Architectural Graphic Standards: A Barometer of Change

As the go-to book for architects for over eight decades, Architectural Graphic Standards (AGS) provides a unique barometer for measuring change within the industry: tracking and assimilating shifts and innovations within the design and construction sectors with each new edition. Change has never been more apparent or intense than in the last two decades, as the widespread adoption of computation has prompted significant technological transformations. This has had a far-reaching impact not only on the medium in which buildings are designed and constructed, but also on processes, standards, analytics, and ways of delivering professional services. These changes encompass the expansion of project delivery methods and role changes; new building codes and industry practices, which have been extended to include accessibility, sustainability, and building resilience guidelines; new building products and construction methods; and an evolution of new and expanded building information management organizational standards.

While all of these changes are significant in the evolution of architectural graphics and practice standards, the expanding range of tools now available to architectural professionals has had a much broader effect. Only three decades ago, architects labored over drafting boards, producing so-called “working drawings” for the purpose of providing the contractor with a complete set of instructions on how to put together the building with specifications carefully written to reflect materials and methods of construction. However, as design professionals sought to shift liability for construction issues away from themselves and as new design and production tools increased production efficiency and the ability to manage building information, the final product of the architect evolved. It changed from detailed descriptions on how to construct buildings to graphic documents conveying the architect’s design intent. This type of construction document is more generic and highly dependent upon contractor coordination drawings and manufacturers’ information in order to explain the actual building construction.

This is where an objective standards guide, like AGS, comes in as a non-proprietary source of design/construction information. Its goal is not to promote any specific product or design solution, but rather to present technical knowledge and design solutions to architects, which allows them to exercise their professional judgment in designing the best solution for their project needs.

As those needs have changed, so has AGS, now undergoing a watershed moment in its own evolution as it shifts from being defined purely by the page and becomes available online for the first time. Content is being liberated from the confines of a book binding to become a highly-searchable online tool. This online version fully acknowledges that AGS, as an indispensable source for design and technical information for practitioners, has to reflect the practices of the architects of today: a profession that now spends nearly every day on screen and only has seconds available to search for the essential nugget of information required. We recognize the changes and challenges of our industry and are poised to create electronic tools to continue the legacy of Ramsey and Sleeper in sharing design knowledge. The new online version of AGS will enable continuous updates of critical information and the latest standards of practice. The ability to link knowledge from a wide array of Wiley design publications and industry experts will make this tool truly indispensable.