How did your school address digital tools in design?


I'm looking for examples of schools that are embracing and teaching parametric modelling and digital tools vs schools that are prioritizing hand drafting. Or schools that are not addressing digital tools and leaving it up to students to teach themselves? 

How should digital design tools be approached in foundational architecture studios?

Nov 13, 12 2:59 pm

we had about 10 hours instruction on rhino, an optional 3 credit hour class in autocad, and an optional 3 credit hour class in a mix of rhino, autocad, and cinema4d for 3d work.  We also had about 10 hours on photoshop/indesign.  you were expected to discover everything else on your own.  For studio or other courses that required drawings, aside from the specific ones I've mentioned, you weren't allowed to turn in digital artwork of any kind.

It was not the most progressive example but it certainly made you focus on your drafting, thats for damn sure.

Nov 13, 12 7:36 pm

Students should have a voice and bring it up to their director/department head.  For a long while, I was in a school where most profs embraced traditional drawing and shunned digital design tools like it was plague.  We wasted time with tools like FormZ because they gave incentives and sponsored the school, while useful tools used throughout the industry like Autocad, Revit, Rhino, Max etc were brushed aside by the department heads who make the calls.  well.. the whole student body started to speak out and formed a student association to voice our concerns and needs.  We have more power today of what/how/when the school embraces current technology.

waaayyy too many department heads are suck with the old days and hesitant to change... often times, they've never really worked in a real firm, project and don't really understand the practical side of this industry

Nov 14, 12 6:48 pm

Institutions should be using the the digital tools that best accomplish the design, theory and ideology that they are representing. I don't think you go to architecture school to learn Autocad, Revit, etc.... if the goal of your schooling is to learn a AutoCAD and Revit software then you should go to a tech school and save the stress and money.

I think Rhino and Maya are essential tools for exploration of a theory and a process, yes students should know AutoCAD and Revit for the job field, but that should not be prioritized within a degree program. What needs to be prioritized is software that gives students the ability to innovate and progress.... surely that isn't Revit and AutoCad.

Nov 14, 12 11:24 pm

FormZ and its rendering software is just a waste of time and doesn't help students innovate or progress or be effective out in the real world.

Institutions shouldn't even be teaching digital tools to accomplish design, theory and ideology but leave it up to students to learn themselves.  Its not a matter of what the schools teach.  It sucks when students are forced to use a certain digital tool over another all because the company gives donation to the school or some other incentive.

Nov 16, 12 8:05 pm

i think our profession would gain if schools made preparation for a real job a little higher priority.  rather than spoonfeed 'this is how you draw a line,' i do think it's important for higher education to somehow provide the tools and guidance so students can learn how to teach themselves.  it's not the ability to use autocad that's important for a graduate, it's the ability to learn how to use it.  as the world changes, which it will, the ability to change with it and stay ahead of it is far more important than knowing formz at some point in your past.

 i think i may have had a short class of some sort for formz too.  i don't think there were parametric tools at that point.  i know archicad was an option which i never pursued, but i don't think they were there yet.  i've pretty much always been pretty far ahead of my teachers with regards to understanding digital tools.  i once sat down with revit on my own and made a parametric window family.  i assume that's what you meant rather than automated formal design iterations

Nov 17, 12 9:44 am

We were force-fed the Adobe Suite and FormZ our first year. After that we never had another software class, that's what co-op was for. If you wanted the better assignments then you were forced to learn the software that the particular firm used.

Life is too short for Formz. 

Nov 17, 12 10:15 am
We had one course focused on analog tools, one on 3d modellong in 3DS Max, one on acad (that mostly taught nothing) and that was it for required courses. Some studio professors would push different programs like rhino and parametric tools but that varied by year of study and professor. We also have quite a few art courses in the first year as well.

Now I think the students are required in 2nd year to use rhino in at least one project. The other courses have changed in that they are taught by better professors and the 3d modelling class and the acad class have been grouped so that they are more continuous and get into revit as well (and maybe less into 3ds max).

Overall the idea is that the coursework gets you exposed to various programs and the rest is up to you. With so many options out there it's pointless for a university to try and teach you (or require you) to use one particular program or method of drawing.

Typically students in the second and third years are going back and forth between digital and analog techniques and by 4th year you've settled somewhat into how you like to work. I've known students that have hand drawn their thesis projects and ones that have done everything in sketchup or revit. The majority use a combination of both. Most presentation layouts are done with adobe products but again, nothing is specifically required.
Nov 17, 12 1:40 pm
I went to an Art school that instead of being progressive, was very traditional in my eyes and few fellow peers. We took it upon ourselves as students to learn what we needed to learn in-order to better ourselves as students and designers. Anyone that feels they are "innovators" or wants to innovate the design process, is knowledgeable enough to understand the tool used is never a part of the conversation but what and how the design pushes the practice is what is truly my opinion.

Also tools mentioned above Rhino (+GH) and the way Acad and Revit are looked at as documentation tools is incorrect. I am a firm believer that you can create anything in any software platform you just have to understand the tool. Take a look at blogs like Nathan Miller from Case ( he is a master of so many tools out there from scripting to Revit.
Also Zach Kron from Autodesk has plenty of tutorials showing various examples of modeling in Revit (

Best of luck.
Nov 19, 12 12:07 am

Long live FormZ.

Nov 19, 12 3:49 pm

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