Thursday, May 16, 2013

Beyond the Building Envelope

When most of us think about curtain wall, we picture its traditional uses - completely or partially surrounding the structure of a building, or embedded as a linear element in another wall.  In modern architectural applications, curtain wall is now being used throughout a project to allow the inclusion of natural light, to match the exterior elements providing a visual continuity to the project, and to give a more open feel to a facility.  In this post we'll showcase the use of curtain wall as the elevator surrounds at the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC) completed for Wausau Window and Wall Systems.


  The scope of the project consisted of the four walls that surround an exterior, two-story elevator including mullions, glass panels, metal closures, coping and trim around the elevator doors.  Excluded from the scope were the elevator doors, elevator structure, louvered panels and other panels not by the contractor. 

  As curtain wall projects go, the layout for this one was very straightforward.  The walls were straight and vertical and the grid line elevations were consistent.  The front wall had to accommodate the elevator doors and the peripheral panels on the back wall consisted of metal closures.  Both side walls consisted only of glass panels.  Once the walls were placed, the Grid Line tool was used to located the vertical elevations of the horizontal mullions and the centerline of the vertical mullions.  With a grid line selected, the Add/Remove Segments tool was used to remove segments and better define the door and door header features.

The glass for the surrounds is 1 5/16" laminated glass.  When working in the Curtain Wall Panel.rft family template file, we drew the profile in the Ref Level plan view and extruded it upward.  To cause the panel to meet, and terminate at, the mullions properly, the edges of the panel were aligned with the reference planes in the Exterior view.  The family was named and then loaded into the project.

The new panel type was applied to all panels in the project and then the Empty System Panel type was added selectively to create the areas in the enclosure that did not have a glass infill panel.

Each required mullion was created using the Drawing tools in the Profile-Mullion.rft family template file.  The mullions were designed so that the horizontal reference plane aligned with the exterior face of glass and the vertical reference plane bisected the mullion.  Each mullion was uniquely named and loaded into the project.  See the blog tutorials Custom Profiles and  Adding Mullion Profile Parameters to learn how to make parametric curtain wall mullions.

Using the Mullion tool, a mullion was assigned to a grid object then the mullion was selected, edited (Edit Type button in the Properties panel), duplicated and the new profile assigned to the mullion as the Profile parameter in the Type Properties dialog box.  This mullion was applied wherever applicable and the procedure repeated until all of the mullions were in place.

Closures, Breakmetal, and Trim
These type of elements were created as extruded Generic Objects with a Length parameter added to control the extrusion distance.  Each Length parameter was designated as an Instance Parameter so that every occurrence of the object could have a unique extrusion length if required.

Each family was loaded into the project and placed manually, using the Align command and dimensional constraints, and customized using the Length parameter.

Finally, the coping was created in two steps:  First the profile was created in the Profile family template and that was loaded into a new Generic Model family template where it was used as the Profile element of a sweep object.

After naming the file and loading it into the project and aligned with the curtain walls.

Curtain wall is being utilized in more and more locations in projects other than the building envelope and storefronts and, employing the same principals used in more traditional applications of Revit curtain wall objects, you can efficiently adapt them to fit your design needs.


  1. I have seen this thing when our consulting and engineering firm was providing the service of building envelope to our building.
    Paramount Projects Miami

  2. Thanks Sheila,
    If there is something that you'd like to see covered on the blog, please let me know.