Page T2.1 . 03 December 2003                     
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    Archiving Project Documents

    by Evan H. Shu, FAIA

    How do you permanently store project documents after a building has been completed? It was much simpler 20 years ago when it was a matter of finding a safe place to shelve paper drawings or perhaps microfilm. In those days, storing was simple, but data retrieval was difficult. Today, we are inundated with so much data in so many formats, that, even though retrieval is theoretically easier, it can still be difficult to develop a truly useful project archive.

    Architects today transmit and record information in both paper and digital forms. Besides CAD files, our digital data includes e-mail correspondence, project spreadsheets, and construction administration documents. And though we are still far from a paperless process, the role of paper is now significantly different. It is often no longer the "original" but now only a temporary medium that represents just another "copy."

    Some architects try to maintain a paper file paradigm by printing everything, while others go in the opposite direction by digitizing as much as possible, scanning paper documents, for instance. Both approaches have merit but it may not yet be practical to use one universal format for all project documents.

    The Project Database

    Perhaps the best course for now is to find a good way to catalog all the documents that make up a project, be they on paper, film, or disk. This may be as simple as having a clipboard on the wall for logging in all correspondence and documents that go into or out of the office.   >>>

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    Traditional paper storage methods are now giving way to digital storage media such as compact discs.
    Image: Courtesy Evan H. Shu, FAIA

    ArchWeek Image

    Project extranet systems, such as Project/Center from Bricsnet, can provide online storage and record classification.
    Image: Bricsnet


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