Week #10 – Using ArchiCAD’s Structure: Guiding Principles
10-3. Anchor Your Design Intent

ArchiCAD Training (Best Practices Lesson 10-3)

This 31 minute lesson demonstrates how proper referencing and anchoring of elements will help ArchiCAD maintain your design intent.

This tutorial is closely linked to the previous one that discussed the use of simplified “placeholder” elements that may be replaced later with detailed components. As the design process unfolds, some parts of what you draw or model are more important than others. For example, early on, you may not have decided the exact wall assembly you will use, but you may already care about certain critical dimensions. By placing the wall reference line in the most appropriate way (for example, to the outside surface, inside surface, or outside face of framing), the distances entered while drawing the walls are linked to what is important to you. Later, when you make a decision (or experiment) and set the wall assembly to a specific type or a different version, these essential dimensions are maintained.

Before placing walls, it is best to choose the most appropriate construction method (left, right, or axial) and an optional offset for the reference line. However, ArchiCAD is quite forgiving and flexible. When you change the wall(s), one can use the Design menu > Modify Wall > Structure or Modify Wall > Reference Line commands to reconfigure one or more walls in an intelligent manner.

While placing windows and doors, the insertion method (center or corner) is recorded and becomes part of the element definition. This placement anchor is maintained when the size is changed, so the window will remain centered in the room between two adjoining walls, or a door may stay the proper distance away from the wall intersection.

Anchoring choices are useful for columns and beams in a similar manner. If they change size or style, their corner, edge or centerline may remain fixed in relation to other elements.

Text and labels also have anchors, and these may be used to simplify placement and manipulation.

Please post your comments and questions below.


Thank you for visiting the Best Practices Course website. The video lessons are available for members only. If you are an active member and would like to watch the ArchiCAD training video on this page, please login to the website. If you are not currently a member, please visit the following pages for more information and to sign up for the Best Practices Course, the QuickStart Course or for the Best Practices ArchiCAD Coaching Program. Eric Bobrow, Creator of the Best Practices Course
Want to download this video, pause or resume playback, jump to a specific point or watch this video in a larger window? Click here for Video Playback and Download Notes...

Your Downloads

You may need to right-click the following links and select Save Link As to download the file to your computer

Click here to see the transcript of this ArchiCAD training lesson...

ArchiCAD Training: Anchor Your Design Intent

Let us know how you feel... (5 comments so far)

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  1. JuliaRonan
    8 years ago

    So, it appears that in v.19 under “Design”, that the “Modify Wall” tool doesn’t exist…any idea what they might have changed it to, or relocated it to?

    • Eric Bobrow
      8 years ago

      Hi Julia –
      You’ll find similar functionality available in the Edit menu > Reference Line and Plane > Modify Wall Reference Line [and Invert Wall Direction, under the same submenu]. ArchiCAD has gotten smarter about reference planes; now you can set the elevation of a slab based on the base, the top, the base of the core or the top of the core; before the slab tool elevation only referred to the top of slab level. So they generalized the controls, and moved them into the Edit menu since they now relate to more elements and will be more frequently accessed.

  2. BenjaminNajman
    11 years ago


    why can’t I see the link to the video of 10-2. and 10-3 ? these ?

    • Eric Bobrow
      11 years ago

      Benjamin –
      The video appears as usual on this page. Sometimes the video server responds slowly, so the video player doesn’t appear on the page for a while. You can try refreshing the page, and waiting for a full minute, or coming back later, after watching other videos.

  3. Avatar photo
    12 years ago

    You’re right in that the Design > Modify Wall > Structure command was one that I was not familiar with! That is a great tool to be aware of.