Evaluating Multiple Site Options in Revit with Shared Coordinates

October 14, 2020 Matt Miyamoto

The AEC Industry is constantly evolving, and technology is giving us more and more opportunities to leverage every bit of information we can get our hands on.  BIM modeling has taken what was a very static process of submittals and revisions and turned it into a collaborative and dynamic environment.  This collaborative process is now extending beyond our own disciplines and allowing Architects and Engineers to collaborate during the design process rather than having to wait for submittals.

One way to leverage these collaborative capabilities early on in the design process is to evaluate multiple site options for building placement through Shared Coordinates and a Published Surface.

Revit models by default are set up with a generic coordinate system that is limited to a 20-mile radius of the origin point.  That makes it difficult to accurately place a building on site and evaluate how it might be impacted by its surroundings.  The Shared Coordinate Utilities available to subscription customers allow Civil 3D site information to be published to a .XML file that can be imported and assigned to a Revit model.  Once a coordinate file is assigned, published surfaces from Civil 3D are automatically placed and aligned relative to the model. Additionally, multiple coordinate files can be published and imported to provide different locations options around the site for evaluation.

In this case, three different site options have been presented for the building location.  Each location has a designated corner point that is used as the base point for the Shared Reference Coordinate.


Exporting the Shared Reference Point Coordinate for Revit is an easy 3-step process done through the Toolbox tab of the Toolspace. After the command is launched, the base point and North direction are specified, then the units for the coordinate file are selected to produce the coordinate .XML file.  Repeat that as many times as needed to generate .XML files for each potential location.

Once the .XML files are exported from Civil 3D, we’re ready to move into Revit.

The Import Shared Coordinate XML file function in Revit is located on the Add-Ins tab.  Once the command is activated, specify the coordinate base point and North angle relative to the Revit Model, then choose the corresponding .XML file.  Confirm the creation of a new coordinate system in Revit, and a new Site location becomes available.  Repeat those steps as needed to import all desired coordinate XLM files.

Once the locations have been imported into Revit, assigning a location to the model is done through the Manage tab.  If a Topo Surface has already been linked to the model, assigning a Site will automatically align the building with the location defined by the coordinate .XML file.

Site Option 1

Selecting other defined Site options and making them current updates the model location instantly, allowing quick evaluations of building placement relative to the surrounding area.