On Land

Environment Information
At Rill Architects we run ArchiCAD on Mac OS X. If you work at Rill, this is your stuff. If you don't, but you work in ArchiCAD, you may find something interesting. Anybody else, I don't know.
Sheet A2-1
Everything I can think of about sections and elevations. Updated for AC10.

AC11 Update: Sections and elevations are now separate tools, but they behave very similarly. It is still convenient to discuss them simultaneously. The standard elevation marker is Elevation Marker JM11.

S/E Element Names and IDs. In AC10, section and elevation drawings should use automatic drawing titles. The default behavior of such titles is to use the name of the view, which comes from the name of the marker. Therefore, you should name the marker with the text you wish to see on the paper; then everything takes care of itself.

The ID should be the approximate sheet number. This is only to help organize the project map and view map. The ID is never used in output. Elevations should use A2-1 and A2-2, etc., and the section IDs begin after them. If you are using a direction code to help tell the sections apart, put that code in the ID, not in the name. Example: A2-4U, A2-6R.

S/E Status (Auto-Rebuild/Manual Rebuild/Drawing). It is just really strongly recommended that all building elevations and sections be model views. Developing model sections is a little harder than elevations, but anyone can do it with practice. I usually keep S/E's set to Auto-rebuild.

S/E Element Layers.There are three layers for S/E elements. +Z SE Hide.NP is the default layer for all S/Es. This layer shows in model combinations and is hidden in plan. +Z SE Print shows in plan. In the templates, all the S/Es are on the Hide layer. When the time comes that you want to see the marker of a given S/E in plan, move that marker to the Print layer. Interior elevations have their own pair of print/hide layers.

S/E Element Pens. I find it helpful to color-code S/Es by function:

Exterior elevations: 122 (purple)
Long sections: 32 (green)
Cross sections 62 (orange)
Interior elevations: 82 (cyan)
Wall sections: 42 (blue)
Sometimes you have to cut a section just to generate a detail; I use pen 52 (dark red) for those.

S/E Element Placement. In AC10, we use 'real' sections, meaning the marker and the section cutter are one and the same. Cut sections using the section marker Section Marker JM10. For graphical clarity, markers might need to extend farther than they would if only considering the section cut itself.

(For junk sections, use Plain Section JAM9. This simple marker just shows the ID and a flag to indicate direction.)

Elevations should be as close to the building as possible; step the marker where necessary to achieve this. Watch out for eaves and gutters.

Sections often require a lot of tweaking to get them to cut through interesting/clear/consistent stuff on all stories. Watch for undesirable effects of stepping with respect to roofs. Where a section cut is perpendicular to a roof's slope, try to avoid stepping the section within that roof. If you can't avoid it, discontinuities in the roof can be patched, but the patch becomes a maintenance issue if you edit the S/E element again.

Section depth should be minimized in order to improve application performance. The depth should reach only the most distant element you want to see; usually it's a ridge or a chimney. Never use infinite depth sections. Zero-depth sections come in handy sometimes for generating details, but building and wall sections should always have some depth. Section depth is now an On-Screen Option, not saved with views. Toggle the display of depths using the toolbar button.

Layers in the Window. All annotations go on the layer +A Arch Note Reg Scale. This includes text, arcs and splines used for leaders, and notation objects. All added 2D work should go on +A Misc Line, but this is not a critical issue. Since S/E windows usually only generate a single view, layer discipline is not as important as in the plan. You should, however, make consistent use of the Arch Note layer, to maintain the option of turning the notes off to display the S/E image by itself.

Vectorial hatching.

Elevation (and 3D) hatching is generated by the 'Vectorial Hatching' setting of the material in Options -> Attribute Settings -> Materials. The pen of the hatching should typically be 150, which is light gray.

Display of the hatching is a setting in the model tab of the S/E element itself. Hatching slows down generation considerably; in typical use it should be off. Before publishing, turn the hatching on for all the markers by selecting all of them and checking the box in the info box. The hatching switch setting is not saved with views, which is too bad.

Unwanted lines.

Ugly bits which are complex can be patched. To hide simple cases of a few unwanted lines, use a fill which matches the vectorial hatching of the elements involved (shingles, stone, etc.), and has an opaque background. For blank walls you can use a solid fill of a white-printing pen. I use 80, which is purple, so I can see the areas I've masked. You can also try the white-out pens, 181-186. (Their weights match the typical weights.) They work well, but I still like the purple/white fills because I can see them. Masking fills, lines and patches should go on the layer +A Misc Line. The use of masking elements becomes a maintenance issue.

Rendering of depth.

Foreground elements should be outlined with a heavy (5-weight) polyline. (Tip: There's a favorite for this.) There is no reliable way to do this automatically, it's tedious. One tip: for symmetrical building parts, outline one half and then mirror. Another: Outlines can often be copied and pasted to the opposite-facing elevation and mirrored across the origin.

Use Marked Distant Area where appropriate. When using it, check 'Use One Pen' and use pen 30. Pen 30 is gray in AC and 1-weight black in layouts. You need section depths on in on-screen options to edit the MDA depth. Don't forget the toolbar button.

When you combine outlining with MDA, you get three levels of rendering: Fills on and outlined, fills on with no outline, and fills off.

Model pens. Except for walls and objects, elements are drawn in 3D with their floor plan pens. Walls have a dedicated 3D pen, which should be a 3-weight. (Typical walls are 13.) Objects can have a separate 3D pen, either as a parameter or hard-coded, this will vary. It is a long-standing wish that all elements have a separate 3D pen.

The ground. The ground mesh section settings should be: Fill='Air Space'; Background pen=91; Cut pen=36 These settings give an invisible fill with a heavy ground line. The bottom and side lines of the mesh should be obscured by the object Grade Mask JAM8, which goes on the +A Misc Line layer. Update: Or you can simply white out the cut lines with pen 186.


Elevation notes. The main materials and building elements should be noted. This includes wall finishes, trim parts, decorative columns, panels, railings, chimneys, etc. To align the notes, use the object Note Column JAM9, in the drawing tools folder. Notes on the right side should be left-justified with the leaders starting at the first line. Notes on the left side should be right-justified with the leaders starting at the end of the last line.

It is permissible to fully annotate one elevation on each sheet, and then only point out unusual features on other drawings on the same sheet.

Knee wall heights should be dimensioned in section.

In sections, unusual ceiling or floor conditions may be labeled with Slab Elev JM9. Examples: Lowered ceilings in small rooms, a stepped slab in a theater.

Roof pitches should be noted in section and elevation with the label Roof Slope JAM9.

Doors and windows should be labeled with Door-Window Label JAM9.

Structural members in section should be labeled with Description JAM9. Joists are shown 2D-only using 'Joists Sect 2D JAM9'. Our standards don't support modeling the joists.


Elevation views should show the Z-height of each story. In Archicad 10, SE windows can do this automatically.

For levels other than story levels, use the object Elev Marker JM10. In sections, levels should be should be shown for ceilings as well as floors, and for interior floor level changes (such as garage slabs). Level objects will auto-display their Y position, which is the height above zero. They should be dimensioned to show the relationships among them.