3 Surprising Essential Tools for the Contemporary Architect

Contemporary Architects

If your architect doesn’t work with these, you might want to steer clear. And no, we’re not talking about CAD

What do you think architects do all day? Most people envision someone sitting in front of a drafting table, with pencil, eraser and straightedge, drawing into the wee hours of the night. Contrary to this stereotype, most firms have replaced old-school drafting tables with state-of-the-art computers and software that in many ways can outperform the old pencil and paper on any given day. But technology alone isn’t enough.

Today’s dwellings increasingly save energy, provide more functions in less space, promote a healthier lifestyle and are integrated with technology, and the ways architects are designing and building homes are changing too.

Educating yourself on the different tools architects use and why can enable you to get the best design quickly and within your budget.

But before we get into computer software, 3-D fly-through models and photorealistic renderings, there are a few fundamental qualities an architect must have, because even the most advanced software or gadget can’t compensate for their absence. Certain time-tested skills can make the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful architect.

Listening. Good listening skills may be the most important tool in an architect’s toolbox. When I first graduated from architecture school, I had dreams of becoming a fantastic designer, showing and teaching people what good design looked like.

Well, those early (and naïve) ideas soon fell by the wayside once I learned that being a great architect is not about persuading people that my ideas are great, but being able to listen to, understand and translate their ideas into the perfect space for them.

Drawing. Even with all of today’s technology, no architect should be without a sketchbook or notepad. Being an architect is a lifelong commitment to studying, exploring, discovering and experiencing spaces and buildings. You never know when you might come across the perfect detail, fixture or product. By always having a sketchbook on hand, architects ensure that they will remember everything.

Though an architect’s sketchbook might have some impressive drawings in it, it should be used primarily to keep track of clients’ ideas and desires, a place to record products, details, comments, to-dos, problems to solve and creative answers. Listening well and taking detailed notes are the foundation of any great project.

Experience. An experienced architect is a key ingredient for a successful project, but experience comes only with time and commitment. I’m not saying to trust only architects with gray hair, but make sure your architect has done projects similar to yours. If you live in an area that has complicated and long design review and permitting processes, make sure he or she knows the ropes and is not spending your time and money on education.

An experienced architect not only should know and understand local jurisdictions, vernacular styles and design guidelines, but should also be well travelled. Great spaces are not just buildings but something you actually experience. There is no better way to understand spaces or people better than by traveling and seeing the world. Great design transcends style, and there is no substitute for the real thing, so the more places your architect has been can influence positively on your design.

Article by B Dietrich AIA from http://houzz.com

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