I have a shapefile which reads its geometry type as "multipatch". I tried to perform the clip function using this layer and it does not work.

How can I convert this multipatch layer into a polygon shapefile?

I am using ArcMap 10.3.


2 Answers 2


If you have a 3D Analyst license, there is a tool in the 3D Analyst Toolbox called "Multipatch Footprint". Using this tool will

Create polygon footprints representing the two-dimensional area occupied by a multipatch feature class

See tool help at Multipatch Footprint - ArcGIS Desktop Help

You can find the Multipatch Footprint tool in ArcToolbox > 3D Analyst > Conversion > From Feature Class > MultiPatch Footprint

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You just point to your Multipatch file as in put and specify an output to save the polygons to.

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For those who don't have 3D Analyst, here is the python code I'm using as a workaround.

# Initialize the variables (choose your folder and names)
out_path = arcpy.env.workspace
out_name = 'new_layer'
multipatch_layer = <insert_layer_name>
# Select all fields to be present in the output layer as well
# (except FID [created automatically] and Shape [we are constructing it])
fields = [f.name for f in arcpy.ListFields(multipatch_layer) if f.type != 'OID' and f.type != 'Geometry']

# Read the data with a search cursor
data = []
for row in arcpy.da.SearchCursor(multipatch_layer, ['SHAPE@'] + fields):
    for arr in row[0]:
        # At least one element has to be non-vertical for the results to be correct (i.e. conversion to polygon yieds a partCount > 0)
        # If all elements are vertical, arcpy somehow returns the bounding box -> don't add these elements
        if arcpy.Polygon(arr).partCount > 0:

            # Option 1: Union the multipatch with an empty polygon -> converts it to polygon
            poly = row[0].union(arcpy.Polygon(arcpy.Array(None)))

            # Option 2: Take the difference of multipatch with empty polygon -> converts it to polygon
            poly = row[0].difference(arcpy.Polygon(arcpy.Array(None)))

            data.append([poly] + list(row[1:]))
# Create the output feature class (fields copied from the multipatch_layer)
arcpy.CreateFeatureclass_management(out_path, out_name, 'POLYGON', multipatch_layer)

# Insert the data into the output layer
ic = arcpy.da.InsertCursor(out_name, ['SHAPE@'] + fields)
for row in data:
del ic

Unfortunately, since there is no arcpy documentation for multipatch objects I don't know if it always works; but it did in the cases I was testing. Additionally, I have to say that I'm using ArcGIS pro 2.3 and can only hope that it works in other versions as well.

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