Building Systems for Interior Designers

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The first edition of Building Systems for Interior Environments arose from my need for a textbook to use in teaching interior design students that gave them the understanding and skills to work with architects and engineers. This third edition of Building Systems for Interior Environments updates the role of interior designers as part of the building design team, and addresses their special needs for information on today’s building system design and equipment.

Interior designers today work closely with other design and construction professions to provide functional, sustainable, and healthy buildings. Sophisticated digital control systems permit design that supports varied occupancy and work styles and schedules. This results in more individualized control of the interior environment, which is conducive to worker satisfaction and productivity.

Sustainable design supports a holistic approach to building systems, where the older territorial distinctions between the various building system and architectural/engineering disciplines are opening up. Existing buildings are being adapted and reused for new purposes. The impact of energy efficiency and water conservation in buildings is widely recognized. This third edition of Building Systems for Interior Environments reflects these changes.

In addition, the third edition benefits from the comments of experienced educators as to the best ways to organize and focus the information. The updated contents are arranged to flow smoothly in an order that facilitates the teaching process. Part I looks at environmental conditions and the site, the building envelope and the building design process, sustainable design, the interaction of the human body with the built environment, and how building codes protect us. Part II addresses building forms, structures, and elements including floor/ceiling assemblies, walls, stairs, windows, and doors. Part III introduces acoustic design principles and architectural acoustics. Part IV addresses water supply, waste, and reuse systems, as well as plumbing fixtures and appliances.

Part V covers principles of thermal control, indoor air quality, ventilation, and moisture control, and heating and cooling. Part VI explains electrical system basics and electrical distribution, as well as lighting systems. Part VII concludes the book with coverage of fire safety design, conveyance systems, and communications, security, and control equipment.

More than 40 percent of the third edition’s text is new. This edition contains over 485 illustrations, approximately 260 of which are new and 160 redrawn or revised. There are also over 175 tables, 125 of which are new or significantly revised. References to related materials in other chapters are included. Tips indicating material of assistance and interest to interior designers are also included. Key terms are defined in the text and indicated in bold. Quotations from architectural and engineering sources aid in understanding the perspective of other design professionals.

Interior designers need to understand the viewpoints and respect the expertise of other design professionals. Building Systems for Interior Designers provides the information they need to do this, without delving into engineering calculations. It focuses on the parts of the building design process that most affect the occupants’ functional needs, and provides a technical but readily understandable foundation for the design of interior spaces. Residential as well as commercial and institutional spaces are included.

Building Systems for Interior Designers is listed by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) as a reference for preparation for the NCIDQ exam. The third edition is supplemented by online materials including an Instructors Manual with knowledge areas, topics for discussion, and definitions of key terms, PowerPoint presentations for each chapter, and a Test Bank with sample questions. Supplemental material is available at


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