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Elevation drawings are a crucial component of architectural drafting, providing a detailed representation of the exterior or interior of a building. These drawings, which depict the structure’s vertical view, play a vital role in the design and construction process. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the fundamentals of elevation drawings, their importance in architectural design, and the best practices for creating them.

Understanding Elevation Drawings

Elevation drawings are a type of orthographic projection that showcases the front, side, or rear view of a building or structure. These drawings are typically drawn to scale and provide a precise representation of the building’s façade, including its doors, windows, walls, and other architectural features.

The Basics of Elevation Drawings

  • Elevation drawings are drawn in a vertical orientation, depicting the height and length of a building.
  • They are typically created from the eye-level perspective, providing a realistic representation of how the structure will appear.
  • Elevation drawings can be categorized into two main types: exterior elevations and interior elevations.
  • Exterior elevations focus on the building’s exterior, while interior elevations concentrate on the interior spaces.

The Importance of Elevation Drawings

Elevation drawings are essential in the architectural design process for several reasons:

  1. Design Visualization: Elevation drawings allow architects, designers, and clients to visualize the proposed building’s appearance, enabling them to make informed decisions about the design.
  2. Construction Planning: These drawings provide detailed information about the building’s exterior, which is crucial for construction planning and execution.
  3. Regulatory Compliance: Elevation drawings are often required by local authorities for building permits and approvals, ensuring the design meets all relevant codes and regulations.
  4. Coordination: Elevation drawings help coordinate the work of various trade professionals, such as electricians, plumbers, and HVAC contractors, to ensure the building’s systems are properly integrated.

Creating Effective Elevation Drawings

Producing high-quality elevation drawings requires a solid understanding of drafting techniques and best practices. Here are some key considerations for creating effective elevation drawings:

Drafting Conventions

  • The dashed lines in elevation drawings should converge on the hinge side of doors, windows, and other architectural elements, regardless of the building’s interior or exterior, the type of door, or the presence of features like tambours or overhead garage doors.
  • Knobs or other hardware should only be shown on doors and windows that are intended to have them, such as in contemporary kitchen cabinets.

3D Coordination and Modeling

  • Utilizing 3D modeling and coordination techniques, such as BIM (Building Information Modeling), can greatly enhance the accuracy and efficiency of elevation drawings.
  • 3D models allow for real-time coordination and clash detection, helping to identify and resolve issues before construction begins.
  • 3D visualization can also be used to demonstrate the design intent to non-technical stakeholders, facilitating better communication and decision-making.

2D Coordination and Drafting

  • In some cases, fully coordinated 2D working drawings for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) services may be required.
  • 2D coordination involves manually detecting clashes between services and the building fabric, resolving them through re-routing and resizing elements.
  • Detailed 1:20 scale drawings, including sections and elevations, are often provided for pinch points and plant areas to aid buildability.

Attention to Detail

  • Elevation drawings should be meticulously detailed, incorporating accurate dimensions, pipe falls, service spacing, supports, and maintenance accessibility.
  • Careful consideration of the building’s materials, textures, and architectural features is essential to ensure the drawings accurately represent the intended design.


Elevation drawings are a fundamental component of architectural drafting, serving as a crucial tool in the design, construction, and coordination of building projects. By understanding the principles of elevation drawings, adhering to drafting conventions, and leveraging the power of 3D modeling and coordination, architects and designers can create highly effective and informative drawings that support the successful delivery of their projects.