07 Feb 2016

Architools — Mind Over Matter

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Batman is an anomaly in the superhero universe. He has no physical super human attributes. He didn’t inherit a super ability in a bizarre chemical accident or interaction with a wily beast and emerge with a super talent. He’s simply a Regular Joe with a loaded tool belt and great toys. It’s his innate ability to wield these tools that makes him super, like an architect.

When I started my architecture career I used several drawing and production tools to communicate with clients and contractors. I learned to use these tools in architecture school and my first office upgraded my scholastic tools with more durable, professional versions of them. These fond tools of my architecture childhood include:


  • sketchbook
  • markers (sharpie)
  • HB, B-4B lead grade pencils
  • trace paper
  • napkins
  • vellum
  • ink pens
  • parallel bar
  • triangles
  • symbol templates
  • scale (ruler)
  • dry cleaning pad
  • copy machine
  • ozalid prints
  • office phone
  • binders
  • spiral note pads
  • meetings

Better tools produce better results, but a triangle is a triangle.

Repetition [practice] is the mother of all learning. — Zig Ziglar

I learned to wield these tools quickly and efficiently and assumed my proficiency would improve throughout my long career, but evolution ignored my shortsightedness displacing many of my design and production tools with more robust versions.

By they year 2000, ubiquitous computer technology supplemented my drawing and production tools palette. I had to develop new skills but in the long run, it didn’t matter.

  • sketchbook
  • markers (sharpie)
  • HB, B-4B lead grade pencils – marker
  • trace paper – overlay print outs
  • napkins
  • vellum – bond paper
  • ink pens – plotter pens
  • parallel bar – CAD
  • triangles – CAD
  • symbol templates – CAD, Internet
  • scale (ruler) – CAD
  • dry cleaning pad – attention-getter
  • copy machine – printer
  • ozalid prints – pdf
  • office phone – mobile phone
  • binders – personal digital assistant (PDA)
  • spiral note pads – digital pad or PDA
  • meetings – tele/video conference

The new tools required different training and proficiency than the predecessors.

Use it or lose it. — Richard Bach

My keyboard and software proficiency skills dilapidated my drafting skills and handwriting, but adapting to the evolved toolset prepared me for the next change. I discarded and enhanced skills but in the long run, it didn’t matter because 2010 evolved further…Tools-New

  • sketchbook – dust collector
  • markers (sharpie) – pointer
  • trace paper – overlay print outs
  • napkins – coaster
  • bond paper – pdf
  • CAD – BIM
  • printer – 3D printer
  • pdf – digital uploads (cloud)
  • digital assistant (PDA) – tablet
  • mobile phone – smart phone
  • tele/video conference – VOIP conference

As my tools evolved so did I and my thinking. I recognize technology may advance some tools of which I’m fond. In 2030, when I enter my 40th year of architecture practice what will my evolved tools look like?

  • sharpie – laser pen:: ability to draw in the air or on any object without damage
  • sketchbook – virtual pad:: draw on a holographic projection with your eyes, finger or instrument
  • retinal read – brain activity modulator:: sketching & modeling read directly from brain activity to the virtual pad
  • napkins – lens cleaner:: we’ll always need napkins & they are perfect the way they are
  • pdf – virtual cloud prints:: instantaneous saves to the cloud on satellite waves, no hard disk storage
  • BIM – 4D modeling goggles:: 4D technology to display dimensions and show texture, sound or smell
  • 3D printer – holographic projection:: project from your retinal read to display your design for full-size walk-thru
  • digital uploads (cloud):: all documents published to a web address cloud folder
  • tablet – hologram screens:: tablets fall victim to eyeglass or headgear projectors that we manipulate with our hands
  • smart phone – ear piece & eyeglasses screen:: no more hand held devices. we wear our devices integrated with our eye wear or clothing
  • VOIP conference – video broadcasts:: similar to holographic projection all calls are 3D projections so callers can walk through the 4D design environment with you.
  • Virtual office – architects no longer drive or walk to an office. they host video broadcasts with their staff located all across the world.

In time, tool evolution may displace my beloved design marker (sharpie) so I won’t claim that the architecture establishment will have to pry it from my cold dead hand…yet.

Despite tool evolution; one tool, the most important tool, an architect wields reigns eternally irreplaceable, flexible, and useful. The tool that grants the architect the skill to master the supplemental tools to practice architecture…the architect’s mind and IT matters.

Architalks Credits

This is another entry in Bob Borson’s blogging brain-child titled, “ArchiTalks”.

The #ArchiTalks goal is to inspire blogging architects with similar educational and professional requirements to opine on the same topic and simulpost their response so other architects and a broader audience can enjoy the rampant thought-diversity within the architecture profession

Select the links in “Architalks Entries” below to read how architects responded to the “Tool” topic.

image credits:

  • The Dark Knight Manual / ©2012 DC Comics
  • your architect, his historic tool kit
  • your architect, his evolved tool kit


Architalks Entries

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)

Marica McKeel – Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
3 Tools to Get Our Clients Engaged and Involved

Jeff Echols – Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
The Best Tool In Your Toolbox

Lee Calisti, AIA – Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
The Tools That Help Make #AREsketches

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
tools #architalks

Jes Stafford – MODwelling (@modarchitect)
One Essential Tool

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Architools – Mind Over Matter

Rosa Sheng – Equity by Design (@EquityxDesign)
10 Power Tools to Kickstart Equitable Practice

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
#ArchiTalks 17 “Tool”

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Tools of an Architect #Architalks 17

Amy Kalar – ArchiMom (@AmyKalar)
ArchiTalks #17: Three Tools for Change

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Can we talk?

Michael LaValley – Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
Why An Architect’s Voice Is Their Most Important Tool

Eric Wittman – intern[life] (@rico_w)
it’s ok, i have a [pen]

Sharon George – Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)

Brinn Miracle – Architangent (@simplybrinn)
Synergy: The Value of Architects

Emily Grandstaff-Rice – Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Tools for Learning

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
Something Old and Something New

Anthony Richardson – That Architecture Student (@anth_rich)
Tools I Use in Studio

Greg Croft – Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory)

Jeffrey A Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Helpful tools found within an Architecture blog

Aaron Bowman – Product & Process (@PP_Podcast)
Sharpen Your Tools

Kyu Young Kim – Palo Alto Design Studio (@sokokyu)
Super Tool

Jared W. Smith – Architect OWL (@ArchitectOWL)
Construction: An Architect’s Learning Tool

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
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About the Author

Your Architect is Eric Faulkner -- an architect licensed in Texas & Oklahoma with 26 years experience in design, construction observation and life.