AutoCAD Architecture Wishes

AutoCAD Architecture Wishes

Active Contributor
33 Posts
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Registered: ‎03-26-2011
Post 1 of 2

Parametric modeling tool. The mother of all tools.

913 Views, 1 Replies
03-31-2011 04:06 AM

This is one I remember wishing for back in ADT 2005 that I still think would be a great idea. I've had 6 years to let this idea brew so it's had time to evolve.


I would love to have a style-based tool separate from all the other AEC tools for creating custom AEC objects. It would start with a baseline, and go from there. Like a curtain wall on steroids. All other styles could be nested into it.


Primary Lines

The highest class of this tool would be the baseline. Then the top line, bottom line, and base-width just like a regular wall style. The top line would specify the object's Y direction and might be set to slope at a specified angle or rise/run like a slab.


From the lines you could attach AEC objects such as walls or railings or you can specify profiles to sweep along the them. So far, much like a curtain wall.


Secondary Layout Lines

From the first class lines (baseline, topline, etc.) you could specify an offset layout line parallel to it, but offset in X and Y. This layout line could have it's orientation set as object or world, allowing AEC objects to be inserted on it or profiles to be swept along it either rotated to the slope of the object, or maintain world coordinate orientation, a.k.a. plumb or square.



Along the lines could be nodes at a specified interval like how a curtain wall acts, with a different class of node at corners, along curved segments, and so on. The spacing could be set either manually, at an equidistant interval, at an repeating offset from the beginning, middle, or end, a custom repeating formula, or perhaps an optional random variable. You could a combination of nodes, each series with it's own index number. At nodes you can attach blocks, AEC objects, elements, or secondary layout lines perpendicular, spanning between two first-order layout lines into a ladder grid, or in an infinite vector from one line that ends at the limits of the object's volume.



Whenever two layout lines are connected with perpendicular layout lines in the form of a grid, Panel Styles could be inserted with slabs, regions, or AEC objects. The panel types would be:


1. Layout Lines defined Panel. (Select 4 coplanar layout lines)

2. End Panel. (Line end point to line endpoint)

3. Rectangular (From a layout line, offset a specified X-distance and slope.)


Parametric Node, Panel, and Line Styles

Within the Parametric Style, Node, Panel, and Line Styles would be assigned for each. Like overrides of slab edges, segments between vertexes along the parametric object could have different styles, so if you had a Parametric Style for base cabinets you could add a vertex on each side of a sink and change the line style override to one with a sink MVB placed in the counter.


Special Features

The baseline should be able to slope. Not a separate "floor" or "roof" line like walls, but more like a slab edge having complete 3D freedom of movement.


On sloping lines, swept profiles should have the option of sweeping perpendicular to the path of extrusion, or maintaining the orientation of the world coordinate system. For instance, a handrail might be swept along a path directly, but  a 24" tall concrete stem wall would always be 24" tall and thus would not sweep parallel to the line's path but maintain it's orientation through any variation of slopes.


Panel styles made of slabs, blocks, box-shaped panels, or simple panels of 0" thickness that would show as a single line in section view for things like underpayment, flashing, coatings, etc.


Holes could be cut into Parametric Objects like slabs and wall openings, or like boolean modifications.


Parametric Line profiles and node objects should have the option to trim at edges like a boolean subtractions. For instance, if you had roof tiles inserted at nodes, tiles near the edge should trim along the edge-defining line.


Edge Lines would define the limits of the object like a slab, with the baseline like the slope line and the slope of the slab being the Parametric object's Y value (a flat slab being a Parametric Object on it's side.) A slab style could be defined from the edge lines of a Parametric Object, and conversely a Parametric object could be made from a slab object.


A wall could be converted into a Parametric object in the same way. The wall style would simply be nested in the parametric object's baseline.


Curved baselines and edge lines. Have the option to curve baselines with the radius in ortho (appearing as an arc in plan view) or true arc to the tangent lines (appearing as a partial ellipse in plan view).*


Parametric objects inside parametric objects. For instance a Parametric Object for a floor assembly with a parametric assembly for a stairwell penetrating it. Create layout lines where they intersect to insert objects at the transitions.


In addition to the linear baseline form of a parametric object, perhaps also primary shapes-based parametric tools like box, cylinder, cone, sphere, etc. with layout lines placed in coordinate values unique to those shapes. For instance a sphere's baseline might be it's equator and it's X-value its longitude and it's Y value a distance from the surface to the centroid.


As much of the editing should be done in screen as possible.


When two Parametric Objects within the same "cleanup group" touch, they would merge like walls.


Examples of Parametric Styles in Use.

For the most part, I envision the Parametric tool as a sort of place-holder for other objects to make assemblies. The Parametric object itself would be just a 3D array of lines and nodes with styles applied to each. Here's some examples:


A wall Parametric Style with a 2x4 Stud Wall Style at it's baseline, with Parametric Line Styles for studs, plates, headers, etc. Parametric Line Styles for walls with base molding, cornice molding, chair rails, etc. Parametric Node Styles for anchor bolts, holddowns, straps, etc.


Parametric Styles for cabinetry with multi-view blocks for door panels, slab styles for the counter tops, profile parametric line styles for the frames, slab styles for the end panels, etc.


Parametric Objects for site work such as a trash enclosure with a Parametric Line Style with a CMU wall style for the walls, a Parametric Panel Style with a slab for the surface, a Parametric Line Style for the curb, and a Parametric Line Style for a bumper curb.  Parametric Line Styles for curbs, gutters, retaining walls, and  and other site work elements.


Roof Slab Parametric Style with Parametric Line Styles for individual structural members, a panel style for the sheathing, a panel style for the roof cover, etc.


Parametric Style for steel roof decking with Parametric Line Styles of a sweep profile for a metal deck panel. Edge Parametric Line Styles could be pour stops.


A building shell Parametric Style with walls, floor slabs, roof slabs, windows, doors, columns, beams and decking. Design a parking garage or steel building shell style once, and modify the size and shape by simply stretching the edge lines around. Add floors to a multi-story building by simply stretching the the object's upper grips higher. All the floors would be added based on the the interval of the layout lines.


Toilet partitions with the toilet, grab bars, partitions and dispenser in one object. Stretch out the limits of the object to add additional stalls. Edit grips to change sizes of individual stalls.


Example Workflow

Let's say I wanted to make a base cabinet Parametric Object.


1. Clck the Linear Parametric tool icon.


2. Pick beginning point, point 1, point 2, point 3, point n, end point.


3. Select Parametric Object, right click, "Copy Parametric Style and assign".


4. Name style "Cabinet-Oak-Base-24-Basic"


5. Click "Layout" tab. Click "Lines" button. Click "Add New Line" button. Add layout lines:


index, name, location

1     Kickplate bottom          Baseline, X=+22", Y=0"

2     Bottom of face frame   Baseline, X=+24", Y=+4"

3     Top of face frame         Baseline, X=+24", Y=+34"

4     Back of box frame        Baseline, X=0, Y=+34"


6. Click "Nodes" button. A list appears of each layout line including the baseline, the bottom line, the top line, and the custom layout lines. Select the baseline and add nodes to be set even spacing at 48" maximum. Since all lines are under the hierarchy of the baseline, they all include the nodes with the 48" spacing.


7. Click "Lines" button again. Click "Add New Line" button:


index, name, location

5     Faceframe verticals     Type drop-down: "Node to Node", select #2 and #3 lines (face frame bottom and top).

6     Top of cabinet               Type drop-down: "Line endponts", select #3 and #4 lines (face frame top and back of frame).


8. Click "New Panel" button and create a panel defined by 3, 4, and 6 lines. Call it "Top Panel". Click "New Panel" button and create a panel defined as an "End panel" type as follows:


Vertex  Location

1          Baseline, X=0", Y=0"

2          Line 1, X=-3/4", Y=0"

3          Line 1, X=-3/4", Y=+4"

4          Line 2, X=-3/4", Y=0"

5          Line 3, X=-3/4", Y=0"

6          Line 4, X=0", Y=0"


Click "New Panel" button and create a panel defined by 2, 3, and 5 lines. This makes a panel for face.


9. Click the Assignments, and select a 3/4" oak plywood slab style for the end panel. This creates an end panel at the exposed edge of the cabinet.


Assign to "Kickplate bottom" a profile for a 1x4.; Bottom of faceframe, a 1x2; Top of faceframe a 1x2; and Faceframe verticals a1x2. For the "Top of cabinet panel assignment, select a slab style for 3/4" plywood, and add another slab style of granite with a Y offset of 3/4".


Assign to the face panel a door style for cabinet doors.


You would now have a parametric tool for base cabinets  where the cabinets are never more than 48" wide. Copying the style and adding a sink multi-view block would give you an override for a segment to add a sink in that segment. Once the style is created, you could insert it into the cabinet at a location on the screen and the layout rules within that segment would override the rules of the parameteric object. It would be inserted by selecting a segment like you could slab edges and changing the rules like you might change slab edge styles.



A central tool for modeling and intelligently combining AEC objects in a nearly limitless way would allow people to use Architecture in a way that many users do as a work-around, such as using curtain walls to make cabinets, railings to make cornice trim, Walls to make footings, and so on. In my opinion it would open up ACA into a whole new realm of  possibilities. Nearly anything architectural could be intelligently modeled and located within parts of a larger system. It is fractal in nature as well; just as capable of creating a dresser as it is creating a 30-story building shell, and locating the dresser within it.



*This is something slabs should do now. I'm running ACA 2009, so perhaps this has been addressed in later releases, but slabs with curved edges should remain arcs in ortho. The only way to do that now is to trim sloping slabs with a polyline after creating a rectangular slab with the slope. The edges become straight-line segments that are virtually uneditable.

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82 Posts
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Registered: ‎01-20-2008
Post 2 of 2

Re: Parametric modeling tool. The mother of all tools.

05-31-2011 10:08 AM in reply to: CivicDesignGroup

Nice job breaking it down.  You have a lot of time on your hands.

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