The New DSA Review Protocol for Electronic Drawings - A Better and New Wave of Design

Even if you distain the technological, you might just have children of school age. In California all K-12 school projects have their architectural, structural and MEP drawings reviewed for life safety, structural and accessibility by California's Division of the State Architect (DSA). For years Contractors and Bidders on these key educational projects have complained that the DSA review process while vital, ended up delaying start of projects (including those with fast track summer construction deadlines), or worse, led to change order disputes as DSA required midstream changes. Hopefully, DSA's new Procedure for Back Check of Electronic Documents, DSA PR 16-01, is cutting through that red tape, or more exactly, eliminating needless paper drawings in favor of integrated review of electronic 3D drawings.

The new procedure points out the crazy thing that was happening - Architects and Engineers who were developing electronic or digital drawings, would then need to print them on paper and deliver to DSA to review, who would then comment, again on paper, after which the project design team would then have to translate the comments back onto the digital drawings. What a molasses like mess. And, ironically, the bureaucratic "push" for change was not fixing the mess so much, but the Governor's "go paperless" policy of sustainability. But if good things happen for serendipitous reasons, let's do it.

DSA PR 16-01 is really interesting reading, in fact, a nifty detailed procedure on tracking review comments electronically, including color coding such as red for structural, orange for life safety, and blue for accessibility, and outlining digital software platforms that are acceptable. It is a template for this whole new arena where a "architectural model of record" aka a 3D digital design, is how buildings are being conceived, planned, measured in advance in terms of wind shear, energy consumption and savings, wellness and useful life, then built in a collaborative or integrated team approach. The design world has flattened, by design leaving the "flat" traditional 2D paper drawing backstop, to 3D and 4D approaches that bring in specialty trades and faster reviews than paper ever could.

Brace yourself. Paper is over as a design medium. That is why big boxes like Office Depot have trouble selling pencils and highlighters - its all on your Surface or IPad. Mail means email, and "notes" mean an App on my IPhone. For school projects, this is a great leap forward. Rejoice.

See for yourself:

Ps. The photo is of the ceiling mural in New York's Grand Central Terminal - created in 1912 by French pastel artist Paul Cesar Helleu, depicting familiar constellations not from Earth, but looking downward - a precursor to today's gyroscopic design advantage, allowing one to see things from all directions before building.