This is kind of a broad topic but an important one, especially if you want to understand how I work as an architect. Most people don’t really know what architects do which isn’t all that surprising. There is not a great of a chance that you know one. Or maybe you do, here in the United States if you know about 3,000 people the odds are that one of them is indeed an architect.

Right now as I look around my desk I see- well quite honestly a mess- however I also see tools. The first item is this trace paper. Here’s how I use it. I’m not really that strong of a sketcher- so I start by sketching up really loose examples of what the building might look like. From that I will take it to the computer and build out the shape of the building or the main elevation/façade. Then I print it, and pull back out the trace paper. I will trace the shape of the building out, add details and then refine in the computer model and print again. The number of iterations that this might take on varies but it’s all part of my design process.

This is one of the early process drawings for a building that I am currently working on. It’s an addition to an existing building which uses the materials of stone and brick. Challenge- this building is over 50’ tall because it basically a gym, the building next to it is a one-story office building. How to make it make it feel right with the existing building but stand out as a separate building. This solution pulls in the stone for the towers on the sides, uses brick for the lower part and switches to stucco higher up (because that building was feeling too “heavy”).

I’ve already mentioned the use of my computer, which happens to be a laptop with two additional screens. Yes, I have three screens and I kind of can’t imagine work without them. Here’s why. A project that I was working on this last week required me to use my drafting program, Revit, the clients sketchup model, and reference some pdfs. Having all three of those programs up at the same time saves me so much time! While I’m designing I frequently pull open an excel sheet to do quick calculations and record them, and reference things on the internet whether it’s a how do I do x, or what’s an example of y. By utilizing multiple screens this process can likely save me hours of time a week. And, as the saying goes, time is money.

This post is part of the Architalks series in which Bob Borson of Life of an Architect selects a theme and a group of us (architects who also blog) all post on the same day and promote each other’s blogs. This month’s theme is Tool and I selected some of the main tools that I use. To read how others interpreted the theme please click the links below…

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
3 Tools to Get Our Clients Engaged and Involved

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
The Best Tool In Your Toolbox

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
The Tools That Help Make #AREsketches

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
tools #architalks

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Architools – Mind Over Matter

Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design (@EquityxDesign)
10 Power Tools to Kickstart Equitable Practice

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
#ArchiTalks 17 “Tool”

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Tools of an Architect #Architalks 17

Amy Kalar – ArchiMom (@AmyKalar)
ArchiTalks #17: Three Tools for Change

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Can we talk?

Michael LaValley – Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
Why An Architect’s Voice Is Their Most Important Tool

Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)
it’s ok, i have a [pen]

Brinn Miracle – Architangent (@simplybrinn)
Synergy: The Value of Architects

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Tools for Learning

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
Something Old and Something New

Anthony Richardson – That Architecture Student (@anth_rich)
Tools I Use in Studio

Jeffrey A Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Helpful tools found within an Architecture blog

Aaron Bowman – Product & Process (@PP_Podcast)
Sharpen Your Tools

Kyu Young Kim – Palo Alto Design Studio (@sokokyu)
Super Tool

Jared W. Smith – Architect OWL (@ArchitectOWL)
Construction: An Architect’s Learning Tool

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
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