First Look at Construction Systems: The Retaining Wall


While we all moved along with our analyses of various sculptures, we also dove headfirst into our Construction Systems class. Here we were taught about the various systems that go into building a structure, mainly focusing on super structures (wooden framing, structural steel/concrete, accretive (masonry) systems), and the systems that might build off of them. This included questions like “How does the structure connect to the ground?” (foundation systems), “How do cladding systems attach to the super structure?”, “How about corners? Roofing systems? Openings for windows and doors?”. The class consisted of five large projects in which we tackled these questions. Four of the five projects were to be hand-drawn, allowing the class to also function as a drafting class.

Our reference material for most of these projects consisted heavily of Francis Ching’s “Building Construction Illustrated.”

For the first of the five projects, as sort of an introduction to the world of construction systems, we were tasked to develop a retaining wall system, and then illustrate its parts in section and plan. The section had to be hand-drawn, while the plan was constructed digitally through Rhino/Illustrator. We also had to draw how our wall dealt with the three main modes of failure: overturning, sliding, and settling.

Construction Systems - Retaining Wall Section cut of a generic retaining wall, showing all parts as well as how it deals with the various forces (hand-drawn).

Construction Systems – Retaining Wall
Section cut of a generic retaining wall, showing all parts as well as how it deals with the various forces (hand-drawn).

Construction Systems - Retaining Wall Plan, Section, and Axon of the designed retaining wall (digital)

Construction Systems – Retaining Wall
Plan, Section, and Axon of the designed retaining wall (digital)

Construction Systems - Retaining Wall Diagrams showing how the designed wall deals with the various forces/modes of failure (hand-drawn).

Construction Systems – Retaining Wall
Diagrams showing how the designed wall deals with the various forces/modes of failure (hand-drawn).

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