What is BIM data?

Building information modelling (BIM) is the process of creating and managing 3D, 4D, and 5D information for a construction project across multiple disciplines. ArcGIS Pro supports BIM design files from Autodesk Revit as a BIM file workspace.

BIM file workspace in ArcGIS Pro

BIM design files are read directly as native GIS feature content in ArcGIS Pro. ArcGIS Pro can work with the BIM-sourced content like it would with any other read-only, file-based GIS data source. The geometry and parameters of elements in BIM files are utilized in ArcGIS Pro as a read-only GIS data source of point, polyline, polygon and multipatch feature classes. This GIS interpretation of the BIM data can then be used by all the interfaces and capabilities of ArcGIS Pro.

The BIM file workspace provides a geodatabase structure and organization to a BIM file. The BIM file workspace, its datasets, and feature classes are all valid input as feature layers in maps and scenes, and are valid read-only inputs to geoprocessing tools.

When a BIM file workspace is added to an ArcGIS Pro scene, it is added as a special building layer and a group layer.

Revit files as a BIM file workspace

An Autodesk Revit .rvt file is interpreted by ArcGIS Pro as a single ArcGIS workspace containing multiple datasets. Only the elements that belong to the main model are used. ArcGIS Pro does not attempt to access linked models. The BIM File To Geodatabase geoprocessing tool can be used to join multiple BIM files together into a geodatabase. ArcGIS Pro supports Revit file versions 2016–2021.

Diagram comparing a Revit file organization and the BIM file workspace

BIM file workspace feature datasets

An Autodesk Revit file is interpreted by ArcGIS Pro as a single ArcGIS workspace containing multiple datasets of feature classes. These datasets are named after common industry construction disciplines. Autodesk Revit software organizes its categories of elements into these construction views by convention. ArcGIS Pro has adopted these construction discipline names as feature dataset names for the BIM file workspace. The element categories in Revit are used as feature class definitions that are organized within the discipline datasets according to the same construction discipline conventions.

BIM file workspace feature classes

ArcGIS Pro generates a feature class for each of the Revit categories defined in a Revit file. In Autodesk Revit software all of the different Revit elements used to model structures are organized into these predefined categories. All the different variations of Revit elements, called families within Revit, are included in these more general categories and their family names are represented as feature attribute field values.

BIM element parameters as attribute fields

BIM elements contain many descriptive attributes and design parameters in addition to their geometry. ArcGIS Pro includes these parameters as feature class attributes. ArcGIS Pro field names cannot begin with a number, but BIM parameter names can. If the name of a BIM parameter begins with a number, ArcGIS Pro will prefix the field name with the letter "t".

The Floorplan feature classes

The Floorplan dataset of a BIM file workspace (Revit file) includes a set of derived feature classes useful for indoor mapping applications where 2.5D representations of the building are more useful than the full 3D versions of elements. The contents of this BIM file workspace feature dataset includes Floorplan_Polygon, Floorplan_Polyline, Footprint (polygon), and PointsOfInterest (point) feature classes.

The ExteriorShell feature class

Within the Architectural dataset of a BIM file workspace there is a derived feature class called ExteriorShell. The ExteriorShell feature class is created by ArcGIS Pro from a collection of BIM elements most likely to depict the outside shell of the structure modeled in the BIM file. This special ExteriorShell feature class is a single multipatch feature used as the default visual overview representation of the building when an ArcGIS building layer or building scene layer is added in ArcGIS Pro or other applications that support the building scene layer, such as the web scene viewer. The ExteriorShell feature class is used as the overview when a building layer is shared as a building scene layer.

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