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Site Grading and Elevation Display

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I don't understand how to set up my "Base Elevations" for drawings and also get the calculated grades to display for my grading plan. I have attached two images showing my problem. I set the Design Layer elevation to match the FFE of the building, then I created grade objects on the same layer. My assumption is that the grade object would set the FFE as my Z=0 and automatically calculate the final grade for display. Instead, it is showing "-2 3/8", instead of 1287' 3 5/8"


I know that this is some error on my end, but don't know what I should be doing differently.





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Thanks Jeff. Is best practice to keep my layer elevations at 0' and manually enter my known points as I start to make the site model/grade objects? That way I am always entering actual elevations for objects, instead of calculating +/- elevation off of the Layer Elevation?

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@samgbickel When it comes to site models, I would say so...but I'm biased as a lanscape architect 🙂

I will sometimes set design layers for built features on their own design layers with their assigned real world elevation.

I do my buildings in separate files with FF of the main level set to 0, reference them into the site, and move them to their real world elevation, position, and orientation.

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I tend to create my site model layer with the elevation at zero. This allows me to place my site information at the correct elevation relative to 0. I know it seems a hassle, but I find it easier to set the elevation of my building layer to the correct elevation and keep everything at correct elevations. That way, when you place your site modifiers and grade objects on your site model you can use the correct elevations. If you set with the elevation layer of your building to 0, then your site has to have elevations relative to this which could be positive or negative and will not relate to survey information. 

In this image you can see that the current site model is set to 0 and the floor levels have the correct elevation. 



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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

I agree. Site Model layer should have an elevation of 0. Also, if you are creating Hardscapes with Aligned Slab, and adding Grades as Surface Modifiers, I would also keep those on Design Layers that are at 0. And I would keep any Hardscapes with Aligned Slab on their own design layer, so that you don't have them aligning to things they shouldn't. 

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