How Architectural Drawings Work
16th January 2019
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All the big impressive beautiful buildings that you see today from the Burj Khalifa in Dubai to the Rockefeller Tower in  New York all had their start from somebody's imagination that was drawn into the paper in the form of an architectural drawing.  Architectural drawings are part of an architectural plan which typically shows the floor plan, elevations, details of moldings, etc, and other details necessary for the contractor to purchase the necessary materials for construction.


Architectural drawings are typically meticulously drawn by hand, but nowadays, architectural plans are made using CAD ( Computer Aided Design), and BIM (Building Information Modelling), and stored in architectural drawing management software packages, making it easily accessible by those who are involved in the project.


But, before, architectural drawings become drawings, it first has to go thru a  long tumultuous process which involves from the inception down to the actual drawing.  The process differs from one project to another, but the typical process remains the same.



How Architectural Drawings Work


While no two projects follow the same path during the journey, there are a few common phrases that most projects go thru. We will look at the development of architectural drawings from the time it is conceived up to when the architectural blueprint take shape, ready to be used.


According to the AIA (American Institute of Architects), the architectural design process has five stages. They are as follows:


  • Schematic Design
  • Design Development
  • Construction Drawings
  • Bidding and Contract Negotiation
  • Construction Administration


Schematic Design


After the initial assessment of the project where the architect(s) examines things like zoning requirements is the Schematic Design Phase. During this phase, drawings are made that illustrate spatial relationships scale that form the project. The drawings during this phase are usually at a small scale ( about 1/8 inch equals a foot) and often doesn't have a lot of details so the client can focus on the overall look and design of the project. These concept sketches are either done by hand or CAD and are accompanied by feasibility studies based on site and building code restrictions. The general contractor will be present to figure out the material costs.


Design Development


This phase refines and builds on the decisions made during the schematic design phase. In this phase window locations, sizes and types will be determined as well as the materials needed for the exterior and interior. At this point, the architects will begin to work with a structural engineer and the details of the essential elements of the design will be developed with their input. The drawings will now be at a larger scale  (1/4 inch equals 1 foot) and more details on the plans and elevations will be present. The contractor will continue to determine the cost of materials at this point.


Construction Drawings


This phase continues to build on the building design but at this point, technical details like energy code compliance as well as the consultant’s recommendations are added into the drawing so that the contractor has a complete description of the project to be constructed.  The drawing set will also be used to apply for a building permit.


There is no set time when the building permit will be granted, and often times, there will be corrections on the drawings. The architect will revise the drawings based on the corrections and resubmit them for review.


At the end of this stage, the following will be delivered: construction documents, specifications and the application of building permit.



Bidding and Contract Negotiation


The next phase in the architectural design process is the Bidding and Contract Negotiation or BID. Most construction projects go thru a bidding process to win the project, and in this bidding, the architect serves as the manager of the bidding. Whenever contractors are going to bid on any project, they pick up a set of construction drawings and any changes that might have taken place, study the project, and make a bid on the project.


 Construction Administration


During construction, the architect acts like an agent and observes the construction of the project to make sure that everything conforms to the construction plans.  During this phase, clear communication between everyone involved in the team is a must, and nowadays, this can be done with the use of an architectural drawing management software where everyone involved can have access to the plans as well as plan changes.


Architects during this phase will visit the site at intervals, answer any questions from the contractor as well as provide additional drawings to clarify design intent for the contractor. And, when the construction is almost done, the architect writes the punch lists and helps to close the project.

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Mandy Bular

Member since: 30th January 2018

Mandy Bular is a freelance content writer. She has written many good and informative articles on different categories such as technology, health, fashion, education, career, travel etc. She is a featured...

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