March 17, 2016

Revit Architecture: Creating Organic Roofs with the Extrusion and Vertical Opening Tools

Hi folks, IX here, one of the Senior Application Specialists here at Ideate, Inc.

In this post I’m going to show you how to create an organic roof with the Roof by Extrusion and Vertical Opening tools in Revit. I like to call this workflow in Revit the "cookie cutter roof technique," but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start-off with a review of the Roof by Extrusion and Vertical Opening tools.

Roof by Extrusion:
This tool allows you to create a roof by extruding a profile you have sketched. When using this tool, Revit will first ask you to set a workplane to sketch on and the highest level in the project (I call this the NO build area). Once these two options have been defined Revit is ready for you to create your sketch profile line(s). Once this is done, Revit will extrude the profile line from the sketch plan to the to the far end of the building. Typical types of roofs using this tool are Gambrel, Vaulted and Pleated, among others.

Roof by Extrusion
Vertical Opening:
This tool lets you cut a vertical or perpendicular opening through a roof, floor or ceiling element. First, Revit will ask you to select the element you wish to cut an opening into, then will switch to sketch mode and allow you to create an enclosed sketch that will be used to create the opening through the selected element. For roofs this tool is used to create opening that the Dormer Opening, Shaft Opening or Skylight windows tools would not be used for.

Vertical Opening
Alright, now that that’s out of the way. On to what I call the "cookie cutter roof technique." I’m sure we have all either had, or at least seen, holiday cookies such as Christmas, St. Patrick, or Halloween cookies, right?

Tasty and Uniform
To make this type of cookies you start by making the dough, rolling it out and placing a cookie cutter on the dough to get the base of the cookie. I’m going use this simple technique-metaphor to create an organic roof in Revit using the Roof by Extrusion and Vertical Opening tools.

Step 1: Creating a Roof Using the Roof by Extrusion Tool
  1. Start in the Default 3D View.
  2. Select the Roof by Extrusion button under the Architecture tab → Building panel → Roof button → Roof by Extrusion.
  3. Select the Pick a Plane option and hit the OK button.
  4. Select on a face that you’d like to sketch your profile on (in this case a wall).
  5. Set the Roof Reference Level and Offset (Level = level 2 and Offset = 20’-0”).
  6. Switch to the appropriate elevation view, in this case east elevation.
  7. Sketch out your desired profile.
  8. Select the green check from the Mode Panel on the Ribbon, when done.
Creating a roof using Roof by Extrusion
Step 2: Preparing the Roof Element for the Dough and Cookie Cutter
  1. Switch back to the Default 3D View.
  2. Select the top of the Cube to view the model in 3D, from the top.
  3. Select the Roof and Grip Arrows and stretch the roof out passed your desired overhang.
Preparing the Roof
Step 3: Making the Dough and Cookie Cutter Using the Vertical Opening Tool
  1. Switch to your Roof Plan View and select the Roof.
  2. Select the Vertical Opening tool from the Opening panel on the Ribbon.
  3. Change the Visual Style to Wireframe, if needed.
  4. Select the Rectangle tool from the Draw Panel.
  5. Create a sketch rectangle that falls outside the of roof element (This is your cookie dough!).
  6. Use the Draw tools from the Ribbon to create your desired shape of roof (This is the cookie cutter).
  7. Select the green check from the Mode Panel on the Ribbon when finished with your cookie cutter sketch.
  8. And there is your Organic Roof!
  9. To put the final touches on, you can select all the exterior Walls and use the “Attach Top/Base” tool to attach your exterior walls to the roof.
Creating a Vertical Opening
Check out this short video on the steps outlined above and give it a go. 

Enjoy my recommended workflow tips and tricks and have a happy St. Patrick’s Day!


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Eugene O'Day, IX
AEC Senior Application Specialist
Eugene A. O’Day, IX, with more than 25 years of architectural and mechanical experience, offers a trained focus on all things Revit and BIM. Teaching is a passion of his. Eugene has been an instructor in undergraduate degree programs, has traveled worldwide teaching Autodesk solutions to major corporations, has taught at accredited ATCs throughout the Northwestern region, and is a frequent and popular instructor, speaker, and presenter for AUGI® CAD Camps, Revit – and related product user groups. He has also been a trusted public school district advisor on new drafting instructor hires. At Ideate, Eugene provides training and support for Revit Architecture, Revit Structure and AutoCAD. Eugene is also a Revit Architecture Autodesk Certified Professional.