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How to Model an Orb in Revit

Posted by Jessica Jun 25, 2013  •  BIM Design  •  (0) Comments

We recently developed a concept for a student center that brought together several different functions in the same space.  The solution?  Free-standing orbs…. a great design element, but one of our more challenging rendering tasks.  Here’s how we approached bringing them to life in Revit.

In order to model these shapes in Revit, start by drawing the orbs with detail lines.  In plan view, draw the portion of the orb that would hit the floor (shown in red), followed by the “equator” of the orb (shown in magenta). From there, project the end points of the two ellipses to help draw the elevation of the orb (shown in green). Next, draw section cut lines (shown by the dotted lines) on both the elevation and the plan. (see Image 1). These section cut lines tell us what the X and Y radius dimensions would be for the 15 different sized ellipses used to create our orb.

   IMAGE 1 (click to enlarge) 

The next step is to pair the section cuts from the plan with their corresponding section cuts from the elevation and arrange them in a row in one of Revit’s elevation views (see Image 2). Eventually, these lines are used to help draw the ellipses needed to model the orb.

   IMAGE 2 (click to enlarge)

The final step before actually modeling the orb is to create reference planes that have the same spacing as the section cut lines (see Image 3). The reference planes need to be drawn in an elevation view that is perpendicular to the elevation view that we arranged the row of ellipse radiuses in. To clarify, the row was drawn in the South Elevation view, so the reference planes were drawn in the East Elevation view.

    IMAGE 3 (click to enlarge)

To create the orb, use the “In-Place Mass” command which is found under the “Massing & Site” tab. Start by using a row of L-shaped detail lines that we previously arranged to draw the series of ellipses that would make our orb, making sure that we draw the ellipse on the reference plane that matched the section cut line we were using to create the ellipse (see Image 4). We had to move the ellipses down so that the center of all of the ellipses lined up.

   IMAGE 4 (click to enlarge)

Once all of the ellipses are drawn and are in the proper 3-dimensional position, select all of the ellipses, and click the “Create Form” drop down arrow and selected “Solid Form” (see Image 5). Revit will then create a “solid” orb shaped form.

   IMAGE 5 (click to enlarge)

A rectangular “void” form is needed to give the orb a flat base (see Image 6).  A smaller orb “void” that is 1’-0” smaller in the X, Y, and Z axis will hollow the larger orb out and give it a 6” wall thickness (see Image 7), and 2 rectangular voids create openings for doors (see Image 8). Once all of the voids are created, select “Finish Mass” and the orb shape is nearly complete. (see Image 9).

   IMAGE 6 (click to enlarge)

   IMAGE 7 (click to enlarge)

   IMAGE 8 (click to enlarge)

   IMAGE 9 (click to enlarge)

Finally, paint the orb with the desired material and fill in the door opening voids with traditional walls, ceilings, and doors.

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