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May 9, 2024
The Blueprint of Success

Well into the 21st century, construction drawings are still commonly called “blueprints.” The term has even been adopted as shorthand for any kind of detailed plan (e.g. the blueprint for a political campaign). But true blueprints have been antiquated for over 80 years now.

The process for producing blueprints was invented by chemist and photographer, John Herschel in 1842. In this process, chemically treated paper turns blue when exposed to light; a hand-drafted ink drawing is layered over the photosensitive paper, producing white lines where the print is masked by the ink.

In the 1940s, blueprints were phased out in favor of diazo prints—“whiteprints” or “bluelines” (characterized by blue lines on white paper). These too became obsolete with the advent of Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD).

We’ve come a long way from the analog systems of blueprints and bluelines. In the digital age, we have CAD, BIM (Building Information Modeling), reality capture tools that can create a “digital twin” of building envelopes, and tablets in the field.

The advantages of these powerful digital tools are many, but the goal is the same regardless of whether a drawing is ink on paper, or bits and bytes: if you don’t get it right on paper (or on a screen) it won’t be right when you build it.

Digital tools have been indispensable in our production of “gold standard” contract documents. They’re integral to our “blueprint” for success.

SUPERSTRUCTURES Engineers + Architects

14 Wall Street, 25th Floor, New York, NY 10005
(212) 505 1133


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