Creating a Stepped Retaining Wall

Reference Number: KB-00697
Last Modified: December 16, 2015

The information in this article applies to:

Chief Architect Premier


How do I create a retaining wall with a stepped top?


The height of a retaining wall is initially determined by the heights of the terrain on either side of the wall.  A stepped top can be easily added to a retaining wall in a cross section/elevation view.

To create a stepped retaining wall

  1. Open the plan in which you would like to add a retaining wall, or create a new plan by selecting File> New Plan .

  2. To add a retaining wall, you must first have a terrain perimeter on your plan. From the menu, select Terrain> Create Terrain Perimeter .

  3. Although you can add terrain elevation data to your plan after a retaining wall is placed, it is usually easier to do so beforehand using the Terrain Elevation Tools . Elevation Lines  were used in the figure below.

  4. With elevation data in place, draw a retaining wall in floor plan view by selecting from the menu Terrain> Terrain Wall and Curb> Straight Retaining Wall , then click and drag the retaining wall from one edge of the terrain perimeter to the opposite edge.

  5. Select Terrain> Build Terrain  to generate contour lines between the elevation data that you entered. The terrain wall creates a break in the terrain, so that elevation data above it has no affect on the elevation data below.

  6. Select 3D Create Orthographic View> Cross Section/Elevation , and then click and drag the camera toward the retaining wall to create a cross section/elevation view of the retaining wall.  

    In Chief Architect X1, use 3D> Create Vector View> Cross Section/Elevation.

  7. In the Cross Section/Elevation view, click on the retaining wall near the top edge using the Select Objects  tool to select it and display its edit handles.

  8. Retaining walls feature numerous diamond-shaped reshape handles which allow them to follow the terrain contours.  

    Notice, too, the square move handle that displays on the edge near the spot where you clicked, indicating that this is the selected edge of the wall. If you click on this handle and drag up or down, you can adjust the height of the wall, if needed.


To use the reshape edit handles to create your steps

  1. Begin by turning off Grid Snaps  and Object Snaps  which can both be toggled on and off by selecting them under Edit> Snap Settings .

  2. Select the third reshape handle from the left and drag it down and to the left until it forms a vertical edge to create your first step. In this example, we will create steps in the retaining wall from left to right.

  3. Select the next reshape handle to the right and drag it down until it forms a horizontal edge, your second step.

  4. The height and width of any step can be adjusted by clicking near the edge that you would like to move, to select it, and display its square move handle.

  5. Repeat these steps until you have created a stepped retaining wall that meets your needs.

  6. To view your terrain and retaining wall in a 3D view, select 3D> Create Perspective View> Full Overview .