One for All

Mark L. Johnson / May 2021

Wouldn’t it be great if the design and construction of the most common wall types could be standardized?
    
We now have that opportunity with the launch of a new industry-wide information exchange—the Partition Information Exchange, or PARTie—at www.constructivity.com/componentassembly/PARTie.
    
PARTie gives the AEC industry one set of standards for specifying and constructing wall assemblies. It has been released in Europe. Let’s consider why now is the opportune time to get behind it in North America.

What Is PARTie?
PARTie is a free, open-source library of standardized wall types that has been pioneered by John Rapaport and John Lord of Component Assembly Systems, Inc. in New York, which holds the Creative Commons copyright to the library.
    
“We created PARTie to provide the wall and ceiling industry with stability and cooperation to meet the industry’s common goals,” says Rapaport, master constructor and company attorney at Component Assembly Systems, as quoted in the Foundation of the Wall and Ceiling Industry paper, “Technology Impact on the Means and Methods of Wall and Ceiling Construction” (www.awci.org/foundation/research).
    
Rapaport and Lord say that PARTie would enable the industry to work efficiently. The exchange features definitions of more than 500 interior wall types, including standard single-row stud walls, double-row stud walls, shaft walls and furred walls.
    
With the walls precisely defined, architects and engineers could order up wall types that would get built consistently. Everyone—architects, spec writers, specialty contractors—would work off the same details. And everyone would use the same lingo. A “Type A” wall would be a “Type A wall” for all projects, from Maine to California, and everywhere in between.
    
PARTie doesn’t require special technology to access the data.
    
“Our idea was to make it open at any level,” says Lord, chief information officer at Component Assembly Systems. “If you are estimating in Excel, we made sure you can do that.”
    
Functionally, PARTie is a database of wall components—cold-formed steel stud widths, gauges, spacing and performance, wallboard types and thicknesses, insulation, soundproofing and finishing treatments. It includes sound rating and fire resistance data. Since the data follows the Industry Foundation Classes 4 (IFC4) “Step” file formats, PARTie can be interpreted by pretty much any platform.
    
“There are Revit objects associated with each wall type,” Lord says. “You can pull those in if you’re an architect.”

The Timing Is Right
PARTie was originally developed as WALLie (the Wall Information Exchange) in 2015. Back then, Rapaport and Lord didn’t seek consensus approval for WALLie. But now, the timing is right for an industry information exchange. Why?

  1. More and more, designers, general contractors and specialty contractors are working through BIM and other collaborative software.
  2. Today’s software systems are interoperable, which means they can “speak” to each other and “handshake” to transfer data.
  3. Prefabrication is spreading among wall and ceiling firms. Having agreement on wall details only furthers the spread of off-site construction.

“You have a confluence of building technologies and construction processes happening right now. PARTie can be the center of them all,” says Robert Grupe, AWCI’s director of technical services and the consultant who compiled the PARTie database, as quoted in the Foundatoin’s “Technology Impact” paper.

You in the Driver’s Seat
Recently, Component Assembly Systems released PARTie to BuildingSMART International, which plans to adopt PARTie’s partition standards for architects, engineers and contractors in western Europe, Rapaport says.
    
In March, Rapaport and Lord released PARTie to North American users via the Constructivity website mentioned above.
    
It all makes perfect sense. PARTie would allow architects, general contractors, wall contractors, building officials and product manufacturers to speak one common language. Their wall type selections will communicate freely, in the IFC4 format, to all parties to a construction project.
    
“The architects know they will receive what they want right from the start,” says Rapaport. “We will be able to standardize buildings and models in the IFC ISO conventions.”
    
And that’s a big win. PARTie should put the wall and ceiling industry in the driver’s seat.

Mark L. Johnson writes for the wall and ceiling industry. He can be reached via linkedin.com/in/markjohnsoncommunications.