As Architecture students, “You study Architecture? You must be great at drawing!” is an offered opinion we hear pretty often from our peers outside of the A-School. Depending on who’s answering, the answer might be yes, but not always.
Until recently, perfecting one's sketching skills was the only way to become an architect. The invention of computer-aided design in the second half of the 20th century changed the drafting process for most architects, making sketching and hand drafting less and less necessary with time. Programs like AutoCAD and Rhino are now widely used and are required to be learned by all architecture schools in most countries. Firms, on the other hand, are slowly switching from CAD to BIM (Building Information Modeling) programs such as AutoDesk Revit, a relatively new process where architects, engineers and contractors can work collaboratively to design buildings and create construction documents by using one common file.
Architecture has digitized so much that programs like Grasshopper and Dynamo are being used to develop designs in school and firms. Grasshopper for instance has been crucial for structural optimization and organic form finding where traditional drafting would be extremely labor intensive if not impossible. On the other hand, many architects and students still stick to sketching as a way to develop their initial designs. There are both positive and negative sides to the physical and digital process of designing, being proficient in both fields and benefiting from their best aspects is the new formula to becoming an architect in the 21st century. Design has already dived into new technologies and doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon, it’s up to us to catch up to it.