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Curtain Walls: A basic introduction

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Stop! Before you go any further......


This Tutorial has been completely rewritten (and extended) for 2017. Click here to read the updated version of this tutorial- including embedded video tutorial.



In this article we are going to take a quick look at Curtain Walls, within Revit Architecture. We will discuss what they are and how you use them. And to conclude, we will produce a very simple building model containing a couple of Curtain Walls



Now before we start: Please don’t confuse Curtain Walls with Curtain Systems. Although they use the same components (and produce basically the same thing)- they are different. Curtain Systems use a set of pre-defined parameters to produce curtain walling with set centres for the mullions. Using simple Curtain Walls along with curtain grids and mullions is a much more intuitive, creative process.



First of all, a little bit of theory:-



Curtain Wall


A Curtain Wall (within Revit Architecture) is a special type of wall. It can be found nestled in with all the other wall types….



Curtain Grids


The Curtain Wall is able to host “Curtain Grids”- which can be placed using the tool found on the “Build” tab of the “Home” menu……..





Once the Curtain Wall has one or more “Curtain Grid lines” placed onto it, the grid lines can then host “Mullions”- which are found adjacent to the “Curtain Grid” tool…



The three components types described above have a hierarchical relationship between them. You MUST have a Curtain Wall to act as a host for the Curtain Grid. You MUST have a Curtain Grid to act as a host of the Mullions.


Right: No more theory- let’s just get started.


I’ll start with a blank Revit Project file. I’m going to select the Wall tool and set the wall type to “Curtain Wall”. Once I have done this I can proceed to place a length of Curtain Wall within my model space…….



And here is my section of Curtain Wall, as seen in a 3D view. Pretty uninspiring at the moment! If we select the Curtain Wall and take a look at it’s Properties…..



…they are quite similar (in terms of the various parameters) to any other wall type. For example: You can control the base and the top via Level constraints, etc.


Let’s press on and add some Curtain Grid lines. I first select the Curtain Grid tool….



Once the tool is selected, I can now just hover over the wall and click to place my grid lines. It is probably easier to do this in an Elevation or Section view…..



In the above image you can see that I have placed a number of Curtain Grid Lines. Once placed, the Grid Lines can be easily moved by first selecting them-and then simply dragging them, or changing the value of the temporary dimensions…..



OK: So we’ve got our Curtain Wall and we’ve got some Curtain Grid lines hosted onto it. Let’s add some Mullions. First select the Mullion tool….



And then simply click on each of the Curtain Grid lines you have just placed, in order to add a Mullion….



I’ll switch to a 3D view and zoom in a little…….



In the above image you can clearly see the Mullion elements that have been added to the Curtain Grid lines. For a basic introduction to Curtain Walls, that’s about it! In other articles we will look at how you can create your own custom Mullion elements- so that you can accurately model an “off-the-shelf” curtain walling system.


But before we finish, just a couple more things about Curtain Walls…..



Curtain Panels.


A Curtain Panel is the area bounded by Curtain Grid lines. When you start with just a single run of Curtain Wall- then entire wall is one large panel. As you start breaking up the wall by adding gird lines, you are automatically forming more panels. Each of these panels is “Glass” by default. But as each panel is a distinct Revit element, you can do interesting things with them. Please Note: It can be a bit tricky to select the a panel- you may need to use the “TAB” key to cycle through various selections in order to reach a panel….


Once selected, you can change it to a different panel type, by using the Type Selector” drop-down menu….



In the above image I have changed two of the default panels (one to “Solid” and other to “Glazed Double Doors”). You will find a variety of different panel types in your Component Library



Embedding Curtain Walls in other walls


You can easily create a nice glazed screen in a solid wall by “embedding” a section of Curtain Wall into a “Host” wall….



To do this you use the “Cut Geometry” tool. A separate article is dedicated to explaining how to do this.



Editing the Profile of a Curtain Wall


Just like any other wall, you can easily “edit the profile” of a Curtain Wall. Just select the wall and then click on “Edit Profile”. Before I start editing the profile….



And after I have finished editing the profile….



Note that the profile can contain arc segments- to which Revit will simply add curved Mullions. For an article on how to Edit wall profiles, see here.

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