Revit Architecture: An introduction to Columns

In this Revit Architecture tutorial I am going to give you and introduction to Columns– both Structural and Architectural.



The first thing to discuss is that Revit Columns come in two main flavours- “Structural” and “Architectural”. How you create them is almost identical for both types. For this tutorial I am going to create a Structural Column. Later on I will explain the fundamental differences between the 2 types. So let’s go ahead and create a Structural Column. First switch to the “Architecture” (1) menu. Activate the drop-down selector below the “Column” icon (2)- the little black triangle indicates the drop-down….



Go ahead and choose “Structural Column” from the drop-down. Please ensure you are in a Floor Plan view when doing this operation. Now before we actually place a column, just take a moment to examine the Options Bar…..



There is an option to rotate your new column IMMEDIATELY upon creation, by checking the “Rotate after placement” tick box (1). You can also toggle between creating a Column which is rising UP (towards you in a Plan view) or going DOWN (away from you in plan view) by selecting either “Depth:” or “Height:”- see (2) in the image above. If you following along with this tutorial ensure you choose “Height:” as you want the column to be created “upwards” and (thus) visible in your Floor Plan view. To the right of the toggle is a Level Selector- use this to choose a Level to constrain the top of your column to.



If we now look at the Properties Palette, we can change the Column Family and / or type, by use of the drop-down “Type Selector”- highlighted red in the image above. With a column type chosen you can now simply click in the active floor plan view to place you column. Each click creates and places one column. For this tutorial I am going to place 2 Structural Columns…..


If I switch to a 3D view you can see the 2 columns that I have just created. They are quite short columns! I can easily change their height by adjusting the Level that is controlling their Top Constraint…..


Whilst you still have the Column tool active, take a look at the right hand side of the Ribbon menu. There are some very useful tools here. You can load additional column families into you current project (1), you can have Revit place a column automatically at each structural gridline intersection (2) and you can also have Revit automatically place structural columns in the centre of each architectural column (3)……



At the start of this tutorial we said there were 2 fundamental types of Revit columns- Structural and Architectural. We have just looked at structural columns so let’s now turn our attention to Architectural type. Pick “Columns: Architectural” from the drop-down picker nested under the “Column” icon…..



How you place Architectural columns is EXACTLY the same as for Structural columns. So why the two different types and what is their distinction? The answer lies in their Type Parameters. Let’s firstly take a look at the Type Properties for a Structural Column…..



You can see in the above image that Structural Columns have a wide range of “real world structural properties” such as “Web thickness”, ” Web Fillet”, “Centroid Vertical”, etc. All very useful properties for a Structural Engineer. Now let’s look at the Type Properties for a typical “Architectural Column”……



Notice how the Type Properties are much more simple and sparse? Basically, the width and depth of the column. Revit Structural Columns are intended to be used by Structural Engineers i conjunction with the analysis tools contained within “Revit Structure”. Conversely “Architectural Columns” are intended to be used by Architectural Designers for coordination purposes- hence their lack of in-depth structural parameters. Of course you are free to use whichever you choose!

And finally let’s take a look at a feature specific to “Architectural Columns”- and that is that they can automatically embed themselves into a Revit Wall. In the image below I have selected the default “Architectural Column” and have my cursor hovered over a section of wall. Notice how the column is tentatively shown as a grey rectangular box…..



As soon as I click in the view to place a column, the column gets “absorbed” into the walls. The wall layers wrap themselves around the profile of the column…..


Key Points

  • Revit Columns can be either “Architectural” or “Structural”
  • Structural Columns have many “real world” structural Type Properties
  • Architectural Columns have fewer Type Properties and are more simplistic in nature.
  • Architectural Columns can be embedded into Revit Walls
This tutorial is taken from "The Complete Beginner's Guide to Revit Architecture" FREE online course.
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Posted in Autodesk Revit.