ArchiCAD Empowers Student Expression

ArchiCAD 15 Student Project

Ted Montgomery is a licensed architect in Vermont and sole proprietor of Groundswell Architects. Montgomery has been using ArchiCAD since the late 80s and has taught it to other architects, traveling around the country teaching seminars for re-licensing credits. Each semester, Montgomery continues that effort and presents some pretty unique concepts to students at the University of Vermont.

ArchiCAD 15 Student Project

Lake House

A long-time ArchiCAD user and UV professor for the past seven years, Montgomery teaches undergrads Computer Aided Drafting and Design (CDAE 101) as an adjunct professor at UV. The course is designed to teach students how to use ArchiCAD. First offered at the request of a group of graduate students, the CAD course officially began as a full course offering in 2006 – taught one hour a week. Since then it has evolved into a 3-hour weekly session.

While the occasional student may have 3D modeling experience prior to the first day of class, for many of Montgomery’s students, it represents their first introduction to CAD. Most of them are studying environmental and ecological design and are keen to add another skill to their resume – should they eventually venture into community development, planning or waste water system design. Rarely will a student pursue architecture following completion of the course.

ArchiCAD 15 Student Project

Twin Camps

The projects students produce at the end of the semester are as varied in complexity and scope as the skill level they possessed going into the course and reason for signing up for the elective in the first place. Montgomery says there’s always that stand out student that takes to the program like a fish to water and finishes a project in two weeks. No matter how long the student spends on his or her project; all succeed in gaining an understanding of what CAD can do. Students are graded on how well they use the software – not specifically on design.

“It is important to remember that for these students, the course is elective. Some of the minor degree programs do suggest it as part of the curriculum. For others who have the idea of going into architecture or landscape architecture, it gets them off to a great start,” explained Montgomery. “I’ve had semesters where the students really learn a lot and get inspired to chase architecture. I’ve also seen environmental studies students develop their CAD skills so that they have access to another visualization tool. One student modeled greenhouses – even developed a site where the background was a 360 degree view of the project.”

ArchiCAD 15 Student Project


The students work on the latest version of ArchiCAD – 15, which GRAPHISOFT makes available to universities and colleges at no cost. Montgomery explains that the exposure to what he considers a superior BIM product is a valuable one, even for students who will not pursue architecture as a career.

“BIM – as an element of production within the AEC space – is a very important aspect of the field and ArchiCAD is in the forefront. As these students go out into the business world, they’ll have skills that people in the real business world will see. The community planner who has an appreciation for the physical environment and can express it in a virtual application like ArchiCAD 15; will be combining their grasp of reality with their understanding of 3D modeling. The most valuable part of this course is having the ability to give the students another way to express themselves.”

ArchiCAD 15 Student Project

Checkerboard Kitchen

But Montgomery admits that 3D can’t be the only understanding on which an architect, environmental or community planner can rely.

“The foundation of design has to originate in the visceral world – the virtual world comes second. I can create a cardboard model of any project but cardboard can’t animate or give me working documents from which to build. That said, I would never even begin to do anything in architecture without ArchiCAD.”

Educators and students can download a FREE copy of ArchiCAD 15 at

In addition to ArchiCAD, there are many other free products, including EcoDesigner, MEP Modeler, Artlantis, and training guides.  Subscribe to the ArchiCAD You Tube Channel for even more information.


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