The New Game in Town: Link an Autodesk Civil 3D Surface in Revit through BIM 360

With Revit 2019.1, we have a new way to represent topography provided by civil engineers who use Civil 3D 2019.1. This new workflow involves publishing a surface to BIM 360 Docs and then linking that cloud-based surface into Revit.

With this new workflow, we can get a nearly 100% accurate representation of the existing and/or proposed surface(s) from Civil 3D. In most cases, subregions and building pads can be added within Revit. And, because this workflow uses a link, the subregions and building pads are maintained when the surface changes.

The diagram below illustrates this workflow. When set up correctly with shared coordinates, we also have the added benefit of easily sharing Revit geometry with Civil 3D via export to DWG.



First, you must have rights to BIM 360 Docs, which is an Autodesk cloud service. Some already have this for other workflows.

Next, you must have a current version of Desktop Connector installed. 

As a summary, you need to have the following Autodesk products installed before using this new workflow:

  • Autodesk Civil 3D 2019.1 (or later versions)→required by civil engineer only

  • Autodesk Revit 2019.1 (or later versions)→required by architect only

  • Autodesk Desktop Connector 8.0 (or later versions)

  • Additionally, you need to have access to a folder in any BIM 360 project

Workflow Introduction

In this site collaboration workflow, the civil engineer can publish Autodesk Civil 3D surfaces into a BIM 360 project folder through Autodesk Desktop Connector. Then, the architect can browse the BIM 360 project folder to link the topography in Revit.

BIM 360 is used to convert Civil 3D surfaces data into the format which Revit can consume, while Autodesk Desktop Connector helps upload and download data in a BIM 360 project. So, you need to sign in using your Autodesk ID when publishing and linking. Then you can work offline.

Your Revit models don’t have to be a Revit cloud-based model to use this workflow; again, it is not required that BIM 360 Design be used in any way.


Publish a Surface to BIM 360 from Civil 3D

Basic Workflow

Open Civil 3D. Check that you have TIN surfaces available through Prospector.



Select Publish Surfaces on the Output tab (see image below).

The surfaces in the file will be listed; for example, existing and proposed are often separate surfaces. They can both be selected and exported into a single surface in the cloud.

After you specify an output file location in a BIM 360 project and click OK in the Publish Surfaces dialog (see image below,) Civil 3D publishes the surfaces data to the cloud by using Autodesk Desktop Connector. You can check the upload status in Autodesk Desktop Connector (via a right-click of the icon in your Windows system tray).

After the upload is completed, it takes some time (several seconds to minutes depending on the size of the surfaces) for BIM 360 to process the data to the format which can be viewed through a web browser and/or linked in Revit.


This surface can be viewed in a modern browser via BIM 360 Docs, which is a good way to verify the correct data was exported. This is all done in the browser, which does not require any software be installed (though do avoid using the outdated Internet Explorer browser).


Use Revit to Link the Civil 3D Surface

Link a Topography

In Revit, use the new Link Topography command on the Insert tab.


Browse to the correct Hub/Project/Folder and select the published surface.


After clicking the Link button, a topography link will be created in Revit as shown in the image below.


Like the other links in Revit, the topography link is read-only, indicated by the dashed line box around it (see image above). The link contains all the topography elements you published in Civil 3D. You can click the Tab key when hovering cursor on the topography link to highlight the topography in the link as shown in the following image.


Next, you can assign material for each surface defined in Civil 3D. And you can see the surface name and area as read-only parameters (170756 FG in the above image).

Work with Linked Topography

Though you can’t modify the linked topography by adding or removing points in Revit, you can host building pads, subregions, site and parking components, and even railings on it.


Read more about working with linked topography

Manage Linked Topography

On the newly-added Topography tab, you can upload, reload, or remove a linked topography in the Manage Links dialog in the same way as you would with other links in Revit.


And, it updates automatically when you open the Revit model, if you have access to the BIM 360 project which you have published your surfaces to.

During reload, Revit tries to maintain the relationship for elements placed on the linked topography if they still fall within the range of the newer version of the topography.

So, this new workflow helps improve the collaboration between architects and civil engineers who are working on the same project. The civil engineer can publish the latest version of topography to the BIM 360 project each week, or after a major change. Then the architect will see the updates and keep the additions he or she has added on the topography through opening the Revit model or reloading the linked topography manually.

Project Spotlight: City of Duluth Lincoln Park Restoration

Learn how this workflow was used to restore Duluth's Lincoln Parkand visualized using the real-time rendering software Enscape: Restoring Duluth’s Lincoln Park – Designing Site Features with Enscape.


Dan Stine is a registered architect with over 20 years of experience in the field of architecture. He is the BIM administrator at LHB, a 250-person full service design firm. In addition to providing training and support for four offices, Dan implemented BIM-based lighting analysis using ElumTools, early energy modeling using Autodesk Insight, virtual reality (VR) using the HTC Vive/Oculus Rift along with Fuzor & Enscape, Augmented Reality (AR) using the Microsoft HoloLens, and the Electrical Productivity Pack for Revit (sold by CTC Express Tools). Dell, the world-renowned computer company, created a video highlighting his implementation of VR at LHB. He has presented internationally on BIM and has been ranked multiple times as a top-ten speaker. Committed to furthering the design profession, Dan teaches graduate architecture students at North Dakota State University (NDSU) and has lectured for interior design programs. Dan writes about design on his blog, BIM Chapters, and in his textbooks published by SDC Publications.

Zhengrong Fu is a product owner in the Revit team at Autodesk. He has been with Autodesk since 2008. He was a Quality Assurance engineer for Revit MEP before becoming a product owner for architecture. Currently he is working on improving the site collaboration workflow between Revit and AutoCAD Civil 3D. He is the author of Autodesk Revit MEP Skill Collection in Chinese. And he has presented at AU China four times. Prior to Autodesk, he worked on building system design and construction.

Want more? Download the class handout to read about accuracy, legacy workflows, project examples, and presentation workflows incorporating VR.

Companion Class

Learn about the amazing new feature set and workflow Autodesk unveiled in the 2019.1 update for both AutoCAD Civil 3D and Revit. See how a user, who first saw this feature/workflow at an Inside the Factory - Live in Shanghai, China in 2016, and then implemented this on many large complex projects, including a nearly $1 billion hospital project located on a complex site. This session will cover the feature, workflow and challenges encountered. This presentation will also discuss working with in...

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