Architectural Tools

When an architect goes to work … what happens? Do they pull out a pen and sketch paper? Maybe they power up some hardware – quite possibly a bit of both. Ask and architect what they need to do their job and they’ll all give you different answers but we’ll give you the real scope on today’s episode …Architectural Tools

Architectural Tools can mean just about anything, and for our purposes, I think we are going to define this as things architects use … and the list I have put together is decidedly low-tech and the list Andrew put together is could be hi-tech, but what things are actually on our lists?

Trace Paper and Sharpie Pens

The first item on my list was super easy for me and I bet that if you know me at all you would have had a shot at guessing correctly what this item might be. I love using trace paper and sharpie pens. It’s almost at a neurotic level because this is one part of my process that I don’t know what to do when it isn’t available to me. I actually think better when I am sketching through my thoughts – and this is true when I am talking to other people.

My tablet

One of my major “must-haves” is my Tablet. Of course, I haven’t always had this as a part of my process, but I adopted it quite quickly. I use this for so many parts of my job. It is my sketchbook, my notebook, my filing cabinet and so much more. I have evolved the way I use this device over time and integrate it into my process. The tablet has settled into a solid place in my workflow but I remain open to new ways to use it in my daily work. This is especially true as my daily work is changing to become more academic.


The likely follow up is a sketchbook – and so there it shall be. I did debate including this on this particular list because you don’t have to use one in order to do your job. There are all sorts of sketchbooks but I actually like Moleskine “Cahier Journals” the best. There’s something about the overly fancy ones that seems too precious to me and my anxiety goes up when I am concerned about sketching a dud into my sketchbook. I received a very nice sketchbook as a gift a few years ago and it is still sitting in the box in which it came. Meanwhile, I have trained my mother-in-law on the sorts I like and I can pretty much count on getting a bunch of Moleskine sketchbooks from her every year during the holidays.

The Stylus

This is really the thing that makes the tablet useful in my opinion. This takes it from a phone to a more productive tool for a designer. One of my many mottos is “An Architect should always have a pen”, well I would say a tablet should always have a stylus in this case.


A favorite of mine – not necessarily specific to doing the work of an architect, but important none-the-less, is a desk.  Maybe this is related to the sketching aspect that I’ve included  – I need space to lay out large format drawings so that I can draw on top of them. I do not enjoy the creative process as much when it does not include some form or trace paper and sketching. So as I was debating as to whether or not I wanted to include this item, it sent me down a rabbit-hole of considering how have they changed over time and do they still serve the same purpose as they did just a few years ago? I also wonder what you can tell about a person just by looking at their desk.

The Cloud

We did not get to this one in the episode but this is another of my most used tools. I know this one may seem like a really vague “tool” but I would say this is another tool that is essential to my workflow. This is of course intimately tied to my previous tool which I use to access the cloud. The Cloud is my even larger filing cabinet and storage vault for my work. By keeping a majority of my work stored in the cloud, I am able to access it from anywhere. This stretches well beyond my tablet of course; my desktop, my home, my phone, any connected device in any location. By now the Cloud is an almost seamless part of my workflow, process, and daily life.