Thinking WITH ArchiCAD, a Student’s Perspective
Profiling students and how ArchiCAD supports their education and eventual entry into the job market is nothing new on the BIM Engine by ArchiCAD blog. Recently, we came in contact with Drew Bell. He maintains an architecture blog of his own and is about to begin his entry into the field of architecture as a profession, preferably using ArchiCAD – well, I’ll let him tell you why.
My name is Drew Paul Bell, and I am a recent Graduate from Southern Polytechnic State University in the Atlanta area. I started using ArchiCAD extensively in the final year of my five-year B.ARCH program.
Using the computer as a design tool is still relatively new to both students and professors. We are still exploring how to use it effectively in the design process. Professors emphasize that the computer is a tool just like a T-square or a pen. I think ArchiCAD is best understood just like that; a tool with which to design more effectively.
The way I have come to use ArchiCAD, it is a critical part of my design process. For the first few years in school, I learned how to design with strictly analog processes, like physical model making and hand drafting. As I took my understanding of the design process to the computer, it became clear how valuable digital modeling is. Suddenly, it was much easier to see the design and make assessments.
Making the jump from the slow, yet familiar, analog process to using ArchiCAD was scary with my studio project at risk. But as I started to use ArchiCAD, I learned it quickly. After about two weeks, I found myself thinking in terms of keyboard shortcuts and tool palette clicks. THIS is when the program becomes really valuable. At this level of understanding, you are thinking with ArchiCAD like you think with language. You can fluently translate your ideas to the virtual model like you translate thoughts into words.
Working on the plans in conjunction with the 3D model, helped in identifying the things that still needed to be worked out, like where the façade needed to be reconsidered, secondary atriums, and how the building responded to the site. These were all things that are hard to see from two-dimensional drafted drawings. Working on the digital model gave all the accuracy of drafted drawings and showed how things came together three-dimensionality, all at once.
As a student working alone on a project, ArchiCAD allowed me to centrally focus my energy. By putting my effort into the digital model, I was simultaneously making progress on plans, sections, elevations, AND renderings, rather than dividing my effort between several separate drawings. This allowed me to spend more time designing than documenting. I was able to produce compelling drawings and renderings of my project for presentations as well as iterations in the process along the way. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how good the design is in your head, if you can’t convince anyone with the drawings, it doesn’t matter.
ArchiCAD, really aided my design process. It allowed me to see the project more clearly in the design stages, and it made it easier to show the project clearly in my presentation. As a student developing into an architect, this helped me refine my design process.
And I consider the core goal of a designer’s growth and education to be to develop one’s personal design process.
Drew Paul Bell | www.DrewPaulBell.com