I came about a post on Linkedin, Should Architecture Students Use Revit? and thought I’d offer my perspective on the topic. I’ve been using Revit since the end of first at TAFE, 6 years ago, and have used it in both a professional and educational setting. I also took some tutorials for some students to teach them the basics of Revit, and I have shifted my thinking a year ago. With all that, I think I have some experience to confidently talk about this, but keep in mind this is through my own experiences.

Let me get this out of the way first, I use Revit in my design studios. I have used it for every design studio in some capacity, and even in my second studio of Masters. However, I believe students should not use it for studio…. Let me explain.

Revit is a high performing piece of BIM software, and for those who don’t know what BIM is, it stands for Building Information Modelling. Basically Revit is an intelligent 3D model-based program that allows architects, engineers and construction/project managers to plan, design, manage and construct buildings. I suggest Googling to learn more about it, but the point is it’s very powerful in the industry. I have used it at work where I was able to have control over the design and documentation of the building, have the structure modelled and even calculate concrete volume and weight for the ‘pods‘.

With that level of complexity in the software, it’s quite easy to get ‘lost’ in the technicalities, the detail and trying to understand the software. Students should be focusing on their design and trying to solve the problems for the project, not trying to solve why the two walls they drew aren’t joining properly. Even worse is when the student sacrifices a design element because they can’t ‘easily’ model it, for example an vertically angled wall. Now of course you can do this, and for me I could confidently do this, but for someone who has just been introduced to the software it’s a nightmare and not as simple as using the Wall Tool.

2nd Year TAFE_ working drawings

2nd Year TAFE_ working drawings

You know when a project has been modelled in Revit by a beginner, because it looks like the standard Revit model. What I mean is students just learning the software aren’t really taught how to manipulate line weights for cuts and projections, creating their own materials or changing simple things such as a section marker, text font or grid line head. What ends up getting produced is bland and unoriginal, all because they didn’t know how to change the little things. I’m living proof of this, with the above being what I use to produce using all the default Revit annotations and settings.

Of course the above applies to beginners, and like every piece of software you are going to suck at the start. Revit is highly used in the industry and it looks great on a CV, so should students learn it? Absolutely, however you need to understand when and where to use it. If you’re amazing at AutoCAD and SketchUp, it doesn’t make sense to ditch these during semester and learn Revit to use during your studio. The best time to learn Revit in these instances are the holiday periods, where I always suggest watching some YouTube tutorials, join a forum and try to re-model your past studio projects. Any problems you come across during the process, if you Google the issue 99.9999 times out of 100 there will be an answer to it. This is how I learnt Revit, where I did get a basic run-down during TAFE but all the little minor things, little issues and such I discovered through the internet. HOWEVER, during the semester is not the best time to be trying to solve software issues.

Design Studio C_ section base produced in Revit, built up in Photoshop

Design Studio C Masters_ section base produced in Revit, built up in Photoshop

My workflow last semester, and looks to be similar this semester, is using Revit and SketchUp, plus Photoshop. I use Revit to produce a basic 3D model, which I can detail up plans, sections, details and such and use SketchUp and Photoshop to create perspectives, diagrams and such. I am basically using Revit as a 3D to 2D software.

2nd Year, TAFE

2nd Year TAFE_ modelled and rendered in Revit

This type of workflow would be my suggestion for students who are animate on using Revit in studio, just use it to generate your plans and sections. Avoid using it to produce your renders or perspectives, otherwise you will end up with something like the above. This was a project I did in TAFE and you can easily tell it’s done in Revit through the material, sky, cars trees and people, and basically it looks like Revit designed it. Perhaps if I incorporated some Photoshop with different people, cars, background, better sky and so fourth it may be better but it would still look like a Revit-designed project.

Prior to taking some Revit tutorials I was all for students using Revit in studio and would always suggest people to get onto it. However during the whole process of teaching I started noticing just how difficult of a software it is, as a whole. For a student to not only grasp it within 11-12 weeks but understand it enough to produce the drawings, it just couldn’t be done. This post isn’t meant to be a discouragement, it isn’t saying don’t use it ever or anything like that. This is to suggest rethinking your position on using the software based on your experience level and requirements. If you’re an absolute gun at it, you know all the tricks and can model your project with sacrificing your design, of course use the software! If you’re a gun at Rhino and AutoCAD, but want to learn Revit as well, I suggest waiting until the end of semester.

What are your thoughts on using Revit in architecture school? Share them in the comments below