Unformatted text preview: fJ SpringerWienNewYork Handbook of Detailing
The Graphic Anatomy of Construction Ralph W. Liebing, RA, CSI, CPCA, CBO SpringerWienNewYork Ralph W. Liebing, RA, CSI, CPCA, CBO
Senior Architect - Specifications
HIXSON Architects. Engineers. Interiors
659 Van Meter Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202. USA This work is sub ject to copyright.
All rights are reserved, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned. specifically those of translation. reprinting, re-use of illustrations. broadcasting, reproduction by photocopying machines or similar
means. and storage in data banks.
Product Liability: The publisher can give no guarantee for the information contained in this book.
The use of registered names, trademarks. etc. in this publication does not imply. even in the absence of specific statement. that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore
free for general use. e 2009 Springer-VerlarJVienna
Printed in Austria
SpringerWienNewYork is a part of Springer Science-Business Media
springer.at This book contains 300 figures/details from many different sources. they are examples of use in daily practice.
were part of actual project documents and not necessarily intended for publication. So in some cases the quality
might - despite lithography - not be perfect. but deficiency of reproduction does not spoil the content. nor
distract from the lessons that can be learned . The publisher and editor kindly wish to inform you that in some cases. despite efforts to do so, the obtaining
of copyright permissions and usage of excerpts of text is not always successful. Layout: Vera Gehmayer, , 2340 Modling, Austria
Coverdesign : Waiter Zivny. Springer-Verlag, 1201 Vienna, Austria
Photocredit back cover: photo courtesy of constructionphotographs.com
Printing and binding: Holzhausen Druck & Medien GmbH , 1140 Vienna, Austria Printed on acid-free and chlorine-free bleached paper
Library of Congress Control Number: 2009924399
With numerous figures ISBN 978 -3-211 -99134-3 SpringerWienNewYork TABLE or CONTENTS 5 TABLE OF CONTENTS
PREFACE 6 FRAME OF REFERENCE 9 THE END RESULT 10 THE CONTEXT 29 INTRODUCTION 42 HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE 49 THETHRUST OF DETAILING 58 THE REALI1Y OF DETAILING 77 QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUr DETAILING 99 THE INDMDUAL EFFORT 105 REVIEW OF SAMPLE DETAILS 119 DISCUSSION OF CASE STUDIES 238 ANALYSIS OF A DETAIL 321 DETAILS "BY OTHERS" 336 EPILOGUE 370 APPENDICES: A: B:
D: Excerptof speech by Professor Edward Alien, FAIA
Listof trade and professional organizations
Book Listand Added Resources 372
392 GLOSSARy 396 INDEX 423 PREFACE 6 PREFACE
In a world of rapid and ever-changing practices, among design
professionals, there is, we feel, a need to at least recall other
times- times more sedate, slower paced, but nonetheless no
less highly professional. And to bring them forward for expression, understanding and use in today's professional practice.
Indeed, they may have been MORE professional. This is not
whining or lamenting about times passed by persons late
in their career trying desperately to hold on to that past- to
things obsolete, outmoded, archaic or snail-like slow. It is
about being open, factual, and advisory about moving forward, in new ways, but maintaining a sense of and use of well
proven values- basics and fundamentals so very vital and valuable to the success of project, but so easily lost, too quickly.
No one can rationally decry or dismiss the evolution of computerized drafting, and the increasing use and ever-evolving
sophistication of the related systems. But in all this we are
loosing a sense of what we must be about and indeed, what
we need to do and accomplish- using the expression of CAD
and other computer capabilities. The loss centers on the lack
of a truly hands-on and respectful relationship to our drawings, and with that the inherent thought process of what to
do, how to relate it, and how to do it [i.e., the knowledge of
appropriate construction materials, methods, techniques and
systems]. Along with the "feel" of pencil on paper [or other
manual drafting media] and the need to understand how to
make a line properly, convincingly and correctly, we have, for
the most part, lost track of both the intent and the content of
the drawings. What are the drawings "supposed" to do? Why do they even
What should beshown on thedrawings? How should the individual drawings bedone? When "mechanical drawing" and drafting efforts, even at the
junior high school level, began to be computer activities, the
drafter [operator) was literally "cushioned or isolated" from
the feel of the lines and the drawings, by the keyboard . Punching a typewriter-like [look it up, it existed too] key is far distant from starting, drawing, and finishing a line, with proper
weight, width and intensity, as well as style and understanding of impact and purpose. Now the "key" triggers an electronic sequence which instantaneously produces a line- but,
oops! The line is yellow on the screen, what does that mean? You don't know; well, how do you know the line is the right
line at all?
Thus, our dilemma - of growing proportions. The further
we move from mid-20th century the more we stray from the
mindset, direction, execution and understanding of working
drawings, and detailing of that time. We seek not to regenerate
and reinstall those times- but we sincerely feel and strongly
suggest that there needs to be a lasting expression of those
times, and the filling of the voids left by time- from then .til
now. Techniques may change, but understanding, direction,
orientation, and values from the past remain valid, important and of value- particularly when they were so successful.
Here, history is not bad; it can teach; it can give context and
meaning to the effort; it can make better simply by being able
to talk to and inform today's drafters and those still coming
on-board ... whenever. This book was conceived to present a new understanding
and approach to the task of detailing construction projects.
There are numerous books which present "sample" or "representative" detail drawings, which mayor maynot be pertinent to
the project in hand. Often these are used merely for reference,
and to present thought-provoking impetus for correct detailing.
In some cases, they are actually proposed asdetails thatcan be
copied and directly utilized in project documents. To date detailing remains an enigma rarely addressed specifically in architecture curricula.
One of prime exceptions where clarity is provided comes in
the works, in years past, of Professor Edward Allen, both in
his academic career, his comments and writing on the state
of technical architectural courses in general and in his several
books. But especially in his ARCHITECTURAL DETAILING:
Function, Constructibility, Aesthetics [written with Professor Patrick Rand and published in second edition by John WHey &
This is the one book on detailing committed to teaching the
process of detailing [many other "detailing books" merely
contain collections of suggested or example details, for consideration, adaption and re-use- no real teaching of the process]. Allen's book stems from his class notes he used at Yale,
MIT, Oregon and other schools where his stated task was to
teach detailing- this direction and his expertise and dedication earned him high esteem and the 2005 AlAjACSA Topaz PREFACE Award. This exception is a book that can easily be portrayed,
envisioned, suggested, and strongly recommended as a companion to this book.
Professor Allen introduces, explains, and elaborates on a series of very fundamental "patterns" for detailing, that he has
developed for and through his courses at Yale, MIT and other
schools of architecture. Each pattern acts as a firm conceptual basis and rationale for problem solving, in producing
construction documents, and the requisite construction detailing . His fundamentals provide theoretical insight into the
various solutions that can be extracted by utilizing or applying one or more of the principles [the "patterns" I to solve a
This provides both student and professional with a reliable
and basic resource catalog, which identifies problem areas
that require detailing, sparks ideas, shows flexibility in problem solving, and facilitates innovation for common sense,
and positive solutions. The concepts are fully developed in
the text, and accompanied by illustrations, both written and
graphic. I would like to pay more than merely due tribute
to this excellent and insightful effort by Professor Allen, in
conjunction with his numerous other books on the technical
side of architecture- all are recommended here with highest
In my communication with Professor Allen, he suggested that
another book by the author of this book, could act as a resource for the "mechanics" of detailing, or the correct depiction and implementation of the solutions developed through
use of his patterns. It seems appropriate, though, to extract
and isolate the specific information on detailing [from other
aspects of working drawings] since this process is so fundamental to the success of the transfer of information for every
project, and indeed, to the project itself.
The use of the best and most appropriate mechanics to display the solutions, well-founded through use of Professor
Alien's' patterns, should provide the undergirding for good ,
well-conceived detailing solutions. The goal is the clear, accurate, pertinent, concise and complete communication of those solutions to the field, and in turn, high quality construction
faithful to the approved design concept.
This effort is toward the graphic communications aspects of
detailing, which are noted as an area ofcurrent interest. Alien's
book is excellent, but does not address the graphics- rather it
puts forth a system for assessing detailing needs, construction
problems that require solution, and basic problem-solving
formats . While he includes some detail drawings, his message 7 relates to the way in which details are conceived and formu lated by using various considerations [which he calls "patterns "]. I feel his book is well founded and has the strength of
history on its side having been his text for his classes at Yale
This book, by virtue of a comment by Professor Allen, to the
author, centers on the graphics or mechanics of detailing. That
is the reason for setting out and then answering the 6 questi ons, "What, Why....." This text goes toward the rationale behind how solutions based on Alien's patterns can be conveyed
to the field, in proper order and in a format that is usable by
the trade workers. Also, the text goes to the understanding of
the intent and content of details on the part of young professionals who do the detailing.
There is no competitive scenario here, with Professor Alien's
book. Perhaps this text is parallel, but mainly it is supplementary and complimentary. The bottom line is that you can
conceive very fine details via Alien's information but if you
cannot successfully convey your information and solutions
to the workers, via your graphics, you have failed to do your
job as a detailer, And your project will suffer in m ore than
one way. That is a shame, and professionally unsatisfactory or
intolerable. If you have the capacity via Allen to produce very
good details, only to come up short through poor execution
and understanding of the process that disseminates that information, you are contributing as required.
So what started as a sincere quest to produce a relevant current text has now become a valid effort to pass along the stan dards and values from past years- those that are still vitally
important, and crucial to successful construction. Certainly,
this book can be projected as a supplementary text, since very
few schools and courses support full courses dedicated to detailing [unlike Yale and MIT who utilize Edward Allen's expertise]. The information, it is felt, is invaluable to the young
professional, no matter what format, equipment, office environment, or project is involved.
Yousolve problems by detailing, and then incorporate the solutions in the actual work by telling the trade workers exactly
what is to be done!
It is my sincere desire that this effort not be perceived as
old codger spewing forth archaic, fuddy-duddy information . I have had the grand opportunity to practice across a
good number of years, and have had many wonderful people
around me, who evidently saw some potential in me. They
saw fit to teach me, to help me to understand and grasp the
concepts of project documentation and detailing. They were
talented and very competent people, skilled, knowledgeable 8 and experienced- successful! I seek only to put forth information that I feel is needed and is helpful to the current and"
future professionals. This information is not readily available
elsewhere. Information that may be seated in the past, but
which is the foundation of successful detailing today, and in
coming years. The joy of practice, and successful employment
lies, I feel, in the inner-self who is able to come to the conclusion [as I did one day during my co-op college days) that "I
understand this [practice, detailing, documenting, etc.) and I
can do it- and do it well".
Even today after a fairly long career, I can personally attest to
the rush of pride, consuming joy, and personal satisfaction to
solve a problem by creating a good, responsive detail- makes
one want to pump the fist and shout out, "YES!!!"
That is a tremendous revelation that I wish to each of the readers. Ralph W. Liebing, RA, CS!, CPCA, CBO
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA Dedication: This book is dedicated to my wife Arlene, my
daughter Alissa, son-in-law Bob and granddaughter, Mya; to
my many colleagues over years of practice; and to all those
architects, drafters, CAD drafters and others whose daily dedication to "getting the details right" for the project's design
concept, yield successful projects in the clients' best interests. PREFACE FRAME OF REFERENCE 9 FRAME OF REFERENCE
Before engaging and studying this book, the author invites/
urges the readers to review the following . Certainly astute comment that indicate and correctly place the
function of detailing in the documentation process! This isthe Abstract from a talk given by Professor Edward Alien *
at a Faculty forum at Iowa State University in 2007. It is a true
expression of the needs of the design professions, and what
can and should be done. And it sets our frame of reference- the understanding of the
process and methodology that facilitates the correct depiction, use and communication of the information that is developed through efforts similar to what Professor Alien outlines Not Your Father's Technical Courses
recent visiting professor in building technology, MIT
Technical courses should be about turning dreams into reality,
drawing upon thedazzling array of materials, devices and physical principles that are available to designers. As such, technical courses ought to bethe most exciting, empowering offerings
in the architecture and engineering curricula. But in most universities, they are neither exciting nor empowering. We have
managed to make them dull and often despised.
This situation has come about because we have failed to realize that technology is not synonymous with mathematics or
science. We have tended to teach only what is mathematical
orscientific about technical subjects, ignoring crucial concerns
such asselection of materials and systems, design development
of technical systems as integral components of architecture, detailing, [emphasis added] and planning for construction.
We turn outgraduates who have been exposed to the math and
science of buildings, but who are unable to build.
Students of architecture and engineering must be taught to
build imaginatively and well. This presentation will offer several simple guidelines for creating poweiful, exciting technical
courses that develop theability to build, and will show examples of their implementation. Elsewhere Professor Alien had commented as follows: "Detailing isyour sole language ofexpression as ... an architect.
Details tell others how to get your project built in the way that
you wantit built. If you can'tdesign the major details yourself,
someone else will have todoit for you- And that person is likely to have a greater effect on the outcome than you do." *- See excerpt of speech by Professor Alien, in appendix,
where he states his approach and philosophy for detailing. CHAPTER ON E- THE END RESULT 10 THE END RESULT
The strongest of cases must be made for the process of detailing!
This is not to emphasize or give undue status to an essential
and important activity, that some see as inconsequential. There is no pretension that detailing is the dominant,
pre-eminent or superior function in the design and construction of architectural projects; but neithercan it beclaimed that
it is minimal, inconsequential or unnecessary!
It is, however, the primary facilitating factor in achieving
a successful project! Rather it is to give due credit, in the grand scheme of architectural and construction projects, [and indeed to the whole
of the professional services provided by architects] to n eminently important task that is too often murky in the minds of
many, minimized by others and maligned by far too many.
In addition, most unfortunately, many professionals do not
understand the work involved, the necessity for it, and how to
best accomplish its intent. "Designing details is not a neat, linear, fully logical operation.
Like any design process, it is engagingly messy and complex.
It involves false starts, wrong turns, mental blocks, dead ends,
backtracking, and moments of despair- as well as purposeful
progress, intelligent decisions, creative synthesis and gratifying
moments of inspiration, in sight and triumph."
- Edward Alien,
FAlA Professorof Architecture (ret.)
Oregon; MIT; Yale University; Washington and
Montana State Universities There is no way to shy away from, avoid or equivocate on
this single, simple fact and direct premise that persists,
undeniable and irrefutable: To produce successful works of architecture, from the most
modest to the most innovative/revolutionary, the architect
[and allied staffJ must have the wherewithal to utilize drafting skills [in one mode or another] to create meaningful
depictions of the construction; calling upon and based on the
application of a large and deep pool of construction knowledge in a format/configuration/manner fully supporting and
true to the design concept.
The rhetoric of badgering, sermonizing or pontification simply fails in any attempt to deny or refute the truth that detailing
is the overriding, fundamental, pre-requisite skill for all architects. Design may be considered as the architect's premier
skill or forte, and may be to one's liking, but it must rely on
detailing to be successfully executed. The higher the level of
detailing skill [coupled with at least commensurate construction knowledge] the greater the capacity of the architect for
innovative problem solving, flexibility of thinking, depiction
of sound construction, good communication of the information and consistently successful projects. The level of skill in detailing is the basis that determines the
level ofsatisfactory achievement required in thefinished project
- high skill demands high result, etc. Neither is this [mainly because there is no need to] an apologetic attempt to glamorize or glorify one function of professional practice for architects. It is really to provide a more
balanced view of practice and one of the tasks that vitally needed , and which require skill, insight, flexibility and a good
depth of construction knowledge. It does not [and there is
no suggestion here] supplant design as the primary tasks in
View Full Document