Good to know about.

  • convert Sketchup objects without messy tessellation
  • access online sources like 3dsky, turbosquid, design connected.

CD Sheet Index

From General to Specific – Discipline Prefix to Sheet Number

A surprise. The CSI Uniform Drawing System orders sheets differently than the AIA ConDoc system, following more strictly in the order in which a structure is constructed.

Quoting from the AIA white paper:

Guiding principles include the following:

  1. Segregating information by discipline (both design and construction) to form subsets of the total drawing package
  2. Ordering the subsets to correspond to the natural sequence of construction, closely associating disciplines where topics are similar
  3. Collecting and presenting each drawing (plan, elevation, section) on a sheet dedicated to that drawing type (though different drawing types may be combined for small projects)
  4. Presenting information within each subset from general to specific

Discipline PREFIX

Architects are used to seeing their stuff come first, but ordering the set by the “natural sequence of construction” is rational.

HHazardous Materials
WCivil Works
FFire Protection
XOther Disciplines
ZContractor/Shop Drawings

Sheet TYPE

Within each discipline, sheets are always grouped by type.

PrefaceDescriptionUsage Notes
000Generalproject data
key notes
general notes
100Plansbuilding plans: minimum 1/4" scale
site plans come under the L series sheets
200Elevationsexterior building elevations
1/4" minimum scale
1/2" for tricky areas
300Sections, Wall Sections1/4" min
1/2" preferred
3/4" for wall sections min
400Scaled-up plans, Sections, or Elevations3/4"
500Details1 1/2" details
3" details
600Schedules and Diagrams
700User-definedtypical detail sheets
800User-definedtypes that do not fall into other categories
9003D representations3D representations


Sheets numbers are built from five components:

Discipline – Type – Sequence – Sequence Designator (optional) – Supplemental Designator (optional)

Which in general produces numbers that look something like:



Per the CSI table above


Per the Sheet Types in the table above


Easy stuff – just a number. The sequence starts with 01 (not 00) and proceeds to 99. Such as:



For sheets added after a numbering sequence has been established, Suffixes can be used. Such as:



Designators indicate revised sheets. “R” indicates a partial revision. “X” indicates a totally revised sheet. Such as:


Buried Tolerance Toggle

Stymied by lack of significant digits in library part, fill, or curtain wall dialog boxes?

The fix is a Preference: Angle and Font Size Decimals in Dialog Boxes.

fill dialog

working units

Game Rules


Not how to play, nor how to play with style.
Rather, how to keep our stylish play in-bounds.

Link    2012 VUSBC

Link    2009 IBC Commentary  (No Virginia amendments)

Link    Charlottesville Current Codes and Design Criteria


Design criteria for our area – 2012 values

Ground snow load30 psf
Wind speed 90 mph
Frost depth 18”
Seismic Design ClassB
Decay Region Slight/Moderate
Winter Design Temp16° F
Air Freezing Index273
Mean Annual Temperature56.8° F


Energy criteria for our area – 2015 residential values

Building ElementRequirement
Ceiling R-value49
Wood Frame Wall R-value15 or 13 + 5
Mass Wall R-value
when >50% of insulation is on the exterior of the wall
Mass Wall R-value
> 50% of insulation is on the interior of the wall
Floor R-value19
Basement Wall R-value
R-10 continuous on the inside or outside of the wall, OR
R-13 cavity insulation on the interior side of basement wall
Slab R-value10, 2ft
Slab R-value if heated15
Footing depth2 ft
Crawlspace Wall R-value10/13
Window U-Factor0.35
Skylight U-Factor0.55
All glazed fenestration SHGCNR

Postscript: Textures

There is no faster way to make your otherwise-accurate model look great than to endow it with well-made, seamless, material texture maps. And conversely, choosing badly made, tiled, or just plain wrong texture maps sends us straight to the front of the Parade of Computing Fools. No need to get into the aesthetic argument now – let’s just take the bd-MAP colophon seriously, and agree that accurate and pleasing material texture “maps” and colors, consistent with our design intent, in all phases of the work, are a good thing. Don’t cripple otherwise-accurate models with ugly Surface.

The Archive3D site has a link to a texture warehouse called ArchiveTexture. I haven’t tried them, so caveat emptor – the universe of miserable textures available on the internet is, well, practically infinite.

It is often better to make one’s own, as we recently did for a house design with a specification for reclaimed Chinese elm flooring – not your everyday material. We snapped a picture of the actual floor, doctored it a bit in Photoshop, and the result in our model was stunning. There’s a lesson in that. Once you know how, the time required to shoot, edit, and save compared to the time required to click through the mostly inadequate free stuff online in the hope that somebody randomly created and posted just what you need – is assuredly less, and the results will be better. Plus, in making your own, you’ll be up out of your chair with a camera and engaged in the world in full-design-thinking mode.

Good designers know what they like to build with – our own optimized library of BDA materials is one we return to over and over – the remainder of the catalog we could probably jettison without regret.


World Builder

Prologue, Henry V:

But pardon, and gentles all,
The flat unraised spirits that have dared
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
So great an object: can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?

The Bard, with humility, his theater, the wooden “O” deemed “unworthy”, asks pardon for the effrontery of staging a bit of historical fiction there.

Oh, and what finds itself crammed within the spaces we architects to presume to make?


Pardon us please for daring to set a stage and bring forth so great an object as living-in-the-world.

Are we sufficiently humble? Are we honoring the material? Is the scaffolding we have envisioned up to the task?

So, a film: on the one hand shot in a day, but on the other needing two years in post-production. For architects and film makers both, after the vision, comes the long work of documentation, and iterative refinement with digital tools.

Architects have always been world-builders. The work is best when motivated by affection.

The Poetry of Motion

Media artist – lighting designer, really – Joachim Sauter and composer Ólafur Arnalds collaborate on a beautiful kinetic piece.

The Accessible Icon Project

From the interesting interview with one of the project’s founder’s Sarah Hendren in Print Magazine:

What’s your response to the naysayers who cite such an overhaul as a waste of time and resources? 

It’s astounding to me that people will still say, in 2013, that it’s “only an image” — when we know that images profoundly shape our cognition every day, all the time. And no one’s ever called for spending money to dig up old signage and replace them with new ones. We think that icons everywhere are an elemental grammar of wayfinding and also part of how we make meaning in the world. The overwhelmingly positive response we’ve gotten from people literally all over the world has made it pretty evident that we’re not alone.


More at the project’s website. Looks like NYC is ready to implement the change. I really like this energetic re-design.

Table Geometry

Designed by David Fletcher.

Empathy is at the Heart of Design

I can’t say it better than Tim Brown did in his LinkedIn blog:

Empathy is at the heart of design. Without the understanding of what others see, feel, and experience, design is a pointless task. When communicated as it is in this video, empathy can be truly inspirational. The Cleveland Clinic movie reveals the true scale and complexity of the challenge of understanding a complex social situation in order to design a system that supports many and various needs.

Think of this movie as a design brief. How would you design a hospital or health care system that helps and supports each of the people and their circumstances that you see here? How would you change the space, the roles that staff play, the type and manner in which patients receive information, the support systems around patients and staff?

How do you go about being inspired by empathy?