Mechanical Equipment



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    Scott Barber

    Obviously the more you know the better, but for PPD it's more important to know big picture stuff rather than finer details. The charts at the beginning of each section in The Architect's Studio Companion are great, even if they're hard to learn. But they're useful because you should know what type of system to use for different criteria (similar to structural systems, though those seem a little more intuitive than mechanical systems in my opinion). For example, know what type of system should be used if they want individual controls in different rooms. Also make sure you know the different components of the systems, like the sample problem in the ARE Handbook (PPD section 3, sample item 5). 

    When I studied for PPD, I tried to understand it in larger categories/systems (VAV vs CAV for example) and understand the pros and cons, and then learn the specific variations of those categories/systems (reheat, induction, etc). I was able to learn them a little better that way, rather than trying to memorize specifics of each different type of system. It also helped me learn the info rather than memorize it, by understanding the basics and building from that.

    Hope that helps - good luck!

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    David Kaplan


    I didn't get into the sizing criteria at all for mechanical/electrical systems, and I skipped all those parts of Architect's Studio Companion that got into the nitty gritty details of how big air handlers should be, chillers, etc.  However, what IS worth knowing is that certain types of equipment require more space than others, and you should have an understanding of that in the instance that space is limited in a project.  For example, if you're getting into a system with a cooling tower, chiller, and boilers - that requires a large room and likely a large roof area.  Whereas other systems take up little space.  You should have a sense of those requirements.  Same thing with exterior walls - some equipment require exterior walls for large louvers to be installed, some equipment doesn't require that.  You should have that knowledge so if you're told on the exam that the building can't have openings in it, that will trigger your mind to say "OK, which system doesn't require an exterior louver?" 

    While it is difficult to determine sometimes on the ARE based on a variety of experiences that people are reporting on this forum, somewhere, this IS a threshold on these exams of what an architect should know with respect to MEP/Structural systems and what is best left to engineers.  I tend to believe personally that calculating the size of an air handler falls into the latter category. 

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    Brett Spencer

    David and Scott,


    Thank you! These answer my questions perfectly and is more-or-less the answer I was hoping for.  Architect's Studio Companion has been my go to thus far and I'm actually enjoying it, but it has been a little overwhelming.  Another cup of coffee and I'm going to keep going!


    Thanks again to you both this forum has been incredibly valuable and I appreciate when we can have open discussions such as these.

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