Ten Versions of "The Architect's Bible"

Architectural Graphic Standards is the most useful reference book for an architect to have, even more important than a dictionary. (Although I should say that from what I've seen most architects should put a dictionary on their wish list as soon as they've added A.G.S. to their library.)

Over the years I have collected all the editions of Architectural Graphic Standards from the first, 1932, to 2000.

Why have the old editions, since we don't build that way anymore? Because for renovations, it's easy to check the book that would would have been current when the building was built, and get a pretty good grasp of what's behind the walls without doing any exploratory demolition. You usually want to avoid disrupting the building for as long as possible.

Sometimes I just browse them; it's interesting to see the types of construction that were the newest technology, and then see them disappear from the book a few editions later. One page, just one page, has remained unchanged since 1932: a beautiful illustration of eight styles of masonry arches, shown in brick on the left and in stone on the right. Apparently everything else about architecture has changed since then. Each edition has insights about the times written between the lines: the 1970 edition devotes two pages to protecting against nuclear fallout. The 1994 edition has over a dozen pages about about designing for accesibility.

The second edition (1936) is almost exactly the same as the first (1932); there are only two additional pages. What changed about architecture in those few years to merit re-issuing "the architect's Bible"? Here's a hint: it was prompted by an amendment to the United States Constitution.

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