Five Typical Revit Imports for Creating Topographies


A student recently posed the question of how one would generate a topography in a typical Architectural practice. This is not a straightforward question to answer depending on the workflow that is employed by the supply chain. There could be various methods available, and some would include the participation of other disciplines.


Raster PDF/Image or 2D DWG:

Very often you will get the site conditions of a rasterized PDF or image from the council. This requires a manual rework in Revit to approximate the topography. We basically superimpose the rasterized image or PDF onto our site plan and then place elevation points onto the contours. Retreat the two-dimensional DWG files in the same manner.


The three-dimensional DWG typically consists of either elevated polylines representing the contours or three-dimensional lines representing the triangulated surface. In this case, it is usually as easy as generating the topography from a layer within the DWG link.

Points File:

If the Civil Engineer is able to export a points file then this is as easy as generating the topography from the points file. This is perhaps the favorite method of most Architects.

Linked Civil 3D Topography:

A linked Civil 3D topography is my preference when I am collaborating with Civil Engineers. Provided you manage to geolocate the import correctly, the final graded surface provided by the Civil Engineers is usually superior to most other topographies. This is because Civil 3D is superior to Revit in generating surface works and infrastructure.

Point Cloud:

If you import a point cloud, you can use the view range to slice through the cloud and add contours by placing topographic points manually.

Southern Hemisphere coordinate systems present a challenge that I discuss here. I also share the method and demonstrate it in a short video.

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