The Engineers Guide to Drinks – Continued

After my last post about The Engineers Guide to Drinks I got lots of nice reactions, tips and suggestions. The coolest thing was Shaan Hurley making a blog post about the project on his Between the Lines blog. Meanwhile I have done a bit more work on the first glass as well. One thing I wanted to do is be able to tag the different liquids with their material and their volume, which I was not able to do with the family I had as it was just 1 family with everything in it. I had given this a little thought and Aaron Maller over at confirmed what I was thinking. So I was going to need separate, shared, nested families for the liquids. The hard work was already done, so I had to take my glass, remove all the geometry except the one layer of liquid, remove the formula’s load into my main family, link parameters and DONE! Well that is the short version at least, took a little longer, but after a few hours I had a working glass again and was now able to tag the liquids.The Engineers Guide to Drinks - tags

Unexpected help

To my surprise more people had been working on their own project as I found out when I got an email from Melina Vlachousi:

Hello Robin,

I had tried to work on this as well but it kinda fell through. I managed to build a few families for the glasses and some of the ingredients, maybe they can be useful to you and to others who want to work on this project.



She also send me the families she had been working on, for us to use:

The Engineers Guide to Drinks - help

Pretty sure I will be using the Fruit Squeeze, Fruit Wheel and Cherry and the glasses are a good start for the overall shape, but will need a lot of parameters, but they are a first step.

Added all the materials from the CAD file into my Revit project and setup the first batch of drinks. As you can see did not add the fruit and the way of sturing the drinks yet, but so far this confirmed that everything works well so far.

The Engineers Guide to Drinks - cocktails

Adding fruit

Next was the fruit I got from Melina. They were a little to large for my glass, so I scaled them down a bit and added them to the family with a visibility parameter. Rearranged the dashes a bit too, so it all is a bit more compact. We are slowly getting to the end of this glass, when we can start to clean up things a bit and maybe do some things a bit smarter.

The Engineers Guide to Drinks - drinks with fruit


Download Family: Cocktail Glass (v2.0) (150 downloads)

Now what?

As you can see in the previous post, there are a few more glasses to be build and there needs to be a project made with all the glasses and materials in it, so we can build each cocktail we want. So, if you want to help out in any way, let me know with the reply form below, the contact form on this website, Twitter, Facebook, or on the Revit Forum and we’ll figure out who can do what.


Previous Post: The Engineers Guide to Drinks

Next Post:

The Engineers Guide to Drinks – Revit edition

Most of us will have the need for a nice drink after a hard week at the office once in a while and some of us will choose to make ourselves a cocktail, or go out and have somebody make one for us. This cocktail will give us some relaxation, but it can also spark our engineering brain. How is this cocktail mixed, what type of booze is in it and how does that relate to the dimensions of the glass it is in and can I streamline the process of making a cocktail. Well a while back @Autodesk made this tweet:

Which was about a CAD file that is known as “The Engineers Guide to Drinks” which is a drawing of different drink in the way an engineer would make the drawing. Different hatches, symbols for various things. It looks very nice and has the feel of a construction drawing.

I had seen the file before and thought is was pretty cool then and still did this time, but wanted to know a bit more. So, I ended up at the blog ‘Between the Lines‘ by Shaan Hurley. He was the one that did the CAD drawing based on a drawing made in 1972. Over the years there have been multiple changes to the file. One that is very cool is an old hand drawn one from 1974 which is in the US National Archives for some reason. Find out it’s story here.

The Engineers Guide to Drinks_1974

Cocktail construction file found in the US National Archives.

On his blog Shaan set the challenge (well that’s how I see it anyway) to make the file in other CAD programs, Revit being one of them, and that triggered me to give it a go, thinking it should not be that hard.


First try

The first task was going to be the cocktail glass, nice cone shaped, with simple dimensions. So I looked up the size of a cocktail glass and modeled that in Revit, which was an easy task. Needed to fiddle a bit with it to get both the dimensions and volume right, but in half an hour or so the glass was there. Next task was to fill the glass with booze, started off with 3 layers and used trial and error to get the the right volumes and the glass looks pretty nice.

Blue Moon

I figured out the height of different volumes of liquid and I could change the volumes pretty quick. But then it hit me, “This is not a very Revit like way of doing thing my friend”. Figuring out the height of the liquids by trial and error might be OK for that one glass, but I was not going to do that one glass, I needed to make a lot of cocktails according to the previous attempts, so I was going to do this the Revit way and parameter the hell out of the glass. Well, that sure sounded a lot easier in my mind then how it turned out in the end.


The formula

Being 36 myself and out of school for 16 years or so and never really needing to do things like this before I had to think really hard about what to do. I needed the height of the liquid level for each layer and I knew the angle of the glass and the volume of the liquid (I knew that the cocktail had for example 10, 20 and 30 ml  of liquid in it). So how to calculate the height in the glass? I tried a lot of different ways, looked all over the internet and even asked colleagues to help me out and we could not solve it. Finally asked another colleague and he said that his son would probably solve it in 5 minutes. I thought, “sure he will”, but can’t hurt to let him try. That night I got a message telling me he indeed solved it in a few minutes and a photo of the calculations he made.

Berekening cocktail glas_Page_1

The calculation made by Myron Timmermans

Going over the calculations they kinda made sense to me, but I also realized I could never have gotten to that solution myself, so I’m very happy with the help I got.

This is the simple looking formula I am using for the calculations:formula used

b = height of liquid in the glass
V = volume of added liquid
h = total height of the glass
r = radius of the top of the glass


Getting it in Revit

I now had the right formula, checked it against my trial and error approach and it worked! Now to get that thing into my Revit family. This gave me a new set of challenges of course, as there are things in that formula you do not really use on a regular bases in Revit, how to do the cubic root thing for example. This is where the great Revit Forum helped me out. In the thread Revit Formulas for “everyday” usage I found the solution:


At this point I had all the data I needed to build the glass with parameters, so started with the glass I already modeled and added the needed ref planes, ref lines and dimensions to be able to control the height and angle of the glass.cocktail-glass-parameters

Then all the needed parameters and formulas. I have chosen to convert all my parameters to ones without units to avoid the Inconsistent Units popup in Revit. Pretty sure that is not needed and I might change that in the end, but for now removing them and at the end adding them again works well for me. As you can see from the drawing above and the parameters below I have chosen to calculate each height from the bottom of the glass instead of doing one layer at a time. This means I have to add the previous layers of liquid to the next one in order to get the total height.


Polished the family a bit and I am pretty happy so far. Still needs some work, but good enough to add it as a download


Download Family: Cocktail Glass (v1.0) (204 downloads)


Now what?

As you can see at the top of this post, there are a few more glasses to be build and there needs to be a project made with all the glasses and materials in it, so we can build each cocktail we want. So, if you want to help out in any way, let me know with the reply form below, the contact form on this website, Twitter, Facebook, or on the Revit Forum and we’ll figure out who can do what.

But should we stop with Revit, can we BIM this thing??


Next Post: The Engineers Guide to Drinks – Continued

Albeda College, Buys-Ballotlaan, Vlaardingen


Onderdeel van een opdracht om van diverse gebouwen van het Albeda College de bestaande toestand te modelleren. Samen met een collega het gebouw opgenomen en gecontroleerd aan de hand van bestaande tekeningen, tevens op locatie foto’s gemaakt en later met deze informatie het bestaande model gemaakt.

Albeda College, Baljuwstraat, Rotterdam


Onderdeel van een opdracht om van diverse gebouwen van het Albeda College de bestaande toestand te modelleren. Samen met een collega het gebouw opgenomen en gecontroleerd aan de hand van bestaande tekeningen, tevens op locatie foto’s gemaakt en later met deze informatie het bestaande model gemaakt.

Phases in Revit a short explanation

There was a question on about phases in revit and if I could make a small explanation with some images, so here it is.

Making the phases

On the Manage Panel you will find the Phases button, once clicked you get a screen where you can make the phases you need. In the case from the question that will be 2 phases, one Existing and one New.

revit phases


Setting up Filters

This is basically where you tell revit what to do with which phase. You have 3 options, By Category, where it will show the object as it is setup in the family, so the standard way you made the family. Overridden, this is what you use when you want things in that phase to look different then the same item in another phase. Not Displayed, well that kinda explains itself. I named my Filter Example in this case.

revit phases filters


Setup the Overrides

This is where you tell an object on a specific phase what it should look like and you get about the same options as you get in the Visibility/Graphics settings. In my example I set the New items to be a wide green line and the demolished items to be a thin red dashed line.

revit phases overrides


Setting items on the right Phase

In an ideal world you would activate a phase before you start modeling you building and families you place will be placed in that phase right away. You can also do that after you placed the families, but that will be a bit more work. Seeing that the one asking the question has everything placed already I’ll explain how to change phases for families. If you select a family you will see 2 options in the Properties panel called Phase Created and Phase Demolished, which pretty much is what they do. Select a family (or multiple ones) and set them to the existing phase. Select the families that are new and set them to the New phase. If you have families that are placed in the existing phase, but will be removed in the New phase you can set that too, or use the Demolish tool (looks like a sledge hammer) in the Modify panel.

revit phases existing new

Setting the right phase and filter

Once that is all done you choose the right phase and filter in the properties panel and voila you get this (the text I added to make thins clear, that will not be added)


Hofmeester Dental, Rotterdam



Nieuw kantoor en bedrijfsruimte voor Hofmeester Dental ( in Rotterdam, een leverancier van tandarts benodigdheden. Wat opvalt aan het gebouw zijn de V-vormige kolommen aan de voorzijde die een groot overstek dragen en de trap naar de entree op de eerste verdieping. De gevel van de bedrijfshal bestaat uit een stalen binnendoos met een stalen buitenbeplating verticaal plankprofiel. De begane grond en eerste verdieping van het kantoordeel bestaat uit antraciet metselwerk en de tweede verdieping is wederom een stalen binnendoos voorzien van Lander gevelbeplating in halfsteens verband. Het ontwerp is gemaakt door Wim de Bruijn.

Mijn werkzaamheden:

Aan de hand van een Sketchup model en overleg met de architect een Revit model gebouwd met de tekeningen voor de omgevingsvergunning inclusief detaillering in Revit. Daar na in overleg met de constructeur (JVZ) en de aannemer (Bouwbedrijf De Vries en Verburg) de bouwuitvoeringstekeningen (model) gemaakt. Hiervoor zijn het Revit model van de constructeur en het door mij gemaakte Revit model samengevoegd tot één model waardoor een eenvoudige versie van BIM is bereikt. In mijn eigen tijd (als oefening) renderingen van het model gemaakt met Revit waarvoor eerst de materialen zijn aangepast met behulp van o.a. PhotoShop.

What to do with an existing building?

The situation in the past

Unless you are a company that only designs new buildings you come across and existing building once in a while. In the past you would ask the owner of the building for drawings or the city archives. When you were lucky there were digital CAD files for plans, elevations and sections, but when you were unlucky there were only drawings on paper or even worse, there was nothing at all and you had to measure the building and use pictures to find out how the building was put together.

If you had CAD files, you would clean them up a bit, get rid of unneeded info and make them comply with office standards. Took a few hours but that was it.

If there were only drawings on paper there was a bit more work as you had to do the entire drawings from stretch according to the paper drawings. You had to figure out which drawings you needed and recreate those. I don’t know if this is the same in other countries, but here in Holland the drawings from 20 years ago or so had much less annotations on them then is expected from us these days. One can ask himself why contractors in the past were able to build all those buildings with so little information and why the contractors these days want every nail to be detailed, but that’s another discussion. Usually it took days to figure out how thew building was put together, if you could even get all the info from the paper drawings. But after days of drawing you finally had a set of ‘as build’ drawings (or at least close to that) and you were off to start to draw the new design.

Current situation

These days in the Revit/BIM era, we still need to find drawings of a building we are redesigning and there is very little chance that there is a 3D model of the building in any sort of file format let alone one that is useful. Question is if a model made by a 3th party is something you would be happy with, but that too is a different discussion.

If there are just paper drawing or CAD drawings you have about the same issue, you need to convert those to a 3D model, or is there another way?

In my work I came across all the options and in the end it all comes to common sense and thinking before you start to model stuff. To me there are basically 3 questions you need to ask yourself before you start to do anything:

  • What do they pay me for?
  • What am I going to do with the existing building?
  • What do other people involved expect from me?

What do they pay me for?

This is the easiest of the 3 questions. Did you agree with the owner of the building that you will make a detailed 3D model of the building, than you should do that as you should have taken that into account when made the bid for the work. When you are doing a BIM project then to a 3D model of the existing building is needed.

Did you agree to just deliver 2D drawing in DWG, PDF or paper then it is a different story. In that case Revit is just a tool to get the job done as good, fast and efficient as possible and the 3D model is not one of the goal, but just a means to get to what you need.

I believe that there are 3 different types of projects with existing buildings and all can have different way to be handled when you just need to deliver 2D drawings:

  1. Interior design
  2. Internal remodeling
  3. External remodeling

 Interior re-design


With minimal construction work creating a new interior

For me there are 2 options. If there are CAD drawings you can clean those up and use them as an underlay in Revit and add 3D walls and furniture to it. To be able to use Rooms you will have to add Room Separation Lines. This will give you a nice result in a short amount of time. Are there no CAD drawing you will have to model the building yourself and of course that should be done in Revit to be able to use all advantages that Revit has. For an interior project this existing model can be relatively simple, use 2 Wall Families, one for existing walls and one for load bearing walls and use curtain walls for windows and doors. Also model the building on a floorplan level, meaning there is no need for structural beams that you don’t see anyway on your floorplans and the same goes for floors and roofs. Doing it like this you can use the advantages of Revit and have yourself an existing model in no time flat.

Interior reconstruction


Doing mostly interior work, but with a few modification on the building itself.

This is where the use of CAD underlays is not possible anymore, because you will be needing existing drawing, new drawings and possibly a drawing that shows what has to be demolished. Most likely you will be needing sections as well. This means you can model a building about the same as I mentioned above, but with floors and roofs to make the sections accurate. And in this case there are a few choices again. Are you removing floors you will have to model the structural beams that are around that floor, the question is, will you only model those at the location where you are actually doing structural work or will you model them throughout the building? I guess that depends on how accurate you wanna be and what the owner of the building wants. The same goes for smaller items, like sills and roof trimmings.

Complete building redesign



Stripping the building to its bear structural parts and redesigning a new building around them.

With a complete remodeling of a building you will of course need both new and existing drawing for elevation, sections and plans and the only thing you can do for these projects is to model the existing building. You will also need to take a good look at structural beams and columns for a project like this, so those will need to be modeled as well. As this is also a redesign of the exterior of the building, the existing model would need to be a bit more detailed to be able to show what is changing. This means that stuff like roof trimmings and concrete wall sweeps needs to be modeled to be able to show they are removed or to use them in the new design. Once the existing model is done the full array of tools that Revit has to offer can be used for the new model.

What do other people involved expect from me?

Well, this is a tricky one and a simple answer could be, “what do I care about other people, the owner of the building just wants PDF drawings and he is the one paying me, so why model the existing building in detail, contractors were able to make buildings in the past to without a 3D model”. In a way this is true, a contractor was able to make buildings with just paper drawing back in the days. But instead of seeing the modeling of a building as un-payed extra work you could try and marked the model. Is the contractor prepared to pay a little extra money for the model as it makes his life a lot easier, or is the owner of the building prepared to pay a bit more money so that the contractor and other parties involved have an easier job and save him some money in the end. Or are you prepared to invest a little extra time and money to make a good model so that you will not have surprises during construction and save time there as thing do get clear sooner in a 3D model compared to 2D drawings. Not having to solve all sorts of issues during construction saves everybody money in the long run.

So, it seems there is no definitive right way to do all this, but there are a few things you need to think about before starting a project and I believe that the choice will be different for each project.
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Albeda College, Spinozaweg, Rotterdam

spinozaweg 007
spinozaweg 005
spinozaweg 008
spinozaweg 006
spinozaweg 004
spinozaweg 002
spinozaweg 003
spinozaweg 001


Het Albeda College stond voor een bijzondere opgave, in 6 weken nagenoeg de gehele school vernieuwen. Dit is gelukt dankzij een goede samenwerking met Albeda Vastgoed en het bouwteam bestaande uit Breijer Bouw, Technisch Bureau Tom en Bureau voor Stedebouw en Architectuur Wim de Bruijn BV.

De moderne uitstraling en verbeteringen bestonden uit:
-De gevel verduurzamen (isoleren)
-Een luchtbehandelingsinstallatie inbrengen.
-Koeling aanbrengen
-Nieuwe plafonds en nieuwe verlichting
-Nieuwe uitstraling kantine (ontmoetingsruimte)

De gevel van de Spinozweg 400 is compleet vernieuwd. De isolatie wordt vergroot waardoor de energiehuishouding van de school enorm wordt verbeterd. Het uitgangspunt is een natuurlijke school waarin frisse kleuren de boventoon vormen. De gevel bestaat uit een aluminium composiet gevel welke dubbel geknikt is. Hierdoor ontstaat een rijk gevelbeeld met veel reliëf. De bruine tussenvlakken wordt gemaakt van aluminium zetwerk in kleur gepoedercoat. Hierdoor wordt onderhoud tot een minimum beperkt. De kantine is ook compleet vernieuwd. Hier wordt een kunstwerk van 80 m2 aan het plafond bevestigd om een natuurlijke uitstraling te bewerkstelligen maar daarnaast ook akoestisch een verbetering teweeg te brengen.

[tekst van website Wim de Bruijn]

Mijn werkzaamheden:

Aan de hand van tekeningen de bestaande situatie gemodelleerd en aan de hand van schetsen en overleg met de architect de nieuwe situatie gemaakt

Sieraad van Haagse Hout, Den Haag



Sieraad van Haagse Hout bestaat uit 16 woningen met 3 verschillende stramienbreedtes (5.40, 5.10, 4,80 m). De gevel van de smalste woning wordt als een “harmonica” gekoppeld aan een bredere woning. De woninggevel is een met 6 gaten geperforeerde gele metselwerkschijf. De “harmonica” is een terugliggende gevel met vormstenen in verticale banen. De gaten worden gevuld met deuren, puien en franse balkons. De kopgevels vormen losse schijven die ook de tuinmuur vormen.
[tekst van website Wim de Bruijn]

De ruime woningen hebben een variërend woonoppervlakte vanaf 120 m2 en verschillende kavelgroottes vanaf 85 m2. De woningen hebben een tuin gelegen op het zuiden en door het platte dak hebben de toekomstige bewoners drie volledige woonlagen tot hun beschikking!
[tekst van website Van Mierlo]

Mijn werkzaamheden:

Aan de hand van een Sketchup model en renderingen van de architect het 3D model opgezet in Revit compleet met detaillering. Door diverse aparte stukken metselwerk en het ‘harmonica’ systeem en diverse opties binnen het ontwerp is dit qua modelleer werk een leuk en uitdagend project geweest.

Project website: