For more articles in creating complex family shapes in Revit, please check out my blog space at:
Parametric Carrel Family


A carrel (Figure-1 above) is a table or desk that is often partitioned and found in university or college libraries. In casinos, they are spread throughout the Race and Sports Book area and used for private betting.

The LDC carrel family shown in Figure-2 is a face-based family with Materials and Finishes parameters. A chair is also nested within this family.


In a project, you can change the carrel’s parameters through its Instance Properties as shown in Figure-3:


To change the material parameter of the nested chair, select the family and click Edit Family. This takes you to the Family Editor. Go to Create tab and Family Properties panel then click Types to change the values in the Materials and Finishes column. After that, reload the family back into the project.

Carrels_Rail-Based_R2010.rvt (Figure-4)

As the name implies, this family was created as a railing instead of a line based family. The railing tool has more flexibility than line based families as it allows you to draw curves using arcs. The idea is to substitute furniture parts for railing parts. In this case, the carrel sides and dividers were used as posts while the desktops and front panels, created as a profile, were used as railings. This method works particularly well in grandstand or theater seating where curved configurations are required.
Copy and paste the railing from the Carrels_Rail_Based_R2010.rvt file into your project to get this:
Please click to enlarge.

Note: When you copy then paste the Carrels_Rail-Based family by Paste Aligned method, the desktop and front panel finish defaults to gray color. This can be changed in the Edit Rail Structure dialog box (see Figure-11). However, if you use the keyboard shortcuts (control-c and control-v), the desktop and front panel comes in with the correct material.
To change the seating configuration shape, select your pasted rail family and click on Edit Path. This takes you to the sketch mode where you can stretch the line. For this example, let's delete that line and draw an arc as shown below (Figure-5):

After you click Finish Railing, the seating will look like this:

A series of arcs connected together is also possible as in Figure-7:

This will now result in this configuration:

To change the distance of the chair in relation to the side panels, click on the Carrels_Rail-Based family. Go to Type Properties in the Element Properties drop down menu (1 & 2) then click the Edit box next to Baluster Placement under Type Parameters (3). This will take you to the Edit Baluster Placement dialog box (4) as shown in Figure-9 below:
Please click to enlarge.

You can see from the above image where the carrel parts were used to replace rail posts and balusters. Here are the parts of the carrel (figure-10):

Please click to enlarge.

Note: For these parts to be recognized in the Edit Baluster Placement dialog box, they have to be loaded (nested) in the Baluster Post family templates then loaded into the project. The carrel desktop and front panel is a profile created from the profile family. It is then loaded into the project and accessed through the Edit Rail Structure (see Figure-11 below):

Please click to enlarge.