26 January 2015

The importance of being earnest

Importance of Being Earnest, Wikimedia
A couple of months ago, in "Your slip is showing!", I mentioned that I had been specifying slip resistance for a very long time, but only recently became aware of a serious problem: Even though codes other regulations require a "slip-resistant" finish, there is no definition of what that means. I encountered a similar situation recently while reviewing the titles of the many standards cited in our specifications: I discovered that ANSI (American National Standards Institute) produces no standards!

While looking up hardware standards, I saw reference standards with the number 115 in virtually every hardware and hollow metal specification I found. Sometimes the 115 was preceded with an A, other times not. But it's only one letter; what's the big deal if it has an A or not?

19 January 2015

Rules of thumb

Drafter at work; Wikimedia
A huge problem that continues to grow is that we have too much information. When American architects formed AIA, 150 years ago, construction was much simpler; mechanical systems hadn't changed much since the Romans used them 2,000 years ago. Since then, countless new materials and processes have been introduced.

Life was simple for architects of those early years, much of their time being spent detailing ornamentation. In 1905, a local university building of 112,000 square feet was built using a steel frame, with brick, marble, granite, and terra cotta. The construction documents comprised 58 drawing sheets and a 51 page project manual. By today's standard practice, hundreds of pages of drawings and a project manual of at least two volumes.