If you could permanently ban a word from general usage, which one would it be? Why?
Man…how do I limit myself to just ONE word? There are so many that come to mind. In architecture words carry power. Words, that may seem small and insignificant, can have amazing impact. They can save, or ruin, a building.
Since I do have to narrow my focus to just one word, it would be Typical. Typical is a word that is used A LOT by architects and draftsmen to describe something that basically happens everywhere on a building. For example, a particular note on a drawing may read “vertical fiber cement siding over p.t. wd furring over weather barrier, typ.”. This note would refer to the exterior finish and weather proofing of a particular wall section. Adding “typical” to the end suggests that this finish is everywhere on the exterior.
“Typical” however, in my mind, makes us lazy. It means we only need note something once, which also means we’re not really paying attention to the drawings. If something is “typical” in one location then it doesn’t necessarily need to look right in other locations because it’s “typical”. I did it right the first time, why bother the next time?
The problem is the devil is in the details. If you’re not worrying about how that finish works at various stages throughout the building you’re likely to miss something, perhaps an opportunity for a really sweet detail, or some critical case where it’s not “typical”, but instead requires some thought and consideration.
There’s nothing “typical” about architecture. No two projects are the same. There is always something new to consider, to detail and to think through. Do yourself, and your clients, a favor – take the time to draft and detail your buildings. Don’t just make them “typical”.