No Excuses After This

In architecture, where regulations, practices, and technology constantly change, it makes sense to spread the word. At Centerbrook, one of my duties is to serve as curator of the firm’s accumulated design wisdom, which has been compiled into “NEAT Cards” since the 1980s. NEAT stands for No Excuses After This.

This effort was initiated by partner Mark Simon, and nearly 250 cards have been created and updated over the past two decades. Here’s a recent example of a NEAT Card; it gives a sense of the level of detail that we designers have to address in drafting building plans. Unlike baseball, which is a game of inches, winning architecture often deals in fractions of inches. Heaven (or Hell, i.e. costly “change orders”) can depend on details like this:

Be careful how pipe sizes are specified in details such as handrails

Pipe and tubing (for railings) are measured differently. Pipe sizes are measured by the internal diameter of pipe (ID). Plumbing engineers specify pipe sizes that way because they are concerned with what is flowing within the inner diameter. Tubing, on the other hand, is measured by the outside diameter of the pipe (OD). Pipe railings are often dimensioned and noted as 1 ½” in diameter when, in reality, this “pipe” size does not exist. 1 ½” pipe is actually 1.90” OD 1 ¼” pipe is actually 1.66” OD.

To avoid getting larger diameter rails than desired, do not use “pipe” in the description in detail notes and simply specify the desired diameter. In order to get the required 1 ½” or 1 ¼” gripping surface, you must use “tube” in your description of the handrail.

In addition, knowing the actual diameter of the pipe for railings is critical in the selection of the wall brackets to maintain proper wall clearances. Hardware manufacturers such as Julius Blum have brackets sized for both pipe and tubing sizes. To make matters more complicated, some specialty tubing is also made in pipe sizes (Julius Blum). See link below for a more thorough explanation of pipe and tubing sizes.

How to get what you want... not what you ask for