CAD Monkeys


Interns are usually college graduates who have this amazing passion and enthusiasm for design. By virtue of the fact that they are used by architects and firms for production work, most of this passion and enthusiasm isn't tapped into. Now, I am not saying that this is 100% true. However, if an intern/junior/entry level architect is hired more or less as a production support employee, or part of the technical staff and are like soldiers- trained to follow orders all the time- does their design sense wane? Do they lose their ability to think critically? And I don't mean thinking critically about dimensions, text size, and revision bubbles... 

Feb 19, 13 8:39 am

does their design sense wane?

yes, unless they design stuff on their own time

Do they lose their ability to think critically?

no, unless for whatever reason they quit thinking critically

Feb 19, 13 10:19 am
On the fence

Depends.  If you are looking to be a cad monkey or employ a cad monkey, you probably have a two year associates degree and cad class.  Cuz all they need you for is picking up red marks.

Feb 19, 13 11:35 am

I am a production/BIM Jock - I design - but on my own time - competitions, freelance - to stay in the design game and to think critically - 

Feb 19, 13 1:43 pm

Whatever pays your bills bud. But, that's not my question... 

Feb 19, 13 2:00 pm

Most firms now require the architect to do both tasks (design and draft) especially smaller firms. I think architects who still use cad monkeys as their drafting tool are those of old school who do not use computers. The luxury for architects who comes in to do a few wiggly lines on a piece of butter paper then passing it to the architectural technician to pretty up and fully resolve is becoming a thing in the past. I do agree with your thoughts though. Junior architects does get use as cad monkey and their design are never to be considered, juniors are their to follow orders, this doesn't mean they will lose their skills or their ability to design. They will get their moment as like the rest of us. You don't expect to come fresh out of college and get a chief designer role in a large office.

Feb 19, 13 4:04 pm

See- I think the title "chief designer" within itself is problematic... a hierarchical office tends to have a total disjuncture between production and design... design happens in 1 "department" and "production" in another department... kind of like a factory. Is that what you really want architecture to be? Something that can be replicated over and over again? If everyone at the firm was able to contribute a little at least to the concept, the output would be so unique, it could not be replicated, and hence in my mind, more valuable as a work of architecture rather than a product that is sold... 

Feb 19, 13 4:34 pm

BB, I would say the answer is yes to both of your questions. Having worked in a variety of offices and seen the differences between colleagues with different amounts of education, I think it's a problem across the board.

However, I think another part of the problem is laziness/stress of the real world/lack of passion. A lot of architects come out of school and find a spot in an office where they get comfortable and that's basically it for them. 

And I don't think it's just cad either, you can be a maya monkey, render monkey, presentation monkey, diagram monkey, etc. The core issue is a lack of real collaboration. Over time it causes people to give up even trying to be creative and solve problems.

Feb 19, 13 4:52 pm

However, I think another part of the problem is laziness/stress of the real world/lack of passion. A lot of architects come out of school and find a spot in an office where they get comfortable and that's basically it for them. 

People who don't wan't to be pigeon holed as a Cad Monkey or BIM WIT,need to take the initiative, take responsibility for their careers and step up their game to become more qualified.

Feb 19, 13 5:20 pm

True, but that's also like the argument 'poor people should just get a better job.' There's only so many spots in a firm for a 'higher up.' And even so, becoming more qualified doesn't solve the real issue - which is lack of collaboration. 

Feb 19, 13 5:26 pm

You have to save up and start your own firm.  Then you call the shots.

Feb 19, 13 5:33 pm

How do you get a million dollars ? Start with a billion dollars and then open your own design firm

Feb 20, 13 6:49 am


The only way a woman can make a man a millionaire is if she marries a billionaire... 

Feb 20, 13 8:05 am

A design should be unique to each site condition, context, client narrative etc. Every architectural design is different and unique as the combination of site, context and, client is different and not something that can be "replicated over and over again" no matter which way the firm operates. This is what separate us from the real factory operated 'project home companies'. 

Some firms don't separate design and production but rather separate the level of experience and skill set. There's is a saying 'there has to be enough indians to support the chief' can't have too many chiefs and no indians. Imagine a firm with everyone doing just the fun part and no body wants do be the cad monkey. It sucks but somebody's got to do it, it might as well be the less experience as a beginning to learn and build their skill set. The design skills that they learnt in architecture school should stay with them forever and should never be lost as long as they can hold on to their passion. It takes many years for an architect to become successful. Some make some don't. 

Feb 20, 13 3:02 pm
Erik Evens (EKE)

I hate the term "CAD monkey".  It is really demeaning, as if it is merely grunt work, like sweeping up the floor or taking out the trash.  When I was doing a lot of CAD drafting, I was also doing a lot of learning about how design decisions get filtered down into constructable assemblies, and how buildings go together,  plain and simple.  This is a big part of what it means to be an architect, and frankly it can be a very exciting and gratifying part.

Remember that the development of the design of a project is filled with smaller design opportunities, if you are looking for them. In most good offices, If you can step up and take responsibility for these smaller opportunities, and prove that you are capable, then you will get assigned broader and more interesting design challenges.  You have to work your way up to it.  You aren't going to land in an office as a recent graduate, and have senior staff walk up to your desk and say to you, "Here... design this building".

Feb 22, 13 8:22 pm

first off, let me answer the poster and say that my answer to each of your questions is no.  Architecture these days is governed how fast can we get it done. bottom line is employers need everyone on the team to do their part. Thats how it is in a Corporation we are doing tons of jobs for free.  Is anyone less talented because they dont do design? or are we suddenly better because we do design? Once upon a time it was a novel idea for an Architect to know a little about everything.  The bottom line is that if you can shake a building out of your mind, and have the talent to communicate it on paper that's all you need to do.  With all due respect architects, its time we stopped thinking of ourselves as less because of a companies label. There are no architecture technicians, or designers those are corporate labels, the license says Architect get it right.  Everyone who went to architecture college dared to say they can do a good job if not better instead of being on the sidelines. Now quit your jaw exercising, and go show them what you can do, because i know I'm one of the best at what I do. ok enough of this.

Feb 22, 13 10:05 pm

I was once a "Pencil Monkey" who ate erasers.

Feb 23, 13 4:16 pm
boy in a well

cad monkey

that funky monkey

cad monkey junkie

that funky monkey

Feb 24, 13 11:36 pm
boy in a well

shit, i stopped thinking critically.

Feb 24, 13 11:38 pm

I moved on from being a Pencil Monkey  being  a "Sepia Eradicator", then I cut up babies for awhile before I fell in Love with a 285 pc.. 

Feb 25, 13 11:06 am
boy in a well

is that an incest reference?

Sepia is important. Its how Ken Burns remembers things.

Feb 25, 13 11:51 am

I just recall how nasty that stuff smelled. Wonder what chemicals were actually in the stuff.

Feb 25, 13 1:49 pm

you mean 286, not 285 right?  surely you've seen the program folder that says (x86)?

Feb 25, 13 2:38 pm

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