Catalogues, trade journals, pattern books are a valuable part of communicating building knowledge. In large part, these traditional paper publications have been replaced by on-line versions containing standard examples and precise data about every conceivable component involved in the erection of edifices. Their usefulness is central to rationalizing building design and construction. Architects use catalogues to pick and specify ready to use components and creatively assemble these disparate elements into an original vision of a building.
It can be argued that such catalogues have impeded industrialized building system’s comprehensive application as the catalogue is essentially an all-encompassing industrialized building kit offering an infinite number of possibilities and arrangements. Perhaps the best known version of a universal building part book, the Sweets building catalogue first published by the FW Dodge Company in 1921 included company and manufacturer literature for all building elements in one uniformly and largely accessible publication. Last printed in 2012, putting an end to a century of issues, it has been replaced by an on-line edition. Organized according to the Masterformat classification system (MasterFormat is a standard for organizing specifications and building products in North America), the on-line version offers a one-stop shop for everything building: for specifications, procurement, cad drawings, BIM models and material data sheets potentially harmonizing a building's systematic documentation process. The Sweets catalogue is now a virtual object library for architects to easily access, detail, assemble information in a coordinated virtual design and construction process. A building's contractual documents are no longer limited to passive elements such as drawn or written instructions or notes, but can be connected in real-time to on-line databases for monitoring their correct integration. The building is progressively being envisioned as a comprehensive object connected to on-line performance-based catalogues to monitor the building products' cost, characteristics and eventually even service life advising owners of replacement time or replacement features and criteria.
The ten following posts will explore the trade association as part of the larger lobbying force in architecture that spawned the catalogue as the basis for marketing products for architects. More specifically we examine organizations that share knowledge, guide building culture and federate their member companies and political partners toward democratized visions of industrialized construction.
|Sweets sample page (top) Sweets on-line database (bottom)|