Embracing the Opportunity: A Process

Prior to attending the BCMC show in October, we had designed a 576 SF one-bedroom house based on one of the schematic design studies shown in a previous post entitled “Ceiling Landscape.”

2903 Wimpole Ave Design 2
Ceiling Landscape model on proposed site


2017_0404 Schematic Design ceiling
Ceiling Texture

The roof is a standard gable, but the ceiling contains multiple planes sloping at various degrees and heights, creating a faceted surface.


Software Troubleshooting: BCMC Software Demos

We took the Revit file for this project with us to a MiTek Sapphire demo set up at the BCMC show but discovered that Sapphire could not recognize the ceiling planes the way we had modeled them – as a generic model without a family designation. We modeled it this way initially for the ease of creating planes of various slopes and rotations on multiple axes.

Next, we went to Alpine’s booth and requested a demo. Alpine is MiTek’s primary competitor for the sale of metal connector plates and as such a software rival as well. We had the same issue with Alpine, but the representative there took some time to remodel the planes as roof assemblies. The model did not import, and we were unable to troubleshoot further due to time constraints. We left with the expectation that if we could figure out how to model the complex geometry as a ceiling assembly, or as a generic model assigned to ceiling family attributes, the model should be able to import properly.


Software Troubleshooting: Local Truss Manufacturer

We reached out to three truss manufacturers in our region with the goal of acquiring cost estimates for our truss package using MiTek’s and Alpine’s software to communicate design intent. We had the most success while working with Anderson Truss (manufacturer) and who partners with Alpine (software provider).

We began with the same model we brought to the BCMC show except with the ceiling planes modeled as in-place components using the ceiling family category and parameters. This did not lead to a successful import. Following this, we sought the guidance of Alpine representatives and in waiting for their response, tried importing a model where the ceiling was modeled as a roof assembly using different settings than were used at the BCMC Show. This also did not import. (With each attempt, there remains the possibility that the export settings were not correct, but with access to instructions or support limited by either software or staff, we could not determine whether this was an issue.)

2017_0407 Communications Process Diagram Anderson Truss

This diagram shows phases of communication between the architect (A), the components designer (CD), and the product representatives (PRx) who represent Alpine. The process took place over a 3 month time period, during which most of the time was spent waiting for a return call or email and periodically following up with Alpine representatives. Ultimately, we were able to receive a cost estimate based on DWG files and an RCP drawing.

Alpine ModelMap Workflow Diagram - Our Process
This diagram illustrates the path we took after unsuccessful attempts to import the 3-dimensional model

After this experience, we discovered a more successful method of modeling and exporting through further trial-and-error. The only model type Alpine’s IntelliVIEW is currently able to accept is a ceiling created with the designated ceiling tool in Revit. Below is the simplified process through which this technology has the most value.

2017_0403 Communications Process Diagram Anderson Truss Ideal.jpg

The result was the ability to import the engineered trusses back into our Revit model.

Anderson Truss Profiles 3.jpg

Due to the complexity of the ceiling pattern, we had been unable to successfully utilize the ceiling tool earlier in the process, even with the help of representatives at the BCMC Show. Without access to simple instructions for the process and representatives willing to invest in our project, what may be considered a straightforward process became laborious. The promise for this software to ease communication and make complex designs more accessible remains for those who can self-troubleshoot effectively. However, without much instruction or assistance from the primary software providers, the process will unlikely become mainstream. The next post will address the economic outlook of the connector plate industry and why this may be preventing mainstream accessibility to this technology.


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