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Subject: Architects' "hacks"

1.  Architects' "hacks"

Posted 11 days ago
I'm writing a new blog on simple and easy tips or "hacks" that architects use every day. I have 5 of my own (a couple using an architect's scale) but was wondering if anyone else had any they would like to share with me to add in the blog. Thanks!
http://www.aricgitomerarchitect.com/blog/


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Aric Gitomer AIA
Principal
Aric Gitomer Architect LLC
Morris Plains NJ
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2.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 10 days ago
Estimating room sizes by counting floor or ceiling tiles.
Estimating distances by stretching out my arms and knowing they are as wide as I am tall - around 5'-6".
Judith Wasserman AIA

Bressack & Wasserman Architects
751 Southampton Drive
Palo Alto CA 94303 
ph: 650 321-2871  
fx:  650 321-1987 
www.bressackandwasserman.com







3.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 10 days ago
Judith, Thanks, that is exactly the kind of stuff I'm looking for. I completely forgot those!
Thanks again,
Aric

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Aric Gitomer AIA
Principal
Aric Gitomer Architect LLC
Morris Plains NJ
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4.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 9 days ago
Our professor had us make a card with our dimensions: fingertip to fingertip spreadeagled, thumb tip to index fingertip, height, stride length. There were some others (elbow to middle finger tip) but those are the ones I found most useful. We printed them on a business card-sized card that we carried around. I should've laminated it. It was hugely helpful.

Steven Schloss, AIA




5.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 8 days ago
Since I have not invested in the full-blown laser-imaging technology, when I need to measure up an existing house for additions or remodeling I sketch it to scale on graph paper as I go.  If I'm careful I almost always have a rough but perfectly scaled as-built drawing when I'm done, where the last measurement lines up with the first.


Bruce Ward, Architect
(315) 824-1094
7122 Springhill Rd.
Hamilton, NY 13346


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6.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 8 days ago
Modular concrete masonry dimensions: even numbered feet have 0" or 8", odd numbered feet always have 4"

Sent from my Personal Intergalactic Communicator Device




7.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 8 days ago

I've really enjoyed thinking about this topic.  Here are a few that may or may not be in the vein of what you're looking for.

 

I often count bricks or courses of bricks to get an idea for dimensions.  3 courses of modular brick equals 8".  The nominal size of a modular brick is 4x8x2 2/3.  This also works for CMU walls where the typical block size is even simpler.

I pace off distances to get rough dimensions.  This is faster than going heel-to-toe, but is not as accurate.  Things like your speed, and even the shoes you wear, can affect the number of paces you take over a given distance.

How about laying out buildings on a module?  I do this with unit masonry to reduce waste and improve the finished appearance.  I know some more experienced architects that have a system that's based around a modular unit (I think it's 3'-4").  I've never learned how to do this myself, but would love to learn it.

This also makes me think of "rules of thumb".  A former boss had one for the preliminary size of a beam:  the depth of the beam will be 1" for every 1 foot of span.  Here's another one I've used:  preliminary size for a/c unit is 1 ton of cooling for every 400 sf of conditioned area. 

 

I look forward to reading the blog to see how many others you come up with.

 

Kendal W. Perkins

Architect, AIA, MBA

 

Apex Architectural Services, LLC

177 Shamard Drive / Natchitoches, LA  71457

Tel: (318) 581-3237

kwperkins@apexofla.com

 

Isn't GOD Good?

 






8.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 4 days ago
Re: hacks

The rule of thumb I learned was 1" of depth for every foot of span PLUS ONE! 1 ft span needs an 8" (7.5") beam.
Judith

Bressack & Wasserman Architects
751 Southampton Drive
Palo Alto CA 94303 
ph: 650 321-2871  
fx:  650 321-1987 
www.bressackandwasserman.com







9.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 3 days ago
Re: hacks...preliminary member sizes...1/2 the span in inches (12 ft span = 6 inches)
--
John Walters AIA
John Walters, Architect PLLC
70 Pacolet Street, Suite A
Tryon, NC 28782
Phone: 828.859.0329
Fax: 828.859.0340
www.jwaltersarch.com





10.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 2 days ago
>>Re: hacks...preliminary member sizes...1/2 the span in inches (12 ft span = 6 inches)<<

So a 2x6 for a joist spanning 12 ft? Please review your "hack", that is not something I'd be comfortable with.

The IRC provides a wealth of tables for a quick look up of these things.



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Rudolph Beuc AIA, NCARB, CBO
Architect
R. Beuc Architects
Saint Louis MO
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11.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted yesterday
The slightly different span hack (and caveats) I was taught by a structural engineer in my youth .....

Span in feet x .56 = member depth in inches.

Caveats: This only for simple uniform loads and only for deflection. It may feel "bouncy". 

So for the 12 foot example cited...12' x .56 = 6.72". In real world wood framing that means a 2x8. Going up a size to a 2x10 provides a good starting point.

Works for reasonably long spans too. 60 foot clear gym turns into a 36" truss, again as a starting point (60' x .56 = 33.6").

At least gives you a reasonable place to begin talking to the structural engineer.

Thoughts?






12.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 22 hours ago
I have used a variation on this theme for many years, and find it to be pretty accurate: 5/8" per foot of span. But it is in application to steel beams and joists, not wood. It is strictly an estimating tool to anticipate what my structural engineer is going to need for a reasonably efficient member; never to take the place of engineering.

Bruce Rose, AIA
Rose Design
(214) 794-5166
Sent from my phone






13.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 21 hours ago
I'm familiar with the "1/2 the span in inches" guideline.   I learned "1/2 the span in inches plus 2 inches" and to only use the guideline for STEEL BEAMS with simple spans.   Using the guideline, I could always get a beam for the span, but would always opt for a deeper beam if space allowed.   Never learned a "hack" for wood design.

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John La Porte
J. LaPorte and Associates PC
Grand Rapids MI
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14.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted yesterday
I have found very handy to measure with my out-stretched hand that from tip of little finger to tip of thumb is 9".

You can use it by just walking your hand along short distances.









15.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 4 days ago
Hello All ---
 
This is more of a humorous aside than anything pertinent...
 
In the late '70s / early '80s, I became friendly with a young couple renting a cottage next to us.  They were both taking Physics courses (at Cornell ??).  All kinetic solutions were reduced to furlongs per fortnight.  We tipped a couple, with stories about that and other gags.
 
At MIT, maybe they have Smoots per car-wash cycle?
 
Enjoy ---
Bill
william j. devlin aia, inc.,
ARCHITECT
Springfield, MA





16.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted yesterday

I do this with unit masonry to reduce waste and improve the finished appearance. I know some more experienced architects that have a system that's based around a modular unit (I think it's 3'-4"). I've never learned how to do this myself, but would love to learn it.
Kendal Perkins,  09-15-2017 16:29

Kendal,

Regarding block module for CMU, which is normally (full block) 8x8x16, the rule of thumb is simple.  If you are at an even number of feet, you can use the even number or the even number + 8".  If you are at an odd number of feet, you can ONLY use the odd number + 4".  If you are at anything other that those numbers then you are cutting block (or cheating at the joint width).

Even numbers work like this:
2'-0" or 2'-8"
12'-0" or 12'-8"
256'-0" or 256'-8"

Odd numbers only work with 4".
5'-4"
7'-4"
133'-4"

So if you are ever working on a CMU building, make sure all you lengths, openings, etc. fall under those numbers and your mason will appreciate it.  BTW, this is the reason a hollow metal frame for a door in CMU wall has a 4" header.  Because for a 7 ft door, you would need to be at 7'-4".

Hope this helps.



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Reynaldo Royo, AIA, CDT
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17.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 9 days ago
          For smaller measurements, remember, a standard sheet of paper is 8-1/2" x 11" and a dollar bill
(or any American bill) is 2-1/2" x 6".
Art Rogers, AIA

The Architects Studio
Dallas, Texas





18.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 9 days ago
I count ceiling tiles all the time.

I am most fortunate that each of my size 9 shoes is 12” long. Know your show size. pace it off when no other way works.



John LaPorte
Grand Rapids, Michigan




19.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 9 days ago

Yes, casual pace (mine) is 36".  When measuring large spaces by yourself, I always measure in 10' or 12' increments laying a pencil about 8" away from the tape. Easier to figure multiples of 10 than to try to add consecutive numbers in my head.  I also use my big toe as a pointer when looking at something overhead.  Amazing how accurate that hack is, consistently.






20.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 7 days ago
Peter hart, I don't understand a thing you just said...

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Douglas Julien AIA
Principal
Douglas F Julien, AIA
Saint Louis MO
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21.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 6 days ago
Peter hart translation!: he lays out 10' of tape measure on the ground, then places a pencil on the ground at 10' to mark the next zero point, then lays out ten more feet, and so on. And if he is under some overhead feature, he looks down at the tape and his big toe marks off the measurement on the tape of that overhead feature. 24 hours it took me to figure this out!

Sent from my iPhone

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22.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 4 days ago
I obviously spend too much time alone in the field!

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Peter Hart AIA
Peter C. Hart & Associates, Ltd.
Stamford CT
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23.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 4 days ago
Yes Peter Hart is quite a character! Thanks for the interpretation!

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Aric Gitomer AIA
Principal
Aric Gitomer Architect LLC
Morris Plains NJ
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24.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 9 days ago
Then there's the tricks for measuring height:

1. Verifying the height of three or six bricks, and then counting bricks (in person, or from photos) to determine heights
2.  The old Boy Scout trick of putting a person (or object) of known height next to a building, then standing back and with outstretched arm, using that person's height to act as a unit of measurement, counting how many "people-height" high an object is (good only for rough measurements!)

I'm sure others have more tricks...

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Andrew Cronan AIA, LEED AP
Senior Vice-president
Guernsey Tingle Architects
Williamsburg VA
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25.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 9 days ago
I count block and brick to estimate room/building dimensions and heights.

John A. Feick, AIA, CSI, LEED AP
224 East Water Street
Sandusky, Ohio 44870
419-625-2554 (w)
419-656-3017 (c)
 





26.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 7 days ago
For a hazing, around the late 70's at MIT, someone had the idea to 'field measure' the Mass. Ave. Bridge in Smoots (the 'victim's' last name).  I don't recall how many Smoots long the bridge was, but it was clearly marked with white paint markings across the entire span - for years.  He was immortalized, but not in a great way I'd add.


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William Figdor, AIA
Art & Architecture, LLC
Maplewood, NJ
Figdor@mac.com
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27.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 7 days ago
William Figdor, I don't think smoots would be a common architect's hack but thanks for sharing:

MIT - a salute to Smoot
Mit remove preview
MIT - a salute to Smoot
Oliver Smoot, MIT class of 1962, is retiring from his chairmanship of the American National Standards Institute. He lent his name, and not coincidentally also his height, to a unit of measurement which is now part of history. As almost every MIT student knows, a smoot is a unit of length equal to five feet seven inches.
View this on Mit >

Ric

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Aric Gitomer AIA
Principal
Aric Gitomer Architect LLC
Morris Plains NJ
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28.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted yesterday
It was not in the 1970s, it was in the 1960s or earlier.  I believe it was an MIT fraternity prank, and the lengths (5'-3", if I remember correctly), were marked in white paint across the bridge.  They were repainted for many years.  I don't know who "Smoot" was; I went to another institution, but there was a Smoot at the Smithsonian, or some other government agency who was a likely candidate.  I think Smoots make as much sense as the Anglo-Saxon "foot," based on a Plantgenet King's foot (they were tall), and more efficent besides.

Joanthan Vincent, AIA

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Jonathan Vincent AIA
Architect
Norwich VT
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29.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 8 days ago
Hopefully the formatting doesn't get messed up in translation. I think that some of the spaces that I've added to get the columns to line up may disappear once I post it.

Just about everything I do is in CAD nowadays, so I don't need this nearly as often, but I came up with a way of adding feet, inches and fractions with a calculator. Essentially, feet go before the decimal point and inches come after the decimal point, except that things like 9" become .09. For instance, 8'-9" would become 8.09 and 8'-9 ¾" would become 8.0975. Here's an example.

before       after
8'-9 ¾"      8.0975
4 ½"          .045
17'-11"      17.11
28'-2 ¼"    28.0225

Of course, this all adds up to 53.275, or 53'-27 ½".

To fix that you take the result…
53.275
-.24 (minus 24")
+2.00 (plus 2'-0")
55.035 or 55'-3 ½"

I used to be able to do this pretty quickly on a calculator. I use this much less than I used to and I really do appreciate the accuracy of CAD.

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Daniel Lewis AIA
Northborough MA
www.DanielLewisArchitect.com
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30.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 7 days ago

Just about everything I do is in CAD nowadays, so I don't need this nearly as often, but I came up with a way of adding feet, inches and fractions with a calculator. Essentially, feet go before the decimal point and inches come after the decimal point, except that things like 9" become .09. For instance, 8'-9" would become 8.09 and 8'-9 ¾" would become 8.0975. Here's an example.

before after
8'-9 ¾" 8.0975
4 ½" .045
17'-11" 17.11
28'-2 ¼" 28.0225

Of course, this all adds up to 53.275, or 53'-27 ½".

To fix that you take the result…
53.275
-.24 (minus 24")
+2.00 (plus 2'-0")
55.035 or 55'-3 ½"
Daniel Lewis,  09-14-2017 21:20
Fellow Architect used a verision of this, I think he called it the 88 Rule.   Whenever you get over .12, add .88, if when subtracting and get under .00 (i.e. .88)subtract .88.
So about add .88 2x to 53.275+.88=54.155+.88=55.035
Goes way back to how to change from a base 100 number system to a base 12 system, difference of 88. Do they even teach this math any more?

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Roger Donaldson AIA
Roger L Donaldson, AIA P.L.C.
AIA Mid Michigan
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31.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 7 days ago
Wow that is quite impressive! I have never seen that before, but maybe it's because I have had my Radio Shack foot and inch calculator for so many years! I think since 1985. You inspired me to use .083333 instead. Thanks!

Ric

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Aric Gitomer AIA
Principal
Aric Gitomer Architect LLC
Morris Plains NJ
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32.  RE: Architects' "hacks"

Posted 4 days ago
Thanks for all the help! If you want to keep providing tips I will do a part deux. I will be posting the blog sometime tomorrow afternoon so give it a look see. If you like it please feel free to share it on your social media! You can find it here:
Architect Blog New Jersey | Architect Who Blogs in NJ
aricgitomerarchitect remove preview
Architect Blog New Jersey | Architect Who Blogs in NJ
View this on aricgitomerarchitect >


Thanks again,

Aric

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Aric Gitomer AIA
Principal
Aric Gitomer Architect LLC
Morris Plains NJ
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