Does a west elevation show the west side of a building?

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Does a west elevation show the west side of a building?

Postby Guest » Thu Jan 27, 2011 7:47 pm

I'm taking an introductory course on reading blueprints. It has become a topic of debate in my class as to whether a building elevation labeled according to a given compass direction shows the view of the building that faces the specified direction, or the direction that the viewer is facing.

Unfortunately we've found examples of both conventions.

Clearly by examining the plot plan and comparing it to the elevations one can figure it out, but is there a definitive "correct" or majority-preferred convention?

If one were to examine elevations of a site prior to construction, it would seem obvious that, e.g., a west elevation would be the view looking west, but the intuitive expectation when viewing a structure is that a west elevation shows the west side of the building, and is therefore looking east. This better matches up with the unambiguous convention that, e.g., a "rear" elevation shows the rear of the building.

Apologies for the trivial nature of the question, and thanks in advance for your guidance.

-=s
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Re: Does a west elevation show the west side of a building?

Postby SDR » Fri Jul 01, 2011 9:04 pm

Yes -- the prevailing convention is as you state: the west elevation is a view of the west side of the structure. Unfortunately, some have failed to observe the convention correctly (for understandable reasons). It's always troubling to see such errors in print, for they incorrectly instruct countless readers as to correct usage -- as well as confusing those who attempt to decipher the illustrations.

I am familiar with one vital text uniquely covering the work of a major architect; the author has adopted an erroneous use of a standard architectural convention in drawing the floor plans of hundreds of buildings, thus making it much harder for those who are familiar with such conventions to navigate the plans.

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Re: Does a west elevation show the west side of a building?

Postby Trout7000 » Mon Jul 04, 2011 4:40 pm

Where it gets sticky is with courtyard elevations which are still exterior elevations. I have always reversed the convention for this case, but I'm not sure if there's any clear standard.

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Re: Does a west elevation show the west side of a building?

Postby SDR » Mon Jul 04, 2011 8:02 pm

So, you're thinking that an interior elevation is labeled differently from an exterior elevation. That is, on the interior, if the viewer is facing west while looking at a wall, that wall is a West Elevation, whereas on the exterior one is facing east while looking at the West Elevation.

Perhaps the Interior Architects can be blamed for the confusion ! (My degree says Interior Architectural Design on it -- so I'm supposed to know my stuff. Think again . . .)

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Re: Does a west elevation show the west side of a building?

Postby WalkerARCHITECTS » Wed Jul 13, 2011 10:11 pm

It is my opinion that the site plan establishes coordination of the project, as such the north elevation is the north side of the building. Where there exists a court yard the drawing title should state North Elevation of Interior Court and so forth. Additionally every Drawing on the sheet gets a number. So on an elevation sheet at the top would be DWG#1 North Elevation DWG#2 East Elevation DWG#3 South Elevation etc.

I use "A Manual of Construction Documentation" by Glenn E. Wiggens AIA as the office refference book and provide an office manual. We recommend a national standard be adopted to resolve the confusion which has endured for fifty years.
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