Good Olde Days

The Hand Drafting days are no more. Get over it!

I deal with a rather large variety of engineers, architects, architecture professors and consultants. The one topics that comes up several times a week is the constant state of technological change in our profession and the inevitable glassy eye nostalgic claim of how wonderful it was in the “Good Olde Days”. Now there is something to be said for “getting one’s hands dirty”, it allowed more time to contemplate. On the other hand it was hard on the back, eyes and fingers to draw up a 100 sheet set of drawings on 36″x48″ vellum or mylar. Just the act of filling out the title block would consume 2 – 3 days work for one employee. It could also be tedious, redrawing the same details at various scales as an example. What I hated the most was lettering by hand. The worst was having to fill a 36×48 sheet with general notes and specifications. My hand usually cramped up after an hour.

Do I miss the “Good Olde Days”? Quite simply no. I can now do so much more with todays technology. Hand drawing now seems primitive. Now I hand drew for 10 years and have used a computer for about 12 years so I can relate to both.

The question that is being posed is this: Has the quality of architecture design been degraded by the technology? I think to a degree technology has contributed to a decline in quality of architectural projects for architects who fight the change. By not embracing the technology they expend a large amount of energy struggling and working around the technology, that always ends in frustration. The technology that should free the architect of the constraints of hand drawing instead enslaves and frustrates the design process. For those that have embraced the change all the promises made by the technology pundits have been realized and then some. Most of what was predicted has come to pass and some things that weren’t even considered are now common place, such as desktop realtime rendering, light studies and animation. In the last year even sketching and quick design software for preliminary vignettes has advanced to the point of making pencil and paper another choice and not a requirement. In my opinion we are experiencing a return to an architect that can now have control of almost all aspects of design and construction on the desktop, a return to the “master” architect in control of all aspects of the design process….. that is for those willing to continually learn and try new technology and embrace and welcome never ending change.