February 14, 2013

Architecture Student Book Roundup: Building Technology Primer

Architecture school books tend to be more go-to references guides while you develop your designs - especially if you need a technical design response (eg comprehensive building design studio). You usually have to figure out the build-ability and technology and dimensions yourself - none of your courses will give you a thorough detail on dimensions of furniture, seating, or typical elevators, heating systems, sizing of your shafts and ducts - you have to find it out or get an approximate size or placeholder to continue progressing in your design. Whether it is structure, mechanical systems, electrical systems, building envelope - they are critical and should garnish your education in learning about how to design a building. Some of these are books that will guide you and even follow you after university (well Building Construction Illustrated and the Architect's Studio Companion - I know friends and colleagues have shown through Facebook post or people who are preparing for their licencing examinations).

Note the limitations of technical books is that standards and technology changes and these books have to get revised to keep relevant (I honestly believe that when I go to grad school I might invest in a new copy of Building Construction Illustrated and Architect's Studio Companion). What makes their architecture textbooks highly regarded and known is because they break the text into manageable chunks and use a lot of illustrations to help the visual learner/architecture student.

This is just a round up of some of the building technology books that have helped me a lot in architecture school. It's good to have some of the books, or at least know where they are in the library (Architecture textbooks in general or building a personal architecture library is expensive)

Disclaimer: It's also a good idea to wait for the course syllabus on the first day of class to figure out what books you need to buy for your architecture school courses. This is just a book review of books that I found helpful and may not necessarily be the ones your school needs or uses. It's good to know these books when you need to research.

Building Construction Illustrated (MUST HAVE)
Francis Ching

Ching gives a lot of valuable information and even dimensions of certain things (unlike Architectural Graphics Standards)...and As a Canadian - he provides both imperial and metric measurements (a good thing). Ching provides diagrams with notes and also gives a reason why it's built that way. lots of beautifully hand-drafted Drawings  explain the various aspects of construction. You'll be going to this book a lot (let's just say the spine of mine is broken...)


The Architects Studio Companion  (MUST HAVE)
Edward Allen, Joseph Iano
My second year Structures professor told the entire class on the first day of class in September to get this book - you would be a fool not to. This book provides information on structural span and sizing charts,  mechanical sizing charts, stairway charts, building code guides, building services, and parking. Also, I hear the new version has sustainable design incorporated. Definitely a good book to figure out the sense of size and scale of structure that you can use for your designs. Your Structures professor would be a fool to not mention this book to you.

Building Construction and Methods
Edward Allen, Joseph Iano

This book provides chapters of the different aspects of building construction, even providing a sense of how things are built, showing images of construction sites. Book is a bit old, but it is always being revised to incorporate new information. I found it useful in my summer job when I had to understand the types of roofing systems there are since I had a boss that was serious about roof construction - hence reading up on the chapter. If your professors do give you readings on it, I still find that the chapters are too lengthy...for an architecture student to have time reading. (It's an awesome book, but if your program just blasts you with projects and readings...usually the readings are the first ones to go for many architecture students)

Modern Construction Handbook
Andrew Watts

I think this is the next evolution to Building Construction and Methods, there are a lot of exploded 3D renderings 2D with technical drawings explaining different building systems and real-world examples done by architects and looks to much more contemporary construction systems. Great go-to book in my third year studio when we had to research building envelope systems for our design and understanding the various construction methods. Andrew Watts also has other books in the series such as Building Envelope Manual which shows great promise (which I must definitely check out)

Passive and Active Environtmental Systems
Dean Heerwagen

If you want to get a deeper understanding of the current mechanical, electrical, and lighting systems that are used in a building, this book provides an extensive look into these systems - more detailed than the Architects Studio Companion. There are images of the types of components in buildings as well as nicely drawn graphics for architecture students to understand visually.

This is not an exhaustive list or the only books that provide this information as there are many other books out there that are valuable and provide the information. Note that there is a lot of overlap in these books as some focus more on certain aspects than others. 

What books would you recommend architecture students to have?

You've Been Accepted to Architecture School and Amped Up!

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