Autodesk Revit: Structural Grids


Many architectural projects utilise Structural Grids to help set out steelwork, etc. Thankfully we have a dedicated Structural Grid line tool in Revit for just this purpose. Please don’t make the mistake of using simple 2D lines to represent your structural grids- you really would be missing out on the features of a great dedicated tool.

Unit Agenda

  1. Structural grids are 3D planes in our model world
  2. Creating/Adding  structural grids
  3. Changing the grid labels
  4. Changing the length of the grid lines
  5. Adding an elbow to the grid bubbles
  6. Creating multi-segment grid lines
  7. Adding Columns to our structural grids

Video Tutorial:-

Structural grids are 3D planes in our model world


If you consider the structural grid in your project, you will appreciate that the grid lines are really the edges of 3D planes. If you look at the design in plan, you’ll see a series of grid lines. If you then take a vertical section through the plan, you’ll see the same grid lines running vertically up your building. And this is how Grid Lines work in Revit- they are true 3D planes that can be cut through. The benefit of this is that they are always coordinated and accurate. In 2D CAD packages (such as AutoCAD) you would have to manually draft out the positions of the grid lines both in plan and section. Makes changes to a grid line in plan and “you” have to make the corresponding change to the respective grid line in section. Well you can forget all that with Revit. You change the grid line in whichever view suits you and Revit will update it in all other respective views.

Creating structural grids


So how do we go about about creating Structural Grids in Revit? First of all you need to be in a plan, elevation or section view. Then you go to the “Architecture” menu. From here look on the “Datum” panel and find “Grid”……


Placing Structural Grids into your project is quite similar to placing Levels and also Reference Planes. Similar in the fact that it’s a “two click” operation. The first click to place the start of a grid line and a second click to define the other end of the grid line. Note that Revit will automatically name / number your grid lines. ie the first one will be numbered “1”, the second “2” and so on. At any point if you change the number of the latest grid line, Revit will automoatically try to follow a logical naming convention. For example, if you placed 5 grid lines and then change the last one from “5” to “A”- then Revit will name the next one “B” and so on.


When you are actually placing new grid lines, the default setting is for a single, straight grid line. You can see this default setting in the aobe image. If you need (say) an arc as a grid line, just change the the toggle from single linear element to one of the other tools. Note: The last tool in that palette (the green line with a small arrow on it) is the “Pick Lines” tool- this is an excellent tool when you already have lines /geometry in your project that you can use as a reference for your new grid lines.

Changing the grid labels


Now that we have some grid lines in our project, let’s take a detailed look at a grid line and it’s parts. Using the above image for reference, we can see:-

  1. The grid bubble (or “head”) with the it’s unique grid reference written inside it.
  2. a tick box that determines whether the bubble is shown on this end of the grid line or not
  3. an open circle control- use this to lengthen or shorten the the grid line. Just hover over this circle with your cursor- hold down your left mouse button and adjust the length of the grid line accordingly.
  4. The “Add elbow” control. This is exactly the same tool that we looked at for “Levels”
  5. An open circle control for the other end of the grid line. It works exactly the same as in (3)
  6. A tick box to either display or hide the grid bubble at the other end of the grid line. It works exactly the same as in (2)

As we said above, Revit will automatically number the grid lines as you create them. If you want to change their reference (ie the number or letter inside the bubble)- just select the grid line in question and then click on the text in the bubble. You will now be able to enter a new value. Rememer: Each grid line must have a unique reference.

Changing the length of the grid lines

Once you have created your grid lines, you will probably need to adjust where they start and finish in your view. This is really easy to do- simply grab the open control circles with your cursor (hold down your left mouse button when you cursor is over the top of one of them) and drag the start or end of the grid line to it’s new position.

Adding an elbow to the grid bubbles

Just like with Levels, it may sometimes be necessary to spread out the bubble heads to stop them overlapping. This will almost certainly happen when you have a view set at a small scale. When you do this, the grid lines will bunch up and possibly overlap. In this scenario, just add an elbow to the grid bubbles as required. The elbow icon is shown in the image above.
In the image above, you can see an elbow has been added and the grid bubble cranked over to the right. Use control (1) to crank the bubble to the left or right. Use control (2) to lengthen or shorten the cranked grid line.

Creating multi-segment gridlines

Structural Gridlines don’t just have to be single straight lines. You can create cranked gridlines, L-shaped Gridlines, etc. To do so, just click on the “Multi-Segment” tool on the the Ribbon. This will put Revit into Sketch Mode. Now you can “sketch” out the Gridline you require. Once you have finished sketching it, just hit the Green Tick to allow Revit to create the actual Gridline.

Adding Columns to our structural grids

Structural Grids are usually used to locate Structural Columns- ‘nothing like stating the obvious! Well in Revit, Structural Columns and Structural Grids work together. Structural Columns automatically snap to grid intersections. And here’s the clever thing! Once you have placed your Structural Columns onto the Structural Grid- Revit will automatically keep these elements synchronised. ie if you then move the position of a Gridline, Revit will also move the position of the Structural Columns to keep them at the intersections.
With regards actually placing your Structural Columns onto the Grid intersections, you can either do this individually (ie column by column) or you can get Revit to find all the intersections and place columns at each of them- all in one hit. To do so, select Structural Column from the Ribbon Menu and then select At grids from the right-handside of the Ribbon. Now just select all the Gridlines that you want columns placed at- and then hit the Green Tick.

Key Points

  1. Structural Grids are 3D objects- so work in plan, elevation and section
  2. Grid References are created (ie named) automatically as you create each Gridline
  3. Structural Columns snap automatically to Grid intersections and stay aligned
  4. Structural Columns can be added to all Gridline intersections in one go.
This tutorial is taken from "The Complete Beginner's Guide to Revit Architecture" FREE online course.
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Posted in Autodesk Revit.