What Tools Does an Architect Use?

Architects use traditional art supplies and computer technology to build scale models.
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From the house you live in to the supermarket where you buy your groceries, every building you have ever stepped foot in started out as a design in an architect's sketchbook. Before an architect can make her visions a reality, she uses a wide variety of tools to sketch out, measure and finalize her designs. If you're interested in designing the buildings of tomorrow, you will use the same tools in your daily work.

Drawing Tools

    In the past, architects had to draft up all of their designs on paper using traditional art supplies. While computers are now the go-to tool for design work, many architects still enjoy drawing their designs by hand and may opt to draw out designs first before transferring them to a computer. When drawing up plans for buildings, an architect uses drafting pencils in varying widths, pens and markers and erasers. She may use a sketchbook to hold her designs, or she may prefer to work on tracing paper or blueprint paper.

Measuring Tools

    A great deal of an architect's time is spent measuring and remeasuring her designs, and there is little-to-no room for error. An architect utilizes a variety of measuring tools while drafting her designs, including triangular scales, compasses, bows, parallel gliders and rulers. Each tool allows her to measure out straight lines, perfect circles and precise angles to make sure everything lines up correctly.

Cutting Tools

    Many architects build scale replicas of their designs using paper so they can check their measurements and make sure their calculations are accurate. Since every edge needs to be exact for the model to come together perfectly, architects ditch the craft scissors and instead use specialized cutting tools, including precision knives and straight edges. A cutting mat is placed under the paper to prevent these extremely sharp blades from damaging their work surfaces.

Computer Software

    Thanks to advances in technology, modern architects are able to do most of their work using computer-aided design and drafting, or CADD, software. CADD software enables architects to sketch, measure, draft and layout their designs to create 3D representations of future buildings on a computer. Architects can use graphics software to simulate building materials, such as brick or wood and experiment with how different materials complement their visions. Computer technology allows architects to create the most realistic representation of their designs possible.

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