CS 01: Multifamily Units- 00 Introduction

This case study looks at using Revit for multifamily projects. As a scoping tactic, I am limiting this first case study to single building new construction projects. The current process works for rehab/reuse projects too, but will make more sense after reading about the trials and breakthroughs with new construction projects. I also have another case study brewing specifically for multiple building campus projects.

Design Philosophy
To give a little background on this study, I will start with an overview of our firm’s design philosophy for multifamily projects. Multifamily projects revolve around the units. The unit mix and types, the building type, the number of stories, the exterior materials are all variable and unique for each project. However, the philosophy that the unit is the base building module is consistent across every project we design.

Next to the design philosophy, the project matrix is one of the most important pieces of data for the project. Unit counts, mix and square footage are established at the beginning of the project and must be continuously verified at each milestone. Shifts in the matrix could be the difference between a project’s success and failure from the clients point of view.

The projects we design are as small as 20 units and as large as 500 units. There are divisions within that range, but the idea is to develop the workflow to deal with large, data intense projects – 200 to 500 unit buildings. The file size averages 0.75mb – 1mb per dwelling unit resulting in 150mb – 350mb files.

The 2D System
We have a good system in CAD using xref’s to build plans from the base unit thorough the alternates to the building plans. The module includes the interior of the unit along with the bounding elements. Obviously with CAD, there is a lot of redundant checking between tags, sheets, base plans, sections and elevations to confirm any changes to unit types thought the project. The project matrix in CAD is a completely manual process. Areas and counts calculated in the plan files, checked against each other, and filled into a spreadsheet. It becomes a tedious manual process.


  1. Maintain the design philosophy while constructing an entire building.
  2. Provide at minimum, the same quality level of documentation provided in 2D AutoCAD.
  3. Increase the level of coordination between the building skin and unit interior.
  4. Utilize the intelligent tagging capability within Revit to document unit types and alternates.
  5. Utilize the intelligent aspects of Revit to create and maintain a project matrix without resorting to the manual CAD method.
  6. Maintain a workable file size – no more than 300mb, preferably less than 200mb.

The following post entries outline the processes we have tried and learned from in the past. This serves as a road map to show the path that led us to the process we currently implement. Each project includes a project overview, the process, pro’s, con’s and final thoughts.

The last post(s) will cover the current process with tips to integrate the process on your project.

As a sneak peek, the current workflow process involves units as groups. We have created units as links with some success, but to get the full interaction between the unit and the shell, groups have become a must. There are more reasons, but I’m going to explain all the benefits later.


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