ARE 5.0 Programming & Analysis Exam Prep

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Site Specific Environmental Issues - Topography - Part 5

8m 16s

In this ARE 5.0 Programming and Analysis Exam Prep course you will learn about the topics covered in the ARE 5.0 PA exam division. A complete and comprehensive curriculum, this course will touch on each of the NCARB objectives for the ARE 5.0 Programming and Analysis Exam.

Instructor Mike Newman will discuss issues related to programming, site analysis, and zoning & code requirements.

When you are done with this course, you will have a thorough understanding of the content covered in the ARE 5.0 Programming and Analysis Exam including project type analysis, the establishment of qualitative and quantitative project requirements, evaluation of project site and context, and assessment of economic issues.

We've talked about swales and berms, we've talked about making intervals to make nice, even pathways. We've talked about cut and fill. The issue of course is that you're gonna have to do all of it at the same time. The questions will probably be something where it'll be kind of a lot of things all happening in the same set of drawings. Imagine for a moment that we want to put a building approximately right here, and I'm just kind of making it up just to have something to show here. And in order to put that building there I might be making a nice sort of flat area for that to happen, what's referred to as a building pad.

That's a term you should probably know. A building pad. And the reason that I'm gonna be a little specific about that is when we see the word pad we generally think of concrete. We think about concrete pad. A concrete pad has a flat top. A building pad, there is no concrete, it's just the sort of ground plane getting ready for a building.

And whenever we're outside, the ground plane is never actually flat. Even a concrete patio shouldn't really be flat. The only time that you ever have anything that's actually flat is an indoor structure. The reason for that is whenever there's water I want the water to drain somewhere. And if I'm outside, there's always water. I suppose maybe there's some parts of the country where that's not true but essentially there's always water at some point outside, and so therefore, I don't have anything flat.

Whenever we talk about anything outside, there's always a slope to it. It may be a relatively low slope because it may not be a big issue which is any water that just gets on there, you just give it a little slope so the water can drain away. Or it may be a big worry because I really want to make sure any water gets over there it splashes off immediately because there's potentially a lot of water.

That amount of slope will make a big difference in terms of that discussion. The idea of the building pad is that it's a flat area for future construction but it's not really flat. It may have a six-inch or eight-inch or something like that overall elevation difference so that the water will slope away. It's kind of flat but you wouldn't want to have that soil pond and have water just sit there over time and start to change the nature of the soil below it. You wouldn't want it to sort of start having where it starts getting super saturated and becoming a low spot.

The idea that it's flat just isn't real, it's this sort of slightly flat, it's mostly flat. We're gonna create our building area plus our building pad. And so, we might be wanting to take away some of these soil in order to get a nice, big, flat area and maybe we're gonna add on some soil over here, and then we're gonna add soil there and there, and there.

You can see that the sheer fact that I pushed this into that sort of steeper spot instead of having it be in the flatter zone back here, it meant that we actually had to manipulate a lot of contour lines in order to make that nice big flat area, that building pad flat-ish area in that one zone in order to have a big place to be able to put our structure.

That's one thing that we're doing is we're creating the opportunity for the structure. The other thing we're then doing just like we did before is we're creating those swales in order to make sure that's went off the property line which I just said you can't do. We're doing all of that as well plus we're adding a parking space and maybe a walkway, and then you start figuring out how you're gonna do the walkway.

The kind of thing that will actually likely come up will be some sort of image where there is multiple things going on. It's not gonna be any one of those things, it's that they're all happening. And it's just important to sort of keep track that you're able to follow the contour line all the way through. There should always be a difference in the drawing between the contour line as it sits originally, and then the contour line as it is drawn for the new layout. You always wanna be able to see them very clearly as different and it should always connect back, right?

So that you can find it continues often to the rest of the landscape. Remember that whenever we're talking about the topography, the lay of the land, what we're really talking about is drainage. And so, anytime I have something that's up high, it's considered dryer. Anytime I have something that is down low, it's considered wetter.

And so, questions might come where should you put the patio or something like that. And the answer would be in the dry place, not in the wet place. You wouldn't want the patio constantly filling with water and then draining out. The connection here is that this, when we're talking about ground plane, we're actually talking about how the water moves. Now there's other reasons to be interested, there's aesthetic reasons, there's access reasons like we talked about with the pathway and all of that.

But the sort of fallback assumption is that when you're talking about topography you're really talking about drainage. You're always looking to see what's the total set of issues? I'm always trying to keep water away from my structure, I'm trying to make a nice, clear area to build in. I'm trying to get from one level to another safely and I'm trying to do it in a way where I'm minimizing the extra fill that I have to bring in or the extra cut that I have to take away.

I'm always trying to balance those things so I can keep as much of it on site as I reasonably can. That's the big picture with topography. Like I said, it's gonna be something where you'll probably have to recognize things more than draw them. But there may be a little bit of some drawing exercises that you'll have to get into, but it'll be mostly pretty simple and straightforward. But like I said, this is the easiest thing to make the dumbest mistakes on. It's just very simple to get it reversed and be drawing berms instead of swales and that kind of thing.

Just make sure that you've got a handle on the terminology and the specific direction that you can do this in a sort of simple way. And remember that these things represent actual material so that if somebody is moving something and you may have to calculate it out. Actually let's take a second and talk about that. If you're moving the soil, when we're talking about soil generally we're talking about cubic yards. Cubic yards of soil is the sort of terminology that is used for if I bring in truckloads of soil in, I might have a truck that can carry 10 cubic yards of soil.

And so how many truckloads would I need in order to fill an area that's X by Y, right? That's the kind of calculation you might have to do is kind of figure out well, how many, how much soil is this? Topography is actually kind of fun, it's kind of a cool process to sort of think about kind of manipulating these things in order to get the sort of water to flow around a structure and do what you want and set up landscaping areas and all of that.

It can be a little daunting because you have these great, big earth moving machines that are gonna follow these little tiny drawings. But that's the cool part about it is this very sort of nuanced little thing and this huge, big yellow thing goes out and moves all the soil around. It's a pretty cool process and it can be a little daunting for especially younger architects to get into it.

But I highly recommend you sort of spend a little time practicing on it because it'll become very, very useful for you both on the exam and out in the real world.

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From the course:
ARE 5.0 Programming & Analysis Exam Prep

Duration: 19h 11m

Author: Mike Newman