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Book review: Architectural Graphic Standards

News | September 1, 2007 | By:

All new forms and content make the architectural reference practical and helpful, especially with its metrics for assessing sustainable design options.

Architectural Graphic Standards 11th edition continues a 75-year tradition of offering concise text and descriptive graphics in a basic design handbook for architects. What began as a compact volume has become a weighty text of more than a thousand pages with thousands of finely drawn illustrations. A CD-ROM version is also available. The 11th edition marks a departure from previous editions in form and content. The overall structure has been simplified and made more rational, using the construction industry standard Uniformat™ classification system to organize a major portion of the book. Uniformat categories divide construction into “Elements” identified by alphabet letters A through G: A-Substructure, B-Shell, C-Interiors, D-Services, E-Equipment and Furnishings, F-Special Construction and Demolition, and G-Building Sitework. A new feature, case studies, illustrates how technical information has been applied to specific projects.

UniFormat classification lends itself to preliminary design decision-making when an architect compares and selects basic systems for substructure and shell. Readers with an interest in fabric architecture may note that fabrics and fabric structures are addressed in a variety of UniFormat categories, grouped with other systems serving similar general functions.

  • Element B, Shell—Superstructure: Awnings & Canopies
  • Element B, Shell—Roofing: Geotextiles in Vegetative Roofing Assemblies
  • Element F, Special Construction and Demolition—Special Construction
  • Air-Supported Structures
  • Prefabricated Dome Structures
  • Fabric Structures
  • Element G, Building Sitework
  • Slope Protection and Erosion Control
  • Pedestrian Paving: components for drainage and root protection
  • Rooftop Planters: components for filtration and drainage of excess water

This organization positions fabric structures such as awnings and canopies in the context of other shell systems. For example, an architect reviewing options for covering an entrance will find on contiguous pages general patterns of protective enclosures, details for glass canopies, and three well-illustrated pages on fabric awnings and canopies.

Air-supported structures, prefabricated domes, and fabric structures are discussed in the context of other special construction types such as metal building systems. For each type, information is oriented toward preliminary design rather than construction detailing. Using the new format, an architect may find a particular type of fabric structure as the solution to design criteria after reviewing alternatives.

Geotextiles are included as components of various types of sitework, including erosion control and paving assemblies. In a separate section on roofing, they are listed among essential components of vegetative (green) roofing assemblies. Filter fabric is illustrated in five categories of vegetative cover systems for building roofs. A geocomposite drainage sheet is part of some systems.

Among other issues of contemporary architectural practice, the 11th edition addresses sustainable design. This section offers a variety of “metrics” for assessing sustainability. In one example, a project checklist for sustainability assigns point values for stormwater design controlling water quality and building design optimizing energy performance. An architect may employ geotextile filters to control water quality, and fabric awnings to improve energy performance. Proponents of fabric in architecture may find in metrics a way to quantify how fabrics can contribute to sustainability. In this, as well as other sections directly addressing fabrics in architecture, the 11th edition of “Architectural Graphic Standards” provides succinct discussion that can guide further research.

James A. Strapko, RA, is an architect based in Minneapolis, Minn., with licensure in more than 23 states.

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