Generative Design in Revit for Workspace Layout

Dynamo and generative design in Revit bring the art and science of informed decision making to design exploration. In this article, we will walk through the creation of a workspace layout step by step using generative design in Revit.

Related: Generative Design for Architectural Space Planning with Danil Nagy and Lorenzo Villaggi


At Autodesk, we spend a lot of time thinking about the future, in terms of the things we make, how we make them, and how we work. Events of 2020, including COVID-19 and social upheaval, are both disrupting and accelerating many of the trends we’ve been tracking, uncovering gaps in the way the world works: what we make, where we make it, how we make it, and our understanding of who benefits.

The post-COVID-19 world will look different—politically, economically, and in terms of the built environment—than the pre-COVID world. We need to work together to forge not a new normal, but a new create spaces and processes that are better for all of us as we re-enter the world. This is an opportunity to rethink the AEC ecosystem.

From education to remote work to socializing with our friends and family in a way that keeps everyone safe, we’re all acting as innovators now—and in ways we never imagined. We will need to rethink the people and processes that define our industry.

Over the past few months, we’ve been talking to customers and health experts about current challenges and the constantly changing landscape. Four main themes have continued to come up; specifically, the need to:

1. Accelerate remote and hybrid work
2. Plan to retrofit indoor and outdoor spaces
3. Solve for congestion points where people move through space, such as at building entrances or through transit hubs
4. Improve indoor air quality


Space Planning

We’ve all seen the headlines. It’s the end of the open office floor plan. It’s the end of the gummy bear jar. The need to maintain a safe distance of six feet between employees means that commercial offices will need to be retrofitted, at least temporarily. From the safe arrangement of desks and the width and spacing of aisles to the density of seating, better data informs better decision making. AEC firms are actively thinking about what this looks like.


Dynamo and generative design in Revit can automate the iteration of workspace layouts to help determine what will work best in your client’s space.

With generative design in Revit, you can build safe distancing standards into your workplace design studies. Use it to better visualize design data, understand trade-offs, and weigh different room layout options without the manual work of rearranging and reorienting desks and interior elements.

You can use Revit generative design to:

  • Optimize room capacity according to safe distancing guidelines

  • Generate, explore, and refine multiple layout options in a short amount of time—visualizing and supporting design decisions with data

  • Create custom logic with Dynamo to address specific design requirements or needs

  • Populate preferred design concepts directly into the Revit model

The tool can be applied to other project types as well, such as redesigning the layout of a restaurant, a grocery store, or a hospital.

Think of this article as your training guide. Here, you will learn how to use generative design in Revit to perform workspace layout. Through hands-on exercises with step-by-step instruction, you will generate alternatives for the placement of desks in office environments. These exercises will increase in complexity as we go along, starting with out-of-the-box Revit samples and working towards built-from-scratch studies in Dynamo for Revit.


Exercise 1: Desk Layout Using the Workspace Layout Sample Study

In this exercise, you want to determine the best arrangement of desks in a large room using generative design in Revit. You plan to use the Workspace Layout study, which generates layout alternatives in rows—suitable for an office space or classroom. Your goals are to maximize the number of desks, maximize views to the outside, and minimize the distance from each desk to the nearest exit.

1. Open the Datasets/Workspace Layout.rvt file.

2. On the Manage tab, click Create Study.

The Create Study function lists available study types. These are the examples provided by Autodesk. Using Dynamo, more study types can be added to help solve your organization’s unique design problems.


3. Select the Workspace Layout sample study.

4. Enter a unique name in the Study Name field.

5. The Method you select determines the logic that is used to generate design alternatives, or outcomes. In this example, you have specific goals, so you will use Optimize. The settings change based on the Method you choose.

When creating a study using the Optimize method, you can choose from the following goals:

  • Maximize the number of desks in the room (i.e. desk count)

  • Maximize the average score for the quality of views to outside from each desk (i.e., views to outside)

  • Minimize the average distance to exits

6. Select a room for the study. Go to the 03 – Floor view. Select the room 321 Open Office. (Note: In Revit, rooms can be selected only in a plan view.)


7. Select an instance of the desk family to be used in the layout. For this exercise, you will select the Desk family (a standard family available out of the box) sitting in the adjacent room 320 Media Review.


8. For Choose Variables, you will choose the items whose values can change when generating outcomes. For this exercise, ensure both are selected.


9. For Set Goals, you will select the goals that are important for this study as follows:


10. In addition to defining variables and goals, you can set constraints on the outcomes. In this case, you will leave the default values unchanged.

11. For Generation Settings, use the settings pictured below. These settings affect how the Optimize algorithm works. Check the Issues section and be sure to resolve any issues before starting the study.


12. Click Generate. The Explore Outcomes dialog box will appear, and your study will begin generating.

13. When the study is done, a green checkmark displays next to the study name. Outcomes display in the center pane, showing the design alternatives resulting from the study.


14. Click the icon to collapse the studies list.


15. Each thumbnail is a live 3D view, so a limited number of outcomes are displayed at one time. Use the controls to view the outcomes as a list, sort them, or display additional pages of outcomes.


16. Select an outcome, and make sure the Details and Charts options are turned on from the top right corner. The outcome details appear in the pane on the right. The image is a 3D view that you can manipulate. The outputs indicate resulting values for this outcome, and the inputs show the values used to generate it. Click the arrows at the bottom right to view other outcomes in detail.


17. You can also use the chart to filter outcomes. Click and drag over one or more columns to see outcomes that meet the criteria.


18. Click Clear filters to display all outcomes again.

19. To review and analyze outcomes in another way, change the chart view to a scatterplot. Use the options here to change the criteria used for the X and Y axes, and to format the display of outcome values.


20. Click a plot on the chart to select that outcome and view its details.

21. Once you have decided on a particular outcome that you want to integrate into the model, select that outcome and click Create Revit Elements to add these elements to Revit.


22. The resulting desk layout in the 03 - Floor plan view appears as expected.


Open the 3D view Office Building. Here, you notice that the desks are oriented backwards (i.e., back to front) from the desired result.


23. Fortunately, this rotation issue is easily solved; simply select all desks and press the Space bar twice.


Get four more workspace layout exercises using generative design in Revit.

Tomasz Fudala is a structural engineer. He has over 17 years of experience in the software industry, including extensive knowledge of structural solutions in the Autodesk portfolio. He holds a Master of Science degree in Structural Engineering from the Cracow University of Technology, Poland. He is very passionate about computational and generative design. He is a BIM enthusiast and a Revit API and Dynamo coder.

Aaron Vorwerk is a registered architect (AIA, NCARB), engineer-in-training (EIT), and sustainability professional (LEED AP BD+C) with graduate degrees in civil/structural engineering and architecture (BSCE, MSCE, M.Arch). He has practiced in architecture and engineering, led two design firms through BIM transitions, and spent twelve years in technical sales—educating and advising design firms, contractors, and owners on how to improve the tools and techniques they use to accomplish their work. Aaron presently leads a global team of technical marketing managers in the development of compelling storytelling assets for the building industry.

Share Article