Slicing and Dicing

It sounds like a Veg-O-Matic demonstration guy at the state fair at the end of which you’re not sure what all got chopped up. The slicing and dicing of the building, however, is done much more systematically and carefully so you can actually tell what has been cut through.

I know it’s hard to imagine, but the building that is drawn in the computer is a full-scale 3D model of the real thing. Slicing up the building in the computer provides details that are referred to as sections. By slicing through the building in various directions it allows us to see what is going on inside the spaces. That includes the spaces inside the walls, the spaces above the ceiling, the spaces below the floor and more. These views let us see how the pieces and parts of the building go together. When the plans are printed out, they are scaled down and floor plans are usually shown at 1/8”=1’-0”. It would take a lot of paper to print it out full-scale.

Building and wall sections are like cutting through the building vertically. Imagine the building is a multi-layer cake and you cut it in half with a knife and remove one half away. Now you are looking into the inside of the cake and you see the layers of cake and icing that you couldn’t see from the outside of the cake. Well that’s the idea of a building section; cutting the building in half and looking inside. The wall section is what is happening at the exterior walls of the building. Occasionally there are portions of the section that need to be seen in greater detail and are shown in an enlarged section also referred to as a section detail.

The top of the wall section is the roof assembly and at the lower part of the wall section shows how the building sits on or in the ground. The wall section shown here is through the north wall of the Visitor Center in the Gallery space. You can see a part of the floor plan in “Blueprints-what are they; what are the good for.” The wall section starts at the bottom showing the foundation and mechanical crawl space (Lower Level 100’-0”). As you move up the section you see the floor of the Gallery (Upper Level 107’-0”). There you see the mechanical diffuser in the floor and the window sill with the Section Detail 6/A-502 referenced which directs you to detail 6 on sheet A-502. You can detail 6 above.

As you travel further up the wall section, it cuts through the exterior glass wall and when you arrive at the top of the wall section you see the soffit outside on the left and the interior ceiling on the right. At the very top of the wall section, you see the roof assembly. Detail 6 shows how the window sill goes together. On the left is the exterior stone then air space, insulation, weather barrier, metal studs filled with spray foam insulation, sheet rock, another air space and finally on the right the interior stone. Sitting on top the stone wall is the aluminum window sill of the curtain wall (industry term for tall glass wall).

Studying these sections is how the architect works through the details of putting the building together. When the final sections and details are assembled in a set, they become the instructions to the contractor on how to construct the building piece by piece. There are 28 sheets of architectural drawings. They include 3 plan sheets (floor, ceiling and roof), 2 sheets of exterior elevation (6 views), 6 building sections, 18 wall sections, a door schedule, a room finish schedule and 175 details. These drawings represent about a 3 month effort of research, working out the details and finalizing all the documents. That’s a lot of communicating to the construction team and represents only one of the disciplines in the full set of drawings.

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