Generative Design in Revit

By Microsol Resources | BIM

What is Generative Design?

Generative design is a design exploration process in which designers or engineers input design goals into the software along with parameters such as performance or spatial requirements, materials, manufacturing methods, and cost constraints. 
The software then explores all the possible permutations of a solution, quickly generating design alternatives. The software tests and learns from each iteration what works and what doesn’t work. Put more simply, the generative design uses rules to look at a range of design possibilities. It’s a way of leveraging the computer to help you design by systematically developing and analyzing design alternatives. 
While a designer might be able to come up with three different designs, the generative design allows you to develop thousands of designs. It allows designers to investigate design possibilities more quickly and in such a way that often yields surprising results. 

When do you use Generative Design?

Until recently, design has been more of a process of trial and error. Generative design, however, provides views of all the possible designs at once. You can then choose the preferred solutions, rather than just those that simply satisfy the parameters. The range of design problems is really limited only by your imagination, but some quickly become obvious. 

  • For example, you could use generative design to come up with seating solutions that optimize the number of seats versus ideal sight lines. 
  • Or, you could use it to develop a parking plan that maximizes the number of cars in a parking lot while maintaining the desired circulation and walking distance to building entrances. 
  • Or, suppose you are designing an apartment building and want to get just the right mix and arrangement of 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom units. 
  • Or, you want to manufacture a part that meets certain requirements for strength while minimizing the amount of material. 

How do you use Generative Design?

As projects become more complex and involve more design considerations that tend to be in opposition to each other, generative design provides a way to come up with design solutions and reach them more quickly. The generative design workflow involves several stages. 
  1. First, you generate design options using algorithms and parameters specified by the designer. 
  2. Second, you measure or analyze the designs based on how well they achieve the goals defined by the designer. 
  3. Third, you rank or order the design results. 
  4. Fourth, you use the ranking of the design options to figure out how designs should be further developed or evolved. 
  5. Fifth, you compare and explore the designs that have been generated and compare the results to the original design criteria. 
  6. And finally, you choose the desired design option and integrate it into the wider project or design work. 
For Revit users, generative design is included as part of Revit or as part of the Autodesk AEC Collection. It is installed automatically when you install RevitThere is no separate installation for Generative Design.
It appears on the Manage tab in Revit and is fully functional if you have the Autodesk AEC CollectionYou can still access similar functionality using Dynamo for Revit. 
Generative design runs on your local computer, not in the cloud. It uses parallel threads to mitigate its impact on performance. But, memory and CPU are the two factors that most affect performance while outcomes are being generated. You can continue to work in Revit or other applications while the generative design outcomes are being generated. 
The software includes a number of ready-made studies that can be used as starting points and can be customized using Dynamo to meet your specific needs. You can then take the results directly into Revit. And, you can use Dynamo to create new studies. 

Generative Design in Revit includes an initial set of study types to choose from. These study types are based on Dynamo graphs (or scripts), each of which addresses a particular design problem: 

  • Grid Object Placement: Which places elements in a rectangular grid pattern inside a room.
  • Maximize Window Views: Generates viewpoints and calculates scores that represent the quality of views to the outside from those points.
  • Randomized Object Placement: Creates clusters of elements inside a selected room.
  • Stepped Grid Object Placement: Places elements in a stepped grid pattern inside a room.
  • Three Box Massing: Generates simple massing models by varying the heights and relative positions of three boxes.
  • Workspace Layout: Generates rows of desks in a room, while considering doors, windows, and columns.
The software currently includes four methods: 
  1. Optimize lets you generate design iterations optimized to meet specified goals; each succeeding generation of solutions evolves and improves based on prior results. 
  2. Randomize lets you explore a wide sample of possible solutions using variables that are randomized within specified ranges. This is helpful for exploring design alternatives when you don’t yet know the metrics you want to optimize for. 
  3. Cross-product lets you experiment with different combinations of variables. This lets you see how small changes to selected variables can change the design. This is useful for exploring different variations of a preferred outcome. When creating a generative design study, you need to consider the inputs you will use to generate design alternatives, including goals, constraints, variables, and constants. 
  4. And, you need to understand the outputs that result from each outcome.


Both Generative Design and the Dynamo Player allow you to run Dynamo graphs from Revit to interact with the model in some way. 


Both tools are designed to allow Revit users, who may or may not be proficient with Dynamo, to run a graph without exposing its inner contents. You can use the Dynamo Player to perform some functions on the current model, such as calculating room occupancy load, updating sheet names, adding levels to the model, and so on. 


You can use Generative Design to generate multiple possible solutions to a design challenge, and after evaluating those alternatives, you can choose the optimal solution and integrate it into your Revit model. 


For both tools, however, if you are not proficient with Dynamo, you will require the help of a Dynamo author to create graphs that address specific needs. Once the graph has been created, however, any architect or engineer can use either Generative Design or the Dynamo Player to run it directly in Revit within the context of the model.


Interested in how to use generative design for you and your projects? You can reach out to our Technical Team at


INDUSTRIES: Architecture, Buildings, MEP Engineering

Published on October 5, 2022 in BIM.

About the Author

Microsol Resources delivers integrated solutions that help customers design, simulate and analyze their ideas, increase operational efficiencies, and maximize their return on investment in their technology solutions. As a team, we are passionate about helping customers improve their productivity and overall business processes. How can we help? Just reach out.