• (Edited )

Grading is a basic skill for architects, and I guarantee it will be tested in ARE exams. Architects deal with grading everyday.

I am not sure if anyone can answer your question completely here. To start: remember water always flows from a higher contour line to a lower contour line in a direction perpendicular to the higher contour line.

If you understand the direction of water flows, then everything will become easy. You also need to understand the contours for some of the basic landforms: ridges, valleys, swales, etc.

You really need to learn and master the grading skills because they will be tested. If you actually learn the stuff NCARB wants you to learn, then no matter how the exam format changes, you will pass the ARE exams.

Gang Chen, Author, Architect, LEED AP BD+C (GreenExamEducation.com)

• (Edited )

This Ballast question can help you recognize and remember contour lines for a 6” high curb and a swale.

In a related note, a regular concrete channel like the ones you see on the side of the road is also a good option for road surface drainage. Most of the roads use a ridge along the center line of the road and drain to both sides of the road’s channels. See photos.

Gang Chen, Author, Architect, LEED AP BD+C (GreenExamEducation.com)

• Nicolle,

Here is a quick sketch covering some of the basics (as always do your own research, but maybe this will help you get started).

Key terms are:

• Placement / spacing between contour lines (plan view dimensions),
• Contour line interval (height / depth relative to a given basepoint),
• And landform "shape" (pointing up-slope / down-slope, topo lines bunched at bottom / top of slope, etc.).

Slope (G) is basically rise (d) over run (L), with a final step of multiplying by 100' to get a slope percentage over said distance of 100'.

There is more information about ballancing cut and fill, retaining walls, Building orientation relative to topo lines, recomended grading, etc. - but most of that is covered in Ballast (chapter 9) or the Site Planning and Design handbook (chapter 7).

Good luck.

• (Edited )

Good sketch, Stephen.

Gang Chen, Author, Architect, LEED AP BD+C (GreenExamEducation.com)