Join Paul F. Aubin for an in-depth discussion in this video Use railings to create Life Safety egress paths, part of Revit: Tips, Tricks, and Troubleshooting.
- [Instructor] Often I'm asked for a suggestion on what the best approach is to creating life safety plans that indicate the maximum traveled distance to an exit. So if you got a floor plan and you have to sort of map out these paths that people would have to take in the case of an emergency to get to the nearest exit. Now, the most obvious way to do it is to just simply use detail lines. And the nice thing about detail lines is they only show in the view you draw them in. So you can create a life safety plan, draw these detail lines, and you don't have to worry about hiding them anywhere else because they automatically only show in the view.
But that's about the only place that detail lines have an advantage over other approaches. Because the main problem with detail lines is Revit doesn't have the notion of a polyline. So each of these individual segments is a separate detail line. And in order to get this total distance to that exit, I would have to manually calculate the distance of each of those detail lines and then just total it up and put it in this piece of text. This is not a tag. This is actually just a piece of text.
So it's a pretty tedious affair to do it this way. If you only need to draw a few of these, you don't have that extensive of a floor plan, this might be okay to do it, because it's a fairly contained task that wouldn't require a lot of effort. However, if you do a lot of these and you don't want to have to do all that manual calculation, then you're probably going to be looking for something that's a little bit better as a solution. Now there are third party tools out there that you could look into. I'm not going to talk about any of those today. What I'm going to show you is a little work around that we can do using the one object in element that actually has the behavior we're looking for.
And that is that we can sketch it out, any path we want, and then when we're done, we can click no the object and see its total length, and that is a railing. I've got a railing here on this stair. And if I just sort of click on it, you'll see that there's a total length there of 33 feet. But if we were to exit that railing you can see it as made up of several separate sketch lines. Let me cancel out of there and let's look at the solution using a railing. Now I have one built already int his file that you can look at.
If we do reveal hidden elements, you're going to see this railing element right here. And the solution is twofold. Again, we can sketch it, any shape we want. We can customize the graphics to look exactly how we want. So I've got a dot at one end, I've got a triangle at the other. When I select it the total length is listed right there, and you can see I can even add a tag to report that total length. So those are all really nice positives for approaching it this way.
The downside is we're using a railing object to represent something else, and so we're going to have to cheat the graphics a little bit in order to hide this element in all the places where we don't want to see it. Let me turn off the reveal hidden elements, and let's go ahead and start building a custom version of this egress path. So to get started you just simply create a railing. So I'm going to go to railing, and just choose one of your existing types. Okay, so it doesn't really matter which one you choose. But I'm going to choose one that has less stuff in it so that there's fewer things that I have to delete.
So I'm going to choose handrail pipe, and I'll just create a straight segment like so and then finish it. So now that's just a standard railing. The next thing I need to do is duplicate that type and create a new one. So I do that by going to edit type, duplicate, and I'll call this egress path. Now, I already have egress path finished on the list and you can look at that one if you want to to kind of compare your progress to mine.
But I'm going to show you how I built it right now. Every railing needs at least one linear member, one rail. Okay, now you can choose from any of the rail options. You have rail structure noncontinuous, that's one option. Top rails, handrails, or handrail two. Those are all options. You have to have at least one rail in one of those four locations. So you can't delete them all. Now, in this case we don't really want any rails, 'cause we just want to see the dashes.
All we're going to do is take our rail and put it above the cut plane so that we don't see it. I don't want the noncontinuous rails. I'm going to do this with a top rail. And I've already created one in this file. So I'm going to change no to yes here. And then for the top rail type, I'll click there and click the small browse button, and I've created one just called egress path. Now, all that uses is a profile that has a six by one inch shape. So it's a small rectangular profile.
And it doesn't really even matter what the shape of it is, because like I said, we're going to put it above the cut plane so we're not going to see it anyway. I just did six by one, and I'll click OK. Here's the height, and I'll change that to five feet. So the default cut plane is four feet. If I make it five feet, it goes up above the cut, we won't see it. So that takes care of the rail. That means that I can now come over here to rail structure, and I can actually select the first rail, delete, and it will warn me because some balusters are associated with that.
But I'll just keep clicking delete to delete all the remaining ones. So that clears out everything in this window, and then I'll click OK. So the remaining settings all happen in the baluster placement dialogue. So we're going to click edit there next. I've created three baluster families that are already loaded in this file. One of them just has a simple extrusion in the shape of a circle. Another one has a simple extrusion in the shape of a rectangle.
And the final one has a simple extrusion in the shape of a triangle. You are welcome to go to project browser, scroll down to families under railings, and right click and edit any one of those families, and take a look if you wish. But again, they're all very simple extrusion families. There's nothing special about them. So let's just widen this window here so that we can get a better look at what we're doing. And for the baluster family for this first regular baluster, what we're going to do is scroll down, and I named all of mine with B-A-L as a prefix just to make them easier to find.
And we're going to choose this one here, egress dash, six inches by 24 inches. So it's just a long thin rectangle, six inches wide, 24 inches long. Now if you want, you can rename these. So I can call that dash. Now we're going to leave it assigned to the host. No offset. And then the top of it, we're going to assign it to that to rail element that we just created, that six inch by one inch top rail that's at five feet above the cut plane. No offset there. And then as far as the distance from previous goes, this is how much you're going to space these dashes out from one another.
Now, the dash is 24 inches long, so I'm going to make this three feet which will be 24 inches plus another foot. So that'll give us like a two foot long dash and then a one foot space, and a two foot dash, and a one foot space. And that's going to be our regular pattern of the dash lines going down the length of this egress path. As far as the justification goes, you have beginning, end, center, or spread to fit. I'm going to choose spread to fit which means that that two, then one, then two, then one might stretch or shrink a little bit.
But I think in this case its' fine because I'd rather have what looks like a more continuous pattern rather than some unnatural gaps at the ends or the beginnings. Spread to fit just kind of smooths out any inconsistencies. Now down here at the bottom we have posts. So posts are what happens at the beginning, the end, or at the corners. For the start post we're going to choose that round baluster, which is right here. Baluster dot, it's 24 inches. For the end post we're going to chose that triangle one, which is right here.
I called it arrow. And then for the corners, if you use the six by 24, it's going to kind of be at this weird angle and kind of shooting off from the corner. So what I did was I created one that's just six by six. So you can see egress dash six by six, and that just makes the corners into squares, and it just looks a little nicer. They're all going to start at the host with no offsets. They're all going to end at the top rail element. Again with no offsets. And then I don't need any additional spacing at either the beginning or the end.
So just going to put zeros on all of those locations as well. That's the complete baluster placement. We'll click OK. And then finally, click OK one more time. And this is what our egress arrow looks like. So there's our start post, there's our end post, and there's our dash pattern repeating. If you add an elbow, a corner, it'll get that little square and we're going to do that right now. So what we're going to do here is replace this green path with one of these railings.
So I'm going to go to railing, change the type to my egress path, and then just simply trace right over this green path like so. I'll finish it, click finish here, and then that creates the path. Notice that we do get those little square posts at the corners, and we get the long dashes along all the segments. But more importantly now, when you select this thing, there's our length just shy of 59 feet, and I'm not going to show you how I created the tag but it's a pretty simple tag to create.
Just create a new tag family, set it to the railing category, and then add a label that looks at the length of the rail, and then it will tell you that distance is 59 feet. That looks great here in our life safety plan. The problem is that it also shows in our other floor plans as well. And you probably don't want to see it in your other floor plans. In fact, you don't want to see it in any of the other views. So the final step to this process, to really make this an acceptable workflow is to create visibility graphics settings that hide this egress path in all the views that don't want to see it.
And we can do that very simply by creating a filter. I'm going to go to the view tab, click on filters, and then down here click the new icon to create a new one that I will call egress path. What category do I want egress path to apply to? Well, that thing is a railing, right? So I'll check railings. Over here we set up our filter rules. Now here's all of the parameters in the railing object. Well, all we need to do is find something that sets all of our egress paths apart from actual railings.
'Cause we don't want to hide all the railings. We only want to hide the ones that are egress paths. Well, what about the type name? Because all of my type names start with the word egress path. Now, you can say equals, but then you'd need to create a filter for each one. So instead, what I'm going to do, is say begins with, and then I'll just type the word egress. So now if you make several of these, as long as you always name them with the word egress first, they'll be included in this filter.
And let's click OK. So all you're saying is, if you're a railing, does your name start with egress? And if the answer is yes, then visibility graphics can do something with it. Now, this particular view, if I go to VG, it's all grayed out. And that's became this view is being controlled by a view template, which is a pretty common way to set up office standards. So I'm going to edit the view template, go to filters, click edit again, and then here on filters I'll add my new egress path, and simply turn it off.
Click OK, OK one more time, and all my egress paths disappear. Now, if I repeat that for each of my view templates, then in any of my other views, the egress paths will disappear but, of course, in my life safety plan, they'll still appear here complete with their tags. It takes a little set up to make this technique work. And it's a little flakey because, you know, you're using a railing to represent this. But I think overall, it provides a nice approach, and it's a very easy solution to use once it's all set up.
People just sketch a railing. When it's done, they tag it. And that's all there is to it. And because the view templates and the filters are already applied to all the views, all the visibility takes care of itself. So I welcome you to give it a try, and the next time you have to do a life safety plan, this is a nice effective way to do it that doesn't require any plugins.
NOTE: The exercise files for this course can only be opened in the most recent version of Revit (Revit 2017).
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