Throughout history, architects and other designers have been creating some form of Construction Documents that would be referenced by workers when constructing a building. While the media and method has changed over time, the method of showing the information on the documents has not substantially changed. Information is still shown almost exclusively as 2-dimensional views represented by plans, sections, elevations, and details. It is time that Construction Documents take on a new look and include 3-dimensional information, even if the digital model is passed along through the process. This includes the architects, MEP engineers, structural engineers, and any other consultants providing Construction Documents.
As BIM becomes more commonplace, 3-dimensional information becomes much easier to access and place on sheets as views. While 2D information will still be used for accurately scaled views, 3D views can and should be used to give a more informative view of complex areas and be another resource available for review. There are many times on projects where a typical 2D view just does not give you a good visual description of what that area is to look like when constructed. Since the construction of a building is done from an interpretation of the 2D drawing, it is imperative that the interpretation of the meaning of a view is accurate in relation to the designer’s intent.
When using 3D views, they must be utilized effectively and not just to make the drawing sheets look impressive or artsy. They must have value and enhance the proper meaning of the design. If there is no scale associated with the 3D view, that fact must be unmistakably identified to prevent anyone trying to scale the 3D view. The 3D view should also then note that other views are to be referenced for accurate dimensional information and that the 3D view is for reference purposes only. Placing the 3D view close to related 2D views helps enforce the relationship between the views and encourages the combined evaluation of the views.
Two good methods of showing 3D information on drawing sheets in Revit are (1) Camera Views and (2) Section Boxes. Each of these methods provides a distinctive look at the model that you cannot get with standard 2D views. (Other BIM software packages have the same capability, but may have other terminology to accomplish the same tasks.)
A camera view can easily be used to show a complex area within a space, such as structural framing, ornamental designs, or some piping in a mechanical room. The following image illustrates an open stair area in a multi-story Revit model.
In Revit, a Section Box can be used to show section cuts from multiple faces of the model simply by placing a checkmark next to the “Section Box” option in the 3D view’s properties and then adjusting the arrows on the faces of the resultant section box in the view. The following image illustrates a floor plan with the top, front, and left end “cut off” so that the interior layout is exposed for easy visualization.