When I was working for other architects I always found myself encouraging them to switch from hand drafting to CAD, and to explore 3D design tools for the computer. Grudgingly one CAD station was tried. They were scared. I was asking them to set aside their lifetime of accumulated core competency to try something new.
Eventually I left to start my own practice, and I was determined to use CAD from day one. I did not have time for the extensive training, nor the down time I saw my old employers experiencing. I also did not have thousands of dollars to spend on software and new equipment, not to mention the specialized CAD vendors they hired. A good friend recommended PowerCADD. It was relatively inexpensive, it ran at a good clip on my existing computer, and jumping off of my experience with illustration programs I found that I could draw with it, now!
I landed on my feet running, productive with the software from day-one. My first project was also my first on CAD and proved faster than hand drafting. Now with experience gained drafting has become a smaller part of the overall time spent on a project. I can spend more time paying attention to quality, and developing business. It has made me more competitive and more profitable. I adopted a 3D design package, upFront, and it integrates beautifully with PowerCADD. I have also found that I use tracing paper less and less when I am designing — you can pile on many more layers of “trace” on PowerCADD. In many ways it has not changed the way that I work at all, only the medium. I find that it has augmented my designing, actually “getting out of my way” in ways that paper and pencil could not.
I see those other architects often. They have all finally made the switch to CAD, but I think they are still scared. Afraid to use anything but the software that everybody else is using, no time to learn about the other options, no time to learn to use the features of the software they have. I see them when I have to plot, because you see I don’t have one myself and they are kind enough to let me use theirs. They usually huddle around and look at the output — “how did you do that … oh, not in *utoCad”, or “that looks nice … what’s that you use again ….”, and my favorite “I’m amazed that your plots come out with no problem, but we have so much trouble.”
They have asked us to show you some of our drawings here. I have pulled a bunch of typical drawings, some houses, some interiors, other buildings, some construction drawings, some design drawings, and some presentation drawings. These are not show stoppers, just products of the “solid backbone, work horse” tool of a small architectural practice — the kind of things we need to produce every day.
Gregory La Vardera