The Magic Powering Autodesk and Graphisoft's Stair Wizard Tools
Vincent Charbonneau posted on June 06, 2017 |

When most of us are trudging up or down a flight of stairs, we seldom stop to think about who designed the stairs, how they were built and why those particular stairs were chosen for that specific location. In the world of building information modeling (BIM) and 3D CAD, however, engineers often face the challenging task of designing, implementing and creating just about every component of a building, including the structure’s all-important staircase. After all, stairs fulfill many vital roles, from simply granting access to additional floors to providing escape routes in case of an emergency.

With that in mind, two new stair creation programs have recently surfaced, each with their share of useful and intriguing features. The first is Autodesk’s Revit 2018. The latest version of Revit includes improvements to the user interface in the form of streamlined toolbars and a better file management system.

One of the most significant architectural advancements in Revit 2018 is the addition of a Multistory Stair feature. Stairs spanning multiple floors can now be easily snapped into place and altered to conform to specific angles and building parameters. Furthermore, railings can be hosted to topography, providing better control over the start and end point of railings. 

Depiction of the new Multistory Stair tool. (Image courtesy of Autodesk.)
Depiction of the new Multistory Stair tool. (Image courtesy of Autodesk.)

Revit 2018 allows users to utilize the coordinates from a linked DWG file. CAD files are georeferenced and linked, with host models employing the same coordinate system. The host model coordinate system is empty, and users can choose to align the link’s system with the host model’s shared coordinates. Revit can also read the new AutoCAD 2018 format (updated this year from the 2013 format).

The second stair creation program that we’ll be examining is GRAPHISOFT’s ARCHICAD 21. ARCHICAD 21’s most important update is the implementation of an algorithmic stair creation tool. The complex nature of railings and stairs—which must comply with many stringent safety and structural regulations—can slow down the design phase considerably, often requiring that architects generate several iterations of the same models in a largely manual workflow.

Thankfully, the new Stair Tool in ARCHICAD 21 helps ease this process. The algorithmic tool provides automatic validation for human ergonomic and safety specifications, taking into account thousands of design permutations and options. Architects are offered suggestions for stairs and railings that fit the optimal design requirements tied to the unique context of each building.

Additionally, the Stair Tool’s graphical methods enable users to tweak and customize the shape, structure and components of each set of stairs, while the Railing Tool offers many choices related to the input of associated railings along staircases or other building elements. Posts and panels can also be similarly customized.

A small selection of the many railing options available in ARCHICAD 21. (Image courtesy of GRAPHISOFT.)
A small selection of the many railing options available in ARCHICAD 21. (Image courtesy of GRAPHISOFT.)

Other new features of ARCHICAD 21 include an updated CineRender engine (providing photorealistic rendering options within a BIM context) and improvements to the collision detection, IFC model referencing and element classification systems.

For more information about the real-world application of BIM techniques, check out “How a Structural Engineer Makes BIM Work.”

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