July 12, 2023

Architectural Detailing: The Most Important Pages of a Construction Set

Talar Grace
Talar Grace
Operations Associate

Many architects come out of schooling with dreams to create buildings and spaces that change the way humans interact with the built environment. The first job out of school, they begin to realize that most of their career will be a combination of drafting construction drawings and details. This may seem like a nuisance at first, but all established architects know that the design is in the details.

Construction details are the most important part of a document set because it is where you can truly see the way these designs will come to life, piece by piece. It takes long hours and years to become a skilled detailer. It is one thing to design a space as a whole, but quite another to actually put that space together detail by detail in real life. Most people believe that a good design comes from a good set of aesthetic features. This is wrong. Good designs come from a deep understanding of stability and functionality that is built on the knowledge of how things come together in construction.

“The details are not the details. They make the design.”  -Charles Eames

Architectural detailing contains two main categories: design details and technical details. Design details focus on the design elements of a building, whereas technical details concentrate on the performance of a building and the assembly of its components. Detailing design elements concurrently with technical elements will establish a good design as form and function meet. A building may start with one simple concept, but as the design flows through all the phases of the design process, that one concept builds into many details. Architects strive to relay each detail back to the overall design concept in order to have a cohesive design.

Thousands of decisions are made throughout the design process and all of these decisions, large or small, are inherent to the final design. You can imagine that all of these decisions need at least one detail to bring it to life. A seamless and elegant designed space is made possible with the many drawings that communicate how the assemblies come together. Well executed details cost tons of time and money, but truly pay for themselves when the design comes to life. Consistent and good detailing leads to a smoother construction process with fewer miscommunications amongst the design and construction team.

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