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The Architect


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Take the Challenge

Now that you've seen what an architect's day can be like, see if you have what it takes to do the job by performing a challenge activity. Read the "Set Up," then figure out the questions. Check your answers when you're done.

Challenge Graphic

Set Up:
In order to complete final design documents (and the resultant "blueprints") for a building, architects need to use not only knowledge of art and aesthetics but also of building materials and mathematics and also structural, mechanical and electrical engineering.

In this challenge, the architect's final design documents on a multi-story building need to determine what floor to floor heights are required. "Floor to floor" means the floor of one level to the floor of another level, not floor to ceiling.

These measurements are needed to satisfy all of the infrastructure (mechanical ducts, floor structure, light fixtures, etc.) and ceiling heights. Use math and some critical thinking to step into the role of an architect and answer these engineering questions:

Project Parameters:

  • Ceiling height above the first floor…………………………………………9'0"
  • All ducts must run below second floor structure joists
  • Provide 9" clearance for light fixtures between bottom of ducts and finished ceiling
  • Second floor steel joists and slab depth (structure depth)……………2'0"
  • Mechanical duct dimensions……………………………………………….1'6"

Figure This Out:

A.) What is the minimum floor to floor height required to satisfy all of the structural, mechanical and electrical items?
Check your answer!

B.) The floor to floor heights have been set and cannot be changed. While you are finishing the drawings, the structural engineer has decided that the actual depth of the second floor joists must be 2'4". The ducts cannot be reduced to less than 1'4" and the light fixture clearance cannot be changed.

What two changes to the current project parameters can you propose to maintain the new structure depth and floor to floor heights?
Check your answer!


Next: Ask the Architect.


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