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Aligning building and site in Architect


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I have a building that I've started to design, and I have contours that I've imported from a survey.  How do I orient them correctly to each other when the building walls are not running north-south and east-west?  If I rotate the building, it will be difficult to draw straight walls, so it seems like I'd want to rotate the contours instead so that the building is oriented correctly on my site.  Does that sound right?

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If it's a 2d survey, I would reference your survey into the building drawing/model as an external reference.  That allows you to rotate the reference file viewport and maintain your orthogonal building orientation. It also prevents a bunch of civil engineering / survey classes from polluting the file.  1377314922_ScreenShot2020-08-13at2_07_00PM.thumb.png.461ab45faa68df60cc8b55d5fe7a798a.png



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If you are using a DTM site model, then I would use a similar approach but do it slightly differently.  I would build the DTM model in a separate file, the file with your civil information.  Reference it back into your original model, rotated and place the referenced file normal to your building.  Then I would copy the DTM from the civil site file into the building file, and rotate it into position to match.  The benefit to working this way is that civil drawings are often set far from the drawing origin which creates VW modeling issues.


The other way is to use this tool to work your building model in a rotated view.  Which I don't always like. 



Edited by cberg
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Another approach, similar to the design layer view port (DLVP) method described above, is to draw the building on ordinal grid and make a symbol of it.


Place an instance of the symbol on the drawing on its own layer. Rotate and adjust xyz as needed to align on the survey layer. Edit the building via the symbol definition in the resource manager. It will appear for edits in the ordinal position. The instance on the drawing will retain rotation and xyz position and will display the edits. Moving or rotating the instance on the drawing will not affect the symbol definition or its ordinal orientation in the symbol edit pane. Editing the symbol instance (dbl click) produces a similar edit pane with option to display/snap the objects surrounding the symbol instance. View changes, eg top plan, in this edit pane do not change the ordinal orientation of the symbol definition. 


As noted by others above, the survey and building (symbol or not) can be in separate files, (or at least on separate layers).  Reference one file (or layer) into the other via DLVP. This is a great approach. Doesn't really matter which is referenced. I prefer keeping the terrain/survey in correct orientation and referencing the building. The DLVP reference needs to be updated to display edits made to its source file. 


As noted by @cberg, the rotate view feature is available. This affects the display rather than actually changing the geometry. Seems that many users do not like or trust the feature, but it exists for this situation. 


As usual in VWX, lots of ways forward!



Edited by Benson Shaw
finding the muse
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  • 2 weeks later...

Similar to Boh's approach - instead of a design layer viewport of the DTM, you can also just create a "snapshot" of the DTM which will create a copy that you can move, rotate, etc to put in correct relation to your building.  You can access that setting via the OIP when the DTM is selected. The advantage is that you can adjust the display settings of the snapshot, so you have more control over the result.


The next question that you're probably going to ask is how do you move the DTM to the correct height - given that the building is likely referenced to a Z-height of 0 and the DTM is referenced to something else i.e. 314.25 feet.  The snapshot works well for this situation as well - allowing you to move it in 3D space to the correct registration while also retaining the correct contour numerical display.


This is from memory, so if you have trouble implementing the above and want to use this approach, let us know and I can clarify better how it's done.

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Similar to Boh's method, I create a design layer viewport (DLVP) of the building on the site layer that has the DTM (always generated from a surveyors dwg) on it - this way I can accurately set the finished floor level in real world figures by setting the z height of the DLVP in the object info palette - it has saved my bacon on a few occasions where the builder or surveyor stuffed up the datums and fingers get pointed to me saying "are you gonna pay for this?. You draw the plan wrong!" That would be no... see here on the model? See ya!

Anyho, referencing the building to the DTM keeps north correct (its usually always up) and takes out the potential to move it stuffing up solar studies. Its easy to create a DLVP of the site and send that to the building layers once the siting has been established to make the foundation suite the site contours and you've then got the site layer as a backup to any potential disputes.

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If you are bringing objects into a file based on a survey, you need to read up on coordinate systems.  Objects more than about 20 km from the drawing Origin will create drawing problems as the numbers get so big in reference to the zero point that you lose accuracy. The trick is to bring in the file and then set the drawing origin relatively close to the drawing. You can then give this origin basically any  "offset" from zero that you need to provide the appropriate coordinates in the drawing.


I am not an architect and don't ever use this, just wanted to point this out in this thread to hopefully save someone future problems.

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@PatStanford very true! Survey dwgs can have so much rubbish in them - depends on how good their cad person/team is. I’ve ripped a couple of surveyors for their rubbish files... at least vectorworks will still Import the file regardless of of object distance. Revit will refuse any file import that has objects over 4km apart (if I’m remembering correctly)  -  that was the first time I had to ask a surveyors cad person fix their mess up..! The zebra effect on 3D objects is the main giveaway for far put objects/origin distance issues.
Scale is another issue I’ve struck too - I’ve had files from one particular surveyor that were always double the stated on dimensions or boundary lines. I asked colleagues who are on Revit and ArchiCAD to import and see if they had the same problem after the surveyor said it was mine or vectorworks fault. Oddly enough after pointing out two other people on different platforms had the same issue, the next version came through right... 🤔

Edited by Aspect_Design
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A timely post for me. I am trying to get a survey to import into a vw site plan file. The survey can't get the levels to show up in a dwg or dxf, that's befreo I even bring it into vw. Have tried 4 different versions with no luck so they've ended sending me the .csv file and the levels are 30mm different to the pdf version....


Good to have a good old gripe occasionally...



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