Melita Issa

Using Revit For Retail

Melita Issa
Using Revit For Retail

By: Richard Obaitan and Melita Issa

In a fast-paced business environment where competition is fierce and businesses continually vie for the attention of customers, retail space developers, as other businesses, need to adopt systems that improve efficiency and enhance productivity. To achieve their business and design goals, retail space developers will need to have a keen eye trained on emerging trends, new and more efficient design platforms and the human resource to make it all work for them. Indeed, firms in the retail space segment have for some years now been relying more on the use of information technology in design and project management. These days a new approach to design and documentation with the aim of solving the host of problems which bedevil project delivery is employed.

Computer-aided designs (CAD) have been widely used for the creation, modification, analysis, and optimization of construction designs. Today we have BIM. Building information modelling (BIM) is a relatively new approach to design and construction, relying on a CAD system based on an intelligent parametric model that stores all project information centrally. It ensures effective project conceptualization and documentation, and provides precise 2D and 3D representation of the design. Information stored in the model often includes detailed material specifications and technical standards.

BIM Implementation In Retail Space Development: The Advantages

Although BIM has been around for over two decades, its adoption by retail space developers in recent times has greatly increased. This can be traced to a lot of factors, one of which is the increasing awareness of the clear advantages it offers. The use of BIM in retail space development helps increase the overall efficiency of the process hence its increasing adoption globally. The BIM approach relies heavily on parametric CAD software to offer the improvements and advantages it brings over the traditional project design and delivery process. BIM is changing the face of design all over the world in places where it is adopted. Indeed, reports indicate that in the UK, the government had mandated the use of BIM for all her procurement since 2016.

The leading software platform used for BIM implementation by retail space developers, consultants and builders is Revit Architecture. It is a programme designed for BIM and is vital to retail space design. Acquired in 2002 by Autodesk, Revit has had numerous releases, undergone changes and seen significant improvements in its capabilities. These have also coincided with major growth in the number of its users and its dominance in the BIM space. Revit handles project visualisation (2D and 3D), documentation and phasing through a central project file containing precise graphical elements and their parameters. The package also comes with Structural and MEP collaboration capabilities ensuring a robust solution for design and construction professionals.

The BIM approach helps designers develop precise design data and manage it through the planning and construction stages of a project. Revit ensures this in practical terms; starting from analysis of initial design concepts to maintaining a coordinated design data system through documentation and up to construction. Since retail space development is centered on design and efficient presentation of space, clearly BIM tools like Revit which make exhaustive design analysis, and cost and time savings possible ultimately help the retail space developer’s brand.

Because Revit creates and manages a database throughout the life of the building, it takes care of traditional problems associated with remodeling and renovations. It becomes easy to recall material and color schemes used on a penthouse many years afterwards, for example, and the square footage involved so when a new occupant comes in and decides to change perhaps the wall tiles and paint color, maintenance crews know just how much paint and material is required.

Previously, remodeling a facility often required tracking down the architect and original drawings (which may no longer be accurate, necessitating the production of as-built drawings). As-built drawings were often produced before the space re-designing proper could commence, thereby wasting time and resources. Unlike the traditional design approach where files have to be re-drawn to capture changes on site, a Revit model of such a building would automatically update such changes across all views – plans, elevations, sections and perspectives - once adjustments are made anywhere on the building model. Clearly, Revit is an important platform for retail space developers to implement BIM. Some benefits of the use of this BIM platform are summarized below.

  1. Revit is an Intelligent BIM Design Tool – Its parametric nature means that building components can be designed and updated in a central, flexible and precise visual environment with powerful view and output controls. Accurate drawings are easily made from 3D models. Also, modifications can be made throughout the design and construction life cycle of a retail space design, for instance, all of which automatically update on all related views and in documentation.

  2. Saves Time and Resources – Revit’s ability to instantly generate 3D models, create multiple design options, schedules and estimates based on accurate data, and combine these in a presentation can hasten the decision-making process and bidding. For the retail space sector where design speed, project coordination and the ability to roll-out on multiple sites amounts to a strategic advantage, Revit is clearly a game changer. The software’s ability to improve these operations results in significant time savings while also helping reduce the costs associated with project delivery.

  3. It makes Documentation easy! – With understanding of documentation in Revit, materials and components can be efficiently documented based on the model on schedules. The power of this feature can be seen in the flexibility it affords the user and in the way it easily and efficiently handles design changes made in large projects (with thousands of pages of documentation). Hence estimations and bidding are based on the actual design model and fewer surprises can be expected during construction.

  4. It has a decent Rendering Engine – Except for presentations that require a level of photo-realism outside what you will typically expect from a design/construction software, Revit has the rendering area covered. Its mental ray engine offers fair quality renders for presentations. Revit models can also be exported to and rendered in packages like 3Ds Max.

  5. Reuse of Building Component Resources – Building component resources such as furniture, lighting, mechanical components, etc, known as Revit families can be accurately created, modified and reused continuously in different projects, thereby saving time and resources. Users can maintain an extensive library of components this way.

  6. Excellent Collaboration and Worksharing – Multiple teams of designers often work on the same project file simultaneously in firms, using the collaboration tools Revit offers. These teams are often multi-disciplinary, thus speeding up production time. The software provides control and management of project information across the phases and life cycle of a project. Team members are kept aware of changes in a project as Revit allows file sharing during the design process.


Revit As A Leading BIM Platform

While explicit data on Revit’s use in the retail space design sector may be hard to come by (some reports suggest that as high as 50% of design firms globally use the software), industry trends indicate a strong preference for the platform. In some ways Revit is becoming synonymous with BIM. The fact that Autodesk, which owns Revit, takes an integrated approach to solving design and construction problems - an approach that allows for central control of multi-disciplinary inputs on projects - has contributed immensely to positioning Revit as the pre-eminent BIM platform of choice for a lot of retail space developers. In turn, this means that for industry players as well as new entrants into this sector, investing in Revit training is clearly a wise move. With firms increasingly adopting a BIM workflow, and the possibilities been stretched continuously, it is no surprise that interest in Revit and its adoption as the preferred BIM platform has been on the rise.


As Revit becomes more popular in the design software segment, more and more retailer space developers have picked up on the benefits of using the program for space design and planning purposes. BIM technology is helping these firms improve their design and rollout processes. Leading global space retailers are increasingly using Revit for BIM modelling, for the reasons already outlined above. They report a reduction on their costs and a more accurate timescale for project delivery. Some of these chains include Starbucks, WeWork, Crate & Barrel, Target and Swarovski.



WeWork uses reality capture and Building Information Modelling (BIM) solutions from Autodesk to support the design and construction of its WeWork offices, including ReCap, Revit, and Dynamo Studio software. The firm uses Dynamo (a visual graphical programming interface tightly integrated with the Revit platform) along with custom applications developed using the Revit API, to embed cost and sales data from its business systems in the models, and to automatically extract information from the models that are reflected in its business intelligence systems. “Our design-build speed and agility benefit from Revit and the Autodesk BIM solutions, and helped us achieve our current level of success.” says Fano. “The software helps us to tap into the information we need to quickly make the decisions we need to make and bring new WeWork spaces to life.” 

Crate & Barrel

Crate & Barrel’s design teams model structure, building skin, metal framing, and even doors and hardware almost entirely using Autodesk’s Revit BIM platform... Since switching to full-building BIM, Crate & Barrel has seen its cost per square foot drop by almost 45%. With full-building BIM, the time it takes to design and build a unique store has declined from 88 weeks to an average 56 weeks. U.S. retailer Crate & Barrel has utilized BIM in its construction projects since 2002 when company executives made a strategic decision to adopt the technology. The company's director of construction says BIM is allowing the retailer to continue building during the tough economic times, reporting that current projects take 40 percent less time and cost 50 percent less to complete than projects built before utilizing BIM.



Since roughly 2012, Kylie Bodiya has led the charge in helping Swarovski become a front-runner as far as using BIM process in the retail industry. Although no longer with the company, she was able to successfully transfer the entire Swarovski design team from CAD to Revit, while implementing a template for their retail rollout process.


Target fully transitioned its new store design from 2D (using Bentley Microstation) to 3D (utilizing the Autodesk Revit BIM platform). Early in 2010, as Target began planning a new 142,206-sf store for San Clemente, Calif., the retailer decided to take prototype design to an even higher level, using both 3D BIM and integrated project delivery. Utilizing BIM and prototype designs for efficient design and construction is a key part of Target’s expansion strategy. “We definitely saw that the first incremental benefit of using Revit came from clash detection. There was a cost savings associated with moving from a 2D platform to a 3D one.” - Brad Koland, group manager of structural engineering at Target.