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Architect-Engineer Information Center

The Smithsonian Facilities CAD Guidelines, a PDF document, provide detailed descriptions of CAD drawing requirements, graphic symbols, conventions, and standards including, but not limited to: layer naming and colors, sheet layouts, title blocks, and drawing numbering. These are applicable to construction documents produced by Architect-Engineers and in house design staff. Standard AutoCAD Files that are referenced in the Smithsonian Facilities CAD Guidelines are:

Additional files for non-standard sizes may be used if approved by design manager.

Smithsonian Standards and Guidelines on Accessibility
Smithsonian Directive 215, Accessibility for People with Disabilities Policy (SD 215):
This Smithsonian directive follows the guidance provided by the legislative provisions of the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and their amendments, using the most current architectural standards stated in the General Services Administration (GSA) Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standards (ABAAS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design.

Smithsonian accessibility policy, as specified in SD 215, applies to all new construction, exhibits, barrier removal, alterations, and repair and restoration of facilities and grounds, (as defined in the ABAAS and the ADA Standards for Accessible Design, whichever is more stringent), whether the Smithsonian owns or leases the property. The policy also applies to all programs held at or by the Smithsonian, whether they are developed, co-sponsored, or hosted by the Institution.

In addition to the federal accessibility standards listed above, guidance on implementing SD 215 is available through the following documents which are part of the Smithsonian Guidelines for Accessible Design:

The Smithsonian Guidelines for Accessible Design established that areas for rescue assistance are required, even in fully sprinklered buildings.

Federal Government Legislation, Regulations, Standards and Guidelines:
Accessibility - Where conflicts arise between the DOJ ADA Standards for Accessible Design and GSA ABA Accessibility Standards documents, the most stringent shall apply (that which provides the greatest accessibility for public and staff), unless otherwise directed by the SI.

  • Department of Justice (DOJ) ADA Standards for Accessible Design
  • General Services Administration (GSA) Architectural Barriers Act (ABA)
  • Accessibility Standards for Federal Facilities

These standards apply to facilities designed, constructed, altered, or leased with Federal funds under the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) except postal facilities, housing, and military facilities. The General Services Administration (GSA) adopted these standards according to updated guidelines issued by the Board. The standards became effective May 8, 2006 (February 6, 2007 for leased facilities) and replace the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS).

The Department of Justice published revised regulations for Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 in the Federal Register on September 15, 2010. These regulations adopted revised, enforceable accessibility standards called the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design or A/E Standards. The 2010 Standards set minimum requirements both scoping and technical - for newly designed and constructed or altered State and local government facilities, public accommodations, and commercial facilities to be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.

Adoption of the 2010 Standards also establishes a revised reference point for Title II entities that choose to make structural changes to existing facilities to meet their program accessibility requirements; and it establishes a similar reference for Title III entities undertaking readily achievable barrier removal.

In the revised regulations, the Department of Justice included detailed guidance with a section-by-section analysis of the revisions. The following includes guidance from the revised regulations related to 28 CFR 35.151; 28 CFR part 36, subpart D; and the 2004 ADAAG. It addresses changes to the Standards, the reasoning behind those changes, and responses to public comments received on these topics.

For information about the ADA, including the revised 2010 ADA regulations, please visit the Departments website; or, for answers to specific questions, call the toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (voice) or 800-514-0383 (TTY).

Exhibitions are complex presentations that convey concepts, showcase objects, and excite the senses. However, as museums recognize the diversity within their audiences, they realize that exhibitions must do more: exhibitions must teach to different learning styles, respond to issues of cultural and gender equity, and offer multiple levels of information. The resulting changes in exhibitions have made these presentations more understandable, enjoyable, and connected to visitors lives.

Accessible design must be a part of this new philosophy of exhibition development because people with disabilities are a part of museums diverse audience. Discovering exciting, attractive ways to make exhibitions accessible will most directly serve people with disabilities and older adults. But to name an audience who will not benefit by these designs is impossible. Accessibility begins as a mandate to serve people who have been discriminated against for centuries; it prevails as a tool that serves diverse audiences for a lifetime.

It is Smithsonian policy to express weights and measures in metric system numbers to the extent possible in documents for public viewing, grant and contract solicitations and awards, exhibition signage, and public presentations. When directors of museums, research centers, and offices deem it to be more practical, weights and measures may be cited in written materials in traditional terms first, followed immediately by the metric measure equivalent in parentheses. Directors of Project Management and Engineering Design and Construction Divisions may determine the measurement system to be used on a project-by project basis, with appropriate documentation of the decision.

The Smithsonian Institution is a trust instrumentality of the United States (recognized as a tax exempt organization under Section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code). Although not an Executive Branch of the U.S. Government, it is committed to planning, designing, constructing, maintaining, and operating its owned and leased buildings and facilities consistent with Federal environmental and energy management requirements to the maximum extent practical, including the following:

  • Energy Policy Act (EPAct) 2005
  • High Performance and Sustainable Buildings Memorandum of Understanding (HPSB MOU or MOU) 2006,01/24/2006
  • Executive Order (EO) 13423, 01/26/2007
  • Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) 2007
  • Executive Order 13514, 10/08/2009

For capital program projects in the planning stages, all applicable new construction and major renovation projects in the following categories will have these LEED certification goals, inclusive of the LEED points that correspond to the Federal environmental and energy management requirements above:

LEED Silver certification for projects with construction budgets greater than or equal to $2.5 million, but less than $5 million:

LEED Gold certification for projects with construction budgets greater than or equal to $5 million:

A full copy of the 2010 Smithsonian Sustainable Buildings Implementation Plan can be found here.

Best Practices

Smithsonian Facilities is dedicated to integrating the principles of Best Practice as fostered by The Construction Industry Institute (CII) into our operating processes. The mission of CII is to improve the business effectiveness of the capital facilities life cycle, including safety, quality, schedule, cost, security, reliability, and operability. To learn more about CII and Best Practice visit:

Project Definition Rating Index (PDRI) for Buildings

The Project Score Sheet is used to evaluate the level of scope definition for building projects.

PDRI element descriptions were been developed to help generate a clear understanding of the terms used in the Project Score Sheets. Some descriptions include checklists to clarify concepts and facilitate ideas when scoring each element. Note that these checklists are not all-inclusive and the user may supplement these lists when necessary.

PDRI Scoring Sheets:

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