Why is it important to accurately model the land features of your project site with a toposurface?
- What aspects of a building design are most affected by the terrain features?
It is very important to accurately model the land features of a given site, including its topography because the existing terrain is the base plate upon which the new building will be built! Even if there's some excavation or grading that takes place, those will occur on the existing topo surface, and should also be reflected in the model. If, on the contrary, a building is modeled on a flat surface while the actual site topography is sloping, the foundations won't be modeled accurately and from there on out, the entire building design may be compromised and may require significant rework. It is very important to model as accurately as possible, starting with the site features and topography.
When designing a project...
- Should the building adapt to the terrain?
- Or, should you adapt the terrain to the building?
This is an interesting tango that has to be danced by the AEC team. My opinion is that the building should adapt more to the terrain than the other way around. While we, humans, have developed many capabilities in manipulating the terrain at any given project site, there are aesthetic and geotechnical reasons to support the idea that it's best to try to adapt a building to its surroundings. For one, a building that neatly fits into its environment is much more pleasing to the eye than one that disrupts the terrain. Second, natural processes of weathering have found geological stability in the existing terrain at a given site and it would be best to intervene in the natural terrain only to the extent necessary. An additional benefit of adapting a building to the terrain is that this often results in more creative and unique structures than when the terrain is heavily modified to accommodate the out-of-place needs of a building.
What considerations affect a project team's decision-making when deciding the floor-to-floor height to use in a multi-story building?
- From a real estate developer's perspective?
- From a designer's perspective?
- From an engineer's perspective?
- From a builder's perspective?
- From an owner's perspective?
What are the advantages of stacking the levels of a multi-story building vertically?
- Can you share an interesting example of a building that doesn’t vertically stack (where the floor plates change their shaped radically between the floor levels)?
- What were the advantages or reasons for non-vertical stacking?
Why do stairs follow specific proportions with a set relationship between the tread length and riser height?
- How can building modeling help prevent the mistakes that often occur when designing and installing stairs?
It is important that stairs follow specific proportions between the tread length (run) and the riser height (rise) because together, these define the overall slope (steepness) of the staircase. The steepness of a staircase needs to conform to code so that it doesn't exceed the steepness that has been deemed acceptable for most people per the local jurisdiction. Building modeling can help prevent mistakes when designing stairs in several ways. It can help ensure that the dimensions of the staircase meet standards (width of staircase, length of landings, height of railings, etc.). It can also help ensure that a proper shaft is included in the design so that the staircase doesn't come too close to the ceiling or floor above. It can also help ensure that the correct materials, quantities, and terminations are accounted for prior to construction. Building modeling is an important step in helping prevent mistakes in the process of design/build.