individual panels. You can continue to add or move windows and doors within the facades even after the panel system is modeled. If you end up with new panels without a color, you can manually add color to them or re-randomize the whole wall.

Revit / Archicad Corner Elements

Once you’re satisfied with your pattern and colors, you can add details like corner elements to finish your design. The process for creating corner panels varies slightly between Revit and Archicad. Starting with Revit, the panels need to be the same material (color), so adjust that manually if needed, as described in the previous section. Then select the two panels on both sides where you want to create a corner and use Revit's Merge Parts function to create one corner piece.

In Archicad, creating corner panels begins with cleaning up the joints between adjacent facades by selecting both and clicking Adjust Corners in the Steni palette. Next, to add either L- or U-shaped corners, select a facade and define the corners in the pull down menus under Module Corner Elements. Adjust the angle of the corner panels by moving the hot spots of the panel facade object. Once that step is complete, the adjacent facade to the one being edited will need to be pulled back from the corner to make the corner elements visible. Select that adjacent facade and use Split Module to cut out and then delete the overlapping length.

Revit / Archicad Drilling Patterns and Panel Lists

Now you’re ready to make the transition from design to fabrication, with a few final specifications for manufacturing and install. In Revit, you can use the Steni toolbar to add information to each panel. Panels already contain color and material information, but you can use the Position Panels function to add geometric information - panels with the same dimensions will be given the same panel number. The Place Drilling Patterns function adds drilling codes and (optionally) screw objects to the panels. You can add drilling patterns to individual panels or an entire wall at once. After this is complete, you can use Update Panel Lists to create Revit schedules suitable for ordering panels, then simply Export to Excel.

In Archicad, the process begins by selecting your facades and navigating to Place Drilling Patterns in the Steni tool palette, where you can specify drilling patterns. Individual panels can be modified as well by selecting the facade and clicking Edit Panels, then selecting the specific panel you wish to adjust. By opening its properties, you can find color, material, and geometry information, as well as the drilling pattern you just added. To create the panel numbers based on dimensions and color, use the Enumerate Panels function. Archicad can also Export to Excel to generate schedules of the different panel types.

The utilization of panelized facade systems shouldn’t be limited by technological capabilities. With these BIM modules, you can streamline and automate the modeling process, therefore giving yourself more time to experiment with the actual facade design. With the available online resources, you can easily learn how to use the tools and integrate them into your workflow.

Cite: "How to Create and Manage Façade Panels with BIM Elements: Tutorials and Inspiration" 23 Jun 2020. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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