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Designing Stairs: One Intern's Challenge

I anticipated overcoming design challenges during my internship at Wight & Company this summer, but I never expected my biggest hurdle to be that of designing and documenting a modern staircase…

Who knew how complex a modern staircase could be?  My mentor, Ed Faron, RA, Senior Project Manager, thought it was time to take my architectural skills to the next level—so he introduced me to stairs…along with a design tool: Revit. My relationship with Revit in school really didn’t fare well in the workplace.  In school, Revit is typically used as a basis for creating models, renderings, plans, sections, etc. Then third-party applications, such as InDesign, AutoCAD, and Photoshop, help refine the model.  At Wight & Company, however, everything is done in Revit – including the very things that I thought were impossible to do without the aid of a traditional graphics program.  From wall sections with proper detailing, to plans with correct line hierarchy, to construction documents, the entire design deliverable is created in Revit at Wight!

Ed explained that I was about to embark on an exciting journey in the world of Architecture. I began by modifying stair sections, which didn’t seem bad at first. When dimensions and angles came into the picture, things quickly went from “not that bad” to “wait, what am I doing?” The biggest challenge came when I started the drafting portion of project. I was given instructions to recreate the stair sections at five levels. I have been drafting since high school, so this exercise was going to be a piece of cake… or so I thought. I quickly learned that one huge difference between Revit and other drafting programs, like AutoCAD, is that in Revit everything is connected. This is usually a good thing, but can be challenging in certain instances. AutoCAD allows you to draft your drawing from scratch, but doesn’t allow you to reference something else within the project, which was necessary for this particular assignment

Enter Gabe Gallaher, RA, CDT, Director of Integrated Technology, and Allie Gloude, Architectural Intern, who took their time to explain to me how to use Revit correctly, and to its full(er) capacity. Looking back, learning some small tricks greatly improved my accuracy and efficiency.

Ed claimed I would become a ‘master of stairs’ by the end of the summer.   I’m not sure I’d go that far, but I am fully content with my newfound basis of knowledge and growing understanding of Revit - and using it to design and document stairs!

By Adeola Adewale, Wight & Company Intern 2014