Architectural Graphics are a topic that it seems everybody has an interest in discussing – or at the very least, looking at for comparison purposes. After a very long hiatus, Architectural Graphics 101 is rising from the ashes like the proverbial Phoenix. It’s been 3 years and 16 days since my last architectural graphics post and just like the last time I had a steaming hot bowl of Wolf brand chili, that’s too long.
I thought I would start with a title block from my current office – BOKA Powell. For the record, nobody at my current office wants my opinion about how our drawings are laid out. They haven’t asked, and I haven’t offered … but other than pen weight and arrowheads, most of the drawing conventions that are in place align with my own thoughts on the matter. I have been beaten up for so long on the use of chisel fonts that I’ve decided to leave that alone (for now).
In just about every conceivable way, this title block has all the parts that you would expect to find on a drawing – but maybe you don’t know what those are. I am also going to take a few moments to introduce the concept of how you number these drawings (i.e. the individual drawings on the sheet).
I am going to break this Architectural Graphics 101 post up into just a few small parts – some of which I have skimmed over in the past but it’s worth repeating. First off is the numbering of the drawings on the page. Most architectural sheets have more than one drawing on them and in order to assist with referencing their location elsewhere, most will have individual numbers. For example, detail 01 “Plan Detail” can be found in the bottom right-hand corner of the sheet but if I wanted to reference that drawing elsewhere in the set, I would call it out as “o1/A2.82” which not only identifies the detail number but also the page in which you can find it.
I have added a few guidelines on the image above to show that all of these drawings are lined up with one another for the most part – it just visually keeps the drawing organized and tidy in its appearance … but we need to talk a minute about how to identify those drawings – why is detail 04 located where it is?
My preference is that the drawing numbers start in the bottom right-hand corner and work their way up the page until they reach the top, and at that point, you go back down to the bottom of the page – essentially one column over and continue working your way up the page again.
Some people might think that – just like reading a book or anything else – you start in the upper left-hand corner and work your way across the page to the right until they reach the end at which point you drop down a row and continue (much like how you are reading this sentence). While I will admit that what I am about to say might be some outdated thinking, at times I still embrace the old ways. Since printed out drawings are typically stapled along the left-hand side of the page, it would be better to fill of the sheet on the side opposite the staples just so you don’t have to open the set wide up in order to see drawing 04 in the corner by the staple. If you number vertically starting on the right, you can flip the page partially open.
Of course, now that we are printing out sheets less often, this might not be as important as it once was but I still see contractors using full-size sets on the job site.
So let’s get to the actual ingredients that make up a title block. For the most part, every title block has the same 6 things on it regardless of who made it or how old it is. You might see an example that has only 5 of these things but 4 or less would be “finding a leprechaun sitting on a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow” rare.
I’ve color-coded three examples here but let’s start with the one from my current office – BOKA Powell.
Sheet Information is typically found in the bottom-most corner of every title block and generally contains information that is specific to that particular sheet rather than the entire set. Things like the page number (A2.82 in this case but I’m not going to explain the numbering system in this post) are a must and might actually be the most important piece of information in the title block. The second most important is the date of the sheet – which is not the same as the dates I’m going to talk about in the next section. Consider the date here as a “born on” date and not the date associated with the various milestone issue dates. Once this date is set, it’s done and should never change.
Right above the sheet information is the drawing issue information. The dates reflected here are associated with the entire set and not the individual drawing page. Things like “Issued for Permitting”, “Issued for Construction”, and “City Comments” are fairly typical. Major set issue dates are recorded in this section.
Sometimes you will see some legal speak in these sections, along the lines of:
The drawings and written material herein constitute original work of the architect, and as intellectual property and instruments of service, are subject to copyright and may not be reproduced, distributed, published or used in any way without the express written consent of the architect.”
or something very close to that.
Project Data – at least on my sets – is almost always the project name as well as the address of the project. Pretty straightforward stuff.
This is the one section that seems to vary the most between project title blocks. On the BOKA Powell sets, you will find the firms and their contact information for every consultant who contributed documentation to the set. People like structural engineers, MEP engineers, landscape architects, acousticians, civil engineers, and even the specific contact information for the owner.
If it doesn’t have a seal, it ain’t real. There are a million different rules associated with when and how an architectural seal is used (and when it can be electronic or has to be wet, when it has to be signed or just be on the page, etc.) Best to do your due diligence and make sure you know the rules in the municipality where the project is being submitted for review.
In order for this “Architectural Graphics 101” post to be a value I thought we should have another example to look at – in this case it is a title block from my last office. In order to make things easy for comparison purposes, I color-coded everything once again and after a quick scan, you will see that with one minor exception, both title blocks have the exact same information on them.
The drawings are laid out in the exact same manner – starting in the bottom right-hand corner and moving vertically to the top and then coming back down to the bottom and moving over a row. If a single drawing extends the full height of the page (as you can see with these wall sections) the drawings just move over to the next column.
In the title block, the only section missing is the project directory … I just don’t see a need for it on every page. It’s prominently featured on my cover page (where there is space to actually list the contact name, phone number, and email for the specific individual responsible at each firm. Pretty easy stuff to my mind but that’s the only difference between the two.
… but I’ve gone the extra mile and I have a 3rd example for you. I have shown you examples from a large firm and a medium-to-small firm, but let’s take a look a the title block from a sole-practitioner. I reached out to my buddy Eric Reinholdt at 30×40 Design Workshop and asked him to send me a title block for comparison purposes.
I’ll avoid the drawing numbering part of the conversation since Eric’s page only has a single drawing on it and it doesn’t have a number on it. What is interesting is that other than creating a spot for a North arrow in his title block, Eric has the same 5 pieces of information in his title block that I had in my last office.
Eric actually has made his template available if you like it so much you want to use his system – you can check it out here.
Are you convinced yet that title blocks are essentially the exact same the world over? Maybe that makes them boring but I don’t think so. I have a title block from a Marcel Breuer drawing but I don’t want to get his foundation up in arms publishing it here without permission. If you have a cool title block or have something you think should be added please feel free to let me know – you can even upload your title block in the comment section if you were so inclined. I promise I will publish it but my site will flag it as an attachment and I will have to go into the system and manually free it from comment purgatory (which I will do – no worries!)
Title blocks are incredibly important which is why I decided to feature them as I resurrect the Architectural Graphics 101 series. Sadly, for most architects, once the title block is in place, nobody ever seems to think about it or choosing to make it something special and reflect their own unique design sensibilities. I have a weird and no longer secret desire to redesign my own title block … because I am an architect nerd and that sounds like a good time to me.
PS – if you want to see other entries in the Architectural Graphics 101 series, topics like Window Schedules, Wall Types, Layers, Line Weight and Drawing Alignment, and more, just click here