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Emerging Professional Here who Needs Help Learning Basic Building Science post Architecture School

jbonenb

Hi all, 

I have a B.A. degree in architecture and have worked full time in a professional office for almost 2 years now. I have a great relationship with my coworkers and have worked on most project phases and have even done some thought leadership and firm-wide programming/planning exercises. While I am grateful for these opportunities, I want to increase my toolkit when it comes to drawing construction details. I am pretty good at using Revit and can handle red-lines like a champ, but lately I have had some detailing thrown my way that is making me realize...to put it bluntly...I know so little about buildings are actually built. My degree program, like many architecture schools, was incredibly design-based, and taught me next to nothing about concrete, steel, material sciences, assemblies, building products, water-proofing, fire-proofing, you name it. I would literally work on site and do the manual labor if I could, just to learn more thoroughly what I am drawing. 

What resources have you found helpful you can share with me? Any online courses you can recommend? I obviously use Youtube and Google, and there are even a a couple popular Instagram accounts with good building science info, but I am desiring something more structured, like an online curriculum I can go through methodically, that translates real materials and products into what they look like in drawings, why those materials and products are used, and how they are installed.  

I know I am not the only emerging professional on this struggle bus - let's help each other out! Thanks in advance for anything you can share or recommend. 

 
Mar 2, 21 4:21 pm
atelier nobody

Building Science is a huge topic - there are universities offering degrees from BS through PhD, as well as both architecture and engineering degrees with a building science focus, and certificates. I have yet to find one that could be completed on-line, though (I've been searching) and, of course, they cost money.

There are a few organizations and individuals offering seminars on line (as well as in-person once we're allowed to do that again) - expect to pay for these. Some can lead to certification in some specific aspect of building science (e.g. roofing consultant certs), but I haven't found any that would confer certification or other credential in building science overall.

If you're looking for free, right now you're pretty much limited to just collecting as many of the 1-hour CEUs as you can.

tl/dr - Just keep Googling and report back here if you find anything really juicy.

Mar 2, 21 4:46 pm  · 
1  · 
proto

read up on  thermal envelopes & vapor barrier strategies at Building Science Corp

and/or

get put on CD phases for a few projects w/ a good PM mentor

and/or

offer to do specs for a project under supervision of whoever does them in the office

any or all of those will be very revealing for some of the details that need to be understood to draw that wall thickness as two lines on a large scale plan or section.

Mar 2, 21 4:53 pm  · 
3  · 
Quentin

I think learning construction details comes through gaining experience putting together CDs over and over again. It also helpful if you go on site during construction. Some FDK Ching books may have worthwhile stuff in there but I think through experience working with more senior staff is the best way to go. After 2 years at your current firm you should have started to get your feet wet but yes a long way to go. It's really a never ending process. GL!

Mar 2, 21 4:56 pm  · 
3  · 
Wood Guy

Christine Williamson is a architecturally trained BS expert who put together a course exactly for people like you: https://www.buildingsciencefig....

(Warning: shameless self-promotion) Every Thursday a few friends and I talk with BS experts from around the US, and hopefully soon we'll have people from Canada: https://www.thebsandbeershow.c.... We also encourage local groups--there are now about 15 BS + Beer groups around the US and one in Australia. On a recent episode we had three architects who are particularly good at showing good BS details explain their approaches: .

Also check out GBA: https://www.greenbuildingadvis.... It has a mostly residential focus but a lot of good information. 

Mar 2, 21 5:10 pm  · 
3  · 
natematt

I follow her on instagram , really want to do some of her CECs.

Mar 3, 21 4:29 am  · 
1  · 
Wood Guy

She's awesome, and super nice. I had a 1/2-hour phone call with her a couple of weekends ago, sharing her brain for a friend of mine in need of higher-level BS than I could provide.

Mar 3, 21 8:31 am  · 
 · 

I shared this in another thread, but look at the reading list on the sidebar here: https://www.buildingscience.co.... When they start happening again, consider attending the seminar as well. The readings are full of fundamental information that will get you started. 

Mar 2, 21 5:16 pm  · 
 · 
atelier nobody

The fundamentals seminar IS happening online - I'm currently awaiting my superiors to approve the company paying for it (and may still take it on my own dime if they don't).

Mar 2, 21 5:27 pm  · 
1  · 
Non Sequitur

Great reading list.

Mar 2, 21 5:50 pm  · 
 · 

atelier, so it is. Thanks for the correction. I was linking to an older version of it apparently. For anyone interested, here's a current link. Reading list is still on the side.

https://www.buildingscience.com/events/building-science-fundamentals-5?sku=BSF-20-103

Mar 2, 21 6:05 pm  · 
1  · 
atelier nobody

I just picked up a couple good out-of-print books - search your favorite used books site and eBay:

  • Nashed, Fred. Time-Saver Details for Exterior Wall Designs. McGraw-Hill, 1995. ISBN: 0070460825. (It's amazing to me how many of the things that have become hot topics relatively recently [e.g. air barriers] aren't really all that new.
  • Hardy, Steve. Time-Saver Details for Roof Design. McGraw-Hill, 1998. ISBN: 007026368X. (Ditto)
Mar 2, 21 6:05 pm  · 
1  · 
jbonenb

Thanks, I have ordered these!

Mar 9, 21 1:06 pm  · 
 · 
randomised

"I would literally work on site and do the manual labor if I could, just to learn more thoroughly what I am drawing."

So, ask at your job to do site visits, you can only learn so much from videos, tutorials, classes and old books...go out there.

Mar 3, 21 4:07 am  · 
1  · 
natematt

Agreed with everyone above. Do more CDs and CA. 

Also, do your own research when you're assigned stuff like this. Some things have really good resources..... Look at manufacturer details, other drawing sets from your office with similar details, general architectural books, google, industry/trade guidelines, and straight up contact manufacturer technical reps. 

And of course get direction from people in your firm who now more about these things than you. 

The more you're exposed, the easier it is to understand and apply similar concepts. 

Mar 3, 21 4:26 am  · 
2  · 

Before the pandemic we had Lunch and learns and these were very good at picking up knowledge needed to design and detail better.  I would sign up for the free seminars put on by the various institutes that represent the myriad of building products.

Below are a few of my go to resources that I keep bookmarked.

https://www.aisc.org/technical...

https://www.pci.org/PCI/Educat...

https://www.imiweb.org/masonry...

https://www.ssma.com/technical...

https://www.apawood.org/

https://www.woodworks.org/

https://www.nfba.org/index.php...

https://www.metalroofing.com/

All of these are free and you can call and get technical assistance for free or very little cost as their function is to promote the products their associations represent. These organizations are funded by the manufactures to provide architects and contractors with assistance.

Over and OUT

Peter N

Mar 3, 21 8:34 am  · 
2  · 
jbonenb

Excellent resources for me, thank you for sharing!

Mar 9, 21 1:09 pm  · 
 · 

I can’t overstate how valuable it is to spend time on an actual construction site. Seeing directly how often there is a - let’s say, *uncomfortable* - relationship between what you have drawn and how people actually sequence the construction of it is invaluable.

Mar 3, 21 9:28 pm  · 
3  · 
jbonenb

This is my goal! I feel like there's a chicken and egg problem of firms not wanting to send junior staff on site until the junior staff person can prove some technical proficiency, but then of course being on site is the best way to gain such experience. I'll keep pushing to get that opportunity though!

Mar 9, 21 1:08 pm  · 
1  · 

A Bachelor of Arts in Architecture and no idea about construction.

<sigh>

Mar 11, 21 5:54 pm  · 
1  · 

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