We are trying to create a notebook for architects. Thoughts?



I'm an MArch at Columbia, and along with two of my classmates, we created a notebook for architects. It is small part architectural reference, and large part scaled dot grid for sketching. As students, we are always experimenting and trying to find the right tool to design with, realizing that most have left us unsatisfied. This is why we're trying to make our own.

We were wondering what the Archinect community thinks about it?


You can check out the project on our kickstarter site:

Or our general website:






Paul, Rich, and Ebbe

Jun 5, 13 9:24 pm

Going to chew over this one, but so far I like it.

Jun 5, 13 10:49 pm

Looks neat.  You may want to consider adding some ANSI 117.1A / accessibility diagrams in there and perhaps the ICC rules on egress.

I wouldn't really bother with the mocked-up room layouts, but the basic furniture dimensions are nice.

Jun 5, 13 11:31 pm

I'm torn.  I know it's not for me, but I really enjoy the idea, and think it could be great for others, particularly students after their first year or two.  I'd be all over this if I were in my 3rd or 4th year of undergrad.

The problem I'm having is that you've determined scales for the pages.  I feel like you've limited my possibilities dramatically.  If I'm going to sketch at different scales, I either have to flip half way through the book, or have this big bold 1/16" = 1' staring at me.  Having different sized, subtle dot grids is great, but that annotation is a big sore spot for me.  If I use the scales as intended, I now either need a separate sketchbook for each project, or have the sketches remain scattered with no means of reference.

I'd actually be more on board with it if the bold annotations were page numbers and I could reference my scattered sketches like a real set of drawings.

Another quick point,  If I'm one of those folks who uses multiple sketchbooks (let's say I carry one in my bag for each ongoing project), I'll have 30 redundant pages for every sketchbook I buy.  I know some references might be useful for each book, but do I really need a list of 100 schools, firms & readings in every sketchbook?  I don't even think I need it in the first one!  Maybe offer a 3-pack in the future and only include references in one of the 3.  (I'm entirely optimistic about your kickstarter, there should be a future to this)

These are minor points, and shouldn't take away from anything you've done.  I think it is a great idea overall, and it looks like you've condensed some very practical information into your reference section.  Best of luck.

Jun 5, 13 11:33 pm

This seems like a great idea.  I like the simplification of information becasue it stresses the creative problem solving aspect of our profession rather than the information coalator side which seems to be constantly stressed as most important.  Architects being individualists they probably want to stamp their own identity on thier own sketchbooks so I might recomment being minimalist on the cover, but beyond that, very nice.  Good luck!

Jun 6, 13 6:01 am

Looks great. One thing that might be nice down the road would be intermittent sheets of vellum to layer and trace on the sketching sheets. 

Jun 6, 13 9:36 am

thanks everyone for your great input, we will deinately consider your comments and improve upon the design before we go into final print! 

In the mean time, we just got written up by Karen Wong at the New Museum on Architizer.
check it out here!

Jun 6, 13 4:33 pm
Cody VanOss

Love the idea! I just have graduated from high school and going to the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee for the architecture and urban planning program. This item seems like it would help me greatly throughout my college experience. I would love to buy one as soon as possible! Please let me know when it's available for purchase.

Jun 6, 13 6:12 pm

Im going to have to agree with Joseph's comments above regarding the scale.  Since the scales are nesting, why not keep the same grid on each page and include a unobtrusive scale reference in the corner of each page?  (ie use one for 1/16", two dots 1/8", etc)

On the topic of the reference pages:  I dont want this to come off as rude but it looks like a book designed for non-architects who want to give the impression that they are hip with architecture. 

Now, if that is your target demographic you should play up the cute stuff.  However, if you envision it being used by actual architects you should lose those 30 pages or condense only the really important stuff to 2 or 3 pages, or the backs of the covers, or a fold-out.  Forget the Sejima-esque fluff,  just give me ADA / egress / structural sizing charts / other important dimensions.

Lastly, have you thought about how it might sync up to my digital documents?  This might be too complicated, but take a look at what evernote does:

I can imagine an architectural version that would automatically translate a photo of your sketches to the right scale to be used as an underlay in Sketchup/ Autocad/ Rhino/ 3dsMax/ etc

Good luck!

Jun 6, 13 6:12 pm
The Evernote linkup is very cool.

Re the notebook the op is making, I work in metric. I use dotted notebook that fits in my jean pocket. Don't want scale in my book, just reference points so I can work flexibly and a very small size but strong binding so I can work anywhere without worrying about treating it carefully.

The loss of pages for reference material would annoy me but can see how younger architects would like to have it. Mind you, in the age of smartphones the idea of carrying any content in hard copy seems a bit archaic. I would think younger crowd than me would be even less interested. Unless its a cool retro thing?
Jun 6, 13 6:25 pm
Didn't look. But is this graphic standards+a grid pad?

Love my old kidder&parker book you should check that out.
Jun 6, 13 6:29 pm

I agree that the assigned page scales should go.  Instead, use the same dot pattern on every page, and let each author determine + note the scale for each sketch.

On the plans where objects are dimensioned: use tick marks to set off the dimensions visually.  Otherwise, these almost appear as objects themselves.

Interesting project...

Jun 6, 13 7:04 pm
( o Y o )

We are tired of looking up dimensions, stupid facts, and sketching out of scale.

So you made a book to look up dimensions (whatever the hell that means), hold stupid facts (it's clearly not big enough) and for sketching in scale (as if sketches had to be in scale, or in the scale you specify).

No real architect would be caught dead with this any more than they would with a copy of Architecture for Dummies. It is utterly idiotic in every aspect, from the guide to font sizes and line weights to living scenarios  (how big is a pair of socks?). In fact the only thing more idiotic than this sketchbook for idiots is the fact that some people have actually given you money for this.

Are architects so utterly stupid that they need a wildly irrelevant and  incomplete reference book at their fingertips? Are they so uncreative that the need a guide to sketching? Are they so insecure that they need a book with a title that announces their profession (as if there weren't dozens of ways to more effectively and subtly project that image)?  Is there a scarcity of sketchbooks in the world?

Face it, this isn't for architects, it's for wannabes. Probably sell a few to freshmen on college campuses who will no doubt toss it as soon as they take an architecture class.

Jun 6, 13 7:12 pm

This already exists.

Jun 7, 13 12:00 am
won and done williams

Cool idea. I would however agree that you will really need to curate the opening pages with standards, diagrams, and code references. ANSI 117.1 and egress passages out of IBC seem spot on. I often need to reference millwork standards, but not sure I would need to within a "sketchbook" context per se. Standard symbols and abbreviations also helpful. Good luck with the project!

Jun 7, 13 11:49 am

I think its a good start but I wouldn't buy this as it currently is. With a few changes, however, I could see myself using it.

I don't need all the reference pages. Just give me one page in the very back with a bunch of QR codes to link to the actual references. It will be there when I need it, it won't get in the way when I don't, and the information won't become out-dated.

I'd rather have just one grid on all the pages rather than the scales. 1/8" works well, I can do the math to know that one space is 2' at 1/6" scale, 6" at 1/4" scale, 3" at 1/2" scale etc.

Jun 7, 13 2:07 pm

Will.....just discovered my last sketch...was in my back pocket and went thru the wash! So now I have the Fuzzy made paper look of a sketch...which is  an inspiration when your standing in line at the bank , fiddling with  the back pocket of your Levis.

Jun 7, 13 5:35 pm

I'll add my voice to he chorus of people saying separating the scales is a bad idea. Sure having an unobtrusive graphic showing how manny spaces are applicable in one scale over another is one thing, but having them be separate seems like a mistake to me.

As for the reference guide, I'm off two minds of the issue. I definitely find it helpful and I think you should keep them, but maybe limit it to 20 pages? Thirty seems like a lot, but it I can see it working very well. I would put the reference in the back of the notebook, not the front. 

Apart from that my only other comment would be to offer it in hardcover similar to a moleskine. My notebooks/sketchbooks take a lot of damage so for me this would be a must. And I would love it if you considered making a hardcover spirabound version in the future, I love being able to lay the sketchbooks open completely flat. 

But overall I really like it! I'd toats buy it. :)

Jun 9, 13 3:12 am

More free ideas:

- Ribbon bookmark that doubles as a scale / straight-edge

- Dense paper so that my black marker doesnt bleed through and render the opposite side useless

- Extra space along the fold between the spine and the cover so I can keep my pen in there

- Detachable trace paper sheets at the back.  They should be sized slightly smaller than the pages so that they dont over-hang when i store them in the book

- Sheets of stickers to keep the trace attached to the page im tracing (or just to attached them into the book

- Pocket on the front/back cover to store loose trace/pages

Jun 10, 13 4:59 pm

just give me a blank sketchbook... I'll fill it with notes and info I think is useful to me xP

Jun 10, 13 7:50 pm

I'm holding out  for the Autodesk "Sketch Pad"... you know the one you have to hit escape every time you want to move onto you next thought.....and well by the time you hit the escape key the thought has  escaped you.  Ya, It could just be a flat screen with some buttons that don't do anything and I would be Happy.

Jun 10, 13 10:00 pm

I saw this project on Kickstarter. It's an interesting idea to create a notebook for architects but I don't understand your choices behind what to include. One of the things that jumped out at me was the hat, under Bedroom Things. I have never wanted to know the dimension of a hat. Nor do I need to carry around a small line drawing of a hat, or a bunch of other things.

In your development of this project, why not give it to a practicing architect and have them use it for a while. Scan their drawings and analyze what works and what doesn't. Seeing a notebook in use would be a great marketing approach as well. Because at first glance, I don't see how or why I would use this product.

Jun 13, 13 1:23 pm

Another stupid idea gets fully funded on Kickstarter. Go figure.

Too bad the Pet Rock has already been done.

Jun 14, 13 7:48 pm

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