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Architecture profession of the past

babyarchitect1

Okay, so for the people who have been in the business for a while, what is something that you miss from the days before architecture was a computer driven profession? Or what is something you prefer about the work now?

 
Jul 23, 19 8:41 am

The days before architecture was a computer driven profession.

Jul 23, 19 8:51 am
Non Sequitur

I'm doing some quick hand drawings right now! Let's ignore the 8 CAD files and 4 pdfs open on the 2nd monitor...

tintt

I was right on the edge of the transition but I miss working with people who can visualize in their mind. The computer is used as a substitute for thinking rather than an enhancement.

Jul 23, 19 9:12 am
SneakyPete

I'm pretty decent at explaining thing. My first boss, mid-way through my explanation, reached into his desk, pulled out a pencil, and told me to draw it.

tintt

I practiced sketching upside down for a while so the person across the table could see it, I should get back to it.

tduds

This is the only non-curmudgeon answer in the thread & I agree with it wholeheartedly. I also miss being good at drawing. I don't practice enough because it's so easy not to, so I'm out of practice and my sketches are awful now.

...as a result I can visualize with my mind but I need the computer to be able to explain that visualization to anyone else. 

tintt

I can honestly say I rarely have trouble explaining my ideas. Sketches, words, and photos all work great. On the other hand, my experience with computer models is that people hyper focus on various parts, inhibiting the understanding. That or they are overly fascinated/overjoyed that they can't offer constructive feedback.

Yes to this. Since a single drawing can't capture the totality of a space or building, doing a drawing makes you choose what to focus on. Related to this, with a physical drawing, there's a limit to how much you can "zoom" in or out, further refining the scope of focus. In contrast, a computer model is scale-less, allowing you to lose focus or hyperfocus on the wrong thing. I can't tell you how many hours I've lost chasing down a detail at an early development phase, which never gets seen anyway.

midlander

i'm too young to remember the good old days, but i hate clicking on things with a mouse. once we have some way to operate computers with our eyes like the late Stephen Hawking it'll be better.

Jul 23, 19 9:44 am
Non Sequitur

Saw this on Reddit earlier... felt it was appropriate.

Post image

Jul 23, 19 10:00 am

Related*: I learned this week that avocados evolved to be eaten whole by giant sloths, who would then poop out the seed and thus distribute it. I'll never look at an avocado the same.

*Related only in my own twisted mind.

geezertect

So it was the sloths who are responsible for all the avocado green shag carpet and appliances back in the '70s?

citizen

My folks still rely on their now-half-century-old, avocado-hued Kenmore washer and dryer. Those things are built like effing tanks! (I may get them in the will. Fingers crossed.)

atelier nobody

citizen, if you want the avocado plumbing fixtures to go with them, I know the place.

citizen

You're on.

Non Sequitur

I agree with everything above

JLC-1

writing the dimensions you want rather than what the computer think it is, did you ever see a 4 - 3/16" dimension on a hand drawn plan? and I miss zip-a -tone and letraset. and vellum. I never cared for these things though, it always ripped the paper. Related image

Jul 23, 19 11:18 am
SneakyPete

I don't think this is fair. The issue isn't knowing the dimension before you draw it, as many times we draw things proportionally and then translate those into real dimensions. The problem is being lazy after that point and allowing the imprecision to remain and relying on computer rounding (which was also a thing in hand drafting, if you wrote the literal dimensions often times you'd be into fractions, it was just easier to cheat by writing whole numbers on it and slap the "DO NOT SCALE DRAWINGS" note on it. This happened. A lot.)

tduds

If the computer dimension is not the dimension you want, then you've lied either to the computer or to yourself.

JLC-1

the problem is being lazy! jajajajajajajajajajajajajaja

citizen

Sticky back!

The Diazo machine and the smell of ammonia.

Jul 23, 19 12:43 pm
JLC-1

model making - with the high from the glue and the horrible headache the next week.

citizen

Don't forget the sliced-off digit corners, where fingerprints won't grow back.

SneakyPete

I ran prints as a kid for my dad for extra allowance money or just because I was around. That smell never leaves you. It also brings back memories of my mom's Ditto machines at the school where she taught.

tduds

I miss walking uphill both ways.

atelier nobody

I miss my beautiful hand lettering. These days I am scribbling notes on redlines and sketch details at a mile a minute, trying to keep ahead of the CAD/BIM kids, and my "lettering" looks similar to a Kindergartener's.

I wouldn't say I exactly miss it (I was never a smoker myself), but I remember the old draftsmen who would work with a cigarette and leadholder in the same hand, with and inch or more of ash flopping around on the end of the cig, and NEVER drop any on the vellum. That was master craftsmanship.

Jul 23, 19 1:29 pm
Bloopox

Some things I don't miss:  constantly dry hands from handling so much paper; chronic paper cuts; the always-present film of pencil lead on your hands and shirts and furniture; the backaches of bending over drafting tables for 10 or 12 hours a day; all the time spent cleaning up eraser crumbs and sharpening leads and washing french curves; ruining so many clothes with ink; ruining presentation drawings and models with ink; ruining them with coffee; so many laborious tasks that take a few seconds now - like hand poche-ing the backs of vellums and mylars on every sheet of every set to differentiate between new and existing construction; having to finish everything days earlier in time for the print house's schedule (and building in time for the inevitable print house disaster); hauling and packaging multiple huge heavy drawing sets for shipping; packaging models for shipping; taking car and train and plane rides with squashable models and being responsible for preventing all squashing; cutting tiny muntins out of chipboard, and spending 3 days redoing every window in the model when the client changes their mind about 12 over 12s; ancient drafters who chewed on little balls of masking tape all day; ammonia fumes; x-acto injuries; having to look up everything in the 20 volumes of Sweets because no internet!

Jul 23, 19 2:32 pm
Bloopox

And risking lead poisoning, because that's what all those little abstract model people, cars, and wire trees in the models were made from.  And doing time sheets by hand.  Writing specs on a typewriter.  Printing addenda on pink copy paper and hand cutting and taping each sentence into every copy of the project manual.  Sticky-backing stock details to each drawing sheet.  Letra-setting type on presentation boards and binders, one letter at a time.

atelier nobody

Those paper cuts you got from bluelines coming right out of the machine, with that little extra ammonia.

JLC-1

I don't miss the vellum when it was really humid, definitely don't scale that!

tintt

AC had to be set to 66 and turn off the task lights so you don't sweat in the summer.

Razor blades to 'erase' ink on vellum.

Jul 23, 19 4:43 pm
atelier nobody

Better than having to redo a whole sheet after burning a whole with the electric eraser & gray strip.

Zbig

Leroy lettering set - I miss the lettering set. I don't miss working with it.

Jul 23, 19 5:00 pm
atelier nobody

I actually still have a set. Couldn't tell you which box in the garage it's packed in, but it's there.

Almosthip7

I don't miss the carpel tunnel from hand lettering.


But i do miss my bag full of eraser pieces, found it satisfying to remove all the pencil smudges 

Jul 23, 19 5:12 pm
citizen

Wow... you could use that as a little pillow, it's so clean!

SneakyPete

Scumbag.

I still use one of those.

citizen

I miss drawing more, and its associated gadgets.  I got this for Christmas when I was eight:

And my dad pulled this (one just like it) into the driveway when I started architecture school:

Good times!

Jul 23, 19 5:30 pm
Almosthip7

I got one from my dad when I went off to school too!

citizen

Thanks, Dads!

Almosthip7

My dad designs boats and had made his own table, he passed it down to me. Was pretty cool.

I have two classic wood tilt-top drawing boards in my studio.

AlinaF

But Miles, you are not an architect..

Does Miles need to be an architect to have drawing boards in his studio? I sold my tilt-top wood drafting table and Vemco drafting machine to a structural engineer a few years ago ... do I need to contact him to get it back? He is not an architect.

Almosthip7

More important question is can I do architecture on a board that was originally meant for a ship designer?

AlinaF

The question is can you do architecture?

tintt

Real architecture is done on napkins that are designed for cocktail drinks.

tduds

Cocktail napkins are perfect for inspirational sketches mostly because of the cocktail they once accompanied.

Archlandia

We had to put together a drafting board with plywood, Vyco and a Mayline. That was our first assignment in Arch 121... I graduated all the way back in 2016 lol

Jul 23, 19 6:02 pm
chucksteady

Hi 

I have been asked to do some measurements at my new job.

unfortunately my architectural skills are not up to par LOL.

I was sent a photo of layout of structure and parking with some instruction, Is there anyone that could maybe take a look and give some advice?


Jul 23, 19 6:22 pm
SneakyPete

no.

Archlandia

Here's what to do: Take your photo and print it out in portrait mode. Divide it in half, then fold the top corners down into the center, repeat the fold of each side into the center again. then fold these sides back onto the back edge of your photo. you should now have something that resembles a flying machine. You can throw the paper airplane into a fire or garbage can of your choosing. That should do it

There's an app for that.

drafting by hand in Japan at my first job, all the windows closed so the paper wouldnt blow around and arms sticking to the vellum in the august humid heat was hell. Even on those days the old guys could draw so precisely and quickly it was astonishing. We were in a modernist monument to modernity, LeCorb almost straight from the source himself - man that building was attractive. and entirely inappropriate for use.

Luckily I was hired to bring the office into the modern age and we got CAD and computers at every desk within 6 months. Life became much easier after that. In all honesty I was shit at writing text in Japanese and hated folding blueprints into A4 books for submissions to contractors and government. That took longer to go away but I don't miss it.

The only thing that computers messed up is the sense of how much detail we need to include in drawings. A lot of it can be edited out for the most part. Infinite zoom is so tempting and invites us to fill in far too much, most of it not visible, a good chunk of it turning to black blotches unless the layers are carefully organized.

That we dont need to redraw so damn much, and that changes are much easier to accommodate is very much appreciated. Redoing 20 drawings on vellum because we changed a finish or a detail, or added or subtracted areas from the design was insanely frustrating. It was a real  incentive to never change anything, or more positively to be sure to draw only when we knew every part of the design. This is a completely foreign way of working for me now, for the better without doubt. We gained the ability to make mistakes and learn. Before that the idea of a draftsman and an architect was a real thing, because the first was asked/required to stay stupid. But the latter was almost forced to do the same because changes took so much effort and cost so much. It was not always the best way to get to the best design. 

Nah those old days were simply the way we used to do it. Same as an outhouse and dats and doshes over an electrical wire. It got the job done, and some of those jobs are for the ages, but there was nothing in them intrinsically worth hanging on to. Nothing to lament in their passing.

Unless you want to use an outhouse. We still have one on the farm, your welcome to use it if you like.

Jul 24, 19 1:47 am
mightyaa

Well, one thing disappeared. Draftsmen. You once had guys in the production with a couple decades of experience... they didn't move up to PA's and PM's. They were guys you'd hand a napkin sketch to and get back a set of CD's. Once you were an architect, you would not be in production. That meant that instead of learning the software and tools of production like today learning how to revit, drafting standards, etc... you learned how buildings went together. Computers changed that. Now every architect googles solutions and learns to draft... The problem is the hierarchy pyramid. In the past, you still had experience at the base inside the production group also able to review before sending it upstream for their PM's review; and there wouldn't be a ton of redlines.

To err is human, to really fuck things up requires a computer.

SneakyPete

Miles, that was on the desk of the draftsman I grew up annoying.

Thayer-D

I still design and render by hand, so no, I don't miss the back breaking work of drafting.  But nothing is faster and more creative than the practiced  eye/hand coordination required for solving architectural problems.  Beyond that, computers rock!  

Jul 24, 19 8:28 am
archanonymous

My father taught me to draft by hand on the same Dietzgen paraliner with the same Dietzgen tools as his father had. I appreciate the background it gives me but my capabilities with those tools pale in comparison to hand sketching + the variety of powerful computational tools we now have.

Though I am still and always will be in awe of buildings by everyone from Nervi to Cansela, Victor Horta, etc... that were done solely with analog tools and calculations. 

Jul 24, 19 8:59 am
tintt

How many archinectors dad's were architects? Seems like a very high percent. 

Jul 24, 19 9:53 am
atelier nobody

Lots of science & engineering in my family, and also a lot of humanities - I think I ended up an architect as a mashup of engineering, philosophy, and poetry.

midlander

grandfather was a civil engineer. i still have his drafting tools.

mightyaa

Raises hand

atelier nobody

I worked with a guy who was the son of a fairly prominent local architect, but Dad wouldn't hire him until he got some experience at our plebeian office.

archanonymous

Not mine actually... father is just a really badass carpenter who can draw the pants off most architects I currently work with. My grandfather was a civil engineer and builder/ gc.

Non Sequitur

None in my background... I have a 2nd (or 3rd) cousin who is a successful architect but I only met him after my 3rd year in undergrad. My grandfather drew maps or something like that for a while and I inherited a bunch of old-school drafting tools.

Count me in the "not the offspring of an architect" category. Mostly agricultural labor and blue collar workers in my family until you get to my siblings and me. Now we have an architect, mechanical engineer, and electrical engineer in the family.

JLC-1

nope, my dad was a mining lawyer, grandad engineer and md.

SneakyPete

Guilty.

I was running the blueprint machine in third grade.

tduds

I'm the first Architect. My grandfather was an elevator guy...came over from Ireland in the 40's, started as a repairman and retired as head of the company. Nobody else in my family was anywhere near construction or design.

citizen

Great question, tintt, and very illuminating about our fellow Archinectors... some pretty interesting backgrounds here. I have a cousin-by-marriage who's fairly successful, I hear. I saw him last at his wedding to my cousin in about 1977. Beyond that, just very supportive parents, God bless 'em.

bowling_ball

No architects in my family. The only one I'd meet prior to university was a friend's dad when we were like 5 years old. Still maybe the most boring person I've ever met, up to and including having two literally identical cars.

tintt

Nobody in my family knows what architects do. They think I'm an engineer who can't do engineering. :(

tintt

My father in law is a retired contractor. Not sure he knows what architects do either. hahahahahaha just kidding. or not.

mightyaa

oh.. and if we're doing family; My dad, my younger sister and her husband, and my cousin are all architects. My oldest sister was my business manager and is now a cabinet designer. Basically, about half the family tree are in the business.

tduds

Oh yeah, I spend so much time explaining to friends, family, and friends of family that what they're asking me about is not architecture.

tduds

tintt: My soon-to-be father in law was a homebuilder / flipper. I hear your struggle.

b3tadine[sutures]

Pin bars.

Jul 24, 19 12:24 pm
Xenakis

My grandfather, grandmother and occasionally my father and engineer  were the architects, I inherited many old architect scales, parallel bars, a Bruning drafting machine, ruling pens...

Jul 25, 19 2:23 pm

I miss brownline diazo prints.  Nothing makes a beautiful drawing look better than printing it on brownline paper, with a little background.  Then color it with prisma pencils. 

Jul 25, 19 8:39 pm

I am amazed that so many young architects have never developed the ability to sketch confidently freehand.  There is an important connection between mind:hand:pen:paper that cannot be duplicated with a computer.  Computers have revolutionized much of our business, and it's been very good in lots of ways, but we've lost something, too.

So many times I've been at one of our staff's desk, and we'll be talking about details of buildings.  And I'll say, "why don't you study a few quick variations on this idea, and we'll review it together a bit later".  And then I come back and they are setting up a CAD document.  NO!!  In the time it takes them to get going in CAD, they could have studied six variations with pen and sketch paper, in a way that is much more facile and fluid.

Jul 25, 19 8:47 pm
citizen

The immediacy and flexibility of sketching in the design process is hard (impossible?) to replicate digitally.

tduds

Not to mention the accidental moments of discovery that come out of layers upon layers of trace, each one losing old information, gaining new information, carrying some mistakes over, creating whole new mistakes while fixing others. There really is no way to recreate that copy-of-a-copy evolution in the precision of digital media. I do 90% of my work on a computer, but still keep a few rolls of trace at my desk for when I need to *design*

but there's an app for that.

b3tadine[sutures]

^bingo

curtkram

there will always be people who are different than you. mind:hand:mouse:screen mind:finger:tablet:screen

Not the same, in my opinion.

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