Arup uses Dynamo to advance the pace of collaboration on the proposed National Football Stadium in Sydney

Full Stadium Rendering

The structural engineers at Arup in Australia take on some of the country’s most challenging projects. So it’s no surprise that they paired with the architects at Populous to design the structure for the proposed, 60,000‑seat National Football Stadium in Sydney. That’s because the architects’ initial designs featured curving organic forms and plans for Australia’s first cable net roof for a major stadium. The Arup team was tasked with bringing innovative and cost-effective structural ideas to the project’s concept phase—and they had just 12 weeks to collaborate with the architects and deliver.

The Arup team realized that they needed a way to both quickly explore the best structural options for the project and to increase documentation efficiency. A computational design tool was the ideal solution. They chose to work with Autodesk Revit software, their core documentation application, and Dynamo software. Autodesk Revit with Dynamo powered the project forward, letting the team advance the concept twice as quickly as compared to traditional methods. And now it’s transforming the way that Arup delivers other projects.

“We used Dynamo to rationalize and apply a logic to a complex structure. The powerful part of Dynamo is how it let us develop and improve on concepts quickly. Because of the pace it brought to our workflow, we did 12 iterations instead of 3 or 4.”
— XAVIER NUTTALL Structural Engineer, Arup

12 concepts in 12 weeks

With only 12 weeks for the documentation of the concept design, Arup needed to get started right away with Dynamo—there was no time for a steep learning curve. The documentation lead on the project had little scripting experience in Dynamo, but she was able to quickly create master scripts thanks to the intuitive nature of the process. These scripts let the engineers explore and document multiple structural options that suited the ever-evolving architectural forms. The scripts automated much of the tedious work behind efficiently modeling and documenting the geometrically complex stadium. During the early stages of concept design, Dynamo let the Arup and Populous teams quickly and efficiently collaborate, resulting in an iconic, well-coordinated, and optimized stadium design. This was particularly advantageous in helping to de-risk the complexity of the design while also informing costing and feasibility.

Interoperability between Dynamo software, Revit software, and Arup’s preferred structural analysis tool helped the team to rapidly create design iterations. They shared their ideas with the architects and collaborated in a 3D Revit environment to enhance the overall design. In all, the team developed 12 concepts, each of which advanced and improved on the preceding one. Absent Dynamo, the team estimates that they would have only had time to develop and document 4 structural concepts. Dynamo automated many of the tedious tasks in the documentation process, saving more than 5 weeks on documentation, which allowed the team to devote more effort than expected to coordinating and optimizing their designs.

The bold, curving shapes featured in the design for the proposed National Football Stadium in Sydney, Australia required innovative structural support. Images courtesy of Populous.


More design, fewer boring tasks

Success on the stadium project inspired Arup to apply the conceptual design and automation ability of Dynamo to more projects. The firm began teaching its documentation specialists throughout Australia how to create their own scripts. Arup also started a script library to share timesaving scripts, allowing the Arup documentation team to spend less time on tedious tasks, and more time on design optimization for their everyday projects.

“Tedious documentation tasks that would have taken 4 hours only took 10 minutes using Dynamo. The savings we realized gave us more time to finesse better design solutions.”

— SHAWNEE FINLAYSON, Structural Technician, Arup


Founded in 1946, Arup is one of world’s largest engineering firms, with as many as 10,000 projects in progress at any time. The firm came to Australia in 1963 to work on the landmark Sydney Opera House. Today, Arup operates 7 offices in Australia. Recent projects include the new Perth Stadium, Adelaide Oval Redevelopment, Barangaroo, and 8 Chifley, which is one of Australia’s greenest buildings.


Populous designs places where people love to be together, like Yankee Stadium and the London Olympic Stadium. A global architecture firm, Populous has designed more than 2,000 projects worth $40 billion across emerging and established markets. The firm has 17 offices on 4 continents.


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David Weaver from Mold-Tek shares what steel fabricators can learn from green chili

David Weaver Mold-Tek

Autodesk is excited to welcome David Weaver, Vice President at Mold-Tek Technologies Ltd as a guest contributor to BIM and Beam. David is an evangelist and thought leader for the steel industry, and shares a unique insight on how project teams collaborate.

(or why fabricators should be happy if their detailer is asking a lot of questions)

Growing up and living in Colorado, a frequent meal for me is to take whatever food is around and smother it in a good green chili sauce. Top it with sour cream and guacamole, and serve it with a side of tortillas. There are even thriving local chain restaurants whose entire business model is to take the cheapest ingredients possible and smoother them in top notch green chili.

My mother in law has a different taste in food. She grew up in Massachusetts and spent most of her adult life in Northeast Virginia, Fairfax. I still remember the look of … concern in her face the first time she saw me do this. She is a great cook, and I have always enjoyed eating her food, but let’s just say that my ingredients and techniques are not within her repertoire.

What can a fabricator learn from this? Simple. That standards and techniques can be regional. Just because a shop or erector has always been doing something a certain way, doesn’t mean that it is an industry standard. Take for example the angle or bent plate attached to a beam top flange to form an edge of slab detail. In Colorado, the typical approach is for it to be fully field attached. The field even cuts the pieces to length and performs any other cuts to get it around columns. Alternatively, there is a fabricator in the New England area that will shop attach it, but only with bolts in long slots, so that the field can perform adjustments then weld into position. I’ve also seen projects in Las Vegas where this material is shop attached and welded with no field work.

A typical edge of slab detail (Courtesy of Mold-Tek Technologies Ltd.)

My point is, things that fabricators think are industry standards might be unique to their region, or even only unique to their company.

It used to be that detailers worked regionally. It was too cumbersome and caused too much of a delay to ship physical drawings too great of a distance. But today’s technology allows electronic drawing files to be sent across the world in the matter of seconds. It often takes longer to type the email notifying the fabricator that drawings are posted to a file sharing site, then it does to actually post the drawings. This allows detailers to work across all regions of the US and even the world. Meaning they might not be familiar with the exact approach that a fabricator wants to use for a specific detail. This is especially true for the first time a detailer works with a fabricator.

A detailer with little experience will not know when to ask for the fabricator or erector’s preference. They may just apply the same approach that they used on their last project, even though that last project was for a different fabricator who has different preferences. Experienced detailers know when to ask about preferences. Unfortunately, this results in probably the biggest complaint I hear from fabricators, “The detailer is asking too many questions!” (typically in much more colorful language that I am using here).

Questions are exactly what you want from your detailer. When a detailer is flooding you with basic questions, don’t assume they are delaying the project, or are inexperienced. In reality, they might have just the right amount of experience to know that the question needs to be asked.

Related Articles

How to forge a detailer-fabricator relationship as strong as steel

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Multi-Rebar Annotation in Revit

A reinforcement drawing shows the positions of all reinforcing elements in a particular structure or a structural element. There are numerous ways of drafting concrete shop drawings, and drafting styles vary between countries or even between design companies.

Rebar in Revit comes with properties that can be read by predefined tags (families) created specifically to read the rebar settings. It’s possible to let Revit tag these items automatically, or you can manually tag the items.

Multi-rebar annotations significantly improve rebar detailing workflow. A multi-rebar annotation allows you to tag multiple rebar and rebar sets with a single annotation.

You can use these multi-rebar annotations to tag each bar in a rebar set with a detailed annotation for fabrication and construction.  Thanks to this functionality, drawing creation becomes quite smooth and productivity increases incomparably.

If you want to use this functionality in Revit you need to go on the Annotate tab -> Tag panel and under Multi-Rebar you can find the following two tools:

  • Aligned Multi-Rebar Annotation
  • Linear Multi-Rebar Annotation

Once you run one of them then you simply select rebar sets or individual rebars to have them annotated by one single annotation.  You can also modify multi-rebar annotations like other tags.

A Multi-rebar annotation family is a Revit system family. In the Type Properties you can find a tag family and a dimension style that can be easy configured and adjusted.

For more posts on Revit’s rebar features, check out these past articles on BIM and Beam:

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Sofistik Reinforcement Detailing 2018 is Available

SOFiSTiK Reinforcement Detailing significantly accelerates the creation of 2D reinforcement sheets out of 3D models in Autodesk® Revit®. The product consists of software and a set of families, which can easily be modified to meet local or company standards. Creation of bar lists, bending schedules and cut lists for wire meshes is included as well.

Functionalities at a glance:

  • Customizable Content Packs in order to reach individual standards.
  • Operational Modes: Marks per project, – sheet or – host.
  • Set Marks according to additional criteria’s like running length, not bent, couplers etc.
  • Customizable reinforcement schedules and cut lists for fabric sheets.
  • Group bars to a specific SOFiSTiK Rebar Container according its layout.
  • Copy Reinforcement with all annotations, details, dimensions and related views.
  • SOFiSTiK Multiplier for the quantity of Rebar Sets and Fabric Sheets.
  • Stagger segment lengths of SOFiSTiK Variable Rebar Set.
  • Split Rebar Sets or – Shapes according to set stock length and splice or using dividing lines.
  • Detailing tools to indicate the rebar layout, – bar ends, – layers, etc.
  • Rebar or Fabric Shape Details to represent the partial rebar set or the entire mark.
  • Shape Code detection according to various national standards.
  • Reinforcement Layer functionality in floors, walls and foundation slabs.
  • Browse through the marks of rebars and fabric sheets.
  • Distribute reinforcement in elements with complex shapes and faces.
  • Creation of bent fabrics rows according to a given length.
  • Revisions for reinforcement sheets and corresponding schedules.
  • Freeze/Unfreeze of reinforcement geometry and properties.
  • Export BVBS reinforcement data as *.abs file for bending machine.

You can download a 30-day trial of these tools from the Autodesk App Store.

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BIM for reinforced concrete – From 2D to 3D for rebar detailing

Last year I published a blog post contemplating the value of BIM for Concrete, and discussing how the next generation of BIM tools for reinforced concrete are helping our customers in four main ways. I described these BIM-centric concrete benefits as:

  1. Combines the versatility of 2D documentation with the higher level of fidelity and accuracy of 3D modeling of steel reinforcement and concrete accessories, with minimal effort to produce both.
  2. Allows users to design and detail with clash prevention in mind to reduce clashes both in the preconstruction and site execution project phases.
  3. Enables the transition from design to detailed models while respecting both perspectives, following local code requirements, and automating the process of making changes so they are less disruptive to the design process.
  4. Increases transparency and quality of the model information being used from bidding to procurement by not only providing quantifiable information, but also enabling access to it in collaboration friendly environments.

I must say that it was great to hear your feedback from my last post, and see that so many of you are as excited by the future of concrete as I am! I’d like to continue the conversation I started with you, and spend some time discussing these four benefits and what they mean for the industry in depth. And by “in depth” I mean this in an engineering sense—I’m going to be thorough.

Since there’s A LOT to cover, instead of writing one long blog post on concrete that might bore you to sleep, I’m going to focus on one benefit at a time. For today, let’s talk about the benefits realized when moving from 2D to 3D.

Benefit #1: The BIM-centric concrete solution combines the versatility of 2D documentation with the higher level of fidelity and accuracy of 3D modeling of steel reinforcement and concrete accessories, with minimal effort to produce both.

We hear often that moving to 3D-based rebar design requires more work than traditional drafting. Many believe that creating a spatial representation of the engineer’s design intent and later installation reality is an extra step added to the effort related to drawings production. This is often followed by the complaint that obvious benefits of 3D (clash avoidance, accuracy, etc.) are for the benefit of general contractors rather than designers and detailers.

I want to challenge this.

While it’s true that 2D drawings, shop and lift drawings are still the primary deliverables nowadays serving as means of communication and instruction across broader teams, we’re also seeing these trends as well:

  • For communication, project teams across the are globe driving towards model-based communication and information handover, especially when it comes to the Design to Detailing transition. Customers like Norconsult are already using this approach effectively.
  • As a means of instruction, an undisputable benefit of traditional 2D detailing is the speed of drawings production and versatility. But the downside is the lack of precision leading to rebar clashes on site, compromises on quantities, and coordination with the formwork model.
  • Design changes also require drawings to be reproduced. The lack of consistency surfaces easily as drawings can be “adjusted” (“faked”, honestly speaking) and ultimately lose their connection to other sources of information like BOM, model data, IFC, ERP, etc.

Drawings and 3D rebar detailing in Revit

Let’s assume for a minute that by using a BIM-centric approach to rebar detailing we can still maintain a highly efficient and versatile process for drawing production, and incorporate the precision and information completeness that comes with 3D modeling at no additional cost. Well, that’s the idea for Revit.

For Revit we want to bring these two benefits of 2D to 3D together. How? This is where rebar detailers can leverage the traditional approach and perform 2D detailing “in canvas” of a section, plan or an elevation view taken directly from the concrete model, and have the rebar model created “for free” in the background. You can see this illustrated in this example:

Then, as the design/detailing evolves to a point where coordination is needed, detailers can focus on the rebar model editing directly and more comfortably in the 3D views. While in the 2D drawings space they can just easily add tags and dimensions to the rebar as a downstream part of the process since rebar is there, placed accurately, already.

What then makes a real difference is the accommodation of changes in the BIM process; there is no need to re-model or redraw rebar when that happens. The below example shows again how changes of concrete object sizes or rebar distribution parameters make all the rebar information adapt to changes and the submittals update instantly. Talk about a benefit for the detailers and designers!

A glimpse of the future

The ultimate proof of BIM-centric and fully model based reinforcement detailing efficiency can be recognized for projects dealing with complex concrete geometries such as water treatment stations, industrial structures, buildings with complex architecture, etc. Anywhere humans struggle to visualize the 3D structure in their minds when communicating instructions with only 2D drawings.

There are examples where using 2D drawings as layout instructions is nearly impossible. Check out this groundbreaking use case from Norconsult who is implementing a fully paperless process to construct this large hydro plant in Norway.

Additionally, use of these modern methods applied for complex projects is presented in a very interesting and recent master thesis from Pål Røe Larsen (Technical University of Denmark, Kongens Lyngby). Larsen’s thesis (you can download it here) includes several case studies and interviews with adopters from the industry, and draws attention to the new future of the concrete industry.

So, what do you think? Are you using a BIM-centric modeling approach for concrete yet? Are you seeing these benefits already? Stay tuned for more on this topic and let me know your thoughts in the comments.

For my next post, I’m going to talk about what I’ve described as benefit #2: allowing users to design and detail with clash prevention in mind to reduce clashes both in the preconstruction and site execution project phases.

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Revit for Structural Engineering

Revit allows structural engineers to create their models and documentation in an advanced BIM environment. By using Revit, structural designers and engineers can produce accurate design intent models and give engineers and detailers the information they need to develop models to a higher level of fidelity for Fabrication and Installation purposes.

Dynamo for Revit is a visual programming interface that allows engineers to use computational methods to design organic and optimized buildings and structures faster than with traditional modeling tools.
Dynamo allows users to create, associate and analyze multiple building parameters that revise their designs automatically. Engineers can then iterate and evaluate design options with ease, and build structures based on natural and mathematical principles.

Dynamo for Structural Engineering

Learn How to Use Dynamo to Generate Wind Loads in Revit

In Revit software, the physical model and the associated analytical model are created concurrently. The physical model of the structure is used for coordination as well as documentation. The analytical model is used for structural analysis and design. Structural loads, load combinations and boundary conditions can be easily added to the analytical model.

Through interoperability with Autodesk Robot Structural Analysis Professional, as well as various 3rd party analysis tools, Revit helps to extend BIM to structural Analysis.

Structural Analysis for Revit enables structural engineers to conduct analysis in the cloud as a part of the BIM process, and helps minimize disruptions to workflows as users continue to design as analysis is completed.
Performing cloud based analysis from within Revit with the Structural Analysis service helps to streamline the design process and provide analytical results early and often to inform design intent.

5 great features in Structural Analysis for Revit

Revit provides streamlined process from design through detailing to fabrication by supporting the easy modeling of steel connection details and 3D reinforcements.  For steel frames, Revit offers streamlined interoperability with Autodesk Advance Steel detailing software through Steel Connections for Revit. With over 130 parametric connections, Steel Connections for Revit allows engineers and detailers to coordinate more effectively by exchanging more accurate design deliverables for steel fabrication.  This results in more precise detailing, estimating, and reduces errors in fabrication and installation.

Learn What’s New in Revit 2018 for Steel Design

Revit also provides tools for detailers for modeling 3D concrete reinforcements, creation of shop drawings and bending schedules in the advanced BIM environment. It combines the versatility of 2D documentation with the higher level of fidelity and accuracy of 3D modeling for reinforcement and concrete accessories. What’s more, Revit allows users to design and detail reinforced concrete elements with clash prevention in mind to reduce clashes both in the preconstruction and during site execution.

Concrete Detailing in Revit

Learn What’s New in Revit 2018 for Concrete Detailing

By consolidating functionality around key workflows, Revit provides a higher level of automation to support enhanced collaboration among project stakeholders and allows teams to build better structures.


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Announcing the AEC Excellence Awards 2017

Bring out your best

The AEC Excellence Awards 2017 is now open for submissions!

First introduced in 2012 to recognize BIM in Infrastructure projects, this world-renowned competition now includes Infrastructure, Building, Construction, and Sustainability categories that showcase innovations using connected BIM workflows and Autodesk software. You can see the range of submissions and projects represented in the 2016 winning projects, many of which were completed using Revit and highlighted complex multi-discipline BIM workflows.

Awards include 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes in each category, which makes this your chance to show off your truly inspirational projects. You know, the ones you’re most excited about, like projects that use augmented reality, virtual reality, drones, generative design, computational design, advanced detailing to fabrication workflows, and more—in short, your best design efforts using BIM and Autodesk technology!

The deadline for entry is June 23, 2017. Finalists for each category will be announced in August, and then winners will be announced at the AEC Excellence Awards Ceremony at Autodesk University Las Vegas 2017 in November.

AEC Excellence BIM Awards 2017

5 Reasons to submit your project for the AEC Excellence Awards 2017

  1. IT’S EASY: We have simplified the competition to four categories: Infrastructure, Building, Construction, or Sustainability. Have several projects you’re proud of? No problem. You can submit up to five different projects.
  2. YOU DESERVE RECOGNITION: You will receive public recognition just by submitting! Winning projects will be included in a Showcase Book that will be shared globally and could also become a featured story and made available to thousands through promotions and social media. This downloadable Showcase Book is easily shareable to your own customers and clients. And even if you don’t win, it’s a great way to let Autodesk know about the wonderful projects you’re working on. This great library project in San Diego was submitted for an award last year and we never would have known about it without the submission.
  3. IT’S FREE PUBLICITY: There will be promotion and coverage of the AEC Excellence BIM Award 2017 winners across Autodesk, HP, Construction Dive, and Smart Cities Dive, social media and websites, as well as mentions in major AEC industry publications and media coverage of the Awards Ceremony at Autodesk University Las Vegas 2017.
  4. YOU COULD WIN PRIZES: If your project is chosen, you could win a brand-new HP workstation, a trip to Autodesk University Las Vegas 2017, and recognition at the Autodesk University Awards Ceremony. And, of course, you’ll receive a beautiful trophy you can show off to colleagues and clients once you return.
  5. YOU CAN MEET OTHERS LIKE YOU: All 2017 winners will receive an invite to the Awards Ceremony at Autodesk University. This event will provide opportunities for stimulating discussions, networking, and collaboration with your AEC industry peers.

If your project takes BIM to the next level, submit it to the competition and you could win worldwide recognition from your peers and other industry leaders.

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