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Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

  • 1.  Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-01-2017 21:08

    What computer program would you recommend to a small project practice start up?

    Thank you!



  • 2.  RE: Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-02-2017 17:28
    What ever program you are comfortable using.
    The last thing you want to do is start a practice AND learn a new cad program at the same time.

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    Kenneth Crutcher AIA
    Crutcher Studio Architects
    Farmington MI
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  • 3.  RE: Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-02-2017 17:33
    DataCAD - designed by architects for architects.  Easy to use and inexpensive.  Can be compatible with AutoCAD, etc.

    Easy to use with Sketch-up

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    P. Frantz AIA
    P. Richard Frantz, AIA, Architect
    Pottstown PA
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  • 4.  RE: Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-03-2017 17:20
    As a long time DataCAD user (1984) I highly recommend this software. Great user based forum at forum.datacad.com Index page




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    James Goodman AIA
    Principal
    James Goodman, Architecture
    Capistrano Beach CA
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  • 5.  RE: Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-02-2017 19:51
    I would recommend identifying your level of experience and budget, as well as the type of project. If your experience is limited to 2D, then obviously Autocad or a similar program. If you have experience with 3D then I would suggest Sketch-up and/or Revit LT. All three of these programs are good starters for Revit, which is quickly becoming the program of choice.

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    Brian Clements AIA
    Principal Architect
    Clements + Associates
    Nashville TN
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  • 6.  RE: Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-02-2017 22:06

    Pick a BIM program. BIM is the present and past, as well as the future. 2D is not a business plan. 2D + sketchup is a dead end. You need to be able to do intelligent 3D as part of your documentation process. Your competition is.

    I've written a bunch of articles on this topic, but I want to highlight two from 2013:

    Which BIM software should I use:
    http://www.shoegnome.com/2013/03/29/which-bim-software-should-i-use/

    Starting an Architecture Firm? Let's Discuss Software and Hardware Costs
    http://www.shoegnome.com/2013/05/05/software-costs-when-starting-an-architecture-firm/

    Talk to the other architects you will be collaborating with and see what they are using. Talk to your friends who have similar sized firms and see what they are using. Talk to the other architects who will be your support network and see what they are using. Try out Revit, ARCHICAD, Vectorworks, and any other BIM program. See which one you enjoy most. Talk to and find the community that uses those software and see which community you enjoy most. Look at the online resources for those BIM programs and see which makes you feel most comfortable. Do not pick a BIM program before spending time talking with someone who uses that program and can show you quality work from it, work that aligns with what you will be doing with it. Do not put yourself in a position where you are isolated.

    I use ARCHICAD. And I recommend you use it to. Or at least seriously consider it and see if it fits with your design and production proclivities. The ARCHICAD community is fantastic and supportive. There is a very open and collaborative community of small firms using it on all types of projects all over the world. There are also medium, large, and giant firms using it. But they don't matter. It's the small firms that you'll get to know and share with.

    If you want to learn more about working with ARCHICAD, the community, etc. Let me know. I'm happy to chat. I'm happy to share examples. I'm happy to connect you with people who can tell you more, train you, mentor you, collaborate with you, etc. And if you aren't interested in ARCHICAD, that's fine. Make sure that you find the same community with the BIM software you do choose (again jump to BIM now). Our design and production software is integral to our businesses. It's one of-if not the most-important decisions you can make when starting a new firm.



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    Jared Banks AIA
    Shoegnome, LLC
    Seattle, WA

    If you're not following CRAN on Twitter ( https://twitter.com/AIA_CRAN ) or Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/AIACRAN/ ), you should. We post lots of news and interesting stuff pretty much daily.
    ------------------------------



  • 7.  RE: Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-03-2017 13:36
    I agree with the ArchiCAD recommendation and also suggest BSD SpecLink-E for building your project manuals and general specification creation.


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    Prescott Nichols AIA
    Project Architect
    Indigo|Hammond + Playle Architects, LLP
    Davis CA
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  • 8.  RE: Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-03-2017 10:25
    Vectorworks is a great BIM program for small to intermediate size projects. It handles all of my 2-d schematic-CD work and 3-d modeling, rendering, landscape and office graphics. Well priced and very supportive community.

    --
    Vincent Oles Architect AIA
    540 E. Cleveland Ave.
    Salt Lake City, Utah 84105
    ph:   801.582-1610
    cell: 801.608-4512
    olesarchitect@gmail.com








  • 9.  RE: Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-03-2017 17:20
    I also highly recommend Vectorworks as it is intuitive, comparatively well priced, and very capable. It can import from Sketchup and AutoCAD and can export to AutoCAD as well. I use if for small to medium sized projects and am very happy with it.

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    Daniel Alter AIA
    Daniel Alter Architect PLLC
    Brooklyn NY
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  • 10.  RE: Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-03-2017 15:27
    As one person mentioned, whatever you feel comfortable with. What OS are you using - Mac or PC? If you are using a Mac, I personally use PowerCADD and love it. Its easy to use and intuitive. Since I run a small 2 person firm, I really don't have the need for anything else. I can still send and receive drawings in .dwg and .dfx to share with my PC/AutoCAD engineers when needed. For a smaller firm like mine, BIM is way overkill. I looked into Archicad years ago and found it expensive ($4,000 +/-) and not intuitive.

    But, it's really a personal/business choice based on what you feel your needs are.

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    Frank Bell, Architect AIA
    Pittstown, NJ
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  • 11.  RE: Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-12-2017 18:19
    I'd like to emphasize Jared's point about BIM being the future, as well as what I consider an essential feature of a small office. I'm a one-person firm, working on mainly small projects, but having a single program that combines 3d modeling and production drawings is essential for me. VR gives me a big leg up on most of our local competition. I don't actually use the "i" (information) component of BIM much now, but I'm sure that will become essential in the not-too-distant future. I'm an ArchiCAD user myself.

    That said, for someone starting a new firm, I'd recommend starting with what you know. There's enough to learn and implement with promotional and business practices without having to learn a new design program on top of it.

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    Jody Keppers AIA
    President
    Keppers Design
    Duluth MN
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  • 12.  RE: Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-03-2017 17:27
    I would also recommend ArchiCad. We have been using it for years and very happy with it.

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    William Peck AIA

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  • 13.  RE: Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-03-2017 23:34
    I have really enjoyed using Archicad for everything from small additions to full house designs and beyond for the last 15 years- notice I actually said enjoyed. Archicad can be used at a fairly simple level right out of the box, or with more time and experience, for very high level modeling and graphics. I've been trying to pick up Revit over the last two years in my new office and would never recommend it for a solo or small practice, as it is way too complex and comes with too few useful objects (or "families" as Revit calls them). It does some things very well, but it takes a computer geek or a whole lot of training hours to use effectively. I highly recommend a BIM type program as long as you understand how a building goes together and use that knowledge to build your BIM model (I have seen issues with recent grads) Clients love seeing their new space in 3-D!
    Have fun!

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    Jean Terwilliger AIA
    Project Architect
    Vermont Integrated Architecture, P.C.
    Middlebury, VT
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  • 14.  RE: Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-04-2017 22:28

    Thank you all very much for your helpful suggestions and availability to chat if needed.  You have given me a lot to work with  – very much appreciated!  

    Irene Xenakis, AIA






  • 15.  RE: Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-04-2017 18:01
    I think your choice of programs depends on your ultimate business goals and the type of projects you plan to work on.  I am a one-man office and mainly work on residential projects.  I grew up hand drafting and use a 2d CADD Mac-based program called PowerCADD (by Engineered Software) for my drafting needs, and use SketchUp for my 3d study models.  I don't have the need for BIM or endless software upgrades, so this combination works well for me.  I can import/export DWG files if needed, but I mainly work in my clean little ecosystem and create PDF files for communication with clients and for printing plan sets.  PowerCADD uses a manual drafting analogy (i.e. draw at scale on "sheets", line weights look thicker on the screen, etc) which allows one to learn it quickly.  I started drawing details with it 20 years ago, and still use some of the typical details that I created that first day.  Being a simple 2d program, it also doesn't require a lot of computer horsepower.  I am able to upgrade my computer every 5 or 6 years to  keep it feeling snappy, saving on overhead costs.  I can draw very quickly with it, and frequently get complements on the readability of my plans.  It doesn't think for me -- I do the thinking and it helps me articulate that.

    regards,
    patrick

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    Patrick Marr AIA
    Patrick Marr, PE, AIA
    Santa Barbara CA
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  • 16.  RE: Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-05-2017 08:59
    Well, if you are always going to be working on your own and  using free lance consultants, you can pretty much use what you are most comfortable with. However, if there is a chance you will be working for a larger firm or using consultant firms I recommend you get to know Revit very well.

    ------------------------------
    Thad Broom AIA
    Architect
    Thad A. Broom AIA, P.C.
    Virginia Beach VA
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  • 17.  RE: Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-05-2017 09:10
    I put together a handy infographic for selecting the best architectural software for your needs. You can check it out here:

    http://www.archsmarter.com/which-architectural-software

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    Michael Kilkelly AIA
    Principal
    Space Command
    Middletown CT
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  • 18.  RE: Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-08-2017 17:56
    Interesting infographic.  I'd suggest you add PowerCADD to it, under the Mac 2d options...  Check out http://www.engsw.com.

    cheers,
    patrick

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    Patrick Marr AIA
    Patrick Marr, PE, AIA
    Santa Barbara CA
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  • 19.  RE: Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-09-2017 11:58
    We are Mac based, which is the only way to go for small design firms in my opinion. My MacMini server has never crashed.

    Have been using PowerCADD for 5 years. New hires pick it up in a matter of hours. It produces very nice drawings.

    We also have an AutoCad LT for Mac license. It helps with opening really large civil files and revising ACAD files from others.

    I prefer FormZ (Jr version) for 3D modeling. Again, really easy but much better than SketchUp.

    We are transitioning to ArchiCAD for BIM projects. I have several friends who use it and it is no problem for new hires (who know Revit) to pick up. They also work with consultants that use Revit seamlessly. In my opinion Revit is fine for really large firms but very cumbersome for the rest of us.


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    Gregory Ibanez FAIA
    Ibanez Architecture LLC
    Fort Worth TX
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  • 20.  RE: Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-10-2017 17:27
    We are a small firm with a 4 person production staff and have been using Revit for almost 10 years.

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    Timothy Dearborn AIA
    Architect
    Architechnica
    Stockton CA
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  • 21.  RE: Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-11-2017 21:01
    I am a one person shop. When I stopped drafting manually, Architectural Desktop was my software choice. Stuck with that up until 2012 when I picked up Revit. Currently I maintain a perpetual license for Autodesk Architectural Building Suite Premium, which includes Revit. It costs me a yearly fee, but if I don't renew my current seat doesn't deactivate, I just loose upgrades.

    Given the way things have gone throughout my career, I figure I'm just going to have to retool my process every 7 - 10 years. Right now the only thing I foresee forcing me to change software again is Autodesk dropping my perpetual license plan, thereby trying to force me into the cloud.

    I don't like the thought of losing possession of my tools in order to appease someone else's business plan.

    Thanks,
    Rudy Beuc

    ------------------------------
    Rudolph Beuc AIA, NCARB, CBO
    Architect
    R. Beuc Architects
    Saint Louis MO
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  • 22.  RE: Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-12-2017 17:29
    I've had great luck with VectorWorks Architect (2D/3D/BIM); better licensing and pricing than Revit. Both PC and Mac operability. I've used it since 1995 (changed name since then). We have a vital user group here. You can check out website and youtube videos. Plays well with others (all my Consultants use AutoCAD).

    Don Leighton-Burwell, AIA
    :: DLB ARCHITECT ::
    www.dlb-architect.com

    Check out my blog at:
    dlbarchitect.wordpress.com


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    Don Leighton-Burwell AIA
    Owner
    DLB Architect
    Austin TX
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  • 23.  RE: Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-17-2017 10:34
    Man, what a litmus test for everyone's program of choice.

    The first question would be: what is your business model? Do you plan to have intensive coordination with other disciplines or by-large run your own show?

    Depending on who your clients are, there may be different expectations about your sharing of information.

    Having been in the industry since the inception of CAD, I'm jaded on the subject of a particular program recommendation. They're just tools towards the ultimate goal of producing a well thought-out design for a client and the process to get to that result. I've NEVER had a client hire me because of the software that I used. They received a PDF at the end of the process, and had no interest in my sausage process.

    Your mileage may vary.

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    Kevin M. Shertz, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
    Chestertown, Maryland
    http://www.shertzarch.com
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  • 24.  RE: Recommended computer program for architectural drawings

    Posted 05-18-2017 19:17
    Kevin,

    Great point. Software is totally a business decision. No one should pick a software package without knowing how much it'll affect their business (or at least accepting/understanding that it will change the nature of one's business). Software decisions are also about process. I'm sure you explain your process to prospects-and have had clients hire you based on that process. So in effect you have had clients hire you because of your software choices. FWIW, my software choices are front and center when I'm talking with my clients/prospects because those choices help explain my process, my deliverables, and some of the things that differentiate me from other architects they might be talking to.

    I think this discussion also touches upon where technology fits into our processes. Is CAD/BIM something that begins at project initiation, or is it something that starts during DD or CDs, after the bulk of design is complete. If it's the latter, then it is more about sausage production. For me, BIM starts once I have a contract.

    ------------------------------
    Jared Banks AIA
    Shoegnome, LLC
    Seattle, WA

    If you're not following CRAN on Twitter ( https://twitter.com/AIA_CRAN ) or Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/AIACRAN/ ), you should. We post lots of news and interesting stuff pretty much daily.
    ------------------------------