Posts Tagged ‘Architectural Graphic Standards


AGS Case Study: West Side Skate Park, Albuquerque

Who would have thought such an exquisite degree of planning could go into a skate park? The project undertaken by Morrow Reardon Wilkinson Miller (MRWM) certainly proves that collaboration with the widest possible team can pay off in terms of the wow factor. In the Building Sitework chapter of Architectural Graphic Standards, 11th Edition, Gregg Miller relates every step in the creation of this large-scale in-ground skate park. Here’s the overview:

The majority of the basic elements of the skate park utilize standard construction details and methods. The unique aspect of this project is the modification, application, and combination with these elements that makes them more “skate-able.” …. The arrangement, spacing, and connection of elements was resolved and refined in concert with the grading design. Through this process, the majority of the schematic design remained intact. Modifications were made to establish grades to acceptable slopes and to provide better internal circulation.

Now, what exactly are these elements? They are all standard concrete applications, either flat, sloped, or vertical, but it’s the imaginative way they’re put together that makes this park such a treat. They’re combined into features such as volcanoes, which are transitioned ledges with flat tops, and pyramids, which are multi-banked structures. There’s a thing called a sofa, which is a notch running laterally in a bank, and another called a loveseat, which is a protrusion at a bank’s corner. Since skaters like to jump over things, they have vertical separations and horizontal gaps to jump over.

Everything is grouped into two main areas, a section called the Trenches, mostly made from cast-in-place concrete around a central plaza of brick. This is described as a liner-flow area, replete with walls, banks, ledges, gaps, rails and steps. Separated from the Trenches by a grassy area is the Dogbone, a feature combining three bowls with a ¾ pipe. These bowls are from 8 to 11 feet deep, made to resemble the backyard swimming pools where many skaters learned their trade. The brick area pays homage to the University of New Mexico’s brick plazas, and the Trenches to the city’s system of drainage arroyos. Another part is modeled after a supremely skateable California bridge.

This illustration from Architectural Graphic Standards (from page 726) gives some idea of the meticulous planning that went into this unique recreational facility.

Miller goes into great detail describing the composition and formation of the various parts. The concrete paving, for instance, has to withstand not only skateboards but trucks, in the Trenches area, because they have to get in there for maintenance. So some of the concrete flatwork is six inches thick, reinforced by steel. The four different kinds of joints are enumerated and described: expansion joints, cold joints, cold-keyed joints, and control joints. The concrete retaining walls are of course not just walls, but skateable elements also, and vary from 8″ to 24″ in thickness, while part of the retaining wall is an aggregation of granite boulders with two-thirds of their bulk above ground. Both banks and ledges are composed of numerous variations on a theme, with different heights, widths, lengths, slopes, and connections.

The success of the project is attributed to the expertise of the consultants, namely, professional skateboard maestros who are usually on tour displaying their skills. All their ideas for exciting features were pulled together by an architect into a site plan. MRWM’s implementation of the plan started off with 3-D modeling, and at each step, everything was checked again with the experts who had envisioned the plan. Some changes and improvements were made along the way, but the park essentially came into reality matching the initial dream.

SOURCE: “West Side Skate Park” 2007
photo courtesy of striatic , used under this Creative Commons license


Awards from American Institute of Architects, San Francisco

In ArchitectureWeek, Brian Libby reports on the awards handed out by the San Francisco chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Of particular interest is the Urban Design category, in which Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) received a merit award for the immense project known as Beijing Finance Street.

Located in a historic district close to the city center and the Forbidden City, the plan is organized around a Central Park as well as a series of interior courtyards based on the traditional Chinese Hatong neighborhoods that were largely wiped out by past urban renewal but have regained favor as the nation re-embraces its past heritage.

Beijing Finance Street encompasses eight square blocks or 860,000 square meters of office buildings, hotels, and retail stores including a huge glass-roofed shopping mall. There are also more than 300 apartments and numerous small parks. Each of the 18 buildings has three parking levels underneath. It’s a district that never sleeps, but the hotels and housing units are located near the central park to take advantage of the quieter atmosphere there, while office buildings are on the edges.

The firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill can do pretty much anything, including the most high-tech projects that clients can dream up. In Architectural Graphic Standards, 11th Edition, we see another example of their work, this time for the Kings County Hospital Center in Brooklyn, New York, with special attention to how they designed the vault for the Diagnostic & Treatment Facility Linear Accelerator (page 667.)

Not all AIA chapters do so, but the San Francisco chapter has a whole category for energy and sustainablilty. The honor awards in that category were captured by the Orinda City Hall (Siegel & Strain Architects), and by the Nueva School Hillside Learning Complex (Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects.) This latter project was also recently named one of the top ten green projects of 2008 by the AIA Committee on the Environment. Additionally, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Molecular Foundry (SmithGroup) won the only merit award in this category.

Four Honor awards for excellence were given. One recipient was the firm Brand + Allen Architects, for 185 Post Street, a restoration project with innovative aspects that worked with the protective laws guarding the early 20th century origins of the historic building. Morphosis and SmithGroup shared credit for the San Francisco Federal Building, whose double skin and tall thin shape help it to overreach the energy code’s requirements. Also recognized for excellence were Stanley Saitowitz/Natoma Architects, for Bridge House, and Fougeron Architecture, for Tehama Grasshopper.

Tehama Grasshopper is a remodeled warehouse located in San Francisco, which has been converted to offices and residences, and it also has received more than one award, having been honored earlier this year by the national AIA for its interior architecture.

Again, unlike some other local chapters, AIA San Francisco has established an awards category for interior architecture, which this year recognized three projects: a temple, a restaurant, and a residence.

Interestingly, there is even an “unbuilt design” category, for which the honoree was IwamotoScott Architecture for Hydro-Net: City of the future, a vision of San Francisco a hundred years from now. Building information modeling (BIM) helped The Design Partnership snag an honor award for the remodel of a University of California pathology lab in which costs and construction time were greatly reduced through use of the BIM technology.

The Panhandle Bandshell (pictured) received an urban design honor award, which just might be the coolest one of the bunch. This functional piece of sculpture is now located at Treasure Island, an artificial island that is part of San Francisco, where students and other low-income residents live. Among other reclaimed components, the bandshell was constructed from 65 automobile hoods and 3,000 plastic water bottles.

SOURCE: “San Francisco AIA Awards 2008″05/28/08
photo courtesy of MikeLove, used under this Creative Commons license


Lifetime Achievement: J. Robert Hillier, FAIA


At the AIArchitect site, Heather Livingston recently published a profile of J. Robert Hillier, who earlier this year was awarded the Michael Graves Lifetime Achievement Award. This is the highest honor bestowed by the New Jersey Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, recognizing the completion of a significant body of work, as well as the influence that work has had on the practice of architecture as a whole. Hillier has gained the reputation of a client-focused practitioner, and Livingston quotes some of his words here:

I think the key to success is that you have to be a good designer, you have to be able to sell good design, and you have to be able to sell yourself. They’re all bundled up together….You’ve got to protect the clients, keep the clients, and keep the clients happy. You have to keep them happy not just by doing what they say, but by doing really great design and having them understand and endorse and embrace it.

Last year Hillier’s company was re-christened RMJM Hillier, after merging with RMJM, a British firm which maintains 17 offices worldwide and is the world’s largest strictly architectural firm. Hillier is a Fellow of the AIA and an adjunct professor at the Princeton University School of Architecture, his alma mater. He sits on the Advisory Board of Architectural Graphic Standards, 11th Edition.

Hillier credits several mentors, starting with his professor, Jean Labatut, whose strong suit was site planning. Masters Degree in hand, he went straight to work at a small design-build company, assuming the title of lead designer right from the start. The company’s owner saw his potential and treated him less like an employee and more like the traditional apprentice, including Hillier in all client meetings and presentations to familiarize him with the social aspects of the trade. On the practical side, the young architect also learned everything there was to know about projecting the costs of a project, the kind of knowledge that keeps clients sweet because they are not confronted with budget surprises in the budget area.

By 1966, Hillier was 27 years old and ready to go out on his own. He began as a sole practitioner with a single client, his own dentist, whose home renovation project offered a fee equal to what had been a year’s salary. From there, the Hillier firm went on to receive more than 300 design awards at the state, national and international levels. Its projects include many educational institutions, including the New Jersey School of Architecture, and many corporate headquarters, including GlaxoSmithKline in London (pictured) and Louis Vuitton in New York. Last month, RMJM Hillier was announced as the design architect for Genzyme Corporation’s new research and development facility in Beijing.

In April, J. Robert Hillier addressed the graduating class at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, telling his audience that the number of buildings in the world will probably double within 25 years, so there is a crying need for a vast number of new architects ready to take up all the challenges that will entail. But the main message for his young listeners on that day was, “Through passion, you can make a difference.”

SOURCE: “Face of the AIA: J. Robert Hillier, FAIA” 02/01/08
photo courtesy of cybaea , used under this Creative Commons license


CAD Caveats from a Developer-Contractor

Photoshop and Autodesk Maya

T.K. Garrison, author of Cracks, Sags, and Dimwits – Lessons to Build On, also maintains a website with some great articles on it, for instance this one called “Slaughtered in the Dirt.” Two friends in the industry are swapping tales of professional misery, and the subject of their woes is dirt. On any building site, it’s expensive to handle, especially when you have to do it more than once. One guy advises the other:

You’re usually dollars ahead paying for a topo survey up front and then having your architect check dirt quantities as she designs. Not only does this minimize dirt work, it also helps ensure driveways and lawns aren’t too steep and that the site drains properly.

Like so many other aspects of a project, working the dirt right is the responsibility of humans who can be devastatingly fallible, whether through lack of training or lack of caring. It comes to the same thing in the end — a badly flawed project, in this case a road the engineer put in the wrong place without consulting the dirt.

Though Garrison’s piece is about computer-assisted design (CAD), it applies equally to Building Information Modeling (BIM). It’s funny and, unfortunately, all too true. There’s a strong warning here against the assumption that a lot of pricey software and few buzz words can add up to a technologically competent architectural firm. Training and commitment matter, and so do versatility, and adaptability, and so do machines and programs that can work together harmoniously. As one of Garrison’s characters says,

There are two types of CAD operators… The thinking kind are worth their weight in gold. The I-only-push-buttons-for-a-living-don’t-ask-me-to-think variety are far more common… They can be successful, but only if the boss spends LOTS of time reviewing and correcting their work…. He’s so busy bringing in new jobs, trying to get paid, and training new employees, there’s no time left to manage and maintain the people actually doing his day-to-day workload.

Architectural Graphic Standards, 11th Edition contains a whole chapter on “Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM)” which defines the design technologies associated with the field as ranging from simple two-dimensional drawing programs to the more inclusive and complicated 3D programs that do solid parametric modeling. It’s basically any digital environment where a desired shape is first designed, then interpreted, producing directions that control the actions of a machine tool. While unquestionably unequalled when it comes to laying out and cutting out parts, the further reaches of computer-aided design can create ambivalence in its human users,

As Dan Hanganu points out, the ability to make beautiful pictures alone isn’t enough, and can conceal shortfalls in other areas. He says, “The technology has taken off and there is a generation of people in our offices who know how to manipulate the machine. But the machine has the seductive ability to hide the lack of depth and essential knowledge of the user.” Newly fledged architect Zoe Berman notes in her blog, “For a while, we seemed to forget that the computer can only ever be a tool that we direct, and is not a tool to direct us. CAD creates a veil of perception that can distance us from the realities of a project.” Many voices remind us that technology alone can never replace human intelligence, and even the best tool is only as good as the mind that directs and interprets its activities.

SOURCE: ” Slaughtered In the Dirt – Part 1: Bad CAD” 06/02/08
photo courtesy of ovendelon , used under this Creative Commons license


A High-Performance Building in Texas

UT Nursing

The School of Nursing and Student Community Center at the University of Texas in Houston (pictured) was chosen as an AGS case study for several reasons, according to a very explicit piece by Rives Taylor in Architectural Graphic Standards, 11th Edition. Ambitious high-performance goals were set and met. It began with a holistic approach to design and planning:

These building strategies were developed through a highly defined and premeditated process in a one-year period before design started. A collective team of experts undertook this year of intensive research, seeking the best existing research methods, design, and operational practices to direct the realization of this facility.

One of the greenest things about the School of Nursing is what happened even before the first step toward its creation. The site had previously been occupied by a research building, which was deconstructed so conscientiously that 80% of its materials were reclaimed for recycling and eventual further use.

Building Information Modeling techniques were used to formulate an initial plan, which was then, with the aid of the software, changed and adjusted along the way. BIM helped with the validation of recycled content, the balancing of CO2, and assessment of the buildings life cycle, and in other areas as well. For instance, in the matter of lighting:

The team refined their intuitive ideas using energy and daylight modeling tools with the Lawrence Berkeley National Labs… Actual lighting levels for the alternative design schemes were simulated through a yearly cycle. The measurements were then compared and decisions were made to follow specific strategies based on light quality, quantity, energy performance, costs, and other criteria.

Maximum lighting effectiveness was achieved through a combination of several different solutions including windows, four skylighted atria, sun shading devices, and artificial lighting. Daylighting is characterized here as one of the most simple and powerful strategies, because it doesn’t require a trained operations staff in order to work effectively.

Some recycled materials were used, for instance the multi-layered insulation. All materials were closely scrutinized with an eye to their low volatile organic compound (VOC) content. Once set in place, these of course also continue to perform without further human intervention. For greater energy efficiency, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) equipment was installed with a combination of some undersized elements (pumps and fans) and some over-sized ones (ducts and pipes). Ventilation is treated separately from cooling, and a localized instantaneous hot water delivery system is the solution preferred over the traditional central hot water source. The double-paned window glass is spectrally selective.

Five tanks collect rainwater which, combined with condensation from the cooling system, provide greywater for the low-flow toilets and other uses, while potable water is to be found only in drinking fountains, sinks and showers.

The first two floors contain facilities used by the whole student body: bookstore, auditorium, café, and student services offices. The third and fourth floors are dedicated to the academic needs of the nursing school: classrooms and other learning environments. Then there is a research lab floor, topped by three stories containing offices for faculty and administration, and conference rooms. The service building is a separate structure.

The School of Nursing’s four elevations and its roof were conceived as five unique facades, each a distinct entity, and the detail with which Taylor describes the individual design approaches to the conditions and requirements on the various sides, is the highlight of this chapter.

SOURCE: “University of Texas School of Nursing and Student Community Center” AGS page 495 2007
photo courtesy of JoeBehrPalmSprings , used under this Creative Commons license


The Importance of the BIM Manager in a Firm


A veteran of Autodesk and Intergraph, and now President and CEO at Graphisoft, Dominic Gallello recently contributed an article to AECbytes outlining the reasons why he sees the BIM Manager as a vital figure on the staff of any architectural firm. Graphisoft is of course the home of ArchiCAD, one of the most respected design software tools for architects. One of Gallello’s concerns is that Building Information Modeling tools are perceived as all-powerful and self-managing, when actually there is a very real need for human supervision. He says:

Is there a difference between a CAD Manager and a BIM Manager? Yes! …While a CAD Manager would have focused on layering standards and plotting issues, the BIM manager must determine how models from consulting engineers are coordinated with the architectural model, who owns which geometry, who references geometry, how the parts are integrated, and at what interval they will be synchronized and checked for conflicts.

Gallello explains that a CAD Manager is trained to think linearly and, while that is not a bad thing, a BIM Manager thinks of the whole project at once, all the time, rather than step by step. This is because all the building data are interconnected in such a way that when one thing changes, every other area changes too. Standards need to be kept in place and adhered to globally.

BIM management calls for multi-disciplinary thinking, and the person who’s doing it is an integral member of the project team, not just a supporter and provider of tools used by others. BIM methodology encompasses structural and HVAC design, energy analysis, and many more specialties and ties them all together in a smoothly integrated way.

In Architectural Graphic Standards, 11th Edition, there is an excellent chapter on Building Information Modeling, in the Computing Technologies section. It begins with a starkly basic definition:

A data model in any given domain describes the attributes of the entities in that domain, as well as how these entities are related to each other.

What does it take to be a competent BIM Manager? Gallello hits several points, starting with an understanding of all the various project workflows, and a grasp of the needs of the various needs of the delivery team members including architects, engineers, contractors and estimators. Of course the BIM manager needs complete technical know-how, along with a number of “soft” skills such as training, coaching, and communicating – especially when it comes to making all the team members aware of exactly how much benefit is in it for them.

The person holding this position should also be prepared to travel anywhere, any time, to meet the needs of a company with far-flung branches. And she or he must have a cool head that lends the ability to make good decisions in time of crisis.

Understandably, a firm that has previously only had experience with CAD Managers might not want to rush right out and hire the first BIM Manager who comes whistling down the road. Gallello suggests a measured approach, and recommends hiring an independent consultant, and then maybe another consultant for the next project, until the company gets a feel for what this person is, and what she or he should be doing.

Another thing he recommends is for an architect who is familiar with and enthusiastic about BIM technology to be teamed with others who are not so familiar, so the confidence can rub off. He calls this an “inoculation process” that a firm will probably go through before settling comfortably into the newly-formed universe and bringing a permanent BIM manager onto the staff.

It would be mighty interesting to hear from anyone who has made the career change from CAD Manager to BIM Manager. How goes it?

SOURCE: ” The New “Must Have”-The BIM Manager ” 01/17/08
photo courtesy of rucativava , used under this Creative Commons license


The Center for Universal Design and Its Principles

Neurosciences Institute

It’s still May, Older Americans’ Month, so let’s look at the seminal document from which such notions as transgenerational design, and the awareness of issues that enable “Aging in Place,” were derived. North Carolina State University is the home of the Center for Universal Design, whose principles are laid out on its website. The people who created the list are, alphabetically, Bettye Rose Connell, Mike Jones, Ron Mace, Jim Mueller, Abir Mullick, Elaine Ostroff, Jon Sanford, Ed Steinfeld, Molly Story, & Gregg Vanderheiden, who say:

These Principles of Universal Design: address only universally usable design, while the practice of design involves more than consideration for usability. Designers must also incorporate other considerations such as economic, engineering, cultural, gender, and environmental concerns in their design processes. [The Principles] offer designers guidance to better integrate features that meet the needs of as many users as possible. All Guidelines may not be relevant to all designs.

Equitable use is the first of the seven principles given here, meaning a commitment to providing equivalent, if not identical, means of use for all users. The second principle is flexibility in use – in other words, accommodating to the user’s pace, handedness, strength, and other individual characteristics. The third principle asks that use be simple and intuitive, understandable by non-native speakers, or by someone whose concentration is impaired, such as a hospital patient in pain.

Principle four addresses the perceptibility of information, that it be legible to the user in various modes, like Braille signage in an elevator. The fifth principle advocates tolerance for error, or what in the vernacular would be called “idiot-proofing,” and also has to do with matters like keeping the user safe. The sixth principle wants the user’s interaction with the object to be ergonomically sound – for instance, it should not require a contorted body posture, or any more repetitive motion than is strictly necessary. Principle seven has to do with providing the necessary space for approach and manipulation of the element – the most ready example that comes to mind is the toilet enclosure with enough room for a wheelchair or an assisting person to maneuver.

Architectural Graphic Standards, 11th Edition, offers a lavishly illustrated and detailed chapter on Inclusive Design. The chapter quotes architect Ron Mace, founder of the Center for Universal Design, on the definition of the term as

The design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.

Among many other exemplary projects, AGS-11 gives details of the design strategy used for the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla (pictured above). We learn that “[a]s a matter of ‘ethics and aesthetics,’ the architects have seamlessly integrated universal access into a tectonic essay on movement, creating an ever-changing spatial experience.”

The Universal Design Resource List includes much information on universal design, particularly design for aging. Another useful thing to know about is, of course, the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards. Whether we are professionals or laypersons, sooner or later we will all be end-users of this technology, so it’s definitely a subject area with a large and ever-growing constituency.

SOURCE: ” Universal Design Principles ” 04/01/97
photo courtesy of cudmore, used under this Creative Commons license


Playing Music with Architecture: the Battery Maritime Building

Battery Maritime Building

We’ve all heard the saying: “Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.” But why not dance about architecture? And why not play music on architecture, as composer David Byrne does? In a fascinating piece about Playing the Building, An Installation by David Byrne, the former Talking Heads frontman is interviewed by Anne Pasternak. The venue in question is the Battery Maritime Building in New York City. It will be open this summer, and full details can be found in the press release.

The building was chosen, in part, because it looks right. The separate elements of it are in plain sight, making it easier for the brain to correlate the ways in which sound is made, with the sound itself. The building itself is a gargantuan musical instrument whose component parts are not fretboard, bridge, string, or skin, but pipes, pillars and beams. Though Byrne is perhaps the first to play music on an entire building, others have made music with parts of buildings. What causes the parts of the building to make noise? Striking, vibration, and wind. Pipes can become giant flutes. Byrne talks about how he saw that

…some of the arrangements for mounting the machines on the parts of the building would have to be fabricated, but most of the other materials could be obtained off the shelf. I happened to have an old pump organ in my studio… There are no microphones, no amplification, and none of the sounds are synthesized or altered electronically. The organ keyboard basically serves as a series of switches at the back of the organ, which is left open so people can see the workings.

Everything is controlled from the old organ. Playing the Building is an interactive installation, where the visitor can be the maestro and create strange music in real time. With the help of the random humans who show up to participate, art becomes “self-generating.” Byrne describes how some experimental musicians (members of the public) are applauded for their performances. He likes the quality of communal shared experience that is generated, and the fact that art is not an elitist possession but a thing shared by everyone. He advocates the end of separation between the “producers” of culture and its “consumers.” With an art event such as this one, nothing exists to consume. The visitor brings something to it, and gets something from it, but there is no question of a plastic bag or a paper bag, because there is nothing to take away except for the experience itself.

Pasternak (who, as well as interviewer, is also curator of the installation) speaks of the convergence of the auditory and the visual with the sense of touch inherent in this unusual project, which has to do with “highlighting the nuance and quirks of space.”

This is not Byrne’s first project of the kind. The previous one took place in Stockholm, Sweden in 2005. From this and other experiences, he concludes that,

As far as space goes, I sense that different architectural spaces “want” to have specific kinds of sounds inside them. The space creates a hole for sounds to fill, psychologically and physically – but only specific sorts of sounds seem to “fit” in each kind of space…The inherent acoustics of a room have far-reaching effects: they make you walk different and talk different. They make you feel different.

The study of acoustics in buildings doesn’t only apply to fanciful art installations, of course, but has a great deal of importance in all buildings. The relationship between the space and the sounds that fill it flows both ways, of course. For instance, in Architectural Graphic Standards, 11th Edition, we learn that

Acoustical ceilings are large visual elements within a space, and so are considered design elements as well as acoustical features.

So, what next? Buildings that are intentionally made with an eye to (actually, an ear to) the possibility of their being played like musical instruments in some future day?

SOURCE: ” Playing the Building ” No date given
photo courtesy of nautical2k , used under this Creative Commons license


Inclusive Design = Sustainability, Says Ron Wickman

Green Roof

Sustainability thrives in Canada, where Ron Wickman compares the idea of sustainability with the concept of inclusive design and finds them to be one in the same. Marta Gold interviewed him recently for The Edmonton Journal’s series on the living spaces created for themselves by local architects. Gold says,

Wickman is the barrier-free design consultant for the new southwest recreation centre. He also does audits of existing buildings to improve their accessibility to the disabled, as well as retrofitting homes and designing new ones. He recently took us on a tour of the house he designed for himself, wife Stacey and their three children, Ceira, Kellen and Jayden.

Wickman tore down his previous house and built another with the same footprint as what had been there, and then added a second story with a deck. He takes prospective clients on tours of his family’s home, and calls it his “3-D business card.” Creating a green roof is his next eagerly anticipated project, and he explains why that is more of an altruistic endeavor than a direct benefit to a homeowner.

The new house includes an office suite with its own entrance door at the front. This is a great solution for the increasing number of professionals who work at home. When the family hosts a graduation party, the living space can be extended into the office space. At some other point in the family’s history, that part of the house might become a “granny flat” or the place where an adult child who has suffered a setback can lick the wounds. And here’s the good part: the more inclusively a home is designed and built in the first place, the less work will have to be done when the family’s needs change later on. Without the need for a major remodel, less energy is used, fewer materials are used, and so on. Voila! Sustainability. It could almost be said that a good architect’s job is to put himself out of business.

In Wickman’s office, a frame on the wall holds an anonymous note he received: “Your house is a monstrosity. It blights the neighborhood.” Of course, in his view, what goes on inside the house is the thing to focus on. Does it work for the people who live in it? That’s the important thing. And all kinds of people might be living in it.

Here in America, it’s still Older Americans’ Month, so the issue of universal/accessible/ transgenerational/inclusive design is very much with us. “Aging in place” has become the rallying cry of the generation that in its youth roamed the world like gypsies, and that’s as it should be. There’s nothing wrong with settling down, and the right place to do it is in your own home. Even those of us who are very fit have friends and relatives who want to come over once in a while. Wickman talks about visitability, which means that any person can enter the house under their own steam, move around inside it, and be able to do a simple thing like use the restroom independently.

In Architectural Graphic Standards, 11th Edition, this definition of visitability, by Concrete Change founder Eleanor Smith, is quoted:

A movement to change home construction practices so that virtually all new (single-family) homes, whether or not designated for residents who currently have disabilities, offer a few specific features that make the homes easier for people who develop a mobility impairment to live in and visit.

Speaking of the combination of sustainability and inclusiveness, Wickman says,

Right now a lot of people have the impression that it’s more expensive and it looks institutional and it doesn’t have good resale value, so you have to explain that ‘universal’ can be in any house — it’s not a style or a look or anything, it’s a way of thinking.

SOURCE: ” Universally welcoming ” 04/10/08
photo courtesy of PetroleumJelliffe, used under this Creative Commons license


Building Information Modeling or Virtual Building with ArchiCAD 11

ArchiCAD production

In AECbytes, Eric Bobrow presents a lavishly illustrated article that almost amounts to a tutorial on ArchiCAD 11, describing it in such glowing terms as “amazingly versatile,” “a revolutionary catalyst” and “redefines the state of the art.” This article fits together nicely with Graphisoft’s PDF document outlining the program’s new features, and their three-and-a-half minute movie about the benefits to be expected by each particular member of the team – designer, project architect, draftsman, consultant.

Virtual Building™ is Graphisoft’s trademarked phrase for building information modeling, of which the company is a pioneer. What it does, of course, is make workflows work together, whether they are two-dimensional, three-dimensional, or hybrid. Users report significant improvement in the areas of drawing generation, design, and collaboration. Here is Bobrow’s breakdown of a few of the ways in which Virtual Trace makes the professional’s life a better place:

· Overlaying one story against another to verify structural relationships, or to snap and align new elements in relation to those on the traced story.

· Showing the site plan or a lower story as a light image underneath another floor plan-this can be printed for study or presentation.

· Seeing a plan overlaid with another view of the same story which has different layers turned on (such as cabinets, structure or landscaping).

· Developing a site plan in a 2D Worksheet while coordinating with the building model.

· Viewing and aligning elements to an elevation or section while working on the floor plan.

ArchiCAD 11’s Virtual Trace feature is greatly enhanced over the previous similar tool, Ghost Story. With humble beginnings in our ancestral memory of tracing paper, Virtual Trace provides overlay views of things which elsewhere have to be viewed in two separate windows, and simplifies the alignment of drawings on one sheet to their counterparts on another sheet. It has a thing called Visual Compare which dynamically analyzes the differences and relationships between two drawings. Its Splitter slides across the screen to allow minutely detailed comparisons and spot things that might otherwise be missed.

This brand of software is mentioned in the section on BIM and BIM-complementary applications in Architectural Graphic Standards, 11th Edition. The book says:

ArchiCAD is based on the single-model concept. The Constructor application includes the ArchiCAD modeling system for automatically linking the construction model to the project schedule, thus enabling different schedule alternatives to be analyzed, and a connector to a related estimating application.

Fans of ArchiCAD 11 praise its high degree of compatibility with outside file types, its ability to import information directly from Google Earth, the new Interior Elevations tool, and the new tool and view type known as Worksheet. Also much appreciated are its support of AutoCAD 2007 and Macintosh. The improved quality control for construction documents is often mentioned. One reviewer is very excited about the new way to classify components within a model, Home Story. Another is crazy about the capacity to produce a freehand design with the Sketch rendering engine, or an animated walkthrough with the Lightworks engine.

Improved design workflow, more productivity, and better-coordinated and more detailed documentation of complex projects – what’s not to like?

SOURCE: “ArchiCAD Virtual Trace: A Versatile Catalyst for BIM” 03/20/08
photo courtesy of rucativava , used under this Creative Commons license