Autodesk Revit: Levels explained

Introduction

As we start to construct our 3D model, we need some method of controlling the vertical height of our elements- be it floor heights, the base and top of columns, window cill heights, etc. This is where Levels come into play. In order to create an effective and efficient model, it is crucial that you understand the use of Levels. The correct use of Levels will ensure that your model can readily be adjusted (as your design develops) with the minimum of effort.

Unit Agenda

  1. What are Levels?
  2. Where would we use Levels?
  3. Creating new Levels
  4. Adjusting the elevation of a Level
  5. Changing a Level’s name
  6. Adding an elbow to a Level’s head

Video Tutorial

What are Levels?

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Levels are horizontal datums in our project that we use to control the vertical height of our elements. You can think of Levels as a series of invisible horizontal planes in your project. They are infinite in their operation- ie they don’t have a horizontal boundaries. So if they are invisible, how do we see them? If we look “side on” into our model world (ie a Section or Elevation view” we will see “Level ┬áMarkers” that show us where our Levels are. In the image above, you can see 2 Levels in my project. A circular symbol (2) shows us that this is a Level. Each Level has a name (3)- we can change this to anything we wish. The “elevation” (or height / Z coordinate) is shown for each Level (5)- and can be easily changed. And finally a horizontal line (4) depicts the absolute height of the datum. So in essence what you are seeing above is a 2D graphical representation of our 2 Levels- remember the Levels themselves are 3D planes with an infinite horizontal expanse.

Where would we use levels?

Quite simply, we use Levels everywhere that we need to control (and potentially adjust) the height of an element. Most typically we uyse them for Floor and Roof Levels. But they should most certainly not be confined to just those uses. Column heights, suspended ceiling heights, top of parapet walls, window cill & head heights are all good examples of where you may wish to utilise the power of Levels. There is no magical correct number of Levels that you should have in your project. With experience you will learn to use just enough to make your model flexible, but not too many as to overcomplicate it. If in doubt, I would always lean towards “too many” Levels rather than “not enough”. You can always delete the ones that are redundant.

Creating new Levels

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In order to create additional Levels in your project, you need to first be in a “side on” view- ie an Elevation or Section. This is because (you will recall) Levels are horizontal planes- thus we need to be “side on” in our 3D model world in order to be able to sketch a line to represent one of these planes. If you try to create a new Level in a Plan View, the “Level creation” tool will be greyed-out and unavailable to you. Once you have an Elevation or Section View open and active, go to the “Architecture” menu (see above) and then click on “Level”, on the “Datum” panel……..

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Once you have clicked “Level” on the Datum panel, you can simply click in your active view to place the start of the Level line. Then simply move your cursor to the left or right to define the Level line. A second click of your mouse will place the Level line (and it’s associated circular marker head) into the view. As each Level is created, you will ┬ánotice that Revit creates a corresponding Floor Plan view, associated to it. Much more on the relationship between Levels and Views in the next Unit.

Adjusting the elevation of a Level

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When you are creating new Levels in your project, you don’t need to be too precious about placing them at the correct height from the outset. This is because it is so easy to adjust their height retrospectively. There are a few different methods for adjusting the height (or “elevation” of a Level. Let’s take a look at some now:-
  1. You can simply use the “Move” tool to move the Level line up or down in a view
  2. You can select a Level and then click on it’s elevation value- this will let you type a new value directly into the input box. As soon as you confirm the new value by hitting “Enter”, the Level line will move up or down (to the new height) accordingly.
  3. You can select a Level and then change it’s elevation by changing it’s “Elevation” parameter value in the Properties palette (see image above)

Changing a Level’s name

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Each Level in your project must have a unique name. A Level’s name helps you to identify what that datum represents- be it a floor level, underside of steelwork, etc, etc. By default Revit will name these new Levels Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 and so on. You are almost certainly going to want to change these default names to something more meaningful. To do so, quite simply select a Level and then click on it’s current name (the text above the level line). You can enter a new name into the text box- see image above.

Adding an elbow to a Level’s head

Depending on the scale setting of your Section and Elevation views, you may find (at times) that your Level markers start to get too close to one another. When this happens, you may find that the Level heads (circular symbols) and the associated level information starts to overlap. Lucking we have a tool at our disposal to help with this. We can add an “elbow” to our Level lines. This results in being able to crank the level head (and it’s info) above or below the actual level line.
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In the image above I have pointed to the Elbow control, with the red arrow. Simply click on this small icon and it will add an elbow to your level line. In the image below, I have now added an elbow. You can see how the level marker (and it’s info) are now cranked up above the actual level line. The small blue grip that I point to (in the image bel0w) allows you to adjust the offset between the level head and it’s height line.
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In the image above you can see an open (unfilled) small circle just below the the red arrow head. This control allows you to adjust the horizontal position of the level head (and it’s info) in the view. Just place your cursor over this control, hold down your mouse button and drag the level head to the left or right.
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And finally to conclude our introduction to Levels, let’s take a look at the image above.
  1. If you select a Level (here I have selected Level 2), Temporary Dimensions will appear. These are displayed in blue and show how the level relates to it’s neighbours. With these displayed, you can simply click on a value and type a new one in it’s place. The Level will move up or down accordingly.
  2. The open circle at the end of the level lines allows your to control where the end of lines is, in this particular view. Simply hover ovet this control, hold you mouse button down and drag the end of the lines to the left or right. Please Note: This is just a graphic representation of the Levels- the level datums themselves are infinite in their application.

Key Points

  1. Levels are horizontal datums
  2. You use Levels to control the vertical placement / height of the elements in your model
  3. You must be in a “side on” view in order to create new Levels.
  4. You can adjust the height and name of the Level easily, once you have created it.
This tutorial is taken from "The Complete Beginner's Guide to Revit Architecture" FREE online course.
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Posted in Autodesk Revit.