Design Drawings vs Construction Drawings - Consider

7m 50s

In this ARE 5.0 NCARB-approved Project Development and Documentation Exam Prep course you will learn about the topics covered in the ARE 5.0 PDD exam division. A complete and comprehensive curriculum, this course will touch on each of the NCARB objectives for the ARE 5.0 Project Development and Documentation Exam.

Instructor Mike Newman will discuss issues related to the development of design concepts, the evaluation of materials and technologies, selection of appropriate construction techniques, and appropriate construction documentation.

When you are done with this course, you will have a thorough understanding of the content covered in the ARE 5.0 Project Development and Documentation Exam including integration of civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and specialty systems into overall project design and documentation.

One of the things about the exam that probably feels very old-fashioned is this focus on things like schematic design, design development, construction documents, the sort of old way of thinking about it where we have a set of drawings, that set of drawings has plans and then it has elevations, then it has sections, then it has wall sections and interior elevations. It has this whole process that it kind of moves through, very specific way that we generally think of these things. And that's a package of drawings.

And that feels very sort of old-school in that way, and why would you do that? Why not just give somebody a 3-D image and that they can move around, and they can look at, some sort of a building information modeling system, a BIM, a Revit, ArchiCAD, something like that where they can actually see the whole thing together, and then they can run their own sections. And they can decide which part of the plan they want to look at. There's actually a movement that's happening where architects are, instead of doing the normal run of drawings that explain from a contractual standpoint what's being suggested, they're actually just saying all right, we'll do the model and then we'll hand the model over to you.

And then you can build it. And so whoever's building it does some part of the model, and the people who are doing the initial design so some part of the model and somewhere in between all the decisions get made. And then they have it. It's now their model. And they build it, the architects never actually produce a set of plans, a set of elevations, a set of sections, a set of schedules for the doors, things like that.

That's only in the model. So there's something great about that. There's something really interesting about how the different possibilities that that might bring. But it does create a certain complexity to our situation that is worth thinking about. It's unlikely on the exam that it'll get too esoteric in its discussions, but it is important to understand the basic idea that the contract documents are part of a legal construct between two other entities.

And so there's a reason why we have a very straightforward idea of the legal narrative that we're putting together. So you open up a set of drawings, and there's the site plan, there's the floor plan, there's the elevation. You're telling a story that's through this set of drawings, and it's very understandable and repetitive. It's just like a previous story, just with a new design.

So we totally get how the floor plan works. We totally get how an elevation works. We totally get what's meaningful in the section, in the wall sections because we've seen them before. And not only have we seen them before, but they fit into this legal pattern that is well known and well understood. Then we start talking about this idea of just handing over a digital model. Well, who made sure that all the rebar was in the digital model in the right place?

And who made sure that the ADA issues were fully understood? And who made sure that if something got changed in the wall thickness of one spot, that those ADA issues we just talked about were still accurate? So there's a whole series of issues that become a little muddled once you have multiple people, and there's no final clarity of the narrative. If I have clarity of the narrative, and I'm handing over this information, there's a bunch of elements that are very clearly understood and clearly expressed.

And then there's a whole bunch of stuff that isn't clearly expressed, and is therefore not part of the narrative. Once we hand over a whole model, the expectation is that everything is in the model, and everything is therefore in that narrative. But is it? Have you actually spent all the time putting everything in? Is it understood that if we don't do that, somebody else does?

So there's a whole series of confusions that I think are happening and likely to happen with the BIM models. And over the years, we'll figure out a way that everybody understands how to do it, but right now, it's still a little bit up in the air. And so the contracts have not yet caught up to that. And as an industry, we should be very careful about these things. Just as a test of imagination, imagine that you've worked on project, you've made a 3-D model, you've handed it over to a developer who has their own architectural interns working on the model.

They alter and change things. They add it together. They then build from that and at no point, there were set floor plans or set anything else that needed to get done, and so they just built it all on their own from that initial model that you made. And then, imagine four years later. Something goes wrong. The realization that there's a giant structural crack happening in one of the foundation walls where there's a point load for the steel beam that's loaded there.

And the question is whose fault is it? It's gone into litigation. It's now four years later. There was never a set of drawings. There was never a set, like here's the construction set, there's just this 3-D model. 3-D model had many lives to it. At what point is it your responsibility? At what point is it somebody else's responsibility? Imagine a judge or the jury or somebody in that system trying to look at this information and have any idea how they can make a decision from it.

If you have a set of drawings, there's a set narrative, there's a set idea of what's being expressed. It's part of a very long history of how that works, so we can look at that set of drawings and say well it doesn't have this information on it. I look at all these other sets of drawings. They all do. This one really ought to have had that information. Why? Because everybody else did. There's a history, there's a precedent to it. There isn't that same precedent to the 3-D models, so it is not understood about how this is going to fit in the litigative world of architecture and construction.

There are plenty of examples where people have had suits and problems and things have been worked out. So it's not that there's no information about it. It's just that this is a complication of the kind of current way of thinking about these issues. Just kind of putting that out there as an idea, think about the fact that one of the ways to think about this is that when you think about something like a set of construction documents, contract documents, if you think of those as a narrative that's telling a specific story, that story is the design intent of the project which is what the architect's role is.

The architect's role is to create the design intent, and then come up with the documentation that tells that narrative of that design intent. And then that gets handed over to somebody else. They then build from that documentation, of that design intent, that narrative, and that they can then understand what it is that they're supposed to build.

And then go and build that. As soon as we start doing something that's different from the normal, then there's a lot of complication about, well, who's responsible? Where does the responsibility lie? At what point in time does responsibility shift? All of those kinds of issues. So this is not saying that designs shouldn't be interesting and pushing the limits and trying out different possibilities.

This is saying that there's a legal construct that we are fitting into, and if you're going to do something that's different from that legal construct, it better be very, very clear who's responsible and how the process is going to work.

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From the course:
ARE 5.0 Project Development & Documentation Exam Prep

Duration: 36h 46m

Author: Mike Newman