In Dan Stine

Autodesk Revit has a feature called Design Options, which manages different designs in the same location. This feature can be used with Enscape – and this post will discuss two workflows. First, we will look at the primary way in which the tool is meant to be used—that is, managing different design solutions. Secondly, the use of secondary design options to manage the visibility of visualization embellishments such as entourage and clutter. In both cases, the results in Enscape can be fantastic.

Design Options for Design Options

Where Revit’s Phasing is used to manage different designs, which occur at different times, Design Options are used to manage different designs at the same time—where only one is ultimately selected and constructed.

Specifically, this feature can be used in the early phase of a project to promote two or more solutions to your client. Another use is to develop and manage add or deduct alternates, which are incorporated into the Construction Documents (CD). In this second case, after the bidding has finished, the client selects which option they want (usually based on what they can afford) and, subsequently, selected portions (i.e. options) become part of the contract between the contractor and the client.

The next two Enscape generated images compare two design options as viewed from the same vantagepoint. Using Design Options along with Enscape can really help both the design team and the client in the design solution optimization process.

Here is a short video switching back and forth between the two options to highlight the differences, but also the Enscape image quality.

The design teams can benefit from using Enscape in that they will be more confidant in the options they show the client—it is amazing what I have found in 3D that was not readily evident in plan and elevation views. And with the ease in which we can navigate and interrogate the design in Enscape, it is very helpful to that end.

Clearly, the benefit to the client is the instant and highly realistic representation of the options they are expected to select from. Often, clients do not have training or experience reading and interpreting 2D floor plans, ceiling plans, elevations and sections. Revit’s 3D views and renderings can certainly help, but the quality and fluidity of the Enscape workflow can be a gamechanger… and may even result in repeat commissions from a happy and impressed client.

The next two images show the same two design options represented in plan view. Just looking at a plan view, as the designer, we may not readily recall the exposed duct or consider the door alignment with the vertical joints in the interior glass panels above. Leaving Enscape open most of the time, on a second monitor, while working with the 3D model in Revit, can quickly illuminate subtle design issues earlier and therefore reduce effort which would have otherwise been wasted until these items were discovered.

Floor plan view of Design Option A

Floor plan view of Design Option B

The next image shows how this Design Option is defined in Revit’s Design Options dialog. Later in this article I will cover how we can manage views with Design Options in mind to save time, both in Revit and Enscape.

Design Options dialog

Design Options for Entourage Management

I love the next workflow I am about to discuss and use it all the time. This is what I like to call a “Fail-Safe” way of managing Entourage and Clutter for rendered scenes or Enscape experiences. Using this method, the active Revit model — I.e. in the middle of the CD phase for example — can have all the RPC and custom families used to embellish the scene without the worry of something appearing in the formal prints used for bidding.

FYI: Elements in secondary design options will not appear in schedules either.

Design Options always contain a single Primary option (see the next image). This is the design which appears everywhere by default; plans, sections, elevations and 3D views. This is usually the design teams favorite option or the base bid option when used for alternates. With this in mind, we can leave this Option empty so nothing shows up everywhere!

Creating a Secondary design option called Active in Rendered Views, we can place all the RPC content here to have better control over where and when it appears across all Revit views.

Design Options dialog

With two Design Options, each with two Options, we now have four combinations of what can be seen in any given 3D view in Revit and Enscape as seen in the next collage.

Design Option Possibilities

With all the entourage and clutter safely contained in a secondary design option, our other views now look much clearer (see next image). The distracting elements will not appear in any view unless someone goes out of their way to do so.

Floor Plan Example with no Clutter

Design Option View Management

The edit mode for Design Options is controlled via the options bar. Picking from this list will temporarily activate the selected design option in all views in the Revit project. While in this mode, you can make changes to the design option and add new elements.

Main Design Option controls in Revit

We can also adjust which Option is shown in a given view, even when the Design Option edit mode is not active. In Revit’s Visibility/Graphics Overrides dialog for any 3D view, we see a Design Options tab (only when Design Options exists in a project). Here we can select which Option this view should show. Notice, in the image below, when set to “Automatic” the Primary design option will be displayed.

FYI: If you look back at the Design Options dialog, you see there is a command to change which Design Option is current—thus, you can dynamically change what appears in all views using this knowledge.

The image below shows the Design Option for the first example above. We could duplicate the floor plan view and have one showing Option A and another showing Options B. This would allow each option to appear side-by-side on the same sheet and make it easy to toggle between them in Enscape.

View specific Design Option controls in Revit

The next image shows a design option used as a clutter control mechanism, which has been named so everyone on the team can know what this Design Option is used for. All other views set to Automatic will show the empty (primary) option.

Managing clutter with design options

FYI: When a view has a specific design option selected, the design option Edit Mode will not change this view.

When we have separate views with design options preset, we can quickly toggle between them in Enscape. This is great for day-to-day design and for efficiency when meeting with your client.

Toggling between design options in Enscape

The current Enscape composition can be saved in Revit. As we will see in a moment, these saved views can then be placed on a sheet.

Save an Enscape Image in Revit

These saved views show up in the Renderings node, as shown I the following image. Notice, here too, we have two copies of the Level one floor plan view, which have been cropped to just show the area related to the design option.

Design option views in Revit

When hard copies, presentation boards or leave-behinds are required, we can compose the design option plan views and Enscape generated static renderings on a sheet and create a PDF or print.

Sheet composition with design options

In conclusion, Enscape can be an asset when working with design options in Revit. Additionally, using Design Options to manage clutter, you can keep everything in a single model and be more efficient.

Dan Stine

Dan Stine
He is an Author, Blogger, Educator,
BIM Administrator and Wisconsin registered architect.
He works full-time at LHB – a 250 person full-service design firm.

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Enscape example visualization