Most commonly used computer apps for architecture school



I am going into first year Architecture at Dalhousie, NS, Canada. I've never taken much design, drawing and have no CAD computer training.

Simply from looking around this site and others, it seems the most likely computer apps that would be good to learn beforehand, would be:




indesign (only really used for composition of scanned orthogonal drawings or 3D renderings?)

revit architecture and structure

Rhino (especially with the right plugins - I've tested out visualQ for Rhino and it seems like it may be a better approach than Revit?)


What are your guys' tips? I'm running both OSX and Windows 7 on a dual boot Macbook.



Mar 3, 13 1:09 pm

Knowing the ins and outs of Photoshop/Illustrator/Indesign will definitely be useful, knowing keybindings and shortcuts and the intended use for each program (using Indesign for board layouts). Lately, Photoshop has become one of the more common programs I use as I've become more comfortable with making basic renderings and photoshopping them.

Rhino would be good to know as well if that's what your school will prefer you to use. When I started grad school I knew Rhino a bit and had an easier time over the people who had never touched it, plus their really wasn't much instruction in how to use it at my school, so the learning curve would have been tough had I not known it. And I really wouldn't touch Revit first year, as you really wouldn't use it.

Mar 3, 13 3:16 pm

Photoshop and whatever 3d software the school has installed in their labs. Better yet, just photoshop, really well. Don't stress out, just go travel and have a good time. Once you're in school, you probably won't have time for much else, and will pick up software skills along the way. Skills worth learning now are probably developing sensitivity to abstraction, buildings, form, material and texture. Travel and sketching, with an inquiring mind and nice journal will serve you more at this point than trying to get an edge by learning software. Focus on the destination, and you'll pick up the tools along the way.

Mar 3, 13 6:36 pm

Hi there from a BEDS alumni.

Kunal above definately makes the best suggestion - you want to learn good design primarily, and good technical skills secondly. That being said, technical (software) skills are still very useful. For Dal in particular, I would recommend against learning Revit and direct you towards Rhino. The first term won't have any real digital components to it, but in B2 and especially into B3 you will be introduced to Rhino in the building sciences stream. Its definately good to get a headstart in learning the software, and it sounds like you've already started to gain some familiarity. Other than that, basic photoshop/illustrator skills are always very useful.

Have fun in the BEDS - its a wild ride. You can also search this forum on the school, as there have been a lot of threads over the years about the ins and outs of Dal architecture.


Mar 3, 13 8:22 pm

Hey guys,

Thanks for the quick responses. Ben I think I remember your name from orientation 2012 - I had to pull out after a few weeks due to car accident injuries and didn't get to know anybody. I'm lucky because I got a taste of the demands of an arch student, and also even kept some practice assignments while I obviously had no further option but to apply for medical leave.

In terms of learning Rhino, I'm looking at this guy's videos called "cadjunkie" on youtube - great startup I feel. However I still have not used to create those alluring perspectives everyone wants to make. And I don't see potential for idea creation using Rhino.

Do you guys have any other sources of Rhino learning?

Also, Ben -- do you know of many others in the Dal programme (B or MArch) who is aspiring to go on do something like tech architectural history/philosophy/structure? 

Thanks a lot

Mar 7, 13 1:44 pm

sorry, last sentence of my last post: tech = teach

Mar 7, 13 1:46 pm
kunalghevaria has some Rhino courses, as well as most other softwares you need to learn.

Mar 7, 13 2:20 pm

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