Does anyone use rhino as their primary architectural cad application?

Hi Morten, here is a bit of a summary of one of the ways I get from model to doc…

My 3D to 2D workflow starts off with an organised layer structure, using empty header layers as folders, so visibility can easily be manipulated - I have the layer panel open permanently, toggling other panels when required.

Then I’ll set up world plane 3D datums, maybe a rectangle, and a corresponding rectangle somewhere on World Top plane (2D).

I gather up geometry from the model using a combination of tools like dupedge, make2d (to current CPlane), section, silhouette etc and project that geometry to the relevant 3D datum plane as I go and also manipulating the current layer or changing object’s layers as I go.

I prefer to build up the geometry manually rather than rely on Make2d completely as it gives me better control of the output and makes further work on the 2D geometry cleaner.

I use Orient3Pt to flick the geometry 3D to 2D onto the world top plane using the datum rectangles (and back again 2D to 3D, for adjustments). I work in a maximised perspective viewport just about all the time and have custom buttons to change elevations and Cplane - set up for Stbd/Port rather than Front/Back.

I also set up a selection of linetypes, dimscales and text sizes on their own layers, and use a variety in model space depending on the scale of that particular detail or elevation - I usually just use layouts for the drawing sheet and detail windows.

If it’s a complex model with lots of 2D, I usually set up a second file for the 2D and the layouts and duplicate the datum rectangles in this second file to copy/paste back and forth. In this scenario, I have all the 2D layers organised on the second file and use a few temp layers for the transit. The second 2D file can be emailed to others more easily without the model.


Hi All,

I thought this topic might be a good place to introduce myself. I work for a survey company called APR Services and I specialise in using Laser Scan surveys to create 3D Models. I use Rhino almost exclusively to create accurate as built 3D models, 2D CAD drawings & 3D BIM Models of real world environments and objects using a combination of Rhino + Pointools Plug-in for Rhino (Discontinued) to import Laser Scanned Point Clouds + VisualARQ Plug-in. This combination allows us to export to a number of applications including AutoCAD, Revit (via VisualARQ’s *.IFC export), 3D Studio Max & Microstaion.

Typical applications for our deliverables include As-Built Surveys, Visualisation & Simulation, Projection Mapping, Engineering Design, Video Games, Rights of Light, City Modelling & Stage Design.

Here are a couple examples of my work - Rendered using 3D Studio Max.



I am not too familiar with Rhino but from what I have read from these users it seems like it is something I should get familiar with. It seems like something I could use to enhance my playground design. Cool examples you guys have posted. I look forward to reading more about this.

awesome, thanks for sharing

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Wow! Very cool work, Greg P!

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Sounds like a lot of going back and forth from 2d to 3d to 2d.
But great to hear your process.



Wonderful work Greg!
Thanks for posting
Roland M

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Hi @GregP,

Looks great.
Do you use Rhino for 2d documentation or perhaps VisualARQ?
Or do you have to export to another app for that?

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Thank you Roland

Thanks @mortenengel

I usually export my 2D elevations, sections and floor plans to AutoCAD to add height levels & text as most of our clients want *.DWG files.

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Thanks. Why not just do all that in Rhino and export a dwg from there?

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I use rhino for architectural 2d drafting about 2 years. Rhino 2d + vizualarq + grasshopper.

We do. I’d call it architectural lite. No plug-ins, but bunch of scripts. We have 3D model, layouts with elevations, 3D views, symbols, details etc.

We shifted from AutoCAD mostly because Rhino handled pointclouds and 3D nurb modeling miles better than AutoCAD at the time. Never regretted since.


Hi guys,

I was researching on this topic a lot, since I want to do the same and use Rhino as my primary architectural app. It would make sense in a lot of ways. Regarding workflow and costs.

Still find it a little hard sometimes, since especially in the mac version the layout function is very basic.

There have been a few posts reflecting this theme lately. Sounds like a market to be tapped???

I don’t know the scale - how many (what percentage) of architecture firms small, or large, think like you?

I’m not a professional architect (hobby) but anything that is good for Rhino depth…and I appreciate the ‘crossover’ stuff, i.e., Grasshopper.


I’d be interested if anyone has any new comments on this topic.

This is on my mind because I have been creating campus renderings for an industrial client — several large and small buildings on several hilly acres. The requirement has been to have the actual site topography, roads, parking, plantings, etc., as well as the facility modeled in high fidelity, including the adjacent wooded areas. The default BIM/modeling tools were doing fine per building or component but having difficulty with the scale and complexity of data when bringing all of the elements together — it was not cost-effective to develop the archviz from them. To my pleasant surprise, I was able to import and/or build all of the site and building components in Rhino and the performance has been — snappy and stable. The model is over 1 GB — and performance is snappy and stable — I mean no different than if all I had was a 1 meter cube in the model — I can’t believe it. The incredible performance of Rhino 6 + Lumion has made developing this model and these renderings so much more efficient than if we were going through our standard modeling/BIM tools into Lumion.

As a separate but related matter, I have been using rhino and grasshopper for a long time and continue to be impressed with how they are developing, and I’ve been following the development of VisualArq and am always impressed with its strides as well.

All of this recent experience has me wondering, are Rhino+grasshopper+VisualArq sufficiently advanced now where the cost-benefit analysis is shifting and it just makes sense to stay in Rhino+grasshopper+VisualArq for the entire BIM development/documentation workflow? It is starting to seem to me like the only reason to leave Rhino as a BIM development environment at this point is for documentation management, use of advanced BIM server technology, integrated simulation and analysis that other BIM tool vendors offer, and for the enormous catalog of prebuilt revit families.

It appears that document management is being addressed in Rhino V7. I cannot speak to the BIM server issue. Even for large projects, I have found that cloud services are sufficient now, and a federated modeling approach combined with Rhino’s worksessions have worked well for me as well. I don’t know if there are still distinct advantages to having privately hosted BIM servers and unified models. I don’t know if there is a solution to the content issue either.

I know that major BIM vendors are offering more integrated analysis now, through plugins and cloud services. But again, Rhino also has this through plugins for Rhino and for grasshopper, so I don’t know that there is a significant difference there.

Anyway, just something I’ve been wondering because time is money and rhino seems to be so fast and so stable now, even with enormous models, which saves a lot of time, and its upgrade pricing is significantly less expensive, to where I wonder if it is close enough to feature complete as a BIM solution that the cost-benefit analysis now favors it.


Unfortunately, I have different experience as most of people in here.
Most of time i am working on small scale projects, residential buildings, renovations of apartment buildings and remodeling of apartments.
For all my projects i use revit. As it is easy to create 2d technical drawings and adjust 3d model with in technical drawing. ( You can select wall and change walls location with dimentions from 2d drawing or with temp dimensions.) I find it hard to work in rhino with out having this ability to adjust precision of my drawings.
While ago i was hoping that rhino + visualarq will be able to deliver techical drawings that i need but in my work flow i still can’t give up adaptive dimensions, 2d plan views in different scales - that automatically scale dimensions, lines and hatches.
I hope soon I will be able to move over rhino+visualarq soon, but currently designing in rhino for me is a lot slower and stressful as I can’t be certain that All dimensions are correct.


Agree - most popular software types have these capabilities.

@stevebaer - I love Rhino, but this issue is key for its future success imo. Live 2D drawing views of models with parametric capabilities - ie being able to create 2D views intuitively and then being able to adjust dimensions, updating the 3D model. Also display properties to be scale aware, as Kristaps mentions.

@scottd - perhaps integration with Revit inside is the answer so that documentation and adjustments are done in 3rd party software, but not convinced so far.

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