Taubman College

Architecture News

BoingBoing.net picks faculty member Julia McMorrough’s book Materials, Structures, Standards as "Cool Tool"

Materials, Structures, and Standards (MSS): All the Details Architects Need to Know But Can Never Find, currently in its eighth printing and written by Taubman College lecturer Julia McMorrough, was praised on tech blog, BoingBoing, for making technical information in architecture and design accessible and easy to understand. The blog author says, "It is 264 pages of impeccably drafted architectural and design elements with a wonderfully accessible style. It is full of annotated scale drawings designed to convey as much information as possible using few words."

Julia McMorrough joined the college faculty winter term 2011. She is a LEED Accredited Professional, and since 1992 has worked professionally in architecture firms in Kansas City, New York, Boston, and Columbus, Ohio. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Kansas and a Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. She taught design courses at the Boston Architectural Center and the Ohio State University. Julia is a co-founder with Architecture Chair John McMorrough of studioAPT, a research and design collaborative that seeks to elevate design by avoiding the gratuitous.

The BoingBoing review:

Materials, Structures, Standards

This book, also known as MSS, is an outstanding work of architecture reference. It is 264 pages of impeccably drafted architectural and design elements with a wonderfully accessible style. It is full of annotated scale drawings designed to convey as much information as possible using few words.

I've used this book for the past two years in my side job designing theatrical scenery. Whenever I need to know how high a hand rail should be, or how deep a chair should be, this book is my first stop. If I need to know how long an average adult male's torso is, or how high the surface of a counter should be, MSS sits right on my desk.

MSS has a depth of visual information broken up into six chapters: The "Measuring and Drawing" section includes information about drafting standards and techniques. "Proportion and Form" includes information on human scale, basic design and residential spaces. "Codes and Guidelines" is basically a code/accessibility primer. The "Systems and Components" chapter covers a wide range of component interactions (the sections on doors, windows and stairs have been very useful to me). "Characteristics of Materials" discusses the characteristics of wood, masonry, metals and more with lots of pictures and tables. Lastly, "Compendium" is an interesting guide to historical architecture and architectural elements.

MSS puts an enormous amount of useful information in a small, easy to read reference book. Information is easy to find because the drawings are large and are easily spotted while skimming through its pages. I recommend it as a desktop companion for anyone who occasionally dabbles in architecture or interfaces with architects.

-- Dave Seltzer

Feb 22, 2011


back to architecture news